Caleb: the Man Named "Dog"
by Bob Young

Names are interesting. Reflect character. In this lesson, a man whose name may mean "dog." May reflect man with canine qualities--the rabid one, biting, snarling. In cuneiform, literally the term was used of abject servitude. So Canaanite king may call himself the "dog" of the Egyptian Pharaoh.
The man is Caleb, son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, one of the spies sent to survey the land of Canaan in Num. 13. One of two spies who were willing to trust the Lord and enter Canaan. Later Caleb helped with the land allotments of the respective tribes in the Promised Land (Num. 34:19).
Caleb's relationship with the Kenizzites may indicate the present of non-Israelites who became identified with the people and faith of Israel as early as the time of Joshua. Calab and his descendants are identified as part of the tribe of Judah, but appear to have mixed background.
At the time of the conquest, Caleb was 85 years old, Josh. 14:7,10. "Give me this mountain." So the town of Hebron was assigned to Caleb and he occupied it after expelling the Anakim who have previously dwelt there (Josh. 14:13,14). Focus on life of this man who perhaps began with two strikes against him.

What makes a person a "character"? Uniqueness. What does it mean? Heb. 1:3-4, Christ is very character of God. In the book of Hebrews, this foreshadows the type-antitype illustration. Type is the reversed image on the typewriter, the type leaves the antitype on the paper. The antitype is the one readable; the antitype is the goal. What the type leaves is a character. The type stamps the page, get a character. So with people of character, an impression has been left. The best use of the description "character" as it refers to human beings is that the impression is that of God.

I. Caleb had a God to live for.
Regardless of religious background of Caleb, character begins in the recognition of God. Higher power, higher purpose. Man is not of himself. Real character comes from without and is built from within.
This is the explanation of Paul, of David (after God's own heart), and of Caleb (followed God wholeheartedly, fulfilled the purpose of God). Also explanation of the ungodly who deny God, Rom. 3.

II. Caleb had a Faith to live by.
Not enough to acknowledge God. Having a God to live for leads to having a faith to live by. Caleb was a man of faith. In matter of spies, in depending upon God, in requesting his homestead and fighting the battle, even at age 85.
This kind of faith is more than acknowledging God. More than once a week activity. More than a token presence in worship.

III. Caleb had a Purpose to live out.
Caleb was living out the purpose of God in his life.
Sense of "niche." Why am I here, what am I to do, where am I going?

IV. Caleb had a Hope to live in.
A man who moves forward at age 85 is obviously not ready to throw in the towel. Caleb lived for the future, lived for the ultimate victory.

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Last updated August 16, 2010.