Common English Bible
The Israelites’ complaint
14 The entire community raised their voice and the people wept that night. 2 All the Israelites criticized Moses and Aaron. The entire community said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt or if only we had died in this desert! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our children will be taken by force. Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to each other, “Let’s pick a leader and let’s go back to Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the assembled Israelite community. 6 But Joshua, Nun’s son, and Caleb, Jephunneh’s son, from those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite community, “The land we crossed through to explore is an exceptionally good land. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he’ll bring us into this land and give it to us. It’s a land that’s full of milk and honey. 9 Only don’t rebel against the Lord and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are our prey.[a] Their defense has deserted them, but the Lord is with us. So don’t be afraid of them.” 10 But the entire community intended to stone them.
The Lord’s anger and Moses’ intercession
Then the Lord’s glory appeared in the meeting tent to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people disrespect me? And how long will they doubt me after all the signs that I performed among them? 12 I’ll strike them down with a plague and disown them. Then I’ll make you into a great nation, stronger than they.”
13 Moses said to the Lord, “The Egyptians will hear, for with your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 They’ll tell the inhabitants of this land. They’ve heard that you, Lord, are with this people. You, Lord, appear to them face-to-face. Your cloud stands over them. You go before them in a column of cloud by day and in a column of lightning by night. 15 If you kill these people, every last one of them, the nations who heard about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord wasn’t able to bring these people to the land that he solemnly promised to give them. So he slaughtered them in the desert.’ 17 Now let my master’s power be as great as you declared when you said, 18 ‘The Lord is very patient and absolutely loyal, forgiving wrongs and disloyalty. Yet he doesn’t forgo all punishment, disciplining the grandchildren and great-grandchildren for their ancestors’ wrongs.’ 19 Please forgive the wrongs of these people because of your absolute loyalty, just as you’ve forgiven these people from their time in Egypt until now.”
20 Then the Lord said, “I will forgive as you requested. 21 But as I live and as the Lord’s glory fills the entire earth, 22 none of the men who saw my glory and the signs I did in Egypt and in the desert, but tested me these ten times and haven’t listened to my voice, 23 will see the land I promised to their ancestors. All who disrespected me won’t see it. 24 But I’ll bring my servant Caleb into the land that he explored, and his descendants will possess it because he has a different spirit, and he has remained true to me. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valley, tomorrow turn and march into the desert by the route of the Reed Sea.”[b]
The Israelites’ punishment
26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 27 How long will this wicked community complain against me? I’ve heard the Israelites’ dissent as they continue to complain against me. 28 Say to them, “As I live,” says the Lord, “just as I’ve heard you say, so I’ll do to you. 29 Your dead bodies will fall in this desert. None of you who were enlisted and were registered from 20 years old and above, who complained against me, 30 will enter the land in which I promised[c] to settle you, with the exception of Caleb, Jephunneh’s son, and Joshua, Nun’s son. 31 But your children, whom you said would be taken by force, I’ll bring them in and they will know the land that you rejected. 32 Your bodies, however, will fall in this desert, 33 and your children will be shepherds in the desert for forty years. They will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies fall in the desert. 34 For as many days as you explored the land, that is, forty days, just as many years you’ll bear your guilt, that is, forty years. This is how you will understand my frustration.” 35 I the Lord have spoken. I will do this to the entire wicked community who gathered against me. They will die in this desert. There they’ll meet their end.
36 The men whom Moses sent out to explore the land had returned and caused the entire community to complain against him by starting a rumor about the land. 37 These men died by a plague in the Lord’s presence on account of their false rumor. 38 But Joshua, Nun’s son, and Caleb, Jephunneh’s son, survived from those men who went to explore the land.
39 Moses spoke these words to all the Israelites, and the people mourned bitterly. 40 They rose early in the morning and went up to the top of the mountain range, saying, “Let’s go up to the place the Lord told us to, for we have sinned.”
41 But Moses said, “Why do you disobey the Lord’s command? It won’t succeed. 42 Don’t go up, for the Lord isn’t with you. Don’t be struck down before your enemies. 43 The Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you and you will fall by the sword because you turned away from the Lord, and the Lord is no longer with you.” 44 Yet they recklessly[d] ascended toward the top of the mountains, even though Moses and the Lord’s chest containing the covenant didn’t depart from the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites, who lived in those mountains, descended, struck them down, and beat them all the way to Hormah.
New International Version
The People Rebel
14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.(A) 2 All the Israelites grumbled(B) against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt!(C) Or in this wilderness!(D) 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?(E) Our wives and children(F) will be taken as plunder.(G) Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?(H)” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.(I)”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown(J) in front of the whole Israelite assembly(K) gathered there. 6 Joshua son of Nun(L) and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes(M) 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.(N) 8 If the Lord is pleased with us,(O) he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey,(P) and will give it to us.(Q) 9 Only do not rebel(R) against the Lord. And do not be afraid(S) of the people of the land,(T) because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with(U) us.(V) Do not be afraid of them.”(W)
10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning(X) them. Then the glory of the Lord(Y) appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt?(Z) How long will they refuse to believe in me,(AA) in spite of all the signs(AB) I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague(AC) and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation(AD) greater and stronger than they.”(AE)
13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them.(AF) 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard(AG) that you, Lord, are with these people(AH) and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face,(AI) that your cloud stays over them,(AJ) and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.(AK) 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath,(AL) so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’(AM)
17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.(AN) Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’(AO) 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive(AP) the sin of these people,(AQ) just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”(AR)
20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them,(AS) as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live(AT) and as surely as the glory of the Lord(AU) fills the whole earth,(AV) 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs(AW) I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times(AX)— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath(AY) to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt(AZ) will ever see it.(BA) 24 But because my servant Caleb(BB) has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly,(BC) I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.(BD) 25 Since the Amalekites(BE) and the Canaanites(BF) are living in the valleys, turn(BG) back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.[a](BH)”
26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites.(BI) 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live,(BJ) declares the Lord, I will do to you(BK) the very thing I heard you say: 29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall(BL)—every one of you twenty years old or more(BM) who was counted in the census(BN) and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land(BO) I swore with uplifted hand(BP) to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh(BQ) and Joshua son of Nun.(BR) 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected.(BS) 32 But as for you, your bodies will fall(BT) in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years,(BU) suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 For forty years(BV)—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land(BW)—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ 35 I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things(BX) to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die.(BY)”
36 So the men Moses had sent(BZ) to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble(CA) against him by spreading a bad report(CB) about it— 37 these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report(CC) about the land were struck down and died of a plague(CD) before the Lord. 38 Of the men who went to explore the land,(CE) only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.(CF)
39 When Moses reported this(CG) to all the Israelites, they mourned(CH) bitterly. 40 Early the next morning they set out for the highest point in the hill country,(CI) saying, “Now we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised. Surely we have sinned!(CJ)”
41 But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? This will not succeed!(CK) 42 Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies,(CL) 43 for the Amalekites(CM) and the Canaanites(CN) will face you there. Because you have turned away from the Lord, he will not be with you(CO) and you will fall by the sword.”
44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up(CP) toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp.(CQ) 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites(CR) who lived in that hill country(CS) came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.(CT)
- Numbers 14:25 Or the Sea of Reeds