Was Caleb
a Goy?In B'Midbar (Numbers) chapter 13, HaShem[1] commands Moshe to send out spies to spy out the Promised Land. One man from each of the Twelve Tribes is chosen for this expedition, therefore, twelve men in total. For the tribe of Judah, a fellow named Caleb (Kalev) is chosen. As you may remember, there were only two spies (Joshua and Caleb) who gave a positive report, saying that the Israelites should go into the Land, and ten spies who warned the people against going into the Land:

27And they told him (Moses), and said, "We came to the land where you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. 28Nevertheless the people are strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the sons of Anak there. 29The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan."

      30And Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it." 31But the men that went up with him said, "We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we."

      32And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, "The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eats up its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 33And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."          (Numbers 13:27-33)

The ten spies who gave the bad report were wrong. So of course the two spies (Joshua and Caleb) who gave the good report were right. The majority isn't always right. The best man (or woman) doesn't always win the elections. Also, truth is also not decided by majority opinion. If you believe in Yeshua and observe Shabbat, celebrate the Holy Days, and avoid the unclean meats, many Christians might try to tell you that you are doing it all wrong. They might tell you to observe Sunday, and even celebrate holidays with pagan origins, such as Easter instead of Passover. They could point to over a billion Christians and the Sabbaths and holidays that they observe, as evidence that you are wrong. You might try to tell them that truth is not decided by majority opinion. You could even give them many Bible verses to support your beliefs. However, don't be too surprised if they dismiss your beliefs and proof texts.

     In truth, the ten spies with the bad report were correct in many of the things they observed, although it seems that they stretched the truth a bit. There were, indeed, "giants" in the Land. However, to say that the Israelites were as grasshoppers by comparison is an extreme exaggeration. Og, king of Bashan, had a bed that was 9 cubits long (about 14 feet).[2] However, I would assume that the bed was oversized. He wasn't 14 feet tall, perhaps a more moderate 11 feet.

     The sons of Anak (Num. 13:28) are again mentioned as Anakim in Deut. 2:10-11, and 2:21. The Rabbis tell us that the Anakim were giants with long necks. The word "anak" in modern Hebrew means "necklace." The Anakim, as well as other giants such as the Rephaim and the famed Goliath were descendants of the Nephilim. The Nephilim[3] were the result of the "sons of God" (fallen angels) cohabiting with the daughters of men.[4] The result of these relationships were the "mighty men of old, men of renown," as mentioned in Gen. 6:4. The Nephilim were destroyed in Noah's Flood. However, it is apparent that such things continued after the Flood. Goliath might have been among the last of the giants. Jude 6 tells us that the "angels who did not keep their own domain" are now being "kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day." They will apparently be released in the future.

Caleb the Kenizzite

You might be wondering about the strange title of this article: "Was Caleb a Goy?"  The word goy originally meant nation, as in Genesis 12:2, where God promises to make Abraham into a great nation (goy). However, eventually the term goy was transformed to mean Gentile, as in Isaiah 11:10; 42:1,6; 49:6, etc.

     We read in Numbers 13:6 that Caleb was from the tribe of Judah. That's very Jewish! However, if you go to Numbers 32:12, we find that Caleb is described as the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite." In Joshua 14:14, we read again that Caleb is descended from Jephunneh the Kenizzite.

     We first discover the Kenizzites in Genesis 15:18. The Kenizzites were among the inhabitants of the land promised to the descendants of Abraham. Curiously, Caleb was descended from some of the original inhabitants of Canaan. Yet in Numbers 13, he is one of the twelve spies to scout out the land for the Israelites to conquer. To find out the origins of the Kenizzites, we go to Genesis 36:2-4 and 36:11. The Kenizzites were descended from Esau, brother of Jacob. Esau also fathered other nations, such as the Amalekites. Other descendants of Esau were called Edomites, who were often mortal enemies of the Israelites.

     This is all well and good. However, how can a Kenizzite be listed in Numbers 13:6 as being "from the tribe of Judah"? For the answer to that question, we must go to Exodus 12:38. We learn that it wasn't just Israelites that left Egypt in that exodus. "And a mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock."

     Who was in this "mixed multitude"? The Bible doesn't tell us. It might include some Egyptians, as well as others who might have gone to Egypt to escape famine or for a better life. There were probably others who were slaves of the Egyptians who also left with the Israelites. Your guess is as good as mine.

     However, it is worth noting that when they arrived at the Promised Land, it was divided among the Twelve Tribes. There was no separate section of land for the "tribe of mixed multitude." That is because the "mixed multitude" were adopted into the various Twelve Tribes. They became part of the nation of Israel. This is why a Kenizzite like Caleb could be chosen "from the tribe of Judah," as stated in Numbers 13:6.

     I believe that most of the "mixed multitude" converted to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even though many believe that some of this "mixed multitude" created many problems for Israel. The Rabbis blame the "mixed multitude" for causing much dissent, and being a source of rebellion against Moses. They are also blamed for provoking the sin of the Golden Calf in Exodus 32, although there is no Biblical evidence for that. However, any criticism of the "mixed multitude" should be tempered with the understanding that they were from a wide background of pagan religions. We as new believers in Yeshua didn't always live right, and even today we fall short. So perhaps we should offer them some slack.

     The "mixed multitude" were not the only goyim (Gentiles) to attach themselves to Israel. Ruth became a ger (proselyte) when she declared to Naomi, "Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried." [5]

     In Esther 8:17b, we read, "And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them." This might not be the best motivation for converting to Judaism. However, we are grateful to those who chose to become Jews. And we pray that those who choose to become Jews in this day and time will also accept Yeshua as their Jewish Messiah.

     When the Torah was written down, Moses had to make provision for the "mixed multitude" that came out of Egypt. Therefore, it is written: " 15One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourns with you, an ordinance forever in your generations: as you are, so shall the stranger be before YHWH. 16One Law and one manner shall be for you, and for the ger (alien or proselyte) that sojourns with you (Numbers 15:15-16)." There isn't one Torah for the Jews and a separate one for the Gentiles.

     In Romans 11:17-21, we read that the Gentile believers should be grafted into the Jewish Olive Tree. Unfortunately, for many centuries, Christians have been trying to graft Jewish believers into a Christian tree, which unfortunately has been compromised by various pagan holidays and theologies.

     That great gathering on Shavuot ("Pentecost") in Acts 2 gave birth to what is today called Messianic Judaism. The people at this gathering were "both Jews and proselytes (gentile converts to Judaism)."   Acts 2:10.

     In Ephesians 2:11-13, we read, " 11Therefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  12that at that time you were without Messiah, being aliens from the citizenship[6] of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. 13But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Messiah." As adopted citizens of Israel, it behooves us to obey the laws of Israel, just as new citizens of the USA are expected to obey American laws.

     In more recent times, it is postulated by many that between 740 and 920 CE,[7] the Khazar royalty of Khazaria converted to Judaism. After that, many Khazars within the kingdom also converted to Judaism. You can read about it in Wikipedia and many other sources. I personally believe it happened. However, I doubt that their descendants are more than a small percentage of modern Jews.  

Caleb the Dog?

No, Caleb was definitely not a dog! However, his name without the Hebrew vowel pointings is spelled exactly the same as the Hebrew word for dog, which is alM. The Hebrew word for dog is pronounced kelev, which is very close in pronunciation to Kalev, which is Caleb's name in the original Hebrew. Dogs often don't get very good press in the Bible, as in 2 Peter 2:22: "A dog returns to its vomit," when referring to those who come to the knowledge of Yeshua and later depart from the faith. Yochanan, in describing the New Jerusalem, said, "Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the immoral persons, and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who practices lying (Revelation 22:15)." In this context, the dogs are male (homosexual) prostitutes. A derogatory term that was sometimes used for Gentiles was also dogs, as in Matthew 15:22-28 below:

22And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, you Son of David; my daughter is severely demon possessed. 23But He answered her not a word. And his talmidim (disciples) came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away; for she cries after us." 24But He answered and said, "I am sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 25Then she came and worshipped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" 26But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." 27And she said, "True, Lord: yet even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." 28Then Yeshua answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith: it shall be done to you, even as you desire." And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Yeshua truly tested the faith of this Canaanite woman when He called her a dog. However, she accepted this term and used it to demonstrate her faith in Yeshua. She was richly rewarded for this great faith when her daughter was delivered from demon possession.

     Caleb, true to his canine name, was very loyal to the people who adopted him into Israel, even spying against his people according to the flesh, that is, the pagan inhabitants of Canaan. Dogs do disgusting things. However, they are also very loyal to their human masters, even sometimes sacrificing their own lives to save their masters in dire circumstances. Dogs can be very fearless. This is also a characteristic that Caleb had. Instead of fearing the powerful and tall people of Canaan, Caleb said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are able to overcome it (Numbers 13:30)."

     However, Caleb's voice was only one of two (the other being Joshua) against the other ten spies. The Israelites noted that there were ten spies opposed to entering the Land, and only two in favor. To the dismay of Moses, the Israelite nation went with the majority opinion. Caleb's loyalty to Israel was not appreciated. In Numbers 14:10, we see that the people said to "stone them with stones."

     Ultimately, of the generation of men over the age of twenty who departed Egypt, only Caleb and Joshua entered the Holy Land. All of the rest of those men perished in the wilderness. Because of Caleb's faithfulness, Joshua blessed Caleb by giving him the city of Chevron (spelled Hebron in English Bibles), "because he (Caleb) wholly followed the Lord God (Joshua 14:13-14)." As a result, Caleb prevailed over all of his Israelite brothers, with the exception of Joshua, who also entered the Promised Land. We can all learn the lesson of Caleb, to 'wholly' follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to live for Him.

     As a result of the rebellion against Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, the Israelites would wonder in the wilderness for forty years.

[1] "The Name (of God)"

[2] D'varim (Deuteronomy) 3:11.

[3] Nephilim literally means "fallen ones." They were in fact giants, which is how the KJV translates "Nephilim."

[4] B'reisheet (Genesis) 6:2-4.

[5] Ruth 1:16-17.

[6] The Greek word is politea, which really means citizenship, not commonwealth, as it is translated in most English translations. This is the only place in the NT where politea is incorrectly translated as "commonwealth."

[7] "Common Era," equivalent to A.D.