14 Then all the congregation [a]lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept [b]that night.2 All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!3 Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?”4 So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel.6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes;7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.8 If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey.9 Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our [c]prey. Their [d]protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.
Moses Pleads for the People
11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?12 I will smite them with [e]pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.”
13 But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from their midst,14 and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people, for You, O Lord, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.15 Now if You slay this people as one man, then the nations who have heard of Your fame will [f]say,16 ‘Because the Lordcould not bring this people into the land which He promised them by oath, therefore He slaughtered them in the wilderness.’17 But now, I pray, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have [g]declared,18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children [h]to the third and the fourth generations.’19 Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”
The Lord Pardons and Rebukes
20 So the Lord said, “I have pardoned them according to your word;
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