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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 13

Pett's Commentary on the BiblePett's Commentary



Following the arrival in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh, the tribes settled down while the land ahead could be spied out. The oases of Kadesh would provide a welcome change from the harshness of the wilderness, and they were probably glad to be able to rest once more at a place where water was not scarce.

The sending out of the spies or scouts may be seen as a wise military manoeuvre. Scouting what lay ahead was always the precursor to military activity. But in this case it must surely be seen as more than that, for it was Yahweh Who was leading His people and He would not be unaware of what lay ahead. It therefore seemingly performed a two way function. Firstly that it would let the people know how fruitful and pleasant the land was, and secondly it would face them up to what lay ahead in the way of fighting for the land. Yahweh wanted to test out their faith to see if it would be strong enough for what they would have to face. It was very much a trial of what they could cope with.

Already in the wilderness the slave mentality of the people had raised its head and they had been revealed to be in a sad psychological state. They had complained, and murmured, and wept when things had gone wrong. Even the stay at Sinai and the assurance of His dwelling among them had not combated that. Faced with the problem of fighting for the land their first reaction would be the desire to return to ‘comfortable’ slavery in Egypt (Numbers 14:3-4). So Yahweh was right therefore to be concerned lest they be insufficient for what lay ahead. He was well aware that, if their faith was not strong enough, any entry into the land, which would necessarily be followed by sustained warfare, could only end in disaster. He would have to hold them up at every turn and the result would be a nation not worthy of the name. It would result in something far different from what He intended. That was not what He had brought them there for.

The sending out of the spies must therefore be seen as a test of whether they were in a fit state to enter the land. The outcome would determine whether the entry should be made immediately, or whether a further wait was advisable. In the event the latter proved to be the true position. And indeed when an abortive attempt was made in desperation it did turn out to be disastrous. We must not see God’s refusal to let them enter into the land as simply caprice on His part. It was a studied recognition of the fact that they were not yet ready, and could not cope with what lay ahead.

He thus accepted that until they had become hardened by a time in the wilderness, with the present generation being replaced by people who had been brought up to liberty and had more backbone, an advance on the land would be inadvisable. Had they gone forward it would have required miracles even greater than those wrought in Egypt, and Yahweh clearly did not think that they were worthy of them. If His people which were called by His name were not willing to trust Him and His name, then establishing them in the land would not produce a nation which brought glory to His name, but would simply result in a nation of selfish and weak misfits who simply forgot Him. And that was not His intention. That would not be a nation worthy of being seen as the Kingdom of God.

This section from Numbers 13:1 to Numbers 14:45 deals with that situation. It consists of:

a Scouts advancing into the land to search it out (Numbers 13:1-25).

b The scouts report on what lay ahead (Numbers 13:26-33).

c The people’s response (Numbers 14:1-10).

d The anger of Yahweh (Numbers 14:11-12).

d The intercession of Moses (Numbers 14:13-19).

c Yahweh’s response (Numbers 14:20-38).

b The people report on their plans (Numbers 14:39-43)

a The people advancing into the land with devastating results (Numbers 14:44-45)

Verses 1-16

Chapter 13 The Sending Out of Scouts and the Message They Brought Back.

1). The Scouts Sent Out (Numbers 13:1-16 ).

The first section from Numbers 13:1-16 basically covers:

a Yahweh’s command to send out men to spy out the land (Numbers 13:1-2 a).

b The spies to be sent out one for each tribe (Numbers 13:2 b).

c Moses at Yahweh’s command sends out spies (Numbers 13:3).

b The names of those sent, one for each tribe (Numbers 13:4-15).

a These are the names of thos sent out to spy out the land (Numbers 13:16).

Numbers 13:1

‘And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,’

Again we have confirmation that here we have Yahweh’s words to Moses. The writer could not make it more clear that he intends us to see what he wrote as the actual words of Moses, spoken to him by the Voice from the throne (Numbers 7:87).

Numbers 13:2

‘Send men, that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel. Of every tribe of their fathers shall you send a man, every one a prince among them.’

Yahweh gave the command to send out spies or scouts to spy out the land of Canaan which He was giving to the children of Israel. A scout was to go out from each tribe, and each scout was to be a prince of the tribe. He intended that those who reported back would be men of substance, and men of authority.

Note the emphasis on the fact that the land was God’s gift to them. Thus any failure to respond would be a refusal of God’s gift. Yet it was also on the other hand Yahweh’s assurance that they need not fear, for the gift was at His disposal and He could ensure its reception. All the tribes were to be involved (apart from Levi). The purpose of sending ‘princes’ was probably so that their word might carry authority with all the people. This was a ‘search and see’ expedition being carried out on their behalf in order to see how they would respond.

This command of Yahweh was, however, a response to the people’s own ideas, for in Deuteronomy 1:22 we learn that the people had first approached Moses with a view to sending out scouts, which would be a normal procedure. God was here confirming His agreement with the plan. God regularly works in with men’s determining. The purpose of the people was in order to discover what lay ahead.

Numbers 13:3

‘And Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran according to the commandment of Yahweh, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel.’

Ever obedient to Yahweh’s command Moses sent men out from the wilderness of Paran, where the people were encamped at the oases of the Kadesh region, and all who were sent were chieftains.

Numbers 13:4-15

‘And these were their names: Of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur. Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori. Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh. Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph. Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun. Of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu. Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi. Of the tribe of Joseph, namely, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi. Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli. Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael. Of the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi. Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.’

The names of the chosen scouts were now given. They were different from the princes of chapter 1 but that was to be expected. Those were the supreme heads of the tribe, these were younger princes, the men who would also be responsible to lead into battle. The use of ‘Hoshea’ instead of Joshua confirms that the list is indeed ancient. No later generation would have inserted his name in that fashion.

Numbers 13:16

‘These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea, the son of Nun, Joshua.

Confirmation is given that these were the names of the scouts who were sent out. And one of them was Hoshea, the son of Nun. To him Moses had given the name Joshua (Yehoshua), because he was supremely a man of Yahweh. That was why he had chosen him as his ‘servant’, his second-in-command. The prefix signified Yahweh, as did the Yo in the name of Moses’ mother or ancestor Yochebed. Here we learn for the only time that Joshua was a man of princely descent.

The name Hoshea means ‘he saves’. The name Joshua means ‘Yahweh is salvation’.

Verses 6-11

Beware Of Treachery In The Family (Deuteronomy 13:6-11 ).

The idea of the family is used in order to demonstrate that all this even applied there. Of all people they would be the most influential on a person. But if it came to a choice between Yahweh or family, Yahweh must come first. The principle is that this be done to anyone who seeks to lead others into idolatry, even beloved wives with whom they sleep and bosom friends. Anyone who came inciting to idolatry had to be treated as a bitter enemy. It was demonstrating how seriously Yahweh took the matter.

Analysis using Moses’ words:

a If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend that is as your own soul, entice you secretly (Deuteronomy 13:6).

b Saying, “Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known, you, nor your fathers, of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, near to you, or far off from you, from the one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth (Deuteronomy 13:7).

c You shall not consent to him, nor listen to him; nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him, but you shall surely kill him (Deuteronomy 13:8).

c Your hand shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people, and you shall stone him to death with stones (Deuteronomy 13:9).

b Because he has sought to draw you away from Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Deuteronomy 13:10).

a And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall not do any more any such wickedness as this is in the midst of you

Note in ‘a’ that the relative seeks to draw them away secretly from Him after other gods, and in the parallel the thing is to be known openly by all Israel. In ‘b’ the relative seeks to lure him away after false gods, and in the parallel they are to be put to death for seeking to draw them away from Yahweh their God, their great Deliverer. In ‘c’ he was not to be pandered to in any way but was to be killed, and in the parallel he was to be stoned with stones.

Deuteronomy 13:6-7

If your (thy) brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend that is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known, you, nor your fathers, of the gods of the peoples that are round about you (ye), near to you (thee), or far off from you, from the one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth,’

However close the relationship of the person (and all had a responsibility to protect their close relatives), and however dear the person might be, if they sought to entice them in secret to follow any other gods of any kind, whether gods of neighbours or gods from afar, even to the ends of the earth, they were to be put to death at the instigation of the whole people. This would, however, require witnesses, for no one in Israel could be condemned on the basis of the testimony of one person (Deuteronomy 17:6-7; Deuteronomy 19:15; Numbers 35:30). It does not therefore refer to just a speculative comment in private which could easily be brushed aside with a stern rebuke, but a persistent effort, even within the privacy of the family circle.

Deuteronomy 13:8-10

You (thou) shall not consent to him, nor listen to him; nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him, but you shall surely kill him. Your hand shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him to death with stones, because he has sought to draw you away from Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’

The offence is so serious that they must in no circumstances listen to them, nor must they conceal the matter, nor must they have pity. ‘You (thou) shall surely kill him.’ That is, begin the procedures that will lead to his death, and take part in the execution, as would be required of a witness. This was not a requirement to kill them there and then. It was not in the end a private matter. It affected the whole community. They must denounce them and have them put to death by public execution. There must be a proper enquiry (see Deuteronomy 13:14). This was no excuse for murdering someone, followed by a claim that they had incited to idolatry. Thus it would indicate a persistent attitude witnessed by more than one person. And yet they as witnesses against them must hate the crime so much that they must be ready with the first stone. (The witnesses always had to lead the way in stoning). The offenders must be stoned with stones (because ‘untouchable’) because they have sought to lead them into treachery against their Overlord Who has done so much for them.

It should be noted that this is not an instruction to seek out such people and denounce them. The point is specifically that the offenders have come to this individual to seek to entice them away from Yahweh, and have done it sufficiently publicly for there to be witnesses. They have doubly sinned. They have not only turned to idolatry themselves but have also sought to turn others to idolatry as well.

Deuteronomy 13:11

And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall not do any more any such wickedness as this is in the midst of you.’

And the purpose of this was so that all Israel might be aware of it, and might fear, and avoid such wickedness. It is the severity of the offence rather than the desire for punishment that is being stressed. In fact it was rarely carried out as far as we know, partly because in the first instance the warning worked, and then later because of general apathy. But all must be aware of the seriousness of the crime. It was a capital offence. There was to be no connection with idolatry whatsoever under any pretext, and any attempt at such must be scotched at source.

If only Israel had carried this out in practise there would have been a wholly different Old Testament. However, the whole point of the Old (and New) Testament, is that it was inevitable because men were so sinful.

It is a reminder to us that we must never dally with sin, but put it from us immediately, especially if that sin directly involves our obedience to Christ, and that if others seek to lead us astray we should separate ourselves from their influence. The idolatry that most of us are likely to be involved in is covetousness. We should immediately avoid those who seek to make us covetous.

Verses 17-25

2). The Venture Into Canaan (Numbers 13:17-25 ).

The scouts then went out in accordance with Moses’ command, investigated the land and returned. This can be outlined as follows:

a The scouts sent out to spy the land (Numbers 13:17).

b The land to be thoroughly investigated for its goodness (Numbers 13:18-20 a).

c It was the time of firstripe grapes (Numbers 13:20 b).

d They search the land up to Rehob and Labo of Hamath (Numbers 13:21).

d They ascend by the South and come to Hebron (Numbers 13:22).

c At Eshcol they cut down grapes, pomegranates and figs (Numbers 13:23).

b The goodness of the land revealed in its being called Eshcol because of the wonderful grapes (Numbers 13:24).

a They returned from spying after forty days (Numbers 13:25).

We can now look at this in more detail.

The Scouts Sent Out To Spy Out The Land To Test Out Its Goodness (Numbers 13:17-18 ).

Numbers 13:17-18

‘And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Get you up this way by the South, and go up into the hill-country, and see the land, what it is, and the people who dwell in it, whether they are strong or weak, whether they are few or many.” ’

Moses gave detailed instructions to the scouts. They were to go up by the South, by the Negeb which was on the southern borders of Canaan, and into the hill country, that long range of mountains which was on the east of Canaan, just to the west of the Jordan, mountains that were the backbone of the land, stretching on northward until they turned westwards into the Galilean hills. He wanted to know its substance, and who dwelt there, whether they were strong or weak, and whether they were few or many. This would clearly determine what their next action should be.

He had good reason for the direction he chose. That was where Abraham had spent many years. It was very much ‘the land of their fathers’. Knowledgeable about his people’s history his eyes were especially fixed on that portion of the land. Possibly also he recognised that it would be easier to capture the hill country, where there would be no chariots and fewer cities, dealing with the chariots later.

The Scouts Were To Bring Back News of the Strength and Goodness Of the Land (Numbers 13:19-20 ).

Numbers 13:19-20

And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it is good or bad, and what cities they are that they dwell in, whether in camps, or in strongholds, and what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is wood in it, or not. And be of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first-ripe grapes.’

He also wanted to know what the country was like. Was it good or bad, what cities there were, whether the people dwelt in encampments or strongholds, whether the land was fat or lean, and whether there was wood in it or not. This would then determine which part they should invade. And they were to be brave in their efforts and bring back examples of the fruit of the land.

It Was The Time of First-ripe Grapes (Numbers 13:20 b).

It is then added that this was the time of the first ripe grapes. Thus they would be expected to bring back at least some grapes. The time of the first ripe grapes would be around July. Thus the ‘eleven day’ journey from Sinai (Deuteronomy 1:2) had taken about two months. But Deuteronomy had in mind a normal caravan, travelling constantly. This was a whole people on the move, and with many delays.

They Searched Out The Whole Land To The Farthest North (Numbers 13:21 ).

Numbers 13:21

‘So they went up, and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, to Labo of Hamath.’

So the scouts went and searched out the land from the extreme south, the wilderness of Zin, up to Rehob and Labo of Hamath in the extreme north. Judges 18:28 confirms that Rehob was on the furthest northern borders of Canaan. Thus the examination of the land was complete and lengthy. They were determined to do a good job and so exceeded their instructions. The scouts almost certainly split up so as to cover more ground, and later rendezvoused.

Labo of Hamath is testified to in inscriptions, but the alternative ‘the entering in of Hamath’ (its borders) must always be seen as an alternative possible rendering of the Hebrew.

They Also Searched Out The Hill Country To The East Around Hebron (Numbers 13:22 ).

Numbers 13:22

‘And they went up by the South (the Negeb), and came to Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were there. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt).

It is stressed that in obedience to what Moses had said they also went up by the South, the Negeb, and ascended the hill country to Hebron (Numbers 13:17). The Negeb was the extreme south of Canaan, a land which could only be cultivated by the careful use of groundwater utilising irrigation techniques, evidence for which has been discovered. Hebron was a well established city in the hill country, in a more fertile area. There they discovered that three well known ‘sons of Anak’ dwelt in the area. The sons of Anak were infamous as being very large and fearsome warriors. Compare Joshua 15:14; Judges 1:10.

A note is given so as to emphasise Hebron’s great prestige. It was an ancient city even older than Zoan. ‘Seven years’ indicates a divinely perfect length of time. God’s hand was on its founding. This mention demonstrates that the readers were expected to know of Zoan, which was probably Tanis in the Nile delta near the land of Goshen, a clear indication of the authenticity of the account. Had it been written for a later generation a different, more relevant example could have been found.

They Cut Down A Bunch of First-ripe Grapes Along With Pomegranates and Figs (Numbers 13:23 ).

Numbers 13:23

‘And they came to the valley of Eshcol, and cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bore it on a staff (or ‘litter’) between two. They brought also of the pomegranates, and of the figs.’

The area around Hebron was famous for its grapes. The valley of Eshcol was presumably nearby. Eshcol was the name of one of Abraham’s confederates, living in that very area some hundreds of years before (Genesis 14:13; Genesis 14:24). It is not therefore too surprising to find there a valley called by that name. There they found luscious grapes, together with pomegranates and figs which they bore back on a litter or pole, in order to demonstrate the fruitfulness of the land.

The Land Proved To Be Good Even From the Names of Its Valleys (Numbers 13:24 )

Numbers 13:24

‘That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the children of Israel cut down from there.’

“Eshcol” means ‘cluster’. The description here is a play on words and does not necessarily mean that they were giving the place a new name, only that they were giving a significance to the name. It was called by that name because it produced such luscious grapes, of which came the grapes that they had brought back. Thus even the names of the valleys demonstrated the land’s fruitfulness.

The Scouts Return, Having Been Successful (Numbers 13:25 ).

Numbers 13:25

‘And they returned from spying out the land at the end of forty days.’

The whole procedure had taken forty days. This was not only a reasonable amount of time for their endeavours (they would not hang about) but also indicated a period of testing as ‘forty’ so often does (Genesis 7:4; Genesis 7:12; Exodus 24:18). The land was being tested out for its possibilities and its dangers, and the people were being tested as they waited. It was now time to see the result of the test.

Verses 26-33

3). The Scouts Report Back (Numbers 13:26 to Numbers 14:1 ).

Once the scouts arrived back they immediately reported to Moses. What resulted can be summarised as follows:

a The scouts report back to Moses, Aaron and ‘all the congregation’ (Numbers 13:26)

b The scouts describe the land and the awesome sons of Anak (Numbers 13:27-29).

c Caleb stills the people (Numbers 13:30 a)

c Caleb says, ‘let us go forward’ (Numbers 13:30 b).

b The scouts report evil of the land and the awesome sons of Anak (Numbers 13:31-33).

a ‘All the congregation’ lift up their voice and cry and weep (Numbers 14:1).

Numbers 13:26

‘And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, to the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh, and brought back word to them, and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.’

The scouts returned to Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran to Moses and Aaron in order to report, but note the stress on the fact that they also reported to ‘all the congregation’. They brought word of what they had done and seen, and produced the fruit of the land for inspection. This brings out that the spying was not just military, otherwise the reports could have been restricted to Moses, Aaron and the officers. It was in order to face the whole people up with the decision whether to go forward or not.

As Moses’ representative Joshua would immediately have rejoined Moses, who would no doubt have been awaiting his special report. He probably felt that there was no need for him to accompany the other eleven, feeling it better that the people should hear the report from independent witnesses and not from one whom they would see as one of Moses’ cronies. He would be standing with Moses and Aaron to hear the report of the other eleven to the people.

Numbers 13:27

‘And they told him, and said, “We came to the land to which you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” ’

First came the positive news. They had inspected the land and it really was a land flowing with milk and honey, and to prove it they produced its fruit. The promise of a land flowing with milk and honey was central to Israel’s expectations. The very words should have awakened faith. This was what Yahweh had promised them! And it was there for the taking. See Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:17; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 33:3; Leviticus 20:24.

Numbers 13:28

However the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified, and very great, and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.”

But then came the downside. The people in the land were strong, and their cities were well fortified, and very large. But what was even worse, the sons of Anak were there, the dreaded Anakim. It was probably the last that made the most impact. Superstitious dread accompanied talk about the Anakim. This was the language of unbelief.

Numbers 13:29

Amalek dwells in the land of the South, and the Hittite, and the Jebusite, and the Amorite, dwell in the hill-country, and the Canaanite dwell by the sea, and along by the side of the Jordan.’

They then described the spread of the different enemies in more depth. Amalek dwelt in the Negeb; the Hittites (around Hebron), the Jebusites (around Jerusalem) and Amorites (spread across the hills) dwelt in the hill country; and the Canaanites dwelt by the sea in the Coastal Plain and along by the side of the Jordan. That should have been some encouragement. At least the enemy were divided up and therefore more vulnerable. They would not have to fight them all at once. But the hearers simply saw them as indicating an unexpectedly difficult problem. It was a good deal more than they had expected. They were being faced up with what lay before them.

Numbers 13:30

‘And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it.” ’

But Caleb saw the situation clearly. He firstly sought to quieten their fears. Then he urged that they immediately mobilise and enter the land in order to conquer it, for he was confident that they could take possession of it and overcome those who would oppose them. His eyes were on Yahweh and the fruitfulness of the land. He had no doubt that with Yahweh with them they would have no difficulty in possessing it.

Joshua, standing with Moses, said nothing. He had not only gone as a tribal chieftain, but as Moses’ representative. On returning he would have taken his place with Moses, and all knew that he would do whatever Moses said. Thus he wisely kept out of the discussions. The arguing was therefore left to Caleb, who would later turn out to be such a powerful chieftain by defeating the selfsame Anakim (Joshua 15:13-14). The people would recognise that he was unbiased. This mention of only Caleb actually authenticates the narrative.

Numbers 13:31

‘But the men who went up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.”

However, the men who had gone with him took the opposite view. They claimed that they could not possibly go up against these people, because they were stronger than the Israelites. Their eyes were fixed firmly on the Anakim.

Numbers 13:32-33

‘And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had spied out to the children of Israel, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that eats up its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” ’

The result was that their report was totally discouraging. Indeed it was falsified. They gave an ‘evil report’ about the land. They said that it was a land which ‘ate up its inhabitants’. That signified that living conditions were difficult, and a living hard to come by (see Leviticus 26:38; Ezekiel 36:13). They were arguing that it was not a good land to live in. They were deliberately putting the people off. This contradicted their previous comment about its fruitfulness. Different spies would, of course, have seen different terrain, but whether they saw fruit or whether they saw barrenness would depend on what they looked at.

The truth was that they were put off because they were awed as a result of the height of some of the inhabitants. Those, they said, were men of great stature, and they included the dreaded Anakim, who it was rumoured were some of the Nephilim. The latter name referred to the superstitions of the time. The Nephilim were thought of as god-like men who had lived in the time of the ancients, as referred to in Genesis 6:4. Anyone of unusual size could expect to be linked with the Nephilim. This was enough to frighten everyone. So while on the one hand Caleb looked at Yahweh, the Almighty, the other scouts, and the people looked at the Nephilim. Whom we look at very often determines what we are and what we do.

Note the deliberate exaggeration which could only produce fear. ‘Compared with them we saw ourselves as grasshoppers, tiny and insignificant, and they looked on us as the same, to be dismissed or trodden on at will.’ What hope could there be against such people? In fact as Deuteronomy points out such people had been defeated by both the Moabites (Deuteronomy 2:10) and the Ammonites (Deuteronomy 2:20-21), and could be by the Israelites. The gross exaggeration both as regards the goodness of the land and as regards its inhabitants came from craven fear. If the leaders were not able to have trust in Yahweh, what hope was there for their people?

Numbers 14:1

‘And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried, and the people wept that night.’

The people were devastated. They felt as though their dream had collapsed, as indeed it had. They lifted up their voice and cried, and they wept all night. This was exactly what they had done when there was a shortage of delicacies (Numbers 11:10). It was a sign of how pent up they were, and how much they were a slave to their emotional state. They were clearly in no state to engage in a large scale invasion. It would have done them no favours to allow them to enter the land in that condition. The only hope all along had been that their trust in Yahweh would have enabled them to overcome their servile fears, but because their faith was lacking it had not happened. And now they were caught short. In the end all resulted from a lack of faith. Had they trusted God their weakness would have been made strong.

Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Numbers 13". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pet/numbers-13.html. 2013.
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