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Subject: Re: Caleb - meaning
Author: Andy ;—)   (guest, 84.128.204.129)
Date: February 25, 2005 at 5:49:09 AM
Reply to: Caleb - meaning by exracer327
Caleb (Kalev) isn't easy. You are right, the dog part appears almost everywhere.
Now Lala is right, when she says that vowels don't mean a lot in Hebrew, so KALEV could well be related to KELEV, because the consonants Kaf-Lamed-Bet are the same. The pronunciation is nothing much to go by: You pronounce the name "Colev", which is the Ashkenaz pronunciation. The Sephardic pronunciation is KALEV, and in modern Hebrew the name is pronounced this way. So the (possible) pronunciation "COLEV" is not really an argument for your thesis.
As far as I can see (please correct me if I'm mistaken) the dog part doesn't come in directly through the Hebrew word kelev, but through an Arabic parallel. Martin Noth has this in his book "Die israelitischen Personennamen im Rahmen der gemeinsemitischen Namengebung" (despite its age of more than 70 years still the standard work on the subject): "'furious like a dog', after the Arabic karibun" (page 230, fn 5). Of course the two words are related.
You are right: The explanation you are giving (and you are not the only one) perfectly matches the character of the biblical KALEV - and this is exactly what makes me suspicious.
I believe, this is but folk etymology, nicely made up and good for a Sunday sermon. But I don't think it has anything to do with the original meaning of the name. If I had the means, I would try and look in the Jewish tradition and probably find something about KALEV loving God "with all his heart" (Dtn 6,5: „kol-levav“! ).
In the bible names of animals usually have a positive connotation when used as a personal name: Debora should be as industrious as a bee, Arie as strong as a lion, Zibya as elegant as a Gazelle etc. Others probably were nicknames in the first place: Tola (Gen 46,13) means "worm", Chulda (Huldah) (2. Kings 22,14) is a "moule" (choled; chulda in modern Hebrew means „rat“), and Parosh (Esr 2,3) means "flea". So a name meaning "furious as a dog" would fit in with this.
But I don’t seeany names in the bible starting with "Kol-" …
There is a philological rule: If there are two possibilities, the one, that has the less beautiful (or fitting, or expectable) meaning, is more like to be original. This means: It is easier to explain, how the name KALEV was reinterpreted as "whole hearted", than to explain, why the meaning "doglike" would be added later. Philology usually achieves its best results, when people are not preoccupied with desirable meanings.

Regards
Andy

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