(cay' lihb) CALEBITE Personal and clan name meaning, “dog.” Caleb the son of Jephunneh, was one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to reconnoiter the territory of Canaan (Numbers 13:6). He was one of only two who brought back a positive report (Numbers 13:30). Because of his steadfast loyalty to the Lord, God rewarded him by letting him survive the years of wilderness wandering and giving him the region of Hebron as his portion in the Promised Land. At the age of eighty-five Caleb conquered Hebron (Joshua 14:1).
The ethnological identity of the Calebites is uncertain. In
Numbers 13:6, Caleb is identified with the tribe of Judah. However, according to
Numbers 32:12, his father Jephunneh was a Kenezite. The Kenezites apparently were of Edomite origin (Genesis 36:9-11). Perhaps Caleb represented a Kenezite clan that had joined the Israelites and become incorporated into the tribe of Judah.