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Numbers 13

Twelve men sent to search the land of Canaan, Their instructions. (1-20) Their proceedings. (21-25) Their account of the land. (26-33)

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Twelve men sent to search the land of Canaan, Their instructions

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.

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.

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;

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.

Their proceedings

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.)

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.

25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.

Their account of the land

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Pharan, at Rethma, C. xxxiii. 48.; though Barradius confounds that station with that at Cades-barne. The Samaritan copy inserts here a long passage, taken probably from Deut. i. 20. 21. and 22, which shews that the Hebrews first proposed the sending spies, out of timidity; which God severely punished in the sequel, though in his anger he here consents to their proposal, which seemed to originate in motives of prudence, v. 3.

Ver. 3. Rulers of a hundred men, according to Hiscuni, inferior to those mentioned, C. x. 14. C.

Ver. 6. Huri: Sept. “Souri.” None of the tribe of Levi, the third son of Jacob, are sent; but two represent the different branches of the tribe of Joseph, v. 9. 12. The tribe of Ephraim comes out of its natural order, and has been overlooked by Calmet. H.

Ver. 12. Sceptre. Heb. matte, means also “a tribe.”

Ver. 17. Josue. His former name Osee, or Hoseah, means “one saved, or salvation:” but the addition of the i, taken from the name of the Lord, intimates, “he shall save, or the Saviour of God.” Some think that Moses had given him this name after the defeat of the Amalecites; but the Book of Exodus, where the name is found, might have been written after he received this commission. C. — The Sept. have, “Ause, the son of Nave, Jesus,” as he was a striking figure of our blessed Saviour, and their names are written with the same letters, Yehoshuah. This Moses foresaw, and also that he should be the happy instrument, in the hand of God, of saving the Israelites, by introducing them to the land of promise, and establishing them in peace therein. M. — The changing of his name imported, likewise, that he should be the chief leader. Theod. q. 25. W.

Ver. 18. South side, which is to the north of where you now dwell. Moses enters into several details for the satisfaction of the people, though they had probably a general idea of the country and of its fruitfulness already, having lived not far off. They might not know, however, but that some part of the inhabitants might dwell in tents, instead of towns, as many of the Arabians did.

Ver. 21. First ripe (præcoquæ:) Heb. lit. “the first-born.” Sept. “the days of spring, forerunners of the grape.” In Madeira, grapes ripen in March. Some suppose the messengers departed in June, others in July. In Palestine, they have fresh grapes from the end of June till Martinmas, and three vintages, in August, and in each of the two following months.

Ver. 22. Sin. The desert of Pharan was contiguous to that of Sin. They departed from Cades-barne, and went along the Jordan to Rohob, at the foot of Mount Libanus, and on the road to Emath; then they returned by the confines of the Sidonians and Philistines, through Hebron, to the camp at Cades.

Ver. 23. And came. The printed Heb. has, “and he came:” but the Sam. and all the versions, as well as some MSS. properly retain the plural, which the Massorets allow is right. Kenn. Diss. 1. — Enac, the founder of Hebron, and father of the giants of Chanaan. Jos. xv. 13. The Greek word anax, “king,” was perhaps derived from him, as also the famous Inachides, who settled in Greece, after they were driven out by Josue. Grot. — Tanis, where the tyrants of the Hebrews resided; a city, which the Egyptians represented as the most ancient in the world. Moses represses their vain boasting, by informing them that Hebron was of greater antiquity. It was afterwards assigned to the priests, and for a city of refuge, in the tribe of Juda. Jos. xx. 7.

Ver. 24. Torrent. Sept. “vale.” — Its. Heb. “one cluster.” — Two men, Josue and Caleb; (S. Maximus) though the Rabbins say they carried nothing. — Lever, or staff, suspending it thus, in order that it might not be crushed. In that valley, Doubdan (i. 21,) was assured by the religious, that clusters, weighing twelve pounds, might still be found. Pliny (xiv. 1,) says, there are some in Africa, larger than a male infant. Strabo (xi.) describes some in Carmania, two cubits high. Forster saw a religious man at Nurenberg, who had lived eight years in Palestine, and assured him that two men could hardly carry a bunch of grapes, such as grew in the vale of Hebron: (C.) but this may seem to be an hyperbole. H. — Lucas (T. i. p. 310,) assures us, that he had seen a bunch at Damascus, weighing above forty pounds. The Fathers here contemplate Jesus Christ, suspended between the two testaments, the synagogue and the Church: the juice, or blood of the grape, (Gen. xlix. 2. Deut. xxii. 14,) denotes his passion. S. Jer. ep. ad Fab. S. Bern. in Cant. ser. 44. C.

Ver. 27. Cades. The desert of Pharan, or of Cades, is the same. H. — The town is sometimes called Cades-barne, or Recem, (Chald.) which is Petra, the capital of the stony Arabia, and lies rather nearer to the Dead Sea than to the Mediterranean. It was on the high road from the Red Sea to Hebron. In one part of the desert of Cades, the people murmured for want of water. C. xx. 1. But there was plenty near the city. Moses continued here a long time after the return of the spies. Deut. i. 19. 46. C.

Ver. 30. South. They had already routed the Amalecites; but the spies insidiously recall to their remembrance, that they would be again in arms to obstruct their passage. — Hethites, dwelt nearest the Philistines, in the country which fell to the shares of Simeon and of Dan. The Jebusites occupied Jerusalem; and the Amorrhites, the most powerful of all those nations, held possession of most of the territory which was allotted to Juda. Nearer the Dead Sea, on the same mountains, dwelt the Cinezeans and the Cineans. Bonfrere places the Chanaanites on the banks of the Jordan, from the lake of Sodom as far as the sea of Tiberias. But they dwelt also near the Mediterranean; and the Phœnicians maintained themselves at Tyre and Sidon, against the most powerful kings of the Jews, and extended their commerce over the old world, to many parts of which they sent out colonies. C.

Ver. 31. Caleb, to whom Josue alone joined himself, to bear witness of the truth against the other ten; whom the people were, however, more inclined to believe, (C. xiv. 6. Eccli. xlvi. 9,) paying more attention to numbers than to authority, when it suited their humour. H.

Ver. 33. Spoke ill, &c. These men, who, by their misrepresentations of the land of promise, discouraged the Israelites from attempting the conquest of it, were a figure of worldlings, who, by decrying or misrepresenting true devotion, discourage Christians from seeking in earnest and acquiring so great a good, and thereby securing to themselves a happy eternity. Ch. — Devoureth, by being exposed to continual wars from the Arabs, Idumeans, and from its own inhabitants, the monsters of the race of Enac. With this God had threatened the Hebrews, if they proved rebellious. Lev. xxvi. 38. See Ezec. xxxvi. 13. C.

Ver. 34. Monsters. Heb. “giants.” — Locusts, or grasshoppers. So much inferior in size were we to them. Heb. insinuates that the spies entertained these sentiments when they beheld the giants, and the latter seemed to look down upon them with contempt; “and so we were in their sight.” These wicked men scrupled not to exaggerate in order to fill the people with dismay. H. — Their suggestions tended to make them distrust the goodness or the power of God; and therefore he would not suffer them to enjoy the sweets of the land. C. xiv. 23. 29. W. See Deut. i. 28. Isai. xl. 21.