Caleb: The Whole Hearted Half-breed
Some people may incorrectly interpret our recent articles focused on the genealogy of Bazelel, the Chief Architect of the Tabernacle, as arguing that bloodline is an all important aspect of spiritual heritages. While it was important to keep chronological records for evidence of Christ’s Messianic role, we need to remember that Christ’s own bloodline was not fully Jewish. God chose to include Gentiles of extraordinary faith to be a part of Christ’s lineage and the greater Israelite Nation. Israelites didn’t view this inconsistent pedigree kindly, but God was able to take someone seemingly broken and make him whole. We’ll be examining Bazelel’s great grandfather, Caleb, the half-breed.
As mentioned in a previous article, Caleb’s name is based on the Hebrew word kelev, which meant “dog” and may have subtly hinted at the Israelites’ negative perception of him being of mixed heritage. His father Jephunneh, who most likely came from a non-Israeli hunter clan, the Kenizzites, may have viewed dogs as loyal companions on his hunting excursions, which is why he lovingly named his son Caleb. But we need to remember that Jews thought of dogs as filthy and unclean creatures (Exodus 22:31; Deuteronomy 23:18; 1 Samuel 24:14; 2 Samuel 3:8; 2 Samuel 9:8; 2 Kings 8:13; Proverbs 26:11; Ecclesiastes 9:4) and Caleb may have been a nickname to denote their hostile opinions of him.
This mentality of foreigners being viewed as dogs was long standing and Jesus reminds us of this perception in Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30 when the Canaanite woman with the demon possessed daughter asks for help was referred to and even self-described herself as a dog, who only deserved crumbs from her master’s table. Of course, Christ sees her faith and heals her daughter, despite her being a foreigner.
Jewish discrimination shows up again in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (ref. Luke 10:25-37). After a man was attacked and stripped of his belongings and clothes on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho, he is passed first by a priest and then a Levite, the highest religious positions in Jewish society, only to be helped by a Samaritan. Samaritans were Israelites who were not viewed as valuable, important, or skilled enough to be captured by and taken to the Babylonian Empire during the Babylonian Exile, who then mixed with the people of the Samarian region, which is why they were viewed by the Jews as a low status Gentile mixed race. It would have been considered scandalous at the time to make a Samaritan the hero of any story, especially one that reflected poorly on the Jewish priestly classes.
We see the disciples’ own homicidal hatred towards the Samaritans in Luke 9:51-56, when, while on their way to Jerusalem, the disciples are turned down accommodations in a Samaritan village. James and John, the Sons of Thunder, respond to the insult asking, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” Jesus rebuked them and the group was able to find lodging in another village.
This possible perception of Caleb being a “half-breed” in the eyes of the wandering Israelites is important to stress since it runs counter to how he is ultimately recorded and remembered.
When Caleb asks for Joshua for his allotment during the conquest of the Promised Land, Caleb recalls the faith he placed in God after exploring the territory despite coming across giants (ref. Joshua 14:6-15). “I brought…back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear”. Caleb challenges any assertions that he was an outsider, but has been completely grafted in with his “fellow Israelites”. Most importantly, Caleb recognized that blood purity was not what mattered to God, but a heart purely committed to Him, which is still true today, and will be a marker of those who will be a part of the PMT Campus.
Caleb sets himself apart from the fearful Israelites reminding Joshua that “I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.”
Because of Caleb’s full faith in God, “Moses swore to [him], ‘The land on which [his] feet walked on [would] be [his] inheritance and that of [his] children forever, because [he] followed the Lord [his] God wholeheartedly’”. It took forty-five years for Caleb to finally receive his reward, but because of his unfailing faith, “Joshua blessed Caleb, son of Jephunneh, and gave him Hebron as his inheritance… because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.”
Caleb’s passionate devotion to God is not boasted to Joshua to earn himself land, it is an all-encompassing sign to those around him and part of his testimony. Moses openly recognizes Caleb’s faith in following God unreserved after their reconnaissance of the Promised Land. Moses also testifies before the Gadites and the Reubenites (ref Numbers 32:9-13) that their fathers cowardly discouraged the conquering of the land after surveying it. For this, God promised that that generation would not see the Promised Land, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, “because they followed the Lord wholeheartedly”.
Caleb’s testimony is not just acknowledged by Moses, but God openly declares Caleb’s awe-inspiring commitment to Him. When God’s wrath burned against the unfaithful Israelites, He swore an oath to Moses, “Not one of the men of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land on which he has set foot, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly” (Deuteronomy 1:34-36). This promise is repeated again in Numbers 14:20-24, but God calls out something that made Caleb distinct amongst the Israelites: “My Servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly”.
There may be an aspect of word play in Caleb’s name, which was common in Ancient Hebrew. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, Sarai’s name to Sarah, and Jacob to Israel to denote the significance of their relationships with God. Due to his different spirit and extreme devotion, Caleb’s name, or at least its meaning or pronunciation may have also changed at some point. An alternate Hebrew meaning for Caleb comes from the words Col (לכ) which means “all” or “whole” and Lev (בל) which means “heart”. Calev, as it’s pronounced in Hebrew, can now also mean “whole hearted”.
Caleb was unconcerned with how the rest of the unbelieving Israelites thought of him. What was more important to Caleb was how godly men like Joshua and Moses perceived him and most significantly, how Caleb’s testimony was seen by God Himself. Caleb serves as a perfect example of the kind of people we will fill the PMT Campus with: those who are Spirit-filled and seek to follow Him wholeheartedly, despite the giants in the land.
We can’t wait to see how they are transformed by God, as a reward for their faith.
Prepared by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet & Eric Sepulveda, PMT Administrator
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