So Moses chose out some men of high rank among the people, one ruler from each tribe,
twelve men in all. One of these was Joshua, who was the helper of Moses in caring for the
people, and another was Caleb, who belonged to the tribe of Judah. These twelve men went
out and walked over the mountains of Canaan and looked at the cities and saw the fields.
In one place, just before they came back to the camp, they cut down a cluster of ripe
grapes which was so large that two men carried it between them, hanging from a staff. They
named the place where they found this bunch of grapes Eshcol, a word which means "a
cluster." These twelve men were called "spies," because they went "to
spy out the land"; and after forty days they came back to the camp, and this was what
"We walked all over the land and found it a rich land. There is grass for all our
flocks, and fields where we can raise grain, and trees bearing fruits, and streams running
down the sides of the hills. But we found that the people who live there are very strong
and are men of war. They have cities with walls that reach almost up to the sky; and some
of the men are giants, so tall that we felt that we were like grasshoppers beside
One of the spies, who was Caleb, said, "All that is true, yet we need not be
afraid to go up and take the land. It is a good land, well worth fighting for; God is on
our side, and he will help us to overcome those people."
But all the other spies, except Joshua, said, "No, there is no use in trying to
make war upon such strong people. We can never take those walled cities, and we dare not
fight those tall giants."
And the people, who had journeyed all the way through the wilderness to find this very
land, were so frightened by the words of the ten spies that now, on the very border of
Canaan, they dared not enter it. They forgot that God had led them out of Egypt, that he
had kept them in the dangers of the desert, that he had given them water out of the rock,
and bread from the sky, and his law from the mountain.
All that night, after the spies had brought back their report, the people were so
frightened that they could not sleep. They cried out against Moses, and blamed him for
bringing them out of the land of Egypt. They forgot all their troubles in Egypt, their
toil and their slavery, and resolved to go back to that land. They said:
"Let us choose a ruler in place of Moses, who has brought us into all these evils,
and let us turn back to the land of Egypt!"
But Caleb and Joshua, two of the spies, said, "Why should we fear? The land of
Canaan is a good land; it is rich with milk and honey. If God is our friend and is with
us, we can easily conquer the people who live there. Above all things, let us not rebel
against the Lord, or disobey him, and make him our enemy."
But the people were so angry with Caleb and Joshua that they were ready to stone them
and kill them. Then suddenly the people saw a strange sight. The glory of the Lord, which
stayed in the Holy of Holies, the inner room of the Tabernacle, now flashed out, and shone
from the door of the Tabernacle.
And the Lord, out of this glory, spoke to Moses, and said, "How long will this
people disobey me and despise me? They shall not go into the good land that I have
promised them. Not one of them shall enter in, except Caleb and Joshua, who have been
faithful to me. All the people who are twenty years old and over it shall die in the
desert; but their little children shall grow up in the wilderness, and when they become
men they shall enter in and own the land that I promised to their fathers. You people are
not worthy of the land that I have been keeping for you. Now turn back into the desert and
stay there until you die. After you are dead, Joshua shall lead your children into the
land of Canaan. And because Caleb showed another spirit and was true to me, and followed
my will fully, Caleb shall live to go into the land, and shall have his choice of a home
there. To-morrow, turn back into the desert by the way of the Red Sea."
And God told Moses that for every day that the spies had spent in Canaan, looking at
the land the people should spend a year in the wilderness; so that they should live in the
desert forty years, instead of going at once into the promised land.
When Moses told all God's words to the people they felt worse than before. They changed
their minds as suddenly as they had made up their minds.
"No," they all said, "we will not go back to the wilderness; we will go
straight into the land, and see if we are able to take it, as Joshua and Caleb have
"You must not go into the land," said Moses.
But the people would not obey. They marched up the mountain and tried to march at once
into the land. But they were without leaders and without ordera mob of men,
untrained and in confusion. And the people in that part of the land, the Canaanites and
the Amorites, came down upon them and killed many of them and drove them away. Then,
discouraged and beaten, they obeyed the Lord and Moses, and went once more into the
And in the desert of Paran, on the south of the land of Canaan, the children of Israel
stayed nearly forty years; and all because they would not trust in the Lord