Bamidbar (Numbers): Shelach > Ch 14

Children of Israel complain against G-d and decide to return to Egypt

  • The entire community raised their voices and shouted, and the people wept on that night. All the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the entire congregation said, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this desert. Why does the Lord bring us to this land to fall by the sword; our wives and children will be as spoils. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?" They said to each other, "Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt!"


Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb try to convince the Children of Israel to change their mind but are unable to do so

  • Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the entire congregation of the children of Israel. Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had scouted the land, tore their clothes. They spoke to the entire congregation of the children of Israel, saying, "The land we passed through to scout is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord desires us, He will bring us to this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. But you shall not rebel against the Lord, and you will not fear the people of that land for they are [as] our bread. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not be fear them." The entire congregation threatened to pelt them with stones, but the glory of the Lord appeared in the Tent of Meeting to all the children of Israel.


Israelites have now provoked G-d ten times. G-d decides to destroy them and make a new nation from Moses, but Moses begs G-d to spare the Israelites

  • The Lord said to Moses, "How long will this people provoke Me? How much longer will they not believe in Me after all the signs I have performed in their midst? I will strike them with a plague and annihilate them; then I will make you into a nation, greater and stronger than they." Moses said to the Lord, "But the Egyptians will hear that You have brought this nation out from its midst with great power. They will say about the inhabitants of this land, who have heard that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people; that You, the Lord, appear to them eye to eye and that Your cloud rests over them. And You go before them with a pillar of cloud by day and with a pillar of cloud by night, and if You kill this nation like one man, the nations who have heard of Your reputation will say as follows: 'Since the Lord lacked the ability to bring this nation to the Land which He swore to them, He slaughtered them in the desert.' Now, please, let the strength of the Lord be increased, as You spoke, saying. 'The Lord is slow to anger and abundantly kind, forgiving iniquity and transgression, Who cleanses [some] and does not cleanse [others], Who visits the iniquities of parents on children, even to the third and fourth generations.' Please forgive the iniquity of this nation in accordance with your abounding kindness, as You have borne this people from Egypt until now."


G-d spares the Israelites but sets them to wander in the desert for 40 years, one year for each day that the land was scouted. All those 20 years and older, except Joshua and Caleb, will die in the desert. G-d kills the other 10 scouts.

  • And the Lord said, "I have forgiven them in accordance with your word. However, as surely as I live, and as the glory of the Lord fills the earth...that all the people who perceived My glory, and the signs that I performed in Egypt and in the desert, yet they have tested me these ten times and not listened to My voice, if they will see the Land that I swore to their fathers, and all who provoked Me will not see it.
  • But as for My servant Caleb, since he was possessed by another spirit, and he followed Me, I will bring him to the land to which he came, and his descendants will drive it[s inhabitants] out. The Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valley. Tomorrow, turn back and journey into the desert toward the Red Sea."
  • The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "How much longer will this evil congregation who are causing to complain against Me [exist]? The complaints of the children of Israel which they caused them to complain against Me, I have heard. Say to them, 'As I live,' says the Lord, 'if not as you have spoken in My ears, so will I do to you. In this desert, your corpses shall fall; your entire number, all those from the age of twenty and up, who were counted, because you complained against Me. You shall [not] come into the Land concerning which I raised My hand that you would settle in it, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. As for your infants, of whom you said that they will be as spoils, I will bring them [there], and they will come to know the Land which You despised. But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this desert. Your children shall wander in the desert for forty years and bear your defection until the last of your corpses has fallen in the desert. According to the number of days which you toured the Land forty days, a day for each year, you will [thus] bear your iniquities for forty years; thus you will come to know My alienation. I, the Lord, have spoken if I will not do this to the entire evil congregation who have assembled against me; in this desert they will end, and there they will die.
  • As for the men whom Moses had sent to scout the Land, who returned and caused the entire congregation to complain against him by spreading [a slanderous] report about the Land" the men who spread an evil report about the Land died in the plague, before the Lord. But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive of the men who went to tour the Land.


People mourn what happened and go to the Promised Land, defying G-d’s word. Amalekites & Canaanites crush them.

  • Moses related all these words to the children of Israel, and the people mourned greatly. They arose early in the morning and ascended to the mountain top, saying, "We are ready to go up to the place of which the Lord spoke, for we have sinned." Moses said, "Why do you transgress the word of the Lord? It will not succeed. Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, [so that] you will not be beaten by your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword. For you have turned away from the Lord, and the Lord will not be with you. They defiantly ascended to the mountain top, but the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and Moses did not move from the camp. The Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived on the mountain came down and smote them and crushed them [pursuing them] until Hormah.


 
Rashi Commentary

  • until Hormah The name of the place [which means destruction] commemorates the event which took place there.


Research & Analysis

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