Caleb makes his first appearance on the pages of Scripture in the thirteenth chapter of Numbers when God directed Moses to commission twelve men, one from each of the tribes, to take a reconnaissance mission into Canaan. Joshua represented the tribe of Ephraim while Caleb represented the tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6, 8). For forty days the elite team scouted the land; real estate that God had promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:7); property that the emancipated slaves longed to inhabit.
After exploring their inheritance, ten of the spies reported, “We can’t attack the people because they are stronger than we are! ... The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size... the descendants of Anak! ... To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them” (Numbers 13:30-33).
Caleb and Joshua refused to fear the giants but remained focused on Almighty God and His promise of victory. “Let’s go up now and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30). “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!” (Numbers 14:7–9).
Of course, you know the rest of the story. The nation refused to follow God into Canaan, and then spent the next forty years wandering the wilderness until a doubting generation died. Forty years later, Joshua led a new generation of God’s people to conquer Canaan and receive God’s promised inheritance. The book of Joshua recounts those momentous battles.
When the conquest was nearly complete, eighty-five-year-old Caleb makes another appearance in Scripture, claiming his inheritance. “Give me this hill country” where the giants live! (Joshua 14:10-12). When the dust settled, the victory belonged to Caleb. He “drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai” (Joshua 15:13-14). David slew a giant named Goliath. Caleb slew three giants.
From the 388-page book, “The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names,” we find the original meaning of the giant’s names. Sheshai means “my fine garments.” Ahiman means “who is my brother?” And Talmai can refer to “furrows.”
Now, let’s see the application for today’s struggles. Sheshai, “my fine garments” points to pride! Pride is a big dude, but with God’s help, I can be victorious over the giant. His wicked brother is Ahiman, “who is my brother?”, apathy, another nasty giant. And the third big guy is Talmai. “Furrows” makes me think about being “stuck in a rut.” The seven dying words of a traditionalist: “We’ve never done it that way before.” The three giants living in Caleb’s inheritance represent pride, apathy, and traditionalism.
Like Caleb, we must face these same giants, enemies common to all who seek to conquer the high ground of God’s promises. These three giants are there to taunts us, to intimidate, and to discourage. “Don’t be afraid of them!”
I want to live in the land that flows with milk and honey! Don’t you?
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.