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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Numbers 13

Verse 1

And the Lord spake - The mission of the spies was first suggested by the Israelites themselves. See Deuteronomy 1:22.

Verse 2

A ruler - A comparison of the list with that of Numbers 13:1 :5 following shows that they were not the princes of the tribes, but heads of houses or families Numbers 12:4.

Of the names here given those of Joshua and Caleb alone are otherwise known to us.

Verse 16

Oshea, Hoshea, or Hosea, the name also of the last king of Israel and the first minor prophet, means “deliverance” or and by the hand of him who bore the title of “God’s salvation.” Jehoshua was contracted (compare Nehemiah 8:17) into Jeshua.

Verse 17

Southward - Rather, “by the Negeb,” or south-country; a well-defined tract of territory forming the southernmost and least fertile portion of the land of Canaan and of the subsequent inheritance of Judah. It extended northward from Kadesh to within a few miles of Hebron, and from the Dead Sea westward to the Mediterranean (see especially Joshua 15:21-32).

Into the mountain - The hill-country of southern and central Canaan, mostly within the borders of Judah and Ephraim. It commences a few miles south of Hebron, and extending northward to the plain of Jezreel, runs out eventually northwest-ward into the sea in the headland of Carmel.

Verse 19

In tents - i. e. in open unwalled villages.

Verse 20

The time ... of the firstripe grapes - The first grapes ripen in Palestine in July and August: the vintage is gathered in September and October. This indication of date tallies with what we should have inferred from the previous narrative. For the Israelite host had quitted Sinai on the 20th day of the second month Numbers 13:10, Numbers 13:11, or about the middle of May: since then they had spent a month at Kibroth-hattaavah and a week at Hazeroth, and had accomplished, in all, from 150 to 200 miles of march: it therefore must have been at least the beginning of July, and may have been a month later, when the spies were despatched into the land of promise.

Verse 21

The wilderness of Zin was the northeastern portion of the wilderness of Paran.

Rehob (“mod.” Khurbeh) was probably the Beth-rehob of Judges 18:28, near Dan-Laish; and apparently to the north of it, since it gave its name to a Syrian kingdom 2 Samuel 8:3. The southern approach to Hamath from the plain of Coele-Syria, lay between those two ranges of Lebanon called Libanus and Antilibanus. A low screen of hills connects the northernmost points of these two ranges; and through this screen the Orontes bursts from the upper Coele-Syrian hollow into the open plain of Hamath.

Verse 22

The progenitor of the Anakim was Arba “the father of Anak” Joshua 15:13, from whom the city of Hebron took its name of Kirjath-Arba. Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai were probably not individual warriors, but names of three tribes of the Anakim. Hence, we find them still in existence half a century later, when Caleb, who now brought tidings of them, became their eventual destroyer Joshua 15:14.

Now Hebron ... - This parenthesis explains that these two cities had a common founder, and were built, or perhaps, at least in the case of Zoan (Tanis, see Exodus 1:8, note; Exodus 2:5, note) rebuilt, by the Hyksos, to which nations, once the conquerors of Egypt, the Anakim perhaps belonged. The Hyksos fortified and garrisoned Zoan as a defense of their Eastern frontier.

Verse 23

The brook of Eshcol is by some identified with the rich valley immediately to the north of Hebron; (but by others with Wady Hanein to the south of Hebron). The valley was, in all likelihood, originally named after one of the three chiefs who were confederate with Abraham Genesis 14:24; but, as often came to pass, the Israelites, wittingly or unwittingly, took up in a new and significant sense the name which they found; and to them the valley thus became the Valley of the Cluster. Bunches of grapes are found in Palestine of many pounds weight.

Verse 25

After forty days - They had no doubt in this time explored the whole land. However, it was with the southern part that the Israelites expected to have to deal immediately: and accordingly it is that which is particularly referred to in the following verses, Hebron and its vicinity above all.

Verse 26

Kadesh is usually identified with Ain-el-Weibeh, which lies in the Arabah, about 10 miles north of the place in which Mount Hor abuts on that valley, (or with Ain-Gadis in Jebel Magrah).

Verse 29

The Amalekites - See Numbers 14:25 note.

The Canaanites - i. e. those of the Phoenician race: the word is here used in its narrow sense: compare Genesis 10:15-18 note.

Verse 32

A land that eateth up ... - i. e. it is a land which from its position is exposed to incessant attacks from one quarter and another, and so its occupants must be always armed and watchful.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Numbers 13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/numbers-13.html. 1870.