Caleb and Joshua—Men of Faith

Numbers 13:6, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.Although Caleb is listed here as being from the tribe of Judah, he nevertheless was of Canaanite heritage having become part of Judah when they conquered the land of Caleb’s ancestors. Elsewhere, the Torah lists Caleb as the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite (Num 32:12, also Josh 14:6, 14). Who were the Kenizzites (also Kenezite)? They were among the original inhabitants of Canaan (Gen 15:19), that Israel eventually dispossessed when taking the Promised Land. This people originated from Eliphaz, the oldest son of Esau. Thus, Caleb was an Edomite who accepted the Elohim of Israel and became grafted into the tribe of Judah (Josh 15:13). Throughout the Tanakh, Edom (a nickname for Esau) remains a sworn enemy of Israel maintaining a perpetual hatred for YHVH’s people and constantly covetous of their land even into modern times. In fact, the case could be made that the modern day Palestinians, if not descendants of Edom, at least manifest the same hatred for Israel as did the ancient Edomites. It is out of this people that Caleb comes.

The name Caleb means “dog,” although it can have the favorable connotation of faithful, loving and tenacious like a dog. Indeed, in his life, Caleb exemplified his name’s meaning in his faithfulness to the Elohim of Israel, in his faith and tenacious zeal to go up and to conquer the Promised Land as YHVH commanded.

Evidently Caleb defected from his own tribal peoples and joined the Israelites, while they were wandering in wilderness and before they came up to take the Promised Land. This speaks volumes about Caleb’s character in that he was willing to forsake his pagan heritage and align himself with the Elohim and people of Israel years before they actually dispossessed his people of their ancestral land. Caleb remained aligned with those who took that land and killed his heathen family. 

Indeed, Caleb was a unique individual in that he chose a spiritual path less traveled and one that was unpopular, and he clung ardently to that path despite, at times, vicious opposition. The Torah records that he had a different spirit and that he fully followed Elohim (Num 14:24). For this, YHVH promised him an inheritance in the Promised Land (ibid.). May we be like Caleb!

Numbers 13:16, Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Yehoshua. Prior to sending the spies forth, Moses renames his assistant Hoshea (whose name means “salvation”) to Yehoshua (or Joshua,meaning “Yah [short for Yehovah] Saves”) by adding the Hebrew letter yud to Hoshea’s name so that his name would now begin with the first letter of YHVH’s name—the English letter “Y”.

What was the prophetic significance of this name change? Who is it that will lead us into our spiritual Promised Land or our spiritual and eternal rest? (See Heb 4:8 and 11, especially verse 8, where the author shows that Yehoshua was the foreshadow of Yeshua.)

Do you possess a vibrant and active faith in Yeshua? Is he the Chief Cornerstone of your spiritual house, the Author and Finisher of your faith and the Captain of your salvation to lead you into the spiritual rest of his eternal kingdom? Are you faithfully following him as the Israelites followed Yehoshua/Joshua into the Promised Land?


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