Please: don't let
this tragedy be
morning, after the children of Israel had camped in the plain before Mount Sinai
for about fourteen months, the cloud arouses from over the tent of meeting and
moved forward. News passed quickly from tent to tent throughout the camp.
We are moving! We are moving! Shouted the boys and girls.
The tent of meeting was taken down in sections and carried by men of the tribe of Levi assigned to the task. The ark with the golden angels was carried by means of poles that were put through rings on the sides of the chest. The rest of the golden furniture was carried in the same manner.
The children of Israel journeyed until they came to the wilderness of Paran, south and west of the land of Canaan. Eleven days after leaving Mount Sinai, Moses gave the signal to make a permanent camp, for the cloud rested over Kadesh.
Now the desert terrors were passed. Kadesh was a beautiful oasis near the border of Canaan. Green grass covered the valley, and streams of water gushed from the rocks. Trees laden with rich fruit were a promise of the good things the people would have when they entered Canaan.
At this camp plans were made to enter the land.
Moses chose twelve men, one
from each tribe,
The twelve men came before Moses and Aaron, bearing the fruit they had gathered. A giant cluster of grapes was carried on a pole between two men, while others brought baskets of figs and pomegranates.
Moses waited anxiously for the report of the spies' strange adventure. "We reached the land to which you sent us," the spies began, "and it surely does flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit." A murmur of joy must have swept through the crowd as the people heard the words of the spies and saw the fruit of the land.
But then the men said: "The people, however, who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the Anakim [ giants] there."
A wail of terror came from the listening throng. Men scowled and women wept. Then Caleb, one of the spies, broke through the crowed to Moses and said in a loud voice: "We ought to go up and size it; for we are quite able to do so." Joshua, the warrior, joined Caleb in his challenge to go forward. These two men were not afraid to conquer the enemy. They knew that God had promised to be with Israel as they marched.
But the other ten spies cried out: "We are not able to go up against the people; for they are too strong for us."
All that night there was weeping in the camp. The drams and hopes of the hundreds of thousands of people had been shattered. They were ready to rebel against Moses. They were determined to select a leader to take them back to Egypt.
The next morning the Israelites continued to grumble against Moses and Aaron. "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt!" the whole community said to them. " Or would that we had died in this desert!" Others said: "Let us take our own course and return to Egypt."
Moses and Aaron mourned
because the people had rebelled against the command of God. Once more Caleb and
Joshua stood up before the mob and spoke courageously. They said: "The
land through which we passed in spring it out is a very, very fine land.
If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, and give it to
us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the
But the people refused to listen.
In their insane rage they picked up stones and rushed upon the brave
Then the Lord said to Moses: " How long is this wicked community going
to keep up their grumbling against Me? I have heard the grumbling of the
Israelites which they have been muttering against Me. Say to them, ‘ As I live’—it
is the oracle of the Lord—‘ I will do to you
What a terrible fate for all of the Israelites who were more tan twenty years of
age! They were to wander in the wilderness and die there because they rebelled
against God’s word. Of the older generation
When Moses told the nation what its punishment would be, the people mourned. The next morning they decided to prove that they had courage after all, for they said; " Here we are, ready to go up to the place of which the Lord spoke; for we have indeed.
But Moses said: " Do not go up, lest you be struck down in front of your enemies; for the Lord will not be in the midst of you. "Once more the people refused to obey. With swords and spears a band of men rushed forward into Canaan; but these soldiers were not prepared to fight, and they did not have God’s blessing with them. The enemy was hiding in the mountain passes to attack the invaders. Soon the men of Israel were surprised and driven back in utter defeat.
It was a sad day when the people left the green meadows and fruit trees of Kadesh to trudge back into the hot desert. In their ears rang the words they had shouted against Moses and Aaron; "Would that we had died in this desert!" Now they knew that they would never see the Promised Land.
They would die in the desert because they had refused to go forward at God’s command.
Heartfelt thanks to
Mr. Merlin L. Neff and