Numbers chapter 13

Twelve spies explore the Promised Land. The spies return.

 


 

TWELVE SPIES EXPLORE THE PROMISED LAND

 

VERSE 1. The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

 

VERSE 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, you shall send a man, every one a prince among them.”

they may spy out the land. They had walked across the desert. Now the Promised Land was within their grasp. Moses sends spies to reconnoiter.

of Canaan. The spies will reconnoiter the Promised Land. If their report is favorable, the land flowing with milk and honey will be theirs for the taking.

One of the twelve spies is Joshua son of Nun. Thirty-eight years later, he will lead the nation into the Promised Land:

Joshua 1:5. No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you nor forsake you.

 

VERSE 3. Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran according to the commandment of the LORD. All of them were men who were heads of the children of Israel.

 

VERSE 4. These were their names: Of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur.

 

VERSE 5. Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori.

 

VERSE 6. Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.

Caleb. He will be a great hero of the faith.

 

VERSE 7. Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph.

 

VERSE 8. Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun.

Hoshea the son of Nun. We know him by his nickname: Joshua son of Nun. He too will be a great hero of the faith.

This is the same Joshua who:

  • Succeeded Moses as leader of the nation
  • Performed miracles
  • Stopped the sun
  • Led the nation into the Promised Land
  • Has a Book of the Bible named after him

 

VERSE 9. Of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu.

 

VERSE 10. Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi.

 

VERSE 11. Of the tribe of Joseph, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi.

 

VERSE 12. Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli.

 

VERSE 13. Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael.

 

VERSE 14. Of the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi.

 

VERSE 15. Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.

 

VERSE 16. These are the names of the men who Moses sent to spy out the land. Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua.

Hoshea. The Hebrew word is hosheia. It means “salvation.” That is his birth name.

Joshua. The Hebrew word is y’hoshua. It means “YHWH is salvation.” It is a nickname given by Moses.

In the Bible, that nickname of “Joshua” is used for the rest of the life of Joshua son of Nun.

 

VERSE 17. Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way by the South, and go up into the hill country.

go up into the hill country. In those days the hill country was populated primarily by the Amorites.

 

VERSE 18. See the land, what it is; and the people who dwell therein, whether they are strong or weak, whether they are few or many;

 

VERSE 19. 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;

 

VERSE 20. and what the land is, whether it is fertile or poor, whether there is wood therein, or not. Be courageous, and bring some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first-ripe grapes.

Be courageous. To spy out the land required great courage.

 

VERSE 21. So they went up, and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, to the entrance of Hamath.

the wilderness of Zin. That is, the Desert of Zin.

 

VERSE 22. They went up by the South, 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.)

Hebron. It was built seven years before Tanis in Egypt. Tanis was built by the Hyksos in about 1730 BC.

Later, Hebron will become the inheritance of Caleb:

Joshua 14:14. Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel wholeheartedly.

 

VERSE 23. 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 between two. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs.

one cluster of grapes. It was so heavy that to carry it required two men.

 

VERSE 24. That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the children of Israel cut down from there.

 

THE SPIES RETURN

 

VERSE 25. They returned from spying out the land at the end of forty days.

 

VERSE 26. They went and came to Moses, 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. They showed them the fruit of the land.

 

VERSE 27. They told him, and said, “We came to the land where you sent us. Surely it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.

it flows with milk and honey. It is indeed the land “flowing with milk and honey.”

 

VERSE 28. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. Moreover, we saw the children of Anak there.

the children of Anak. In those days, Hebron was the home of the Anakites. They were a tribe of giants, as we see in verse 33 below.

 

VERSE 29. Amalek dwells in the land of the South. The Hittite, the Jebusite, and the Amorite dwell in the hill country. The Canaanite dwells by the sea, and along the side of the Jordan.”

 

VERSE 30. Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, “Let’s go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it!”

Caleb stilled the people. Caleb speaks by faith. He describes the likelihood of success. He tries to rally the people.

 

VERSE 31. But the men who went up with him said, “We aren’t able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.”

We aren’t able. Ten of the spies discouraged the people. They pessimistically assert that they cannot achieve victory.

 

VERSE 32. 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 who we saw in it are men of great stature.

They brought up an evil report. Ten of the twelve spies conspired to give a false report.

They demolished the courage of the nation. They caused the victory to be delayed for forty long years.

 

VERSE 33. There we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim. We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

the Nephilim. Or “giants.”

Genesis 6:4. The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when God’s sons came in to men’s daughters and had children with them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

 


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