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Caleb’s Lamb by Helen Santos

September 14, 2012

Children’s Book Review: Caleb’s Lamb by Helen Santos

Caleb's Lamb Children's BookSet in the days of Moses’ appearance in Goshen, Egypt, this wonderful tale of the life of the young shepherd, Caleb, gently conveys the meaning of sacrifice.

Caleb is a reluctant boy shepherd of his father’s flock. Taken from secure village life when only five, the passing years out with the flocks have only increased Caleb’s resentment of being a shepherd.  Caleb is sullen and lazy. He doesn’t understand his father, Asher, or his exacting ways.  Caleb only seems to disappoint his father with his indifferent care for the sheep.

Despite Asher’s repeated warnings to guard the sheep closely, a lambing ewe wanders from the flock and gets lost during Caleb’s watch. His father sends him out to find the sheep, and the boy spends an uncomfortable and frightening night alone, far from the shepherds’ camp. He finally finds the ewe, dead, and a weak lamb barely holding on to life.

Caleb returns to camp, ashamed and fearful of his father’s disapproval, but he is surprised by his father’s reaction. Asher gives him the lamb as his own,  normally a reward reserved for a young shepherd who has proven himself trustworthy, not a privilege bestowed on a shepherd who has just shown himself unreliable and careless.

Nursing ‘Isaac’ back to health is the beginning of Caleb’s change of heart. He begins to understand his father’s high standards and his love for the sheep under his care. Caleb begins to understand that love and responsibility go hand in hand. Caleb names the lamb Isaac after the story his father has often told him about God supplying the sacrifice for Abraham and sparing Isaac’s life.

As the story of Caleb and Isaac continues, whispers of the happenings in Goshen drift in to the remote camps of the shepherds. Asher tells Caleb about the age old promises of a deliverer. As Caleb and Asher prepare to return to Goshen, it becomes more apparent that this Moses is the fulfillment of those promises.

The people are abuzz in Goshen, amazing signs are taking place at the hand of Moses. He has even demanded the Pharaoh let the Hebrew slaves go free. It’s an exciting, yet perplexing time for Caleb and his family, as Moses hands down the decree for Passover.

For Caleb, the passover will require a personal sacrifice. He must choose which lamb to kill for Passover. He chooses his lamb, Isaac, because he knows he is the best lamb. The inner turmoil Caleb experiences is well described without being morose. His choice, and the pain it causes him, is nicely juxtaposed with the prophetic message of the Passover and the final Lamb of God.

Flags: See my About page for an explanation of ‘flags.’

A  Christian worldview is presented alongside stories from the Hebrew tradition and Old Testament

The story of Abraham and Isaac is recounted

Caleb spends a fearful night alone and imagines hearing all kinds of dangerous animals

Caleb finds the dead ewe where “creatures had already feasted” pg 15

The pet lamb becomes the family’s Passover lamb. No details of the actual butchering are given, but it is mentioned that Caleb struggles with taking part in the meal.

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