Elijah AND Caleb, both Gentiles?

As many of the regular readers here know, I did a series a while back studying Elijah and his connection with the Great Tribulation as well as his possible connection with the 144,000.  The way that study started was my learning that Elijah was a Gentile grafted into Israel.  See that series for details as well as an abundance of information on Elijah.

My recent discovery, likely known to most of you, but I’ll share anyway, is that Caleb was also a Gentile grafted into Israel and again, there are some really cool prophetic connections and implications.

This will be short, but rich when the depth is pondered…

So, back to Caleb, counterpart to Joshua…  Moshe selected the men to go into Canaan and spy out the land in Numbers 13.  The relevant verses, 6-8, are:

Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.

Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph.

Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun.

We know from the story, that when the 12 spies returned, “ten were bad, two were good.”  Essentially, Yahweh judged the people for their rebellion and unwillingness to enter the land.   Only two men from that generation, over the age of 20, were allowed to enter the Promised Land.

Joshua and Caleb.

Caleb was a Gentile.  Joshua 14:14 says,

Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite unto this day; because that he wholly followed Jehovah, the God of Israel.

So, who were the Kenizzites?  They were Gentiles living in the land when it was given to Avram.  Genesis 15:18-21 says,

In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kadmonite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Rephaim, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.

Fascinating…  But that is just the beginning of the story.  Here is a teaser for you to study more deeply:

TWO men make it into the Promised Land.

One from the tribe of Judah.  One from the tribe of Ephraim.

One is a native Israelite (Jew), the other is a grafted in Gentile.

Picture of the Two Sticks prophesy?  Ezekiel 37.  I also discuss this in connection with Elijah….

A picture of the Two Witnesses? …Leading others into the Promised Land?

Say it isn’t so…  The end indeed is foretold in the beginning!!

Enjoy pondering this little treasure!


PS…  a side note:  A slightly different picture also arises in this same story line:  Joshua/Yoshua is the same name as Yeshua…  ‘Deliverer/Salvation.’  The leader, upon re-entry into the Land, will be the Warrior King, Moshiach Yeshua, foreshadowed in Yoshua!!  Further, upon re-entry into the Land under His Headship, we will have our hearts circumcised!  (Read the ‘new’ Covenant and see that Torah will be written on our hearts as the ‘new’ Covenant is enacted when Moshiach drinks the cup of the new Covenant.)

Author: Pete Rambo

Details in 'About' page @ natsab.wordpress.com Basically, husband of one, father of four. Pastor x 11 years, former business and military background. Micro-farmer. Messianic believer in Yeshua haMashiach!

16 thoughts on “Elijah AND Caleb, both Gentiles?”

  1. Shalom brother, Good to see you stirred up and digging!!
    I’ve studied these scriptures previously with my Mentor, and I can see the line of thought. I humbly lay my own understanding for your consideration…
    Always in ahav and shalom 🙂
    (Quote from above article begins:
    “Caleb was a Gentile. Joshua 14:14 says,

    Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite unto this day; because that he wholly followed Jehovah, the God of Israel.

    So, who were the Kenizzites? They were Gentiles living in the land when it was given to Avram. Genesis 15:18-21 says,

    In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kadmonite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Rephaim, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.” End Quote)

    The understanding that Caleb is a gentile due to him being ‘the son of Jephun­neh the Kenizzite’ and linking this to the term ‘Kenizzite’ to Genesis 15:19, where it speaks of the Kenizzites who were contemporaries of Abraham, but obviously not Hebrews. This teaching, of course, hinges on the term Kenizzite that is attached to Caleb’s father’s name, which is found three times in Scripture:

    In Bemidbar/Numbers 32:12 ‘the Kenizzite’ is spelled in Hebrew as הַקְּנִזִּי
    In Yehoshua/Joshua 14:6 it’s…………………………………………………. הַקְּנִזִּי
    In Yehoshua/Joshua 14:14 it’s……………………………………………….. הַקְּנִזִּי

    All three places it’s spelled the exact same way
    הַקְּנִזִּי haKenizi, which comes into English as ‘the Kenizzite.’
    It’ll also be seen as a name,Kenaz, without the article (ha for ‘the’) and the dropping of the yod (י), which doesn’t effect the meaning of the word.

    The term Kenizzite is also seen in the plural form as the Kenizzites listed in Bereshith/Genesis 15:19, and it’s the same Hebrew spelling that is used of Caleb’s father הַקְּנִזּי haKenizi. Genesis 15:19 speaks of the ten different ethnic groups of people in Canaan that the Hebrews were to dispossess when YHVH brought Israel out of Egypt four hundred years later. Ber/Gen 15 records the covenant that YHVH made with Abram (Abraham), which gave him and his descendants, through Isaac and Jacob, the land of Canaan.

    Heres a table of the usages:
    Citation NKJV NIV NASB KJV
    Gen. 15:19 Kenezzites Kenizzites Kenizzite Kenizzites
    Num. 32:12 Kenizzite Kenizzite Kenizzite Kenezite
    Josh. 14:6 Kenizzite Kenizzite Kenizzite Kenezite
    Josh. 14:14 Kenizzite Kenizzite Kenizzite Kenezite

    Now the clincher in this is whether Caleb’s pop’s- the Kenizzite- comes from The kennizzite people listed In Ber/Gen 15:19?
    First glance all seems well the words are identical. So according to the first glance Caleb’s pop’s was a gentile and not of “natural” lineage from Abraham’s Seed, Isaac and Jacob.This held, it would be fair to say a Gentile “became” a Hebrew, and from this we can extrapolate the position that Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua “become” Hebrews in the Commonwealth of Israel..Gentiles cease being Gentiles and become Hebrews?

    From the Kennizzites in Ber/Gen 15:19 to Caleb’s pop’s Jephunneh the Kenizzite, there is about 400 years (Ber/Gen 19:13), Jephunneh lived in the Pre Exodus generation.
    So, with this in mind, we can ask, when did the Gentile Jephunneh (of the Kenizzites of Ber/Gen 15:19)enjoin/come INTO the people of Israel? There is no mention of his “going down” into Mitsrayim with Jacob and his family (Ber/Gen 46:8-26) because it was before the time of his birth. Further, we see no mention of any male Gentile or Kenizzite “going down” INTO Mitsrayim with Jacob and his family that could have been his ancestor.Did Jephunneh or his forebears come into Egypt and attach themselves to the Hebrews during their servitude to the Egyptians? Seems a leap…
    Perhaps we would be better served looking at the word in question the term Kenizzite?

    The name Kenizzite (Hebrew Kenizi) is also seen in its base form as Kenaz in Gen. 36:11 where it’s the name of Eliphaz’s fifth son:
    “And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz.” (Ber/Gen 36:11)

    In its usage here (Ber/Gen 36:11) is as a proper name alone, however it has no direct link/tie into the line of the Ber/Gen 15:19 Kenizzites. Because in (Ber/Gen 36:10) we see Kenaz=son of Eliphaz=son of Esau=twin brother of Jacob (Ber/Gen. 25:20-26). Jacob’s father and grandfather were not Kenizzites.
    This Kenaz of Eliphaz, even though the name is the same as the Ber/Gen 15:19 Kenizzites, has no lineage to them genealogically.
    Eliphaz ascribed the name Kenaz to his son through no biological reason (descent/lineage etc), but due to its meaning (as we the Hebrews held/hold great import in the meanings of names).

    The name Kenaz (the base of Kenizi) is a proper name and is used for three people in Scripture:

    Kenaz is the name of Eliphaz’s fifth son and is listed in five places.
    Kenaz is used for Othniel’s father in five places. Of course, Othniel is Caleb’s younger brother (Yehosh/Josh. 1:13; Shofet/Judg. 3:9), so it speaks of the same person, their father Jephunneh. It’s interesting to note that Scripture calls Caleb’s father HA KENEZI all three times that it speaks of Jephunneh, while all five times when it speaks of Othniel’s father, who we know has to be Jephunneh, it doesn’t speak of him as Jephunneh, but calls him KENAZ.

    Kenaz is seen as Kenizzite (Kenizi in Hebrew) in reference to Caleb’s father, Jephunneh the Kenizzite or Jephunneh the Kenizi.

    Kenaz is also seen as a proper name for one of Caleb’s grandsons (1 Dibre/1st Chron. 4:15).

    So 8 times we see Scripture ascribe the term Kenaz/Kenizi to the father of Caleb and Othniel, as outlined previously it can’t be show from Scripture, that Caleb was delineated from the Ber/Gen 15:19 Kenizzites- as Kenaz can be “just” a name for a person with no genealogical link to the “Ber/Gen Kens”‘ (I like that its got a ring to it !!) We see this in Kenaz, son of Eliphaz. In the 38 mentions of Caleb/Othniel there are no mentions of the lineage before their father Jephunneh.
    In 1 Dibre/1st Chron. 2:18 Caleb’s father is listed as Hezron. This is very interesting because we know his father was Jephunneh, but it may give some insight into Caleb’s ancestry because sometimes Scripture skips over a father or two and doesn’t list them. If that’s the case, then this is just another confirmation that Caleb and Othniel weren’t of Gentile stock, but of Hebrew lineage because Hezron is a Hebrew name-not a title of appelation(Gen. 46:9) and it’s seen as a grandson of Judah, the son of Jacob (Gen. 46:12; Ruth 4:18; 1st Chron. 2:18). This would confirm the Scriptures that state that Caleb was of the Tribe of Judah (Num. 13:6; Josh. 14:6) and also give us his Hebrew lineage. Hence there is no scriptural basis to support a lineage from Caleb to the Ber/Gen Ken’s of 15:19.

    The appelation Jephunneh the Kenizzite (haKenizi) seems to denote who Jephunneh was, not denote a tie/link to the Kenizzite ehtnic grouping. Eastons Bib.Dic/NIV Bible Dic/Naves Top.Bible all state “kenaz” means hunting. So, in lieu of the evidence for a descent based use of the word,it seems the title of “the Kenizzite (haKenizi) shows that Jephunneh was afforded the title of “the hunter”.This is most likely the title afforded by Eliphaz to his son Kenaz (The Hunter). Without a biblical witness the use of the term doesn’t link Jephunneh to the Ber/Gen Ken’s, anymore than Kenaz, the son of Eliphaz could be said to have come form them. The term haKenizi is a appelation, name, title, designation that anyone could have aside from the ethnic grouping of Ber/Gen Kens of 15:19.
    The use of a term alone to link to an ethnic grouping is shaky ground really, as , Don King and Stephen King, Larry King and BB King will all attest 😉
    Or to say that people from a certain line of work are equally from the same lineage due to their working titles..
    Caleb’s father, having the term ‘the hunter’ as part of who he was known as, cannot be used to link him to the ethnic group called the Kenizzites (which means ‘hunters’).
    Within scripture we see no support to uphold the position that Jephunneh stems from the group called the Kennizites in Ber/Gen 15:19.
    The use of a denotation such as haKenizi-Hunter cannot be used alone to link Jephunneh to the ethnic group called The Kenizzites, as we see non linked usage of the term elsewhere, (Kenaz of Eliphaz).Based upon scripture Caleb was not a Gentile, but a Hebrew(, and as such is not an example of a Gentile losing his ethnicity and becoming a Hebrew. I hope I have laid enough out to evidence that Caleb was a Hebrew from the Tribe of Judah:
    ‘from the Tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh’ (Bemidbar/Numbers 13:6).

    “Then the Sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephun­neh the Kenizzite said to him, ‘You know the word which Yahveh spoke to Moses, the man of God, concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea’ (Yehoshua/Joshua 14:6).

    Sorry it ran so long, but I wanted to share my thoughts with you, and didn’t want to post a blog as it’s not my desire or intent to appear to play ping pong 🙂 I enjoy our iron sharpening and long may it continue!!

    Much love and blessing in the Name of Our Saviour and Teacher Yeshua Ha Mashiach….


    1. Don, Stephen, Larry and. BB, LOL.. Good digging. Have to study through your response a little more. The genealogies are so rich but often hard to track through books. Much digging required.

      I appreciate the help. Shalom.


  2. I’d agree with both views. There are hidden treasures within the Scriptures and the passages often cry out for us to dig further into the heart of God. There were many mysteries involving the coming of the Messiah that were concealed and later revealed. Mysteries that weren’t obvious prior to His birth, death, and resurrection. It requires “spiritual eyes” to see multiple perspectives into a single passage or event. And quite frankly this could be one of those. Whether gentile or not there is a linkage in name to the Kenizzites. Possibly alluding to Something deeper. So according to Jewish thought/style of interpretation and to the connections (which line up with other Scriptures) this article makes, I’d say they’re valid and ought to be examined.


    1. Interesting thought, particularly in light of those in the nations waking up to long hidden connections, whether spiritual or physical, to Israel through being grafted in. I’ll have to roll that around in my head some more.

      Oh, and welcome to the blog!



  3. I can agree that there is a basis for both of these arguments.
    However, if Calev was an Israelite, I have trouble believing that his parents would give their son a name which means “dog” in Hebrew. Is this not a term they used for Gentiles? I have no trouble at all believing he was called Calev by the Israelites, but joined himself to Israel as a faithful “God-fearer” so faithfully that he was fully “grafted into” Israel and the tribe of Judah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pam, I agree with your thoughts. Here are a few of my own.
      We first read of Caleb in Numbers 13: 6 when the Israeilites are encamped at Kadesh Barnea. He is selected as one of the 12 spies to do a recce of Canaan.
      He is put forward as the representative of the tribe of Judah. Why? As a gentile who had lived in Canaan(see Gen 15: 18-21) he had local knowledge of the land and therefore was more than qualified to survey the land. It would appear he joined the Israelites some time after they had left Egypt. The Anakim had taken over his ancestral land Kiryat Arba (Hebron) and that was the portion Moses promised him.(see Deut 1:36)

      Jos_11:21 And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.
      Jos_14:14 Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.

      There is a prophetic element regarding Joshua and Caleb.

      One was an Israelite and the other a Gentile.
      Both endured life’s wilderness wanderings.
      Both crossed into the Promised Land.
      Both received their inheritance.
      It is a picture of Israel and the Church.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good thoughts on these posts and glad to get insights you’ve all offered. IN response to scatterednotlost I have some additional thoughts for consideration. I agree with you observations about Caleb not being in the company of Jacob during his departure to Egypt. And I also follow your logic about the less-than-likely prospect of an Edomite tribe, living in freedom, crossing over into Goshen to join themselves with a tribe of people who were enslaved to the Pharoah of Egypt. However, I think there’s room to re-evaluate the idea that Caleb was of a Gentile background. I recently investigated this idea due to the fact that I’ve been doing research on a related topic for several months; that is, Adoption. Caleb’s life and legacy seems to fit into the motif of adoption on many levels, but before I venture into this thesis, may I exhort you to peruse an article written about Caleb that is extremely well researched, and written. Here is an address that will open this article up: http://www.testimony-magazine.org/back/sep-2005/hurn.pdf The author, Deborah Hurn, does a wonderful job pointing out how the Kenezites and the Kenite tribes became linked. And in this regard, how Caleb, having been born into a Kenezite clan, became linked with the Kenites (Jethro’s tribe), who later joined themselves to Israel during their sojourn in the desert. One of the conclusions she came up with in her research that raised my eyebrows is a statement that relates to the Biblical subject of adoption. Here’s what she said: “Caleb’s type as an ‘adopted’ son of Israel is consistent with the proposal that he joined Israel after the redemptive events of the Passover week. Caleb symbolizes Gentile believers who have joined themselves to the hope of Israel in the era since Christ’s sacrifice and Resurrection, but before the Kingdom. Rahab and her family, on the other hand, symbolizes those of the nations who willingly submit to the rule of Christ and the saints after they enter into the Promised Land.

    This conclusion fits very well with Galatians chapter 4. In this section, Paul illustrates the transition from slavery to freedom (Redemption) that took place on account of Christ’s coming. He does this by drawing upon a corollary that associates the Roman practice of adoption (status change from slave to son) with accomplishments of Christ – releasing believers from the bondage of the Law into the freedom of Christ.

    Verses 4 – 5: “But when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons”

    These verses indicate that the redemption of Israel was a necessary first step before the adoption could take place that would release believers from the status of being slaves and usher us into a relationship with God as His sons (see verse 7). The adoption, or placing of a son is a paradoxical arrangement. On the one hand, we are sons right now; however, the full status of our sonship is a “not yet” fulfillment (see I John 3:1,2 and Romans 8:23, 24). This is so because redemption is a process – and so is adoption. Our (full) adoption will only take place when our bodies are redeemed, which will take place at the Resurrection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would like to see more on this. The link didn’t work for me…

      I will say I disagree with your assertion near the end referring to the Law as “bondage.”. Scripture calls God’s Law, the Torah- ‘freedom’ and ‘life.’. Those who keep it will be blessed. It was all the additions by man that created the bondage. We must be careful to articulate this distinction. Obedience to Torah is NEVER described in Scripture as ‘bondage.’


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