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Chapter 13

The Twelve Scouts. The Lord said to Moses: Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, which I am giving the Israelites. You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe, every one a leader among them. (A)So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, at the direction of the Lord. All of them were leaders among the Israelites. These were their names:

from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua, son of Zaccur;

from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat, son of Hori;

from the tribe of Judah, Caleb, son of Jephunneh;

from the tribe of Issachar, Igal;

for the Josephites, from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea, son of Nun;

from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti, son of Raphu;

10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel, son of Sodi;

11 for the Josephites, from 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 Vophsi;

15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel, son of Machi.

16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to reconnoiter the land. But Hoshea, son of Nun, Moses called Joshua.[a]

17 In sending them to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, Moses said to them, “Go up there in the Negeb, up into the highlands, 18 and see what kind of land it is and whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 Is the country in which they live good or bad? Are the towns in which they dwell open or fortified? 20 Is the soil fertile or barren, wooded or clear? And do your best to get some of the fruit of the land.” It was then the season for early grapes.

21 So they went up and reconnoitered the land from the wilderness of Zin[b] as far as where Rehob adjoins Lebo-hamath. 22 (B)Going up by way of the Negeb, they reached Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, descendants of the Anakim,[c] were. (Now Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 They also reached the Wadi Eshcol,[d] where they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes on it, which two of them carried on a pole, as well as some pomegranates and figs. 24 It was because of the cluster the Israelites cut there that they called the place Wadi Eshcol.(C)

Their Report. 25 They returned from reconnoitering the land forty days later. 26 (D)Proceeding directly to Moses and Aaron and the whole community of the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran at Kadesh, they made a report to them and to the whole community, showing them the fruit of the land. 27 They told Moses: “We came to the land to which you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit. 28 However, the people who are living in the land are powerful, and the towns are fortified and very large.(E) Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there. 29 Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb; Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites dwell in the highlands, and Canaanites along the sea and the banks of the Jordan.”

30 Caleb, however, quieted the people before Moses and said, “We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly prevail over it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us.” 32 They spread discouraging reports(F) among the Israelites about the land they had reconnoitered, saying, “The land that we went through and reconnoitered is a land that consumes its inhabitants. And all the people we saw there are huge. 33 (G)There we saw the Nephilim[e] (the Anakim are from the Nephilim); in our own eyes we seemed like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them.”


  1. 13:16 Joshua: in Hebrew, “Jehoshua,” which was later modified to “Jeshua,” the Hebrew name for “Jesus.” Hoshea and Joshua are variants of one original name meaning “the Lord saves.” Cf. Mt 1:21.
  2. 13:21 The wilderness of Zin: north of Paran and southwest of the Dead Sea. It is quite distinct from “the wilderness of Sin” near the border of Egypt (Ex 16:1; 17:1; Nm 33:11). Lebo-hamath: a town near Riblah (Jer 39:5–6) at the southern border of Hamath, an independent kingdom in southern Syria. David’s conquests extended as far as Hamath (2 Sm 8:9–11), and Lebo-hamath thus formed the northern border of the ideal extent of Israel’s possessions (Nm 34:7–9; Ez 47:15; 48:1). This may suggest that this verse was inserted precisely to extend the scope of the reconnaissance; cf. Dt 1:24.
  3. 13:22, 28 Anakim: an aboriginal race in southern Palestine, largely absorbed by the Canaanites. Either because of their tall stature or because of the massive stone structures left by them, the Israelites regarded them as giants.
  4. 13:23 Eshcol: means “cluster.”
  5. 13:33 Nephilim: i.e., “fallen ones” (in the Septuagint, “giants”), a reference to fallen heroes of old. Cf. Gn 6:4.