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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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the son of Jephunneh, of the tribe of Judah, was one of those who accompanied Joshua, when he was deputed by Moses to view the land of Canaan, which the Lord had promised them for an inheritance, Numbers 13. The deputies sent on this occasion were twelve in number, selected one out of each of the tribes, and they performed their commission with great promptitude and skill; they traversed the country in every direction, bringing with them, on their return, some of its finest fruits for the inspection of their brethren. Some of them, however, after making the report of the beauty and goodness of the country, which they described to be a land flowing with milk and honey, added, that the inhabitants of it were remarkable for their strength, while its cities were large and enclosed with walls. These latter particulars having excited a spirit of murmuring among the Israelites, Caleb endeavoured to animate their courage by dwelling upon the fertility of the country, and exhorting them to go boldly and take possession of it. Others, however, dissuaded the people from making the attempt, assuring them that their would never make themselves masters of it. We have seen giants there, said they, in comparison of whom we were as grasshoppers; on which the people declared against the project, and intimated their wish to return again into Egypt. Moses and Aaron no sooner heard this than they fell upon their faces before the whole congregation, and Joshua and Caleb rent their clothes, imploring them to take courage and march boldly on; since, if God were with them, they might easily make a conquest of the whole land. So exasperated, however, were the multitude, that they were proceeding to stone Caleb and Joshua, when the glory of the Lord appeared upon the tabernacle, and threatened their extermination. Moses, having fervently interceded for them, the Lord graciously heard his prayer; but though he was pleased not to destroy them immediately, he protested with an oath, that none of those who had murmured against him should see the land of Canaan, but that they should all die in the wilderness. "As for my servant Caleb," it was added, "who hath faithfully followed me, him will I bring into the land, and he shall possess it, he and his children after him," Numbers 14:1-24 . Joshua also obtained a similar exception, Numbers 14:30; Numbers 14:38 . When Joshua had entered the promised land, and conquered a considerable part of it, Caleb, with the people of his tribe, came to meet him at Gilgal, and finding that he was about to divide the land among the twelve tribes, Caleb petitioned to have the country which was inhabited by the giants allotted to him, on which Joshua blessed him and granted his request. Assisted by a portion of his tribe, he marched against Hebron, and slew the children of Anak: thence he proceeded to Debir, and finding the place almost impregnable, he offered his daughter Achsah in marriage to the hero that should take it. This was done by his nephew Othniel, who in consequence obtained Achsah, with a considerable portion also of territory. We are not informed of the particular time or manner of the death of Caleb; but by his three sons, Iru, Elah, and Naam, he had a numerous posterity, who maintained an honourable rank among their brethren. See Numbers 13, 14, Joshua 14:6-15; Joshua 15:13-19; Judges 1:9-15; 1 Chronicles 4:15-20 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Caleb'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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