« Calderwood, Henry Caleb, Calebites Calendar Brethren (Fratres Calendarii) »

Caleb, Calebites

CALEB, CALEBITES: One of twelve scouts whom Moses sent from the Wilderness of Sin to spy out the promised land (Num. xii. 16-xiii. 17a, 21, 25), and his descendants. According to Num. xiii. 6 he represented the tribe of Judah. Joshua xiv. 6, 14 designates him as "the Kenizzite," with which Joshua xv. 17 agrees in making Othniel, the brother of Caleb, the "son of Kenaz." The Kenizzites were a branch of the Edomitic stock, Kenaz being a grandson of Esau (Gen. xxxvi. 11, 15). Then Caleb, and Othniel were originally not Israelites, but had left their people and united with the Hebrews, and this agrees with the location of their settlements in Hebron and Debir (Josh. xiv. 6–15, xv. 13–19; Judges i. 12–15, 20). I Chron. ii. 42–49 puts into the possession of Caleb Maresha, Hebron, Tappuah, Maon, Jokdeam, and Beth-zur (Madmannah, verse 49, is a city of the Negeb, Josh. xv. 31). The Calebites occupied the same region in the time of Saul and David, and to them belonged a part of the Negeb (I Sam. xxx. 14). There David lived long as a freebooter, his first wife was of Calebite stock, and Abigail was from Maon-Carmel. After Saul's death David occupied Hebron and its Calebite neighborhood and was there made king. His realm included the territory of Caleb and Judah, though the latter gave the name to his kingdom. In spite of the formal union of the two peoples, the Calebites maintained a practical independence with a residence in Judahitic territory. This explains Absalom's resort to Hebron in his insurrection against David.

The name Caleb was then originally that of a stock, and, personified, became that of the eponymous ancestor (see Eponym). With this the story of Achsah (Judges i. 12–15, Josh. xv. 15–19) is seen to agree when it is remembered that tribally "daughter" means a weaker stock which has lost its independence to a stronger.

The Calebites remained in the district mentioned till exilic times when the Edomites drove them, weakened by Nebuchadrezzar's measures, northward to the neighborhood of Jerusalem—a change explained in customary genealogical phrasing (I Chron. ii. 18–19), and the Calebites were reckoned to Judah (I Chron. ii. 5, 9, 18, 50–55).


An early age can not be ascribed to the narrative which gives the story of the spies, since Caleb is there reckoned as a Judahite without any discrimination of stocks such as other passages cited above make necessary. The assumption in the representation of P in Num. xiii.–xiv., and of the Chronicler, of the assimilation by the Hebrews of the Calebites is good for postexilic times. (See Judea.)

(H. Guthe.)

While advanced scholarship generally takes the position indicated in the text (so, for example, J. A. Selbie in DB, i. 340), conservative criticism insists that Caleb was originally a personal name and declines altogether the idea of eponymity; cf. J. D. Davis, Dictionary of the Bible, Philadelphia, 1898, pp. 103–104.

Bibliography: J. Wellhausen, De gentibus et familiis, I Chron. ii. 4. Göttingen, 1870; idem, Die Komposition des Hexateuchs, pp. 336–338, Berlin, 1889; H. Grätz, Die Kelubaiten oder Kalebiten, in Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, xxv. (1876) 461 sqq.; W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage, pp. 200, 219, London, 1885; idem in Journal of Philology, ix. (1876) 89; E. Meyer, Die Entstehung des Judentums, pp. 114 sqq., 147–148, Halle, 1896.

« Calderwood, Henry Caleb, Calebites Calendar Brethren (Fratres Calendarii) »
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