Monday, June 09, 2014

Was Calev ben Yefuneh the same person as Calev ben Chetzron?

According to Chizkuni, the father of Kalev was Chetzron. Thus:

"Calev ben Yefuneh: He is Calev ben Chetzron, and his name is called Yefuneh because he [Calev] turned [פנה] from the counsel of the scouts."
This is based on the statement of Chazal in Sotah 11b:
'The son of Hezron'? He was the son of Jephunneh!42  — [It means] that he was a son who turned [panah] from the counsel of the spies. Still, he was the son of Kenaz, as it is written: And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it!43  — Raba said: He was the stepson of Kenaz.
To explain what is happening here, in 1 Divrei Hayamim 2, there is a section regarding the lineage of a specific descendant of Yehuda. Skipping to relevant pesukim:

ה  בְּנֵי-פֶרֶץ, חֶצְרוֹן וְחָמוּל.  {ס}5 The sons of Perez: Hezron, and Hamul. {S}
ט  וּבְנֵי חֶצְרוֹן, אֲשֶׁר נוֹלַד-לוֹ--אֶת-יְרַחְמְאֵל וְאֶת-רָם, וְאֶת-כְּלוּבָי.9 The sons also of Hezron, that were born unto him: Jerahmeel, and Ram, and Chelubai.
יח  וְכָלֵב בֶּן-חֶצְרוֹן, הוֹלִיד אֶת-עֲזוּבָה אִשָּׁה--וְאֶת-יְרִיעוֹת; וְאֵלֶּה בָנֶיהָ, יֵשֶׁר וְשׁוֹבָב וְאַרְדּוֹן.18 And Caleb the son of Hezron begot children of Azubah his wife--and of Jerioth--and these were her sons: Jesher, and Shobab, and Ardon.
יט  וַתָּמָת, עֲזוּבָה; וַיִּקַּח-לוֹ כָלֵב אֶת-אֶפְרָת, וַתֵּלֶד לוֹ אֶת-חוּר.19 And Azubah died, and Caleb took unto him Ephrath, who bore him Hur.
כ  וְחוּר הוֹלִיד אֶת-אוּרִי, וְאוּרִי הוֹלִיד אֶת-בְּצַלְאֵל.  {ס}20 And Hur begot Uri, and Uri begot Bezalel. {S}

I would have to guess that Celubai in pasuk 9 is the same as Calev in pasuk 18.

Is this Calev the same as Calev ben Yefuneh? Chazal had a closed-canon approach, in which they readily equate unknowns with knowns. Further, Chazal simply revel in the contradictions between the lineages in Divrei Hayamim and the rest of Tanach. Rather than take it as evidence of error, and of uninspired authorship, they have canonized Divrei Hayamim on a midrashic level. Each of the seeming contradictions is meaningful, such that either Divrei Hayamim or the alternate account reflects the true name, while the other given name is used to reflect upon the individual's character. And they make a statement about the nature of Divrei Hayamim,  לא ניתן דברי הימים אלא לדרש, that it is only given over for derash. (Which is why I've argues elsewhere that one should not take such contradictions from Divrei Hayamim so seriously. It is sefarim chitzonim on the level of peshat, and we are not bothered by contradictions between other sefarim chitzonim, such as Jubilees or Susanna. You cannot first reject the level of derash and then, while looking only at peshat, suffer angst about the contradictions.)

But on the level of peshat, we need not say that this is the same Calev, even though both are from the tribe of Yehuda.

One reason to think it might be the same person is that we might expect Scriptural attention in particular upon important people, and so why should we focus so much on a random Calev? The answer might well be the terminal person, Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur.

However, if we want to say that Calev is identical, then maybe we can salvage this without making Yefuneh the same as Chetzron. Perhaps Celuvai is not the same as Calev, in which case we never see him born to Chetzron directly. So make him a descendant, with Yefuneh as his father. I am not convinced by this though.

Some folks raise the objection that Calev ben Yefuneh could not be the same as this Calev ben Chetzron. Because they claim, in the "Kenizzite Hypothesis", that Calev ben Yefuneh, whom the Torah identifies as the one sent from the tribe of Yehuda, was actually a Kenizzite, one of the native Canaanite people, who somehow was absorbed into the tribe of Yehuda.

They will point to pesukim such as:

יב  בִּלְתִּי כָּלֵב בֶּן-יְפֻנֶּה, הַקְּנִזִּי, וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ, בִּן-נוּן:  כִּי מִלְאוּ, אַחֲרֵי יְהוָה.12 save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun; because they have wholly followed the LORD.
I don't find this hypothesis persuasive. The "out" to this hypothesis is that Kenaz is a family name. Thus, as the proponents admit, we see he has a brother Kenaz, and this can well be understood as the name of a person, namely an ancestor. From sefer Shofetim:

יג  וַיִּלְכְּדָהּ עָתְנִיאֵל בֶּן-קְנַז, אֲחִי כָלֵב הַקָּטֹן מִמֶּנּוּ; וַיִּתֶּן-לוֹ אֶת-עַכְסָה בִתּוֹ, לְאִשָּׁה.13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.

Thus it need not be the name of his nation, and I rather doubt that it is.

This still does not mean that Yefuneh == Chetzron, or that ben Yefuneh is an appellation for Calev rather than his ancestry.


yaak said...

See also Malbim on Divrei Hayamim Alef 2:42 (which I just happened to learn over Shavuot).

joshwaxman said...

it might indeed be possible to work this out with Chetzron as a grandfather, and that this is what Chazal meant. But I don't see this as compelled by the contradiction of ben Yefuneh vs. ben Chetzron, since their words cast Yefunah as an attribute of Kalev rather than the name of a father.

Efraim said...

nice to see you back

joshwaxman said...

not really back until s/t next week, though. i decided to just pop in for this brief item.


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