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Numbers 13

The text of Numbers 13, begins, "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Send men to scout the land of Canaan . . . .'" Most commentators regard this event of the sending of the spies into the Promised Land to be a confusing part of Scripture. Indeed, Rashi's exegesis on Numbers 13:1 begins with the question: "Why is the section of the spies adjoined to the section of Miriam?" Nachshoni admits that "Hashem's command that spies be sent out is puzzling," and it is only later, when we read Deuteronomy 1:22-23, that we discover the whole episode was instigated by the Israelites: "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 should follow and the cities we shall come to.' I [Moses] approved of the plan . . . ." Ginzberg writes that this "unseemly" desire was presented to Moses not in the customary way of the elders acting as spokesmen but, rather, it was the younger ones "crowding out the old, and these pushing away their leaders."

So it becomes clearer that, as Rashi writes, even though the Lord spoke to Moses, His real meaning was: "As for Me, I do not command you; if you (so) desire, send." Ginzberg is a bit more demonstrative, surmising that God's reaction was one of incredulity: "What! When you went through a land of deserts and pits, you had no desire for scouts, but now that you are about to enter a land full of good things, now you wish to send out scouts?" And Nachshoni cites the explanation of Rivash, who sees the anger of God expressed in similar fashion: "I gave it to them, but that does not satisfy them. They want to spy out the land themselves to se if My words are true. You, Moshe, must give them what they request, not I, for you do not know what the future holds, whereas I do."

Thus, although God allowed Moses to select and send out the twelve spies, it was not His desire nor was it His command. As Rashi comment...

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Numbers 13. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:35, December 07, 2021, from