New English Translation
Spies Sent Out
13 [a] The Lord spoke[b] to Moses: 2 “Send out men to investigate[c] the land of Canaan, which I am giving[d] to the Israelites. You are to send one man from each ancestral tribe,[e] each one a leader among them.” 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command[f] of the Lord. All of them were leaders[g] of the Israelites.
4 Now these were their names: from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zaccur; 5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori; 6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh; 7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph; 8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun; 9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu; 10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi; 11 from the tribe[h] of Joseph, namely, the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi son of Susi; 12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli; 13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael; 14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vopshi; 15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki. 16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to investigate the land. And Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.[i]
The Spies’ Instructions
17 When Moses sent[j] them to investigate the land of Canaan, he told them, “Go up through the Negev,[k] and then go up into the hill country 18 and see[l] what the land is like,[m] and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, few or many, 19 and whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or fortified cities, 20 and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether or not there are forests in it. And be brave,[n] and bring back some of the fruit of the land.” Now it was the time of year[o] for the first ripe grapes.[p]
The Spies’ Activities
21 So they went up and investigated the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob,[q] at Lebo Hamath. 22 When they went up through the Negev, they[r] came[s] to Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai,[t] descendants of Anak, were living. (Now Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan[u] in Egypt.) 23 When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a staff[v] between two men, as well as some of the pomegranates and the figs. 24 That place was called[w] the Eshcol Valley,[x] because of the cluster[y] of grapes that the Israelites cut from there. 25 They returned from investigating the land after forty days.
The Spies’ Reports
26 They came back[z] to Moses and Aaron and to the whole community of the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran at Kadesh.[aa] They reported[ab] to the whole community and showed the fruit of the land. 27 They told Moses,[ac] “We went to the land where you sent us.[ad] It is indeed flowing with milk and honey,[ae] and this is its fruit. 28 But[af] the inhabitants[ag] are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. Moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the land of the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the banks[ah] of the Jordan.”[ai]
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses, saying, “Let us go up[aj] and occupy it,[ak] for we are well able to conquer it.”[al] 31 But the men[am] who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against these people, because they are stronger than we are!” 32 Then they presented the Israelites with a discouraging report[an] of the land they had investigated, saying, “The land that we passed through[ao] to investigate is a land that devours[ap] its inhabitants.[aq] All the people we saw there[ar] are of great stature. 33 We even saw the Nephilim[as] there (the descendants of Anak came from the Nephilim), and we seemed like grasshoppers both to ourselves[at] and to them.”[au]
The Israelites Respond in Unbelief
14 [av] Then all the community raised a loud cry,[aw] and the people wept[ax] that night. 2 And all the Israelites murmured[ay] against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died[az] in the land of Egypt, or if only we had perished[ba] in this wilderness! 3 Why has the Lord brought us into this land only to be killed by the sword, that our wives and our children should become plunder? Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another,[bb] “Let’s appoint[bc] a leader[bd] and return[be] to Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell down with their faces to the ground[bf] before the whole assembled community[bg] of the Israelites. 6 And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, two of those who had investigated the land, tore their garments. 7 They said to the whole community of the Israelites, “The land we passed through to investigate is an exceedingly[bh] good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land that is flowing with milk and honey.[bi] 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us.[bj] Their protection[bk] has turned aside from them, but the Lord is with us. Do not fear them!”
The Punishment from God
11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise[bp] me, and how long will they not believe[bq] in me, in spite of the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence,[br] and I will disinherit them—I will make you into a nation that is greater and mightier than they!”
13 Moses said to the Lord, “When the Egyptians hear[bs] it—for you brought up this people by your power from among them— 14 then they will tell it to the inhabitants[bt] of this land. They have heard that you, Lord, are among this people, that you, Lord, are seen face to face,[bu] that your cloud stands over them, and that you go before them by day in a pillar of cloud and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you kill[bv] this entire people at once,[bw] then the nations that have heard of your fame will say, 16 ‘Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to them, he killed them in the wilderness.’ 17 So now, let the power of my Lord[bx] be great, just as you have said, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in loyal love,[by] forgiving iniquity and transgression,[bz] but by no means clearing the guilty,[ca] visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children until the third and fourth generations.’[cb] 19 Please forgive[cc] the iniquity of this people according to your great loyal love,[cd] just as you have forgiven this people from Egypt even until now.”
20 Then the Lord said, “I have forgiven them as you asked.[ce] 21 But truly, as I live,[cf] all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. 22 For all the people have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tempted[cg] me now these ten times,[ch] and have not obeyed me[ci]— 23 they will by no means[cj] see the land that I promised on oath to their fathers, nor will any of them who despised me see it— 24 Only my servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit and has followed me fully—I will bring him into the land where he had gone, and his descendants[ck] will possess it. 25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites were living in the valleys.)[cl] Tomorrow, turn and journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.”
26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long must I bear[cm] with this evil congregation[cn] that murmurs against me? I have heard the complaints of the Israelites that they murmured against me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,[co] says[cp] the Lord, I will surely do to you just what you have spoken in my hearing.[cq] 29 Your dead bodies[cr] will fall in this wilderness—all those of you who were numbered, according to your full number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me. 30 You will by no means enter into the land where[cs] I swore[ct] to settle[cu] you. The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 But I will bring in your little ones, whom you said would become victims of war,[cv] and they will enjoy[cw] the land that you have despised. 32 But as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness, 33 and your children will wander[cx] in the wilderness forty years and suffer for your unfaithfulness,[cy] until your dead bodies lie finished[cz] in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days you have investigated this land, forty days—one day for a year—you will suffer for[da] your iniquities, forty years, and you will know what it means to thwart me.[db] 35 I, the Lord, have said, “I will surely do so to all this evil congregation that has gathered together against me. In this wilderness they will be finished, and there they will die!”’”
36 The men whom Moses sent to investigate the land, who returned and made the whole community murmur against him by producing[dc] an evil report about the land, 37 those men who produced the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the Lord. 38 But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among[dd] the men who went to investigate the land, lived. 39 When Moses told[de] these things to all the Israelites, the people mourned[df] greatly.
40 And early[dg] in the morning they went up to the crest of the hill country,[dh] saying, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place that the Lord commanded,[di] for we have sinned.”[dj] 41 But Moses said, “Why[dk] are you now transgressing the commandment[dl] of the Lord? It will not succeed! 42 Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, and you will be[dm] defeated before your enemies. 43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword. Because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you.”
44 But they dared[dn] to go up to the crest of the hill, although[do] neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed from the camp. 45 So the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country swooped down[dp] and attacked them[dq] as far as Hormah.[dr]
- Numbers 13:1 sn Chapter 13 provides the names of the spies sent into the land (vv. 1-16), their instructions (vv. 17-20), their activities (vv. 21-25), and their reports (vv. 26-33). It is a chapter that serves as a good lesson on faith, for some of the spies walked by faith, and some by sight.
- Numbers 13:1 tn The verse starts with the vav (ו) consecutive on the verb: “and….”
- Numbers 13:2 tn The imperfect tense with the conjunction is here subordinated to the preceding imperative to form the purpose clause. It can thus be translated “send…to investigate.”
- Numbers 13:2 tn The participle here should be given a future interpretation, meaning “which I am about to give” or “which I am going to give.”
- Numbers 13:2 tn Heb “one man one man of the tribe of his fathers.”
- Numbers 13:3 tn Heb “mouth.”
- Numbers 13:3 tn Heb “heads.”
- Numbers 13:11 tc Some scholars emend “tribe” to “sons.” Cf. Num 1:10.
- Numbers 13:16 sn The difference in the names is slight, a change from “he saves” to “the Lord saves.” The Greek text of the OT used Iesoun for Hebrew Yeshua.
- Numbers 13:17 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated to the next verb of the same formation to express a temporal clause.
- Numbers 13:17 tn The instructions had them first go up into the southern desert of the land, and after passing through that, into the hill country of the Canaanites. The text could be rendered “into the Negev” as well as “through the Negev.”
- Numbers 13:18 tn The form is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive; the word therefore carries the volitional mood of the preceding imperatives. It may be either another imperative, or it may be subordinated as a purpose clause.
- Numbers 13:18 tn Heb “see the land, what it is.”
- Numbers 13:20 tn The verb is the Hitpael perfect with vav (ו) consecutive, from the root חָזַק (khazaq, “to be strong”). Here it could mean “strengthen yourselves” or “be courageous” or “determined.” See further uses in 2 Sam 10:12; 1 Kgs 20:22; 1 Chr 19:13.
- Numbers 13:20 tn Heb “Now the days were the days of.”
- Numbers 13:20 sn The reference to the first ripe grapes would put the time somewhere at the end of July.
- Numbers 13:21 sn Zin is on the southern edge of the land, but Rehob is far north, near Mount Hermon. The spies covered all the land.
- Numbers 13:22 tc The MT has the singular, but the ancient versions and Smr have the plural.
- Numbers 13:22 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated to the following clause. The first verse gave the account of their journey over the whole land; this section focuses on what happened in the area of Hebron, which would be the basis for the false report.
- Numbers 13:22 sn These names are thought to be three clans that were in the Hebron area (see Josh 15:14; Judg 1:20). To call them descendants of Anak is usually taken to mean that they were large or tall people (2 Sam 21:18-22). They were ultimately driven out by Caleb.
- Numbers 13:22 sn The text now provides a brief historical aside for the readers. Zoan was probably the city of Tanis, although that is disputed today by some scholars. It was known in Egypt in the New Kingdom as “the fields of Tanis,” which corresponded to the “fields of Zoar” in the Hebrew Bible (Ps 78:12, 43).
- Numbers 13:23 tn The word is related etymologically to the verb for “slip, slide, bend, totter.” This would fit the use very well. A pole that would not bend would be hard to use to carry things, but a pole or stave that was flexible would serve well.
- Numbers 13:24 tn The verb is rendered as a passive because there is no expressed subject.
- Numbers 13:24 tn Or “Wadi Eshcol.” The translation “brook” is too generous; the Hebrew term refers to a river bed, a ravine or valley through which torrents of rain would rush in the rainy season; at other times it might be completely dry.
- Numbers 13:24 tn The word “Eshcol” is drawn from the Hebrew expression concerning the “cluster of grapes.” The word is probably retained in the name Burj Haskeh, two miles north of Damascus.
- Numbers 13:26 tn The construction literally has “and they went and they entered,” which may be smoothed out as a verbal hendiadys, the one verb modifying the other.
- Numbers 13:26 sn Kadesh is Ain Qadeis, about 50 miles (83 km) south of Beer Sheba. It is called Kadesh Barnea in Num 32:8.
- Numbers 13:26 tn Heb “They brought back word”; the verb is the Hiphil preterite of שׁוּב (shuv).
- Numbers 13:27 tn Heb “told him and said.” The referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Numbers 13:27 tn The relative clause modifies “the land.” It is constructed with the relative and the verb: “where you sent us.”
- Numbers 13:27 sn This is the common expression for the material abundance of the land (see further, F. C. Fensham, “An Ancient Tradition of the Fertility of Palestine,” PEQ 98 : 166-67).
- Numbers 13:28 tn The word (אֶפֶס, ʾefes) forms a very strong adversative. The land was indeed rich and fruitful, but….”
- Numbers 13:28 tn Heb “the people who are living in the land.”
- Numbers 13:29 tn Heb “by the side [hand] of.”
- Numbers 13:29 sn For more discussion on these people groups, see D. J. Wiseman, ed., Peoples of Old Testament Times.
- Numbers 13:30 tn The construction is emphatic, using the cohortative with the infinitive absolute to strengthen it: עָלֹה נַעֲלֶה (ʿaloh naʿaleh, “let us go up”) with the sense of certainty and immediacy.
- Numbers 13:30 tn The perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive brings the cohortative idea forward: “and let us possess it”; it may also be subordinated to form a purpose or result idea.
- Numbers 13:30 tn Here again the confidence of Caleb is expressed with the infinitive absolute and the imperfect tense: יָכוֹל נוּכַל (yakhol nukhal), “we are fully able” to do this. The verb יָכַל (yakhal) followed by the preposition lamed means “to prevail over, to conquer.”
- Numbers 13:31 tn The vav (ו) disjunctive on the noun at the beginning of the clause forms a strong adversative clause here.
- Numbers 13:32 tn Or “an evil report,” i.e., one that was a defamation of the grace of God.
- Numbers 13:32 tn Heb “which we passed over in it”; the pronoun on the preposition serves as a resumptive pronoun for the relative, and need not be translated literally.
- Numbers 13:32 tn The verb is the feminine singular participle from אָכַל (ʾakhal); it modifies the land as a “devouring land,” a bold figure for the difficulty of living in the place.
- Numbers 13:32 sn The expression has been interpreted in a number of ways by commentators, such as that the land was infertile, that the Canaanites were cannibals, that it was a land filled with warlike dissensions, or that it denotes a land geared for battle. It may be that they intended the land to seem infertile and insecure.
- Numbers 13:32 tn Heb “in its midst.”
- Numbers 13:33 tc The Greek version uses γίγαντας (gigantas, “giants”) to translate “the Nephilim,” but it does not retain the clause “the sons of Anak are from the Nephilim.”sn The Nephilim are the legendary giants of antiquity. They are first discussed in Gen 6:4. This forms part of the pessimism of the spies’ report.
- Numbers 13:33 tn Heb “in our eyes.”
- Numbers 13:33 tn Heb “in their eyes.”
- Numbers 14:1 sn This chapter forms part of the story already begun. There are three major sections here: dissatisfaction with the reports (vv. 1-10), the threat of divine punishment (vv. 11-38), and the defeat of the Israelites (vv. 39-45). See K. D. Sakenfeld, “The Problem of Divine Forgiveness in Num 14, ” CBQ 37 (1975): 317-30; also J. R. Bartlett, “The Use of the Word רֹאשׁ as a Title in the Old Testament,” VT 19 (1969): 1-10.
- Numbers 14:1 tn The two verbs “lifted up their voice and cried” form a hendiadys; the idiom of raising the voice means that they cried aloud.
- Numbers 14:1 tn There are a number of things that the verb “to weep” or “wail” can connote. It could reflect joy, grief, lamentation, or repentance, but here it reflects fear, hopelessness, or vexation at the thought of coming all this way and being defeated by the Canaanite armies. See Judg 20:23, 26.
- Numbers 14:2 tn The Hebrew verb “to murmur” is לוּן (lun). It is a strong word, signifying far more than complaining or grumbling, as some of the modern translations have it. The word is most often connected to the wilderness experience. It is paralleled in the literature with the word “to rebel.” The murmuring is like a parliamentary vote of no confidence, for they no longer trusted their leaders and wished to choose a new leader and return. This “return to Egypt” becomes a symbol of their lack of faith in the Lord.
- Numbers 14:2 tn The optative is expressed by לוּ (lu) and then the verb, here the perfect tense מַתְנוּ (matnu)—“O that we had died….” Had they wanted to die in Egypt they should not have cried out to the Lord to deliver them from bondage. Here the people became consumed with the fear and worry of what lay ahead, and in their panic they revealed a lack of trust in God.
- Numbers 14:2 tn Heb “died.”
- Numbers 14:4 tn Heb “a man to his brother.”
- Numbers 14:4 tn The verb is נָתַן (natan, “to give”), but this verb has quite a wide range of meanings in the Bible. Here it must mean “to make,” “to choose,” “to designate” or the like.
- Numbers 14:4 tn The word “head” (רֹאשׁ, roʾsh) probably refers to a tribal chief who was capable to judge and to lead to war (see J. R. Bartlett, “The Use of the Word רֹאשׁ as a Title in the Old Testament,” VT 19 : 1-10).
- Numbers 14:4 tn The form is a cohortative with a vav (ו) prefixed. After the preceding cohortative this could also be interpreted as a purpose or result clause—in order that we may return.
- Numbers 14:5 sn This action of Moses and Aaron is typical of them in the wilderness with the Israelites. The act shows self-abasement and deference before the sovereign Lord. They are not bowing before the people here, but in front of the people they bow before God. According to Num 16:41-50 this prostration is for the purpose of intercessory prayer. Here it prevents immediate wrath from God.
- Numbers 14:5 tn Heb “before all the assembly of the congregation.”
- Numbers 14:7 tn The repetition of the adverb מְאֹד (meʾod) is used to express this: “very, very [good].”
- Numbers 14:8 tn The subjective genitives “milk and honey” are symbols of the wealth of the land, second only to bread. Milk was a sign of such abundance (Gen 49:12; Isa 7:21, 22). Because of the climate the milk would thicken quickly and become curds, eaten with bread or turned into butter. The honey mentioned here is the wild honey (see Deut 32:13; Judg 14:8-9). It signified sweetness, or the finer things of life (Ezek 3:3).
- Numbers 14:9 sn The expression must indicate that they could destroy the enemies as easily as they could eat bread.
- Numbers 14:9 tn Heb “their shade.” The figure compares the shade from the sun with the protection from the enemy. It is also possible that the text is alluding to their deities here.
- Numbers 14:10 tn Heb “said to stone them with stones.” The verb and the object are not from the same root, but the combination nonetheless forms an emphasis equal to the cognate accusative.
- Numbers 14:10 tn The vav (ו) on the noun “glory” indicates a strong contrast, one that interrupts their threatened attack.
- Numbers 14:10 sn The glory of the Lord refers to the reality of the Lord’s presence in a manifestation of his power and splendor. It showed to all that God was a living God. The appearance of the glory indicated blessing for the obedient, but disaster for the disobedient.
- Numbers 14:10 tc The Greek, Syriac, and Tg. Ps.-J. have “in the cloud over the tent.”
- Numbers 14:11 tn The verb נָאַץ (naʾats) means “to condemn, spurn” (BDB 610 s.v.). Coats suggests that in some contexts the word means actual rejection or renunciation (Rebellion in the Wilderness, 146, 7). This would include the idea of distaste.
- Numbers 14:11 tn The verb “to believe” (root אָמַן, ʾaman) has the basic idea of support, dependability for the root. The Hiphil has a declarative sense, namely, to consider something reliable or dependable and to act on it. The people did not trust what the Lord said.
- Numbers 14:12 tc The Greek version has “death.”
- Numbers 14:13 tn The construction is unusual in that we have here a perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive with no verb before it to establish the time sequence. The context requires that this be taken as a vav (ו) consecutive. It actually forms the protasis for the next verse, and would best be rendered “when…then they will say.”
- Numbers 14:14 tn The singular participle is to be taken here as a collective, representing all the inhabitants of the land.
- Numbers 14:14 tn “Face-to-face” is literally “eye to eye.” It only occurs elsewhere in Isa 52:8. This expresses the closest communication possible.
- Numbers 14:15 tn The verb is the Hiphil perfect of מוּת (mut), וְהֵמַתָּה (vehemattah). The vav (ו) consecutive makes this also a future time sequence verb, but again in a conditional clause.
- Numbers 14:15 tn Heb “as one man.”
- Numbers 14:17 tc The form in the text is אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay), the word that is usually used in place of the tetragrammaton. It is the plural form with the pronominal suffix, and so must refer to God.
- Numbers 14:18 tn The expression רַב־חֶסֶד (rav khesed) means “much of loyal love” or “faithful love.” Some have it “totally faithful,” but that omits the aspect of his love.
- Numbers 14:18 tn Or “rebellion.”
- Numbers 14:18 tn The infinitive absolute emphasizes the verbal activity of the imperfect tense, which here serves as a habitual imperfect. Negated it states what God does not do; and the infinitive makes that certain.
- Numbers 14:18 sn The Decalogue adds “to those who hate me.” The point of the line is that the effects of sin, if not the sinful traits themselves, are passed on to the next generation.
- Numbers 14:19 tn The verb סְלַח־נָא (selakh naʾ), the imperative form, means “forgive” (see Ps 130:4), “pardon,” “excuse.” The imperative is of course a prayer, a desire, and not a command.
- Numbers 14:19 tn The construct unit is “the greatness of your loyal love.” This is the genitive of specification, the first word being the modifier.
- Numbers 14:20 tn Heb “forgiven according to your word.” The direct object, “them,” is implied.
- Numbers 14:21 sn This is the oath formula, but in the Pentateuch it occurs here and in v. 28.
- Numbers 14:22 tn The verb נָסָה (nasah) means “to test, to tempt, to prove.” It can be used to indicate things are tried or proven, or for testing in a good sense, or tempting in the bad sense, i.e., putting God to the test. In all uses there is uncertainty or doubt about the outcome. Some uses of the verb are positive: If God tests Abraham in Genesis 22:1, it is because there is uncertainty whether he fears the Lord or not; if people like Gideon put out the fleece and test the Lord, it is done by faith but in order to be certain of the Lord’s presence. But here, when these people put God to the test ten times, it was because they doubted the goodness and ability of God, and this was a major weakness. They had proof to the contrary, but chose to challenge God.
- Numbers 14:22 tn “Ten” is here a round figure, emphasizing the complete testing. But see F. V. Winnett, The Mosaic Tradition, 121-54.
- Numbers 14:22 tn Heb “listened to my voice.”
- Numbers 14:23 tn The word אִם (ʾim) indicates a negative oath formula: “if” means “they will not.” It is elliptical. In a human oath one would be saying: “The Lord do to me if they see…,” meaning “they will by no means see.” Here God is swearing that they will not see the land.
- Numbers 14:24 tn Heb “seed.”
- Numbers 14:25 sn The judgment on Israel is that they turn back to the desert and not attack the tribes in the land. So a parenthetical clause is inserted to state who was living there. They would surely block the entrance to the land from the south—unless God removed them. And he is not going to do that for Israel.
- Numbers 14:27 tn The figure is aposiopesis, or sudden silence. The main verb is deleted from the line, “how long…this evil community.” The intensity of the emotion is the reason for the ellipsis.
- Numbers 14:27 sn It is worth mentioning in passing that this is one of the Rabbinic proof texts for having at least ten men to form a congregation and have prayer. If God called ten men (the bad spies) a “congregation,” then a congregation must have ten men. But here the word “community/congregation” refers in this context to the people of Israel as a whole, not just to the ten spies.
- Numbers 14:28 sn Here again is the oath that God swore in his wrath, an oath he swore by himself, that they would not enter the land. “As the Lord lives,” or “by the life of the Lord,” are ways to render it.
- Numbers 14:28 tn The word נְאֻם (neʾum) is an “oracle.” It is followed by the subjective genitive: “the oracle of the Lord” is equal to saying “the Lord says.”
- Numbers 14:28 tn Heb “in my ears.”sn They had expressed the longing to have died in the wilderness, and not in war. God will now give them that. They would not say to God “your will be done,” so he says to them, “your will be done” (to borrow from C. S. Lewis).
- Numbers 14:29 tn Or “your corpses” (also in vv. 32, 33).
- Numbers 14:30 tn The relative pronoun “which” is joined with the resumptive pronoun “in it” to form a smoother reading “where.”
- Numbers 14:30 tn The Hebrew text uses the anthropomorphic expression “I raised my hand” in taking an oath.
- Numbers 14:30 tn Heb “to cause you to dwell; to cause you to settle.”
- Numbers 14:31 tn Or “plunder.”
- Numbers 14:31 tn Heb “know.”
- Numbers 14:33 tn The word is “shepherds.” It means that the people would be wilderness nomads, grazing their flock on available land.
- Numbers 14:33 tn Heb “you shall bear your whoredoms.” The imagery of prostitution is used throughout the Bible to reflect spiritual unfaithfulness, leaving the covenant relationship and following after false gods. Here it is used generally for their rebellion in the wilderness, but not for following other gods.
- Numbers 14:33 tn The infinitive is from תָּמַם (tamam), which means “to be complete.” The word is often used to express completeness in a good sense—whole, blameless, or the like. Here and in v. 35 it seems to mean “until your deaths have been completed.” See also Gen 47:15; Deut 2:15.
- Numbers 14:34 tn Heb “you shall bear.”
- Numbers 14:34 tn The phrase refers to the consequences of open hostility to God, or perhaps abandonment of God. The noun תְּנוּאָה (tenuʾah) occurs in Job 33:10 (perhaps). The related verb occurs in Num 30:6 HT (30:5 ET) and 32:7 with the sense of “disallow, discourage.” The sense of the expression adopted in this translation comes from the meticulous study of R. Loewe, “Divine Frustration Exegetically Frustrated,” Words and Meanings, 137-58.
- Numbers 14:36 tn The verb is the Hiphil infinitive construct with a ל (lamed) preposition from the root יָצָא (yatsaʾ, “to bring out”). The use of the infinitive here is epexegetical, that is, explaining how they caused the people to murmur.
- Numbers 14:38 tn The Hebrew text uses the preposition “from,” “some of”—“from those men.” The relative pronoun is added to make a smoother reading.
- Numbers 14:39 tn The preterite here is subordinated to the next preterite to form a temporal clause.
- Numbers 14:39 tn The word אָבַל (ʾaval) is rare, used mostly for mourning over deaths, but it is used here of mourning over bad news (see also Exod 33:4; 1 Sam 15:35; 16:1; etc.).
- Numbers 14:40 tn The verb וַיַּשְׁכִּמוּ (vayyashkimu) is often found in a verbal hendiadys construction: “They rose early…and they went up” means “they went up early.”
- Numbers 14:40 tn The Hebrew text says literally “the top of the hill,” but judging from the location and the terrain it probably means the heights of the hill country.
- Numbers 14:40 tn The verb is simply “said,” but it means the place that the Lord said to go up to in order to fight.
- Numbers 14:40 sn Their sin was unbelief. They could have gone and conquered the area if they had trusted the Lord for their victory. They did not, and so they were condemned to perish in the wilderness. Now, thinking that by going they can undo all that, they plan to go. But this is also disobedience, for the Lord said they would not now take the land, and yet they think they can. Here is their second sin, presumption.
- Numbers 14:41 tn The line literally has, “Why is this [that] you are transgressing….” The demonstrative pronoun is enclitic; it brings the force of “why in the world are you doing this now?”
- Numbers 14:41 tn Heb “mouth.”
- Numbers 14:42 tn This verb could also be subordinated to the preceding: “that you be not smitten.”
- Numbers 14:44 tn N. H. Snaith compares Arabic ʿafala (“to swell”) and gafala (“reckless, headstrong”; Leviticus and Numbers [NCB], 248). The word עֹפֶל (ʿofel) means a “rounded hill” or a “tumor.” The idea behind the verb may be that of “swelling,” and so “act presumptuously.”
- Numbers 14:44 tn The disjunctive vav (ו) here introduces a circumstantial clause; the most appropriate one here would be the concessive “although.”
- Numbers 14:45 tn Heb “came down.”
- Numbers 14:45 tn The verb used here means “crush by beating,” or “pounded” them. The Greek text used “cut them in pieces.”
- Numbers 14:45 tn The name “Hormah” means “destruction”; it is from the word that means “ban, devote” for either destruction or temple use.