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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Numbers 13

 

 

Verses 1-33

Numbers 13:1-33. The Espial of Canaan.—This narrative is marked by numerous discrepancies, due to its being a fusion of two accounts drawn from JE and P. In the one (JE) the spies start probably from Kadesh (Numbers 13:26; Numbers 32:8, cf. Deuteronomy 1:19 f., Joshua 14:7), the survey is limited to the S. of Palestine (Numbers 13:22 f.), and the report of the land is favourable, but of the inhabitants alarming (Numbers 13:27-29), Caleb alone dissenting from the latter representation. In the other (P) the spies start from Paran (Numbers 13:3), the survey extends to the N. border of the Holy Land (Numbers 13:21; cf. Numbers 34:8), and the report of the country is unfavourable (Numbers 13:32), both Joshua and Caleb dissenting.

Numbers 13:1-17 a (from P). The Names of the 12 Spies.—These are styled princes, but are not identical with those named in ch. 1 Caleb, the representative of Judah, is called a Kenizzite in Numbers 32:12, Joshua 14:6; Joshua 14:14. The statement that Joshua's birth-name was Hoshea, and was changed by Moses (Numbers 13:8; Numbers 13:16), is connected with the fact that the name Joshua involves the Divine name Yahweh, which, according to P, was not known until after Moses', and presumably Joshua's, birth.

Numbers 13:17 b - Numbers 13:20 (from JE). The Commission given to the Spies.—The "South" (Heb. Negeb, p. 32) was the parched high ground which afterwards formed the S. portion of Judah (Joshua 15:21), though lying N. of the locality where the Israelites now were (Kadesh). The time of the first-ripe grapes was about the end of July.

Numbers 13:21 (from P). An Account of the Territory Explored.—This represents it as extending from the wilderness of Zin, afterwards the southern border of Israel (Numbers 34:3), to Rehob or Beth-rehob (2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 10:8), near to Laish or Dan (Judges 18:28), a city not very far from the valley between Lebanon and Hermon ("the entering in of Hamath"), which ideally defined the N. frontier of Israel (see 1 Kings 8:65, 2 Kings 14:25). The distance to Rehob is about 200 miles.

Numbers 13:22-24. (from JE). A Second Account of the Region Explored.—This implies an outward journey of about 60 miles, making it extend only to Hebron (19 miles S. of Jerusalem, p. 31) and the valley of Eshcol (some unidentified wâdy near Hebron, cf. Joshua 14:9; Joshua 14:14). The country round Hebron is still covered with vineyards. Zoan (the later Tanis, Isaiah 19:11*)is said to have been built about 1670 B.C. The separate mention of Hebron (Numbers 13:22) and of Eshcol (Numbers 13:23) points to a slight divergence between J and E.

Numbers 13:25-26 a (P). The Return of the Spies to Paran.—The addition "to Kadesh" (the modern Ain Kadis, p. 32) probably comes from JE, for by P Kadesh is placed in the wilderness of Zin (Numbers 33:36), not Paran.

Numbers 13:26 b - Numbers 13:31 (from JE). The Report of the Spies.—This, in respect of the land, was favourable and was confirmed by samples of its products (cf. Deuteronomy 1:25); but in respect of the formidable character of its population and their cities was unnerving (though contradicted by Caleb).

Numbers 13:28. the children of Anak: i.e. (long)-necked men, Anak being a proper noun signifying "neck" (cf. Deuteronomy 1:28*, Deuteronomy 2:10; Deuteronomy 9:2).

Numbers 13:29. Amalek: the Amalekites were nomads who roamed over the desert S. of Judah (cf. 1 Samuel 15:7; 1 Samuel 30:1).—the Hittite (pp. 53, 55f.): these were a non-Semitic, perhaps Mongolian, race, who as a nation dwelt outside the N. limits of the Holy Land (Car-chemish being one of their chief cities), but of whom individual settlers may have made their homes in central or southern Palestine (Genesis 23:3 f.*).—the Jebusite: the inhabitants of Jebus (or Jerusalem, Joshua 15:63*).—the Amorite: here regarded as the population of the country W. of Jordan occupying the hills (as in Deuteronomy 1:19).—the Canaanite: here (contrast Numbers 14:45) represented as the dwellers in the low-lying maritime plain (as in Deuteronomy 17, Zeph. 25f.) and in the valley of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 11:30).

Numbers 13:30. stilled: this presumes the weeping and murmuring mentioned in Numbers 14:1 f.

Numbers 13:32 a (from P). Another Report of the Spies.—This is unfavourable to the land, representing it as barren and producing insufficient to support its inhabitants (for the phraseology see Ezekiel 36:13, cf. Leviticus 26:38). The estimate probably reflects the conditions prevailing during, and after, the Babylonian exile (Haggai 1:6).

Numbers 13:32 b - Numbers 13:33 (from JE). A Continuation of the Report in Numbers 13:26 b - Numbers 13:31.—The Nephilim are described in Genesis 6:2-4* as the offspring of intercourse between angels and women (like many of the heroes of classical mythology): the LXX renders the word by "giants." In Numbers 13:33 read, "And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are of the Nephilim): and we, etc." The words within the parenthesis form a note, which is absent from the LXX.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Numbers 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/numbers-13.html32. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 12th, 2020
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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