Using Deuteronomy to Fill in the Lacunae of Numbers’ Spies Story
Biblical scholars have long realized that the account of the scouts (תרים) in Numbers combines two different sources. The standard explanation—which I support—is that the compiler of the Pentateuch put it together by splicing and lightly tweaking two versions of the story which originated in two different documents, J and P.
The reason for this division has been documented extensively on TheTorah.com in the editors’ essay, “Unscrambling the Scout Story with the Documentary Hypothesis”; I here focus on a subsidiary problem, recovering the missing pieces of the J text in Numbers.
It is especially clear from the beginning of the story that the J version is incomplete; Moses is speaking with the people he is sending into the land, but any record of Moses appointing spies in the first place is absent. To fill this lacuna, scholars have turned to the account of the scouts in Deuteronomy, whose author appears to be familiar with J version of the story.
The Similar Storylines in Deuteronomy and J in Numbers
In Deuteronomy 1, Moses refers to the story of the spies. The details of this story, when they overlap with Numbers, fit only with the non-Priestly (=J) version of the account. The correspondence between the order of the events in J in Numbers and Deuteronomy is especially striking. Both narrate, in the same order:
- A trip to the hill country (Num 13:17; Deut 1:24)
- The Eshkol stream as an end-point (Num 13:23; Deut 1:24)
- Taking some of the land’s fruit (Num 13:23; Deut 1:25)
- Return to the camp (Num 13:26; Deut 1:25)
- Report of the wealth of the land (Num 13:27; Deut 1:25)
- The strength of its inhabitants (Num 13:28; Deut 1:28)
- Its fortified cities (Num 13:28; Deut 1:28)
- Its Anakites (Num 13:28; Deut 1:28)
- The conclusion not to go up to the land (Num 13:31; Deut 1:26);
- Punishment of the entire generation not to see the land that was promised to the patriarchs (Num 14:23; Deut 1:25)
- The exclusion of Caleb and his offspring from this punishment (Num 14:24; Deut 1:36)
- The confession of the sin and an attempt to conquer the land (Num 14:40; Deut 1:41)
- Moses’ warning not to go up as the Lord is not amongst them (Num 14:42; Deut 1:42)
- The people’s attempt to enter the land anyway and their subsequent destruction (Num 14:44–45; Deut 1:43–45)
The Literary Similarities Between Deuteronomy and the J in Numbers
The close connection between the two versions of the story is further emphasized by similar linguistic uses:
|Numbers 13–14||Deuteronomy 1|
|Go up into the hill country (13:17)||
ועליתם את ההר
|They made for the hill country (1:24)|
|They reached the Eshkol stream (13:23)||
ויבֹאו עד נחל אשכֹּל
ויבֹאו עד נחל אשכֹּל
|Came to the Eshkol stream (1:24)|
|And they made their report to them (13:26)||
וישיבו אֹתם דבר
וישבו אֹתנו דבר
|And they gave us this report (1:25)|
|And the cities are fortified and very large (13:28)||
והערים בצֻרות גדֹלֹת מאֹד
ערים גדֹלֹת ובצורֹת בשמים
|Large cities with walls sky-high (1:28)|
|We saw the Anakites there (13:28)||
וגם ילִדֵי הענק ראינו שם
וגם בני ענקים ראינו שם
|And even Anakites (1:28)|
|None of the men […] shall see the land (14:22–23)||
כי כל האנשים […] אם יראו את הארץ
אם יראה איש באנשים האלה, הדור הרע הזה, את הארץ הטובה
|Not one of these men, the evil generation, shall see the good land (1:35)|
|The land that I promised on oath to their fathers (14:23)||
את הארץ אשר נשבעתי לאבתם
את הארץ […] אשר נשבעתי לתת לאבתיכם
|The good land that I swore to give to your fathers (1:35)|
|But my servant Caleb […] remained loyal to Me (14:24)||
ועבדי כָלֵב […] וימלא אחרי
זולתי כָּלֵב בן יפנה […] אשר מלֵּא אחרי ה’
|None except Caleb […] because he remained loyal to the Lord (1:36)|
|And his offspring shall hold it as a possession (14:24)||
ולו אתן את הארץ ולבניו
|To him and his descendants will I give the land (1:36)|
|We are prepared to go up to the place that the Lord has spoken of, for we were wrong (14:40)||
הננו ועלינו […] אשר אמר ה’ כי חטאנו
חטאנו לה’ אנחנו נעלה
|We stand guilty before the Lord. We will go up now and fight (1:41)|
|Do not go up for the Lord is not in your midst (14:42)||
אל תעלו כי אין ה’ בקרבכם
לא תעלו […] כי אינני בקרבכם
|Do not go up, […] since I am not in your midst (1:42)|
|Least you be routed by your enemies (14:42)||
ולֹא תנגפו לפני אֹיביכם
ולֹא תנגפו לפני אֹיביכם
|Else you will be routed by your enemies (1:42)|
|Who dwelt in the hill country (14:45)||
הישב בהר ההוא
הישב בהר ההוא
|Who lived in those hills (1:44)|
|And dealt them a crushing blow at Horma (14:45)||
ויכתום עד החרמה (יד:45)
ויכתו אתכם […] עד חרמה
|And they crushed you at Horma (1:44)|
In the last example, the description of the Israelites being crushed (כ-ת-ת) at Horma appears only in these two texts.
Using Deuteronomy and Numbers to Fill Out Each Other’s Versions
How are the two versions connected? Both the author of Deuteronomy and the compiler of Numbers made use of the J document. The author of Deuteronomy, following his typical pattern, recasts the story as Moses’ first person recollection. The editor of the Numbers story, i.e., the compiler of the Torah, spliced the J story together with the P story, but to make it work, he cut some pieces out. Thus, neither version preserves the J account intact.
Lacunae in Deuteronomy
The author of Deuteronomy skips over a number of details found in Numbers. For example, both versions extol Caleb and spare him from the fate of the rest of his generation (Num 14:24; Deut 1:36), but only Numbers (13:30) describes his courageous stand against the advice of all the other spies. In Deuteronomy, it is assumed when Moses says that Caleb will inherit the land “because he remained loyal to YHWH (יַעַן אֲשֶׁר מִלֵּא אַחֲרֵי יְ־הֹוָה),” but his intervention, i.e., in what way he remained loyal, is not described.
Similarly, Deuteronomy describes the people repeating what the spies said (Deut 1:28), but does not record the spies actually saying it. In fact, when reading the sequence of events in Deuteronomy, from the spies’ positive report to the people’s refusal to go up, the reader gets the impression that the people refused to go up despite the entirely positive report (Deut 1:25-26).
דברים א:כה …וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ טוֹבָ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְ־הֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽנוּ: א:כו וְלֹ֥א אֲבִיתֶ֖ם לַעֲלֹ֑ת…
Deut 1:25 …And they gave us this report: “It is a good land that YHWH our God is giving to us.” 1:26 Yet you refused to go up…
Only later on, in the description of the people’s complaint, do we hear about how the spies scared the people with their report.
דברים א:כחאַחֵינוּ֩ הֵמַ֨סּוּ אֶת לְבָבֵ֜נוּ לֵאמֹ֗ר עַ֣ם גָּד֤וֹל וָרָם֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ עָרִ֛ים גְּדֹלֹ֥ת וּבְצוּרֹ֖ת בַּשָּׁמָ֑יִם וְגַם בְּנֵ֥י עֲנָקִ֖ים רָאִ֥ינוּ שָֽׁם:
Deut 1:28 Our kinsmen have taken the heart out of us, saying, “We saw there a people stronger and taller than we, large cities with walls sky-high, and even Anakites.”
Lacunae in Numbers
The J story in Numbers is also filled with lacunae. The compiler of the Torah attempted to create a cogent narrative from separate versions, and when needed, deleted sections of one story or another. Ostensibly, the main reason for the lacunae is because some parts of the J story that conflicted too extremely with the Priestly version had to be cut. In some cases, however, it is difficult to understand what motivated the deletion, but a careful reading will note that something is missing, and a comparison with the Deuteronomic retelling of the story allows us to reconstruct the missing text.
For example, before he speaks, Caleb hushes the people (Num 13:30) in an attempt to convince them to go up to the land. Yet, J’s version of the story doesn’t indicate that the people said anything at all; in Numbers, Caleb speaks immediately after his fellow spies and seems to be hushing the people and arguing with them before they have said a word. This strange jumping of the gun can be explained when we realize that the people’s original objection was cut by the redactor, and is preserved in Deuteronomy 1:26:
דברים א:כו וְלֹ֥א אֲבִיתֶ֖ם לַעֲלֹ֑ת וַתַּמְר֕וּ אֶת פִּ֥י יְ־הֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם:
Deut 1:26 Yet you refused to go up, and flouted the command of YHWH your God.
This lacuna is relatively insignificant for understanding the plotline of J in Numbers. Nevertheless, some fundamental elements of the J narrative were also cut, since their inclusion would have directly contradicted the key elements of the Priestly narrative. Luckily, they were preserved in Deuteronomy.
The People Request the Spies
As noted, the J story in Numbers begins in the middle, with Moses addressing the spies:
יג:יזb וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם עֲל֥וּ זֶה֙ בַּנֶּ֔גֶב וַעֲלִיתֶ֖ם אֶת הָהָֽר:
13:17b And he said to them, “Go up there into the Negev and on into the hill country…”
Deuteronomy’s retelling gives us a clue of how the older story began:
דברים א:כ וָאֹמַ֖ר אֲלֵכֶ֑ם בָּאתֶם֙ עַד הַ֣ר הָאֱמֹרִ֔י אֲשֶׁר יְ־הֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽנוּ: א:כארְ֠אֵה נָתַ֨ן יְ־הֹוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ לְפָנֶ֖יךָ אֶת הָאָ֑רֶץ עֲלֵ֣ה רֵ֗שׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ דִּבֶּ֨ר יְ־הֹוָ֜ה אֱלֹהֵ֤י אֲבֹתֶ֙יךָ֙ לָ֔ךְ אַל תִּירָ֖א וְאַל תֵּחָֽת: א:כב וַתִּקְרְב֣וּן אֵלַי֘ כֻּלְּכֶם֒ וַתֹּאמְר֗וּ נִשְׁלְחָ֤ה אֲנָשִׁים֙ לְפָנֵ֔ינוּ וְיַחְפְּרוּ לָ֖נוּ אֶת הָאָ֑רֶץ וְיָשִׁ֤בוּ אֹתָ֙נוּ֙ דָּבָ֔ר אֶת הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נַעֲלֶה בָּ֔הּ וְאֵת֙ הֶֽעָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָבֹ֖א אֲלֵיהֶֽן: א:כג וַיִּיטַ֥ב בְּעֵינַ֖י הַדָּבָ֑ר וָאֶקַּ֤ח מִכֶּם֙ שְׁנֵ֣ים עָשָׂ֣ר אֲנָשִׁ֔ים אִ֥ישׁ אֶחָ֖ד לַשָּֽׁבֶט:
Deut 1:20 I said to you, “You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which YHWH our God is giving to us.1:21 See, YHWH your God has placed the land at your disposal. Go up, take possession, as YHWH, the God of your fathers, promised you. Fear not and be not dismayed.” 1:22 Then all of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to reconnoiter the land for us and bring back word on the route we shall follow and the cities we shall come to.” 1:23 I approved of the plan, and so I selected twelve of your men, one from each tribe.
According to this, the original plan was for the Israelites to enter the land and take it. The people expressed a desire for spies to reconnoiter the land and Moses approved; God was not involved at all. The compiler cut this opening, since it contradicted the Priestly version in which the idea of the scouts originated with God.
The second major lacuna in the Numbers version of J, and perhaps the most significant, is conceptually linked with the first. In all three versions of Moses’ death (J, E, P), he dies in the Transjordan. In the Priestly version, Moses was punished for his behavior at Mei Merivah when he hit the rock and showed lack of faith (Num 20:12). The J version explaining Moses’ death in the Transjordan is reflected in Deuteronomy’s recasting of the J spies story:
דברים א:לז גַּם בִּי֙ הִתְאַנַּ֣ף יְ־הֹוָ֔ה בִּגְלַלְכֶ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר גַּם אַתָּ֖ה לֹא תָבֹ֥א שָֽׁם:
Deut 1:37 Because of you YHWH was incensed with me too, and He said: You shall not enter it either.
Since Moses approved of sending spies, he bears the burden of the mission’s failure along with the people. The compiler excised this passage from the Numbers account because it made little sense to punish Moses if sending the scouts was God’s command, as the Priestly text states. In addition, in Numbers, Moses is punished as a result of the Mei Merivah story; including this tradition about his punishment for the spies would have created redundancy and confusion.
Appointment of Joshua as Successor
In Deuteronomy, after informing Moses that he will not lead the people into the land, God tells Moses who his successor will be:
דברים א:לח יְהוֹשֻׁ֤עַ בִּן־נוּן֙ הָעֹמֵ֣ד לְפָנֶ֔יךָ ה֖וּא יָ֣בֹא שָׁ֑מָּה אֹת֣וֹ חַזֵּ֔ק כִּי ה֖וּא יַנְחִלֶ֖נָּה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
Deut 1:38 Joshua son of Nun, who attends you, he shall enter it. Imbue him with strength, for he shall allot it to Israel.
This too is likely taken from J, but the complier cut it from his narrative when he excised the verses about Moses’ punishment on account of the spies’ failure. If Moses was not punished for sending spies, what reason would there be for God to inform him of his successor at this point in the narrative?
Undoing the Work of the Compiler
And thus, by carefully comparing two versions of the J narrative, we are able to reconstruct the lost storyline of the J spies story, which has been buried in Deuteronomy’s retelling. In J, God never intended the Israelites to send spies; it was their idea. Moses takes a risk by supporting the idea, and the gamble does not pay off. Once the spies cause the people to panic and refuse to go up, God decrees that all of the adults—save Caleb—will die in the wilderness, including Moses.
Reconstruction of the J Spy Story Based on Numbers and Deuteronomy
Black = Numbers
Blue = Deuteronomy
Blue underlined = reconstructed in 3rd person form from Moses’ 1st person account in Deuteronomy
דב' א:כ ויאמר משה אל העם בָּאתֶם עַד הַר הָאֱמֹרִי א:כא רְאֵה נָתַן יְ־הוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְפָנֶיךָ אֶת הָאָרֶץ עֲלֵה רֵשׁ א:כב ויקרבו אל משה ויאמרו נִשְׁלְחָה אֲנָשִׁים לְפָנֵינוּ וְיַחְפְּרוּ לָנוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְיָשִׁבוּ אֹתָנוּ דָּבָר אֶת הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר נַעֲלֶה בָּהּ וְאֵת הֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר נָבֹא אֲלֵיהֶן. א:כג ויקח משה שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר אֲנָשִׁים אִישׁ אֶחָד לַשָּׁבֶט במ' יג:יז וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם עֲלוּ זֶה בַּנֶּגֶב וַעֲלִיתֶם אֶת הָהָר. יג:יח וּרְאִיתֶם אֶת הָאָרֶץ מַה הִוא וְאֶת הָעָם הַיֹּשֵׁב עָלֶיהָ הֶחָזָק הוּא הֲרָפֶה הַמְעַט הוּא אִם רָב. יג:יט וּמָה הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר הוּא יֹשֵׁב בָּהּ הֲטוֹבָה הִוא אִם רָעָה וּמָה הֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר הוּא יוֹשֵׁב בָּהֵנָּה הַבְּמַחֲנִים אִם בְּמִבְצָרִים. יג:כ וּמָה הָאָרֶץ הַשְּׁמֵנָה הִוא אִם רָזָה הֲיֵשׁ בָּהּ עֵץ אִם אַיִן וְהִתְחַזַּקְתֶּם וּלְקַחְתֶּם מִפְּרִי הָאָרֶץ וְהַיָּמִים יְמֵי בִּכּוּרֵי עֲנָבִים.
Deut 1:20 Moses said to the people: “"You have come to the hill country of the Amorites. 1:21 See, YHWH your God has placed the land at your disposal. Go up, take possession." 1:22 They approached Moses and said, “Let us send men ahead to reconnoiter the land for us and bring back word on the route we shall go up on and the cities we shall come to.” Deut 1:23 And Moses took twelve men, one man per tribe, Num 13:17 and he said to them, “Go up there into the Negeb and on into the hill country, 13:18 and see what kind of country it is. Are the people who dwell in it strong or weak, few or many? 13:19 Is the country in which they dwell good or bad? Are the towns they live in open or fortified? 13:20 Is the soil rich or poor? Is it wooded or not? And take pains to bring back some of the fruit of the land.”—Now it happened to be the season of the first ripe grapes.
יג:כב וַיַּעֲלוּ בַנֶּגֶב וַיָּבֹא[וּ] עַד חֶבְרוֹן וְשָׁם אֲחִימַן שֵׁשַׁי וְתַלְמַי יְלִידֵי הָעֲנָק וְחֶבְרוֹן שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים נִבְנְתָה לִפְנֵי צֹעַן מִצְרָיִם. יג:כג וַּיָבֹאוּ עַד נַחַל אֶשְׁכֹּל וַיִּכְרְתוּ מִשָּׁם זְמוֹרָה וְאֶשְׁכּוֹל עֲנָבִים אֶחָד וַיִּשָּׂאֻהוּ בַמּוֹט בִּשְׁנָיִם וּמִן הָרִמֹּנִים וּמִן הַתְּאֵנִים. יג:כד לַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא קָרָא נַחַל אֶשְׁכּוֹל עַל אֹדוֹת הָאֶשְׁכּוֹל אֲשֶׁר כָּרְתוּ מִשָּׁם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. יג:כו וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה קָדֵשָׁה וַיָּשִׁיבוּ אֹתוֹ דָּבָר וַיַּרְאוּ אֶת פְּרִי הָאָרֶץ. יג:כז וַיְסַפְּרוּ לוֹ וַיֹּאמְרוּ בָּאנוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר שְׁלַחְתָּנוּ וְגַם זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ הִוא וְזֶה פִּרְיָהּ. יג:כח אֶפֶס כִּי עַז הָעָם הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּאָרֶץ וְהֶעָרִים בְּצֻרוֹת גְּדֹלֹת מְאֹד וְגַם יְלִדֵי הָעֲנָק רָאִינוּ שָׁם. יג:כט עֲמָלֵק יוֹשֵׁב בְּאֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב וְהַחִתִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי וְהָאֱמֹרִי יוֹשֵׁב בָּהָר וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי יוֹשֵׁב עַל הַיָּם וְעַל יַד הַיַּרְדֵּן.
Num 13:22 They went up into the Negeb and came to Hebron, where lived Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the Anakites. (Now Hebron was founded seven years before Zoan of Egypt.) 13:23 They reached the Eshkol Stream, and there they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes—it had to be borne on a carrying frame by two of them—and some pomegranates and figs. 13:24 That place was named the Eshkol Stream because of the cluster that the Israelites cut down there. Num 13:26 They went straight to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran, and they made their report to them and to the whole community, as they showed them the fruit of the land. 13:27 This is what they told him: “We came to the land you sent us to; it does indeed flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 13:28 However, the people who inhabit the country are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the Anakites there. 13:29 Amalekites dwell in the Negeb region; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites inhabit the hill country; and Canaanites dwell by the Sea and along the Jordan.”
במ' יג:ל וַיַּהַס כָּלֵב אֶת הָעָם אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר עָלֹה נַעֲלֶה וְיָרַשְׁנוּ אֹתָהּ כִּי יָכוֹל נוּכַל לָהּ. יג:לא וְהָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר עָלוּ עִמּוֹ אָמְרוּ לֹא נוּכַל לַעֲלוֹת אֶל הָעָם כִּי חָזָק הוּא מִמֶּנּוּ. במ' יד:א וַיִּבְכּוּ הָעָם בַּלַּיְלָה הַהוּא דב' א:כו ויאמרו לא נעלה א:כח אַחֵינוּ הֵמַסּוּ אֶת לְבָבֵנוּ לֵאמֹר עַם גָּדוֹל וָרָם מִמֶּנּוּ עָרִים גְּדֹלֹת וּבְצוּרֹת בַּשָּׁמָיִם וְגַם בְּנֵי עֲנָקִים רָאִינוּ שָׁם. במ' יד:יא וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה עַד אָנָה יְנַאֲצֻנִי הָעָם הַזֶּה יד:כא חַי אָנִי יד:כב כִּי כָל הָאֲנָשִׁים הָרֹאִים אֶת אֹתֹתַי אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי בְמִצְרַיִם וּבַמִּדְבָּר וַיְנַסּוּ אֹתִי זֶה עֶשֶׂר פְּעָמִים וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ בְּקוֹלִי. יד:כג אִם יִרְאוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לַאֲבֹתָם וְכָל מְנַאֲצַי לֹא יִרְאוּהָ. יד:כד וְעַבְדִּי כָלֵב עֵקֶב הָיְתָה רוּחַ אַחֶרֶת עִמּוֹ וַיְמַלֵּא אַחֲרָי וַהֲבִיאֹתִיו אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר בָּא שָׁמָּה וְזַרְעוֹ יוֹרִשֶׁנָּה. דב' א:לז גם במשה הִתְאַנַּף יְ־הוָה לֵאמֹר גַּם אַתָּה לֹא תָבֹא שָׁם. א:לח יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן הָעֹמֵד לְפָנֶיךָ הוּא יָבֹא שָׁמָּה אֹתוֹ חַזֵּק כִּי הוּא יַנְחִלֶנָּה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל.
Num 13:30 Caleb hushed the people before Moses and said, “Let us by all means go up, and we shall gain possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” 13:31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We cannot attack that people, for it is stronger than we.” Num 14:1 The people wept that night Deut 1:26 and they said “We will not go up! 1:28 Our kinsmen have taken the heart out of us, saying, ‘We saw there a people stronger and taller than we, large cities with walls sky-high, and even Anakites.’” Num 14:11 YHWH said to Moses: “How long will this people spurn Me?! 14:21 As I live 14:22 none of the men who have seen the signs that I have performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and who have tried Me these many times and have disobeyed Me, 14:23 shall see the land that I promised on oath to their fathers; none of those who spurn Me shall see it. 14:24 But My servant Caleb, because he was imbued with a different spirit and remained loyal to Me, him will I bring into the land that he entered, and his offspring shall hold it as a possession. Deut 1:37 Also with Moses YHWH was incensed and said: “You shall not enter it either. 1:38 Joshua son of Nun, who attends you, he shall enter it. Imbue him with strength, for he shall allot it to Israel.”
במ' יד:לט וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה אֶת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֶל כָּל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל דב' א:לט ויאמר אליהם בְנֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדְעוּ הַיּוֹם טוֹב וָרָע הֵמָּה יָבֹאוּ שָׁמָּה וְלָהֶם אֶתְּנֶנָּה וְהֵם יִירָשׁוּהָ. במ' יד:לט וַיִּתְאַבְּלוּ הָעָם מְאֹד. דב' א:מא ויאמרו אל משה חָטָאנוּ לַי־הוָה אֲנַחְנוּ נַעֲלֶה וְנִלְחַמְנוּ כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר צִוָּנוּ יְ־הוָה אֱלֹהֵינו. במ' יד:מ וַיַּשְׁכִּמוּ בַבֹּקֶר וַיַּעֲלוּ אֶל רֹאשׁ הָהָר לֵאמֹר הִנֶּנּוּ וְעָלִינוּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אָמַר יְ־הוָה כִּי חָטָאנוּ. יד:מא וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה לָמָּה זֶּה אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת פִּי יְ־הוָה וְהִוא לֹא תִצְלָח. יד:מב אַל תַּעֲלוּ כִּי אֵין יְ־הוָה בְּקִרְבְּכֶם וְלֹא תִּנָּגְפוּ לִפְנֵי אֹיְבֵיכֶם. יד:מג כִּי הָעֲמָלֵקִי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי שָׁם לִפְנֵיכֶם וּנְפַלְתֶּם בֶּחָרֶב כִּי עַל כֵּן שַׁבְתֶּם מֵאַחֲרֵי יְ־הוָה וְלֹא יִהְיֶה יְ־הוָה עִמָּכֶם. יד:מד וַיַּעְפִּלוּ לַעֲלוֹת אֶל רֹאשׁ הָהָר וַאֲרוֹן בְּרִית יְ־הוָה וּמֹשֶׁה לֹא מָשׁוּ מִקֶּרֶב הַמַּחֲנֶה. יד:מה וַיֵּרֶד הָעֲמָלֵקִי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּהָר הַהוּא וַיַּכּוּם וַיַּכְּתוּם עַד הַחָרְמָה.
Num 14:39 Moses repeated these words to all the Israelites, Deut 1:39 And he said to them: “Your children who do not yet know good from bad, they shall enter it; to them will I give it and they shall possess it.” Num 14:39 The people were overcome by grief Deut 1:41 and they said to Moses: “We stand guilty before YHWH.” We will go up now and fight, just as YHWH our God commanded us.” Num 14:40 Early next morning they set out toward the crest of the hill country, saying, “We are prepared to go up to the place that YHWH has spoken of, for we were wrong.” 14:41 But Moses said, “Why do you transgress YHWH’s command? This will not succeed. 14:42 Do not go up, lest you be routed by your enemies, for YHWH is not in your midst. 14:43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there to face you, and you will fall by the sword, inasmuch as you have turned from following YHWH and YHWH will not be with you.” 14:44 Yet defiantly they marched toward the crest of the hill country, though neither YHWH’s Ark of the Covenant nor Moses stirred from the camp. 14:45 And the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that hill country came down and dealt them a shattering blow at Hormah.
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Dr. David Ben-Gad HaCohen (Dudu Cohen) has a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from the Hebrew University. His dissertation is titled, Kadesh in the Pentateuchal Narratives, and deals with issues of biblical criticism and historical geography. Dudu has been a licensed Israeli guide since 1972. He conducts tours in Israel as well as Jordan.
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