Caleb meaning | Caleb etymology

Discover the meanings of thousands of Biblical names in Abarim Publications' Biblical Name Vault

Caleb in Biblical Hebrew
Biblical male character
Is a word for an animal
Related to a celestial object
Browse Biblical names alphabetically

Search this site

This project depends on the support of readers like you.
Please help...

The name Caleb in the Bible

There are two men named Caleb in the Bible, both from Judah. The lesser known of the famous Calebs is a son of Hezron, who is a son of Perez, who is a son of Judah and Tamar (1 Chronicles 2:18). This Caleb marries Azubah and Jerioth and Ephrath who becomes the mother of Hur (1 Chronicles 2:19). He also has a concubine named Ephah, who bears him Haran, Moza and Gazez.

The most famous Caleb is a son of Jephunneh and a chief of Judah who joins the contingent that Moses assembles to have the promised land spied out (Exodus 13:6). The other famous member of this group is Joshua, who later becomes Moses' successor (see verses 8 & 16).

The contingent consists of twelve members, ten of whom condemn the ensuing campaign. Joshua and Caleb remind Israel that God is on their side, but the Israelites are not convinced. Only after God intercedes, executes the ten fear mongers and states that none of the Israelites who are then alive, except Caleb and Joshua, will see the Promised Land, they move on (Exodus 13-14).

Caleb is awarded Hebron, longevity and a substantial posterity, which in time forms the Judahite sub-clan of the Calebites. Nabal, the man who foolishly opposes David, is a Calebite (1 Samuel 25:3), although it may very well be that he wasn't a Calebite by descent but by behavior. The Hebrew ethnonym is an adjective; the word Calebite literally means Caleb-like. Perhaps Nabal was "harsh and evil in his dealings, and a dog of a man" (25:3, rephrased)

Caleb's daughter is called Achsah and she becomes the wife of Caleb's nephew Othniel, after he conquered Debir (Joshua 15:17).

Etymology of the name Caleb

The name Caleb is identical to the Hebrew word כלב (keleb), meaning dog:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

It is curious that a Biblical hero is known by a name that is absolutely negative.

A solution to this conundrum may be offered by certain popular theories concerning the origin of an archetypal story that occurs in many cultures, and of which the Osiris saga is an example. The Egyptians appear to have believed that their dead pharaoh's would incarnate as stars in the constellation of Orion.

In the Bible stars have multiple literary functions, one of them being the image of the seed of Abraham (Genesis 15:5, compare to Daniel 12:3). Paul makes it overly clear that this seed of Abraham is Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16), and the Body of Christ comprises the believers in Him (Colossians 1:24). In other words: the famous re-birth/ born-again principle of Christianity entails an incarnation into the Body of Christ.

When we then realize that the name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, and that the legendary Orion-figure is always accompanied by a dog (the star we call Sirius), the existence of Caleb in the Joshua cycle may be explained.

Caleb meaning

The name Caleb means Dog.

עABARIMPublicationsFor the Love of the Word