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The 12 Spies

The 12 Spies

LOOK at the fruit these men are carrying. See how big that bunch of grapes is. It takes two men to carry it on a pole. And see the figs and the pomegranates. Where did this beautiful fruit come from? From the land of Caʹnaan. Remember, Caʹnaan is where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob once lived. But because of the famine there Jacob, with his family, moved to Egypt. Now, about 216 years later, Moses is leading the Israelites back to Caʹnaan. They have come to a place in the wilderness called Kaʹdesh.

Bad people live in the land of Caʹnaan. So Moses sends out 12 spies, and tells them: ‘Find out how many people live there, and how strong they are. Find out if the ground is good for growing things. And be sure to bring back some of the fruit.’

When the spies come back to Kaʹdesh, they tell Moses: ‘It is really a fine country.’ And to prove it, they show Moses some of the fruit. But 10 of the spies say: ‘The people who live there are big and strong. We will be killed if we try to take the land.’

The Israelites are afraid when they hear this. ‘It would have been better to die in Egypt or even here in the wilderness,’ they say. ‘We will be killed in battle, and our wives and children will be captured. Let’s choose a new leader in place of Moses, and go back to Egypt!’

But two of the spies trust in Jehovah, and try to calm the people. Their names are Joshua and Caʹleb. They say: ‘Don’t be afraid. Jehovah is with us. It will be easy to take the land.’ But the people don’t listen. They even want to kill Joshua and Caʹleb.

This makes Jehovah very angry, and he tells Moses: ‘None of the people from 20 years of age and over will go into the land of Caʹnaan. They have seen the miracles that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, but still they don’t trust me. So they will wander in the wilderness for 40 years until the last person dies. Only Joshua and Caʹleb will go into the land of Caʹnaan.’