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Exploring the Land

written by Moses* in Numbers 13:1-14:38

The Spies

(Deuteronomy 1.19-33)

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Choose one of the leaders from each of the twelve tribes and send them as spies to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.” 3-15 Moses obeyed and from the wilderness of Paran he sent out leaders, as follows:

Tribe Leader
Reuben Shammua son of Zaccur
Simeon Shaphat son of Hori
Judah Caleb son of Jephunneh
Issachar Igal son of Joseph
Ephraim Hoshea son of Nun
Benjamin Palti son of Raphu
Zebulun Gaddiel son of Sodi
Manasseh Gaddi son of Susi
Dan Ammiel son of Gemalli
Asher Sethur son of Michael
Naphtali Nahbi son of Vophsi
Gad Geuel son of Machi

16 These are the spies Moses sent to explore the land. He changed the name of Hoshea son of Nun to Joshua.

17 When Moses sent them out, he said to them, “Go north from here into the southern part of the land of Canaan and then on into the hill country. 18 Find out what kind of country it is, how many people live there, and how strong they are. 19 Find out whether the land is good or bad and whether the people live in open towns or in fortified cities. 20 Find out whether the soil is fertile and whether the land is wooded. And be sure to bring back some of the fruit that grows there.” (It was the season when grapes were beginning to ripen.)

21 So the men went north and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin in the south all the way to Rehob, near Hamath Pass in the north. 22 They went first into the southern part of the land and came to Hebron, where the clans of Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of a race of giants called the Anakim, lived. (Hebron was founded seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 They came to Eshcol Valley, and there they cut off a branch which had one bunch of grapes on it so heavy that it took two men to carry it on a pole between them. They also brought back some pomegranates and figs. ( 24 That place was named Eshcol Valley because of the bunch of grapes the Israelites cut off there.)

25 After exploring the land for forty days, the spies returned 26 to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had brought. 27 They told Moses, “We explored the land and found it to be rich and fertile; and here is some of its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and their cities are very large and well fortified. Even worse, we saw the descendants of the giants there. 29 Amalekites live in the southern part of the land; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and Canaanites live by the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan River.”

30 Caleb silenced the people who were complaining against Moses, and said, “We should attack now and take the land; we are strong enough to conquer it.”

31 But the men who had gone with Caleb said, “No, we are not strong enough to attack them; the people there are more powerful than we are.” 32 So they spread a false report among the Israelites about the land they had explored. They said, “That land doesn't even produce enough to feed the people who live there. Everyone we saw was very tall, 33 and we even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that is how we must have looked to them.”

The People Complain

1 All night long the people cried out in distress. 2 They complained against Moses and Aaron, and said, “It would have been better to die in Egypt or even here in the wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord taking us into that land? We will be killed in battle, and our wives and children will be captured. Wouldn't it be better to go back to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let's choose a leader and go back to Egypt!”

5 Then Moses and Aaron bowed to the ground in front of all the people. 6 And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, two of the spies, tore their clothes in sorrow 7 and said to the people, “The land we explored is an excellent land. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will take us there and give us that rich and fertile land. 9 Do not rebel against the Lord and don't be afraid of the people who live there. We will conquer them easily. The Lord is with us and has defeated the gods who protected them; so don't be afraid.” 10 The whole community was threatening to stone them to death, but suddenly the people saw the dazzling light of the Lord's presence appear over the Tent.

Moses Prays for the People

11 The Lord said to Moses, “How much longer will these people reject me? How much longer will they refuse to trust in me, even though I have performed so many miracles among them? 12 I will send an epidemic and destroy them, but I will make you the father of a nation that is larger and more powerful than they are!”

13 But Moses said to the Lord, “You brought these people out of Egypt by your power. When the Egyptians hear what you have done to your people, 14 they will tell it to the people who live in this land. These people have already heard that you, Lord, are with us, that you appear in plain sight when your cloud stops over us, and that you go before us in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you kill all your people, the nations who have heard of your fame will say 16 that you killed your people in the wilderness because you were not able to bring them into the land you promised to give them. 17 So now, Lord, I pray, show us your power and do what you promised when you said, 18 ‘I, the Lord, am not easily angered, and I show great love and faithfulness and forgive sin and rebellion. Yet I will not fail to punish children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation for the sins of their parents.’ 19 And now, Lord, according to the greatness of your unchanging love, forgive, I pray, the sin of these people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.”

20 The Lord answered, “I will forgive them, as you have asked. 21 But I promise that as surely as I live and as surely as my presence fills the earth, 22 none of these people will live to enter that land. They have seen the dazzling light of my presence and the miracles that I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, but they have tried my patience over and over again and have refused to obey me. 23 They will never enter the land which I promised to their ancestors. None of those who have rejected me will ever enter it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different attitude and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land which he explored, and his descendants will possess the land 25 in whose valleys the Amalekites and the Canaanites now live. Turn back tomorrow and go into the wilderness in the direction of the Gulf of Aqaba.”

The Lord Punishes the People for Complaining

26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 27 “How much longer are these wicked people going to complain against me? I have heard enough of these complaints! 28 Now give them this answer: ‘I swear that as surely as I live, I will do to you just what you have asked. I, the Lord, have spoken. 29 You will die and your corpses will be scattered across this wilderness. Because you have complained against me, none of you over twenty years of age will enter that land. 30 I promised to let you live there, but not one of you will, except Caleb and Joshua. 31 You said that your children would be captured, but I will bring them into the land that you rejected, and it will be their home. 32 You will die here in this wilderness. 33 Your children will wander in the wilderness for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last one of you dies. 34 You will suffer the consequences of your sin for forty years, one year for each of the forty days you spent exploring the land. You will know what it means to have me against you! 35 I swear that I will do this to you wicked people who have gathered together against me. Here in the wilderness every one of you will die. I, the Lord, have spoken.’”

36-37 The men Moses had sent to explore the land brought back a false report which caused the people to complain against the Lord. And so the Lord struck them with a disease, and they died. 38 Of the twelve spies only Joshua and Caleb survived.

The Creation
Adam and Eve
Cain and Abel
The Great Flood
The Tower of Babel
God Calls Abraham
Sodom and Gomorrah
Abraham's Obedience
Isaac Marries Rebekah
Esau's Birthright
Isaac Blesses Jacob
Jacob and Laban
Jacob Wrestles
Revenge against Shechem
Joseph in Prison
Joseph as a Ruler
Family Reunion
Moses' Birth
The Burning Bush
The Ten Plagues
The Exodus
The Red Sea
The Gold Calf
Exploring the Land
Rebellion in the Ranks
Balak and Balaam
Rahab and the Spies
Jericho Falls
Gibeon's Con Artists
Deborah and Barak
Gideon as Judge
Abimelech's Ambition
Samson as Judge
Ruth, Naomi and Boaz
Samuel is Born
Samuel the Prophet
Saul Becomes King
Jonathan's Bravery
Saul's Disobedience
David Kills Goliath
David and Jonathan
Nabal and Abigail
Saul's Death
David's Success
David and Bathsheba
Amnon and Tamar
Absalom
Solomon's Wisdom
Jeroboam and Rehoboam
Elijah's Challenge
God Speaks to Elijah
Micaiah the Prophet
Chariot of Fire
Elisha Heals Naaman
Famine and Unbelief
Joash and Jehoiada
Hezekiah Trusts God
Josiah's Reign
Fall of Jerusalem
David's Power
David's Census
Jehoshaphat and Ahab
Ezra Rebuilds the Altar
Nehemiah Builds the Wall
Enemy Opposition
Nehemiah's Justice
Esther Saves the Jews
Job is Tested
Ezekiel's Vision
The Fiery Furnace
The Lions' Den
Jonah
Jesus is Born
Wise Men and King Herod
Jesus is Tempted
Jesus Feeds 5,000
The Bread of Life
Jesus Walks on Water
The Good Samaritan
The Lost Son
Jesus Raises Lazarus
Jesus and Zacchaeus
The Triumphal Entry
The Last Supper
Jesus' Trial
Jesus' Crucifixion
Jesus' Resurrection
Jesus' Ascension
The Holy Spirit Comes
The Apostles' Courage
Ananias and Sapphira
Philip and the Eunuch
Saul Encounters Jesus
Peter and Cornelius
Paul in Corinth
Paul in Ephesus
Paul Goes to Rome