A dog is by nature an excellent shepherd and herder of livestock as well as a natural tracker. The great natural philosophers of ancient Egypt would of course noticed this and deified these traits in their depictions of Anpu (Anubis) and Wepwawet (Ophois). Anpu is the watcher and shepherd of our soul. Wepwawet is the guide and herder of our soul. The flocks of sheep that these dogs would guide and watch over are symbolic of the soul: the onomatopoeically bleat of the sheep ba being the ancient Egyptian word for the immortal soul. As I have explained in previous blog entries, Asar (Osiris) is the personification of the ba and the myth surrounding Asar is the story of the ba and its incarnation into matter.
Wepwawet is the celestial canine that guides Asar into and out of material incarnation. It is a story repeated each year in the night sky in the appearance and disappearance of Orion and his hunting dog, Canis Major.
Canis Major was known in ancient Arabia as al-Kalb al-Akbar, the greater dog. Also Canis Major is known as al-Kalb al-Jabbar, the dog of the giant. The giant is of course Orion and here's a link to the connection between Orion and Asar if you are interested. One other name of interest is Mirzam al-Jawza, which means the herald of the Central One. Jawza correlates to the Giza plateau, the home of the three great pyramids of the ancient Egyptian 4th dynasty. A herald or an announcer points back to Wepwawet's role as the opener of the ways for the soul.
The word for dog in Hebrew is Caleb. The name's meaning is described as thus:
Caleb \c(a)-leb\ as a boy's name is pronounced KAY-leb. It is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Caleb is "faith, devotion, whole hearted". Biblical: Caleb, a companion of Moses and Joshua, was noted for his astute powers of observation and fearlessness in the face of overwhelming odds; his devotion to God is symbolized by the "dog" in some traditions.
Kaleb \k(a)-leb\ as a boy's name is pronounced KAY-leb. It is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Kaleb is "dog; tenacious and aggressive". Biblical name. Caleb is the anglicized version.
In other Semitic languages the name means "servant of the Lord." Whether the biblical name is referring to a dog or a man that had the traits and instincts of a dog does not really matter. It's the principle behind the meaning that is important here.
In the fourth book of the old testament, Numbers, chapters 13 and 14 describe the journey of the twelve men sent out by Moses from the tribes of Israel to reconnoiter the land of Canaan. Ten of them caution the nation of Israel against moving against the giants that inhabit the land and long to return to Egypt. Only two of them, Caleb and Joshua, put their faith in the Lord's ability to deliver them to the promised land. It did not end well for the ten and the congregation that took their side. Eventually after wandering for forty more years in the Sinai wilderness the Israelites were allowed to enter the promised land with Joshua and Caleb being the elder statesmen allowed to enter. Now it's interesting that the name for the dog was chosen for an Israelite who first goes down the path to Canaan in order to lead the rest of them on their journey to the promised land. It's interesting because of the myth in ancient Egypt where an actual canine leads the soul through the darkness of matter and eventually to its re-birth in the east. This place was known as the Field of Rushes or the Field of Peace. In Numbers 14:24 the Lord's servant Caleb is described as having a different spirit. Could this be an allusion to Caleb being an instinctual spirit that is found in nature that is here to help the immortal soul?
If we take the biblical story of the Exodus out of Egypt as myth we can then begin to see the story come alive as the journey of the soul through material incarnation. Egypt is an allegory for matter in the Bible while Jerusalem is the allegory for the ultimate destination of the soul as the promised land. The soul needs to leave the bonds of matter and forge ahead along the path to re-birth in the east. Along the way there will be many trials and tribulations to test the resolve of your soul and not all make it, doomed to wander for forty years in the wilderness. The arcane "forty" that is recurring in the Bible is the esoteric symbol of (re)incarnation into matter that the soul would have to repeat if it did not reach the promised land. The goal and ultimate destination of our soul is to reach the promised land; we should take advantage of the help the natural world affords us to help us get there.