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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Numbers 13

 

 

Verses 1-33


The Sending of the Spies and their Report

8. Oshea] RV 'Hoshea,' meaning 'help' or 'salvation.' Joshua, or Jehoshua (Numbers 13:16), means 'Jehovah is my help': see on Exodus 17:9.

17. Southward] RV by (RM 'into') the South': lit. 'into the Negeb': see on Genesis 12:9. The spies, however, really went northward on this occasion, first through the Negeb, and then through the mountainous district lying N. of it, here called 'the mountain,' afterwards the 'hill-country of Judah,' to the W. of the Dead Sea.

20. Time of the firstripe grapes] i.e. about the end of July.

21. The wilderness of Zin lay N. or NE. of the wilderness of Paran, and may have formed part of it. Its chief town was Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 13:26). Rehob and Hamath were in the extreme N. of the country: see Judges 18:28; Numbers 34:8.

The spies traversed the entire land from S. to N. The length of Canaan is about 180 m., and its average breadth between the Méditerranean Sea and the River Jordan about 40 m. The country may be regarded as consisting of three strips running N. and S. There is (1) the Maritime Plain extending inwards from the coast to a distance of from 4 to 15 m., very fertile, and including the famous Plain of Sharon and the Lowlands of the Philistines. (2) Behind this rises the 'Hill Country,' forming, as it were, the backbone of the Holy Land, and falling precipitously on the E. down to (3) the valley of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, which divides the land of Canaan from the Highlands of Gilead and Moab E. of the Jordan. See art. 'Palestine.' In the earliest monumental records which we have, this land is called the 'land of the Canaanites' or the 'land of the Amorites,' from which it may be inferred that these were the tribes originally inhabiting it. At a very early period the Hittites, a powerful kingdom to the N. of Canaan, established themselves in the country and have left monuments of their influence. At the time of the Israelitish Conquest the land was inhabited by a mixture of tribes. Of these, the principal were the Canaanites (i.e. probably 'Lowlanders'), dwelling in the Maritime Plain and the valley of the Jordan, the Hittites and the Jebusites in the S., in what was afterwards called Judæa, the Hivites to the N. of these in what came to be known as Samaria, and etili further N. the Perizzites. The Amorites (i.e. probably the 'Highlanders') were found in the N. and also in the S. to the E. of the Jordan. The Philistines had also obtained a settlement in the southern part of the Maritime Plain: see Deuteronomy 2:23; Till recently it was thought that, prior to the Conquest by the Israelites, Canaan was an unknown and uncivilised country. We know now that long before that time, as early as 3500 bc., BabyIonian kings ruled over Canaan, and that the Babylonian language and civilisation were spread over the country. After the Baby-Ionian influence came the Egyptian. At Telel Amarna in Egypt there has been discovered agreat number of tablets datingabout 1400 bc., i.e. not long before the Conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. These tablets prove to be mostly letters to the king of Egypt from tributary princes in Canaan written in the Babylonian language. From them we learn that about the time of the exodus Canaan was subject to Egypt, and that instead of being a country of semibarbarians, it possessed a highly developed civilisation, in the ruling power at least. 'At that period Canaan had already behind it a long civilised past. The country was filled with schools and libraries, with richly furnished palaces, and workshops of artisans.

The cities on the coast had their fleets, partly of merchantmen, partly of warships, and an active trade was carried on with all parts of the known world.' But at the time of the exodus Egypt was beginning to lose its hold of the country. The native tribes were restless and rebellious, and Canaan was ready to be 'the prey of the first resolute invader who had strength and courage at his back.' These facts, recently discovered, throw a flood of light upon the Israelitish Conquest of the country. They explain how it was possible for the Israelites to enter and take possession of it. And they are valuable also as proving that long before the Captivity, as early as the exodus, the Israelites were in close contact, not only with Egyptian, but with Babylonian civilisation and religion.

23. The brook (mg valley) of Eshcol] lay a little to the N. of Hebron, in a district still renowned for its fertility, and especially for its vineyards. The cluster of grapes was carried by two men, not so much on account of its weight as its size, in order that it might not be crushed.

26. To Kadesh] see on Numbers 13:21. This was the most important station of the journey. The people remained here for the greater part of thirty-eight years between the sending of the spies and the entrance into Canaan: see on Numbers 20:1. According to Deuteronomy 1:19, Deuteronomy 1:22 the spies were sent out from Kadesh.

32. Eateth up the inhabitants] This refers to the warlike character of the inhabitants, who devour each other in strife.

33. The giants] Heb. the Nephilim. The word is found only here and in Genesis 6:4. The report of the spies is of course exaggerated, but the original inhabitants seem to have been of unusual stature and strength: cp. Deuteronomy 2:11; 1 Samuel 17:4-7, and on Numbers 21:33-35.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Numbers 13:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/numbers-13.html. 1909.

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