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Numbers Chapter 14
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Exploring the Promised Land
14:1 The entire community raised a hubbub and began to shout. That night, the people wept.
14:2 All the Israelites complained to Moses and Aaron. The entire community was saying, 'We wish we had died in Egypt! We should have died in this desert!
14:3 Why is God bringing us to this land to die by the sword? Our wives and children will be captives! It would be best to go back to Egypt!'
14:4 The people started saying to one another, 'Let's appoint a [new] leader and go back to Egypt.'
14:5 Moses and Aaron feel on their faces before the whole assembled Israelite community.
14:6 Among the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Yefuneh tore their clothes in grief.
14:7 They said to the whole Israelite community, 'The land through which we passed in our explorations is a very, very good land!
14:8 If God is satisfied with us and brings us to this land, He can give it to us - a land flowing with milk and honey.
14:9 But don't rebel against God! Don't be afraid of the people in the land! They have lost their protection and shall be our prey! God is with us, so don't be afraid!'
14:10 The whole community was threatening to stone them to death, when God's glory suddenly appeared at the Communion Tent before all the Israelites.

Threat of Destruction
14:11 God said to Moses, 'How long shall this nation continue to provoke Me? How long will they not believe in Me, despite all the miracles that I have done among them?
14:12 I will kill them with a plague and annihilate them. Then I will make you into a greater, more powerful nation then they.
14:13 Moses replied to God, 'And what will happen when the Egyptians hear about it? You have brought this nation out from among them with Your great power!
14:14 And what if they tell the people who live in this land? They have heard that You, God, have been with this nation [Israel]. You, God, have revealed Yourself to them face to face, and Your cloud stands over them. You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire at night.
14:15 'Now you want to kill this [entire] nation like a single man! The nations who hear this news about You will say that
14:16 God was not able to bring this nation to the land that He swore to them, so He slaughtered them in the desert.
14:17 'Now, O God, is the time for You to exercise even more restraint. You once declared,
14:18 'God is slow to anger, great in love, and forgiving of sin and rebellion. He does not clear [those who do not repent], but keeps in mind the sins of the fathers for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.'
14:19 'With Your great love, forgive the sin of this nation, just as You have forgiven them from [the time they left] Egypt until now.'
14:20 God said, 'I will grant forgiveness as you have requested.
14:21 But as I am Life, and as God's glory fills all the world,
14:22 [I will punish] all the people who saw My glory and the miracles that I did in Egypt and the desert, but still tried to test Me these ten times by not obeying Me.
14:23 They will therefore not see the land that I swore to their ancestors. All those who provoked Me will not see it.
14:24 'The only exception will be My servant Caleb, since he showed a different spirit and followed Me wholeheartedly. I will bring him to the land that he explored, and his descendants will possess it.
14:25 'The Amalekites and Canaanites are living in the valley. Tomorrow you will have to leave this place and strike out into the desert toward the Red Sea.'

The Decree of Forty Years Wandering
14:26 God spoke to Moses and Aaron saying,
14:27 'How long shall this evil group exist, complaining against Me? I have heard how the Israelites are complaining about Me.
14:28 Tell them as follows:

'As I am Life, it is God's solemn declaration that I will make your accusations against Me come true.

14:29 Because you complained about Me, your corpses will fall in this desert. [This will happen to] your complete tally, everyone over twenty years old who was counted.
14:30 [My oath is that] you will not come into the land regarding which I swore with a raised hand that I would let you live in it undisturbed. The only exceptions will be Caleb [son of Yefuneh] and Joshua (son of Nun).
14:31 'You said that your children will be taken captive, but they will be the ones I will bring [there], so that they will know the land that you rejected.
14:32 'You, however, will fall as corpses in the desert.
14:33 Your children will be herded [from place to place] in the desert for forty years, paying for your indiscretion until the last of your corpses lie here in the desert.
14:34 '[The punishment] shall parallel the number of days you spent exploring the land. There were forty days, and there shall be one year for each day, a total of forty years until your sin is forgiven. You will then know how I act.
14:35 I, God, have spoken, and [there is no way] that I will not do this to the entire evil community that has banded against Me. They will end their lives in this desert, and here is where they will die.'
14:36 The men whom Moses sent to explore the land, and who returned and complained about it to the entire community, slandering the land, [were punished immediately].
14:37 The men who had given a bad report about the land thus died before God in the plague.
14:38 Among the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua (son of Nun) and Caleb (son of Yefuneh) remained alive.
14:39 Moses related [God's] words to all the Israelites, and they were overcome with terrible grief.
14:40 When they got up early in the morning, they began climbing toward the top of the mountain declaring, 'We are now ready! We shall go forward to the place that God described. We [admit that] we were mistaken.'
14:41 'Why are you going against God's word?' said Moses. 'It won't work!
14:42 Do not proceed; God is not with you. Don't be killed by your enemies!
14:43 Up ahead of you are the Amalekites and Canaanites, and you will fall by the sword. You have gone away from God, and [now] God will not be with you.'
14:44 [The people] defiantly climbed toward the top of the mountain, but the Ark of God's covenant and Moses did not move from the camp.
14:45 The Amalekites and Canaanites who lived on that mountain swooped down, and defeated [the Israelites], pursuing them with crushing force all the way to Chormah.


That night
  The eve of 9 Av, better known as Tisha B'Av. (See note on Numbers 13:25). It hence became a day of tragedy.

They have lost their protection
  (Rashi; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra). Or, '[God] will take away their protection' (Saadia), or, 'Their time is over' (Septuagint).

  Literally 'bread.'

  (Rashi; Targum Yonathan; Septuagint). Or, 'disown.'

face to face
  Literally, 'eye to eye.'

  (Rashbam). Literally, 'strength.'

  Exodus 34:6.

as I am Life
  (see Yad, Yesodey HaTorah 2:10).

  Literally, 'to which he came.' See note on Numbers 13:22. Caleb was thus subsequently given Hebron as his inheritance (Joshua 15:13).

how I act
  (Saadia). Literally, 'My motions.' Or, 'My absence.' (Rashi; Sforno); 'the results of complaining against Me' (Targum); 'that I can change [an oath]' (Ibn Ezra), 'how I destroy your plans (Radak, Sherashim); 'My fierce anger' (Septuagint); or, 'how I can stop you' (Ibn Janach).

  About 12 miles south-east of Kadesh Barnea there is a mountain some 3300 feet high.

Ark of God's covenant
  See note on Numbers 10:33.

  Some identify this with Tel Esh-Sheri'ah, which is the same as Zepheth, between Beer Sheba and Gaza. See Numbers, 21:3, Deuteronomy 1:44, Joshua 12:4, 15:30, 19:4, 1 Samuel 30:30, Judges 1:17, 1 Chronicles 4:30. Some identify Chormah with Safed. Others identify it with Mount Hermon or a city in the area (Septuagint). Other sources translate this verse, 'pursuing them....until they were destroyed' (Targum Yonathan; Ibn Ezra).

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