Was Caleb an Israelite?

Was Caleb (see Joshusa 10:6) an Israelite?

The Lord’s injunction in Numbers 13:2 (R.V.) with regard to the sending of the spies was, “Send thou men . . . of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a prince among them.” In obedience to this, Moses “sent them according to the commandment of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel” (v. 3). There follows a list of their names and tribes, in which is included, “Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh” (v. 6). Thus in this passage, the first in which Caleb is mentioned, it is affirmed, not only that he was of the tribe of Judah, but that he was a “prince” and “head” of that tribe.

His being called “the Kenezite” (or “Kenizzite”) in Numbers 32:12 and Joshua 14:6, 14 has led some to assert that he was not an Israelite, but one of that Canaanitish race called “Kenizzites” in Genesis 15:19 while others have associated this patronymic with Kenaz the grandson of Esau (Genesis 16:II, 15), thus making him out to be an Edomite. But when we find that Caleb’s younger brother was called Kenaz (Josh. 15. 17; etc.), and that Caleb’s grandson was also called Kenaz (1 Chronicles 4:15), it becomes evident that the name was a popular one in the family to which he belonged, and that the term “Kenezite” in his own case merely connects him with some earlier Kenaz amongst his ancestors.

W.R.