Spies View the Land
13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel. From each of their fathers’ tribes you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.” 3 So Moses sent spies from the Wilderness of Paran at the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the Israelites. 4 These were their names: from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur; 5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori; 6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; 7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph; 8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea [that is, Joshua] the son of Nun; 9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu; 10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi; 11 from the tribe of Joseph, that is, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi; 12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli; 13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael; 14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi; 15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. 16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua (the Lord is salvation).
17 Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way into the Negev (the South country); then go up into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many, 19 and whether the land in which they live is good or bad, and whether the cities in which they live are [open] camps or fortifications, 20 and what the land is, whether it is fat (productive) or lean, whether there is timber on it or not. Make an effort to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.
21 So they went up and spied out the land from the Wilderness of Zin to Rehob [a town in Lebanon], at Lebo-hamath [in the far north]. 22 When they had gone up into the Negev (the South country), they came to Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai the descendants of Anak were there. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
23 Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol (cluster of grapes), and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two of them, with some of pomegranates and the figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshcol (cluster of grapes) because of the cluster of grapes which the sons of Israel cut down there.
The Spies’ Reports
25 When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days, 26 they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh, and brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the land’s fruit. 27 They reported to Moses and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does [a]flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 But the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are [b]fortified (walled) and very large; moreover, we saw there the descendants of Anak [people of great stature and courage]. 29 [The people descended from] Amalek live in the land of the Negev (South country); the Hittite, the Jebusite, and the Amorite live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the [Dead] Sea and along the side of the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession of it; for we will certainly conquer it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are too strong for us.” 32 So they gave the Israelites a bad report about the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we went, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants. And all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
- Numbers 13:27 This phrase referred to the abundant fertility of the land of Canaan. Milk (typically that of goats and sheep) was associated with abundance; “honey” referred mainly to syrups made from dates or grapes and was the epitome of sweetness. Bees’ honey was very rare and was considered the choicest of foods.
- Numbers 13:28 The spies probably had not seen walled cities before, having lived their childhood in Goshen in Egypt. Those who forgot God’s power to help them naturally found the situation formidable.