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Numbers 13

Moses sends spies to see Canaan

God told Moses to send some of the men to explore (look around) Canaan.  Moses should send a leader from each tribe.

[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
[2] Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.

These are the men who went to explore Canaan:

Tribe of Reuben--Shammua
Tribe of Simeon--Shaphat
Tribe of Judah--Caleb
Tribe of Issachar--Igal
Tribe of Ephraim--Oshea  (
Moses called Oshea a different name. He called him Jehoshua. Some people spell these names as Hoshea and Joshua)
Tribe of Benjamin--Palti
Tribe of Zebulun--Gaddiel
Tribe of Joseph (tribe of Manasseh)--Gaddi
Tribe of Dan--Ammiel
Tribe of Naphtali--Nahbi
Tribe of Gad--Geuel

[3] And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.
[4] And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur.
[5] Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori.
[6] Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
[7] Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph.
[8] Of the tribe of Ephraim, Oshea the son of Nun. 
[9] Of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu.
[10] Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi.
[11] Of the tribe of Joseph, namely, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi.
[12] Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli.
[13] Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael.
[14] Of the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi.
[15] Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.
[16] These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua.

Moses sent these men to spy in Canaan. They should travel north from the desert of Paran. Then they would be in the southern part of Canaan. Then they should go into the mountains. They should see what kind of land is in Canaan. They should see what kind of people are in Canaan.
[17] And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain:
[18] And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many;

The spies should see if the land is good or bad. They should see what kind of cities the people live in. Do they live in tents? Or do they live in cities with strong walls around them? Will things grow well in Canaan or not?  Are there trees in Canaan or not? The spies should bring some fruit from Canaan.
[19] And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds;
[20] And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.

The spies explore (look around) Canaan

The spies went and traveled through Canaan.  In the south, they traveled through the area of Zin. They traveled all the way north to Rehob. Rehob is near Hamath. They went to Hebron. Hebron was built 7 years before the city in Egypt named Zoan.  In Hebron, they saw people who were very tall.  They were the children of Anak. Anak was very, very big.  He was a giant.
[21] So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath.
[22] And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)


The spies return from the land of Canaan, and report to Moses what they saw.
From the
Christians Unite web site

Then they went to a brook (creek).  They saw some grapes growing and cut some of the grapes off. The bunch of grapes was so big that 2 men had to carry it on a pole. They also cut some pomegranates and figs (also types of fruit).  They named that place Eshcol because Eschol means "bunch" like a bunch or group of grapes.
[23] And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
[24] The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.

Photo from
From the USDA
Agricultural Research Service
web site
From the Royal Horticultural Society web site





The spies return home and give their report

After they looked at Canaan for 40 days, the spies went back to the Israelites. They showed Moses, Aaron, and all of the Israelites the fruit they picked in Canaan. They told everyone that Canaan was "flowing with milk and honey." This means it is a good land, and things grow well there. 

[25] And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
[26] And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
[27] And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.

The spies talked about the people who now live in Canaan. They told the Israelites that they saw very big and strong people there.  The people were children of Anak the giant. They said some of the cities have strong walls around them. 
[28] Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.

They saw groups of people living in Canaan--the Amalekites, the Hitties, the Jebusites, and the Amorites. Those groups live in the mountains.   The Canaanites live by the sea and by the Jordan River.
[29] The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.

The people were upset about the big people in Canaan. Caleb tried to calm the people. Caleb said that he thought the Israelites should go to Canaan and move in now. He said the Israelites were stronger than the people in Canaan.
[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 the other spies did not agree. They were afraid to move into Canaan. They changed their words, and they started to say bad things about Canaan. Now they said the land was not good and that things would not grow well there.  They said the people in Canaan were too strong. They talked about the big people (the children of Anak the giant) who lived there. They said that the Israelites would be like little grasshoppers.
[31] But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
[32] And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
[33] And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Numbers 14

The Israelites do not move into Canaan because they do not trust God enough

After the spies gave their report, the Israelites were upset. They cried and complained about Moses and Aaron.  They said it would have been better if they died in Egypt or if they died there in the desert.  They felt that they would be killed in Canaan. They also felt that their wives and children would be caught.  They asked why God would let this happen. They said that it would be better for them to go back to Egypt. 

[1] And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
[2] And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
[3] And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?

They decided to pick a leader and go back to Egypt.
[4] And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

Moses and Aaron bowed down on their faces and prayed.  Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes.  Tearing clothes meant a person was very, very upset. 
[5] Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
[6] And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:

Joshua and Caleb talked to the Israelites.  They told them that Canaan was a good place.  They said that if God was happy with the Israelites, He would give them Canaan to live in.  They said that the Israelites should not be mad at God. They should not be afraid of the people in Canaan.  Joshua and Caleb said that God would help the Israelites defeat the Canaanites. 
[7] And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
[8] If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
[9] Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

The Israelites were very upset and angry. They said they would throw rocks and kill Joshua and Caleb.  But then God appeared in the tabernacle. 
[10] But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

God is angry with the Israelites, and He punishes them for not trusting Him

God talked to Moses. He was angry, too. He was angry with the Israelites.  God had shown the Israelites His power many times.  But still they did not trust Him.  God asked Moses how long it would take before the Israelites would trust Him and stop making Him angry. 

[11] And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?

God said that He was thinking about making all of the Israelites sick so they would die. He would not give them the land of Canaan to live in. Instead, He would make Moses' children and grandchildren a strong nation. He would make Moses' descendants a stronger nation than the Israelites.
[12] I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.

Moses talked to God. He told God that if He killed all of the Israelites, the Egyptians would hear about it. The Egyptians would then tell the Canaanites. The Canaanites have heard how God is with the Israelites. They know that He talks to them face-to-face. They have heard how God leads the Israelites with a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night.  If God kills all of the Israelites,  the Canaanites will say it is because God is not strong. They will say that God is not strong enough to bring the Israelites into the land He promised them.  
[13] And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
[14] And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
[15] Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
[16] Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.

Moses asked God to forgive the Israelites. Moses said that God had great power. Moses asked God to show His power now.  He talked about God's promise in the past.  In the past, God said He forgives guilty people. He  forgives them but He punishes the guilty people to the 3rd and 4th generations. That means he punishes guilty people, their children, their grandchildren, and their great grandchildren. If God did that now, it would be better than killing all of the Israelites. 
[17] And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
[18] The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
[19] Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.

God said He would forgive the Israelites.  But He would punish them because they did not trust and obey Him. They did not trust God to help them, and they did not go into Canaan now.  The Israelites had seen God's miracles and power themselves.  But still, they did not obey Him.   So, the Israelites will not be allowed to go live in Canaan. 
[20] And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
[21] But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
[22] Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
[23] Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:

God said that Caleb was special because he trusted God. Caleb encouraged the Israelites to go into Canaan now. Caleb will be able to go into Canaan later. 
[24] But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

The Amalekites and Canaanites live in the place where the Israelites are camped now. So God said that the Israelites should turn around and go the other way--away from Canaan. The Israelites should go into the desert by the Red Sea.
[25] (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.



This is the desert or wilderness of Paran. The Israelites will travel and camp in this desert for 40 years.


Photo from


God talked to Moses and Aaron. God was angry that the Israelites complained so much.  
[26] And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
[27] How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.

God wanted Moses to tell the Israelites what He planned to do.  God said that all of the Israelites who were 20 years old and older will die in the wilderness later. They will not go live in Canaan.  But there are 2 men who are special.  They are Joshua and Caleb. They will go live in Canaan later. 
[28] Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
[29] Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,
[30] Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

In the past, the Israelites worried that their children would be captured and kidnapped. But God said this will not happen. After 40 years, the Israelite children will grow up, and they will go live in Canaan. But first, for 40 years, they will wander and camp in the wilderness desert. They will not have permanent homes there. They will travel from place to place.  All of the Israelites who are adults now will die in the wilderness desert.  
[31] But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
[32] But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
[33] And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.

When the spies explored Canaan, they stayed in Canaan for 40 days.  God said the Israelites would wander for 40 years--1 year for each day of the spies. They would see that God punished them for their sin--they didn't trust Him to help them enter Canaan now.
[34] After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.

God punishes the spies who gave a bad report

God said He would punish the people who told the others that they should not enter Canaan now. They caused the other Israelites to doubt God. The Israelites did not trust Him, and they would all die in the desert during the next 40 years.  The 10 spies who said bad things about Canaan were punished now. God made them sick, and they died.

[35] I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
[36] And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,
[37] Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.

Joshua and Caleb were spies, too. But they did not say bad things about Canaan.  They did not die. 
[38] But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.

Some of the Israelites try to go into Canaan without God's help

Moses told the Israelites what God said about their punishment. The people were very sad. They said they were wrong to complain about God. Some of the Israelites  said they would go into Canaan now. 

[39] And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.
[40] And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.

Moses said their plan would not work. If they went into Canaan now, they would be killed by the people who live in Canaan.  God would not help them now because they didn't trust Him earlier. 
[41] And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
[42] Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
[43] For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you.

They did not obey Moses. They started to go into Canaan. Moses was not with them, and the Ark of the Covenant was not with them. Some of the Amalekites and the Canaanites came and killed them.
[44] But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
[45] Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

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