I am not Hebrew expert, but I have been interested in the Hebrew meaning of my name, Caleb. There are many places that say that Caleb translates as dog, but has the meaning of the loyalty of a dog.

From a tiny bit of Hebrew knowledge I have from a YouTube channel The Bible Project, they explain the Hebrew word 'lev' (לֵב) meaning heart (video). Some websites will say Caleb as more to the Hebrew pronunciation: Kalev.

I was curious if there was any connection between 'Kalev' and 'lev' within the Hebrew language or in the Bible. I don't know much about Hebrew as a language, but would definitely like to learn!

  • 1
    Welcome to Christianity.SE, Scoutchorton! You might consider asking this question on our sister site, Mi Yodeya. – JBH Oct 23 '18 at 14:36
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this belongs in Mi Yodeh – KorvinStarmast Oct 30 '18 at 2:58
  • I thought it meant moderator – Kris Aug 6 '19 at 19:45
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about Christian doctrine or practice. – curiousdannii Aug 7 '19 at 12:30

In the Bible Caleb, the the son of Jephunneh, was from the tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6). He was sent out by Moses (along with Joshua and other Israelites) to spy out the promised land. Although the Hebrew spelling of the name Caleb is similar to the spelling of the word “dog” it is not the same. I believe the Hebrew word for dog is ‘celeb’ and not Caleb. Caleb means faithful or wholehearted.

An alternate Hebrew meaning offered for Caleb is "faithful, devotion, whole hearted, bold, brave". This is on the basis of its being actually a compound word, a phenomenon quite common in ancient Hebrew. Col (כל, Kaf + Lamed) = "all" or "whole"; Lev (לב, Lamed + Bet) means "heart". Therefore, Caleb (or Calev as pronounced in Hebrew) would actually mean "whole hearted". This might be due to the Biblical Caleb, a companion of Moses and Joshua, being noted for his astute powers of observation and fearlessness in the face of overwhelming odds... Another plausible origin is a transposition of a name found in other ancient Semitic languages such as Phoenician and Ugaritic, meaning "servant of the Lord".[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caleb_(given_name)

1 Samuel 25:3 makes reference to a surly character called Nabal the Calebite, a descendant of Caleb. He was aptly named, because the man was also a fool, unlike Caleb who had faith in God’s promises and power. Both Caleb and Joshua were blessed by God because of their faith (Numbers 14:30, 38; 26:65). Caleb proved, by his actions, that he was “whole hearted” in his faithfulness to God.

| improve this answer | |
  • The way Wikipedia cites the meaning "servant of the Lord" is a little misleading. The page brought as a source says that it might be a shortened form of "dog of the Lord" which figuratively means "servant of the Lord." In any case that would leave Caleb with the meaning "dog" – b a Oct 24 '18 at 14:46
  • @b a – I understand that the Hebrew word for dog is ‘celeb’ and not ‘caleb’ – I have edited my answer to make this clear. – Lesley Oct 25 '18 at 8:45
  • "Dog" seems more correct to me (I don't fully understand the etymology of the name, particularly the stress, but the word for dog, keleb, becomes kalb- in possessive forms). Etymologically "whole-hearted" would be impossible, since the name would have to be כֻּלֵּב Kulleb to have that meaning. I leave it to you to decide whether you prefer linguistic answers or symbolic ones – b a Oct 25 '18 at 9:26

The problem with the meaning "dog" is the Greek mindset or cultural way of thinking. That mindset likes to look for an absolute truth, a single answer for the definition of caleb.
But it's a Hebrew name, grown from a Hebrew mindset. That way of thinking is more like a collections of truths to reveal a whole truth.

Don't look for the English solid definition, look for the internal and original function of its definition if that makes sense.

A Hebrew would have thought the same way in those days. A dog is easily a servant, a very faithful loyal one at that, one that literally does everything with full heart in mind of the master. "Servant of the lord" especially being applied to one from the tribe of Judah would definitely be an acceptable answer.

| improve this answer | |
  • Please review the edit, I tried to get the prose to be a little more organized. If it retains your meaning, good. If not, please revise to restore your intended meaning. Welcome to ChristianitySE. The tour and the help center are useful guides on how to get the most out of this site's format. – KorvinStarmast Aug 6 '19 at 18:53

Caleb most probably means "After the heart" as in "after God's own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14) except it's probably meant in the sense that this child will be a man after the heart of his father (or mother)—an expected 'true son of the father.' The כ means "as; like; according to" as in "who is like God?" (mikael?) and לב means "heart." Seeing "dog" here is mysterious to me.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.