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The People Rebel

14 At this, the entire assembly[a] complained, started to shout, and cried through the rest of that night. All the Israelis complained against Moses and Aaron. Then the entire assembly responded, “We wish that we had died in Egypt or[b] in this wilderness. What’s the point in the Lord bringing us to this land? To die by the sword so our wives and children would become war victims? Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?”

Then they told each other, “Let’s assign a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in front of the entire assembly of the congregation of Israel. Nun’s son Joshua and Jephunneh’s son Caleb, who had accompanied the others who also had explored the land, tore their clothes and attempted to reason with the entire congregation of Israel. They told them, “The land that we went through and explored is very, very good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he’ll bring us into this land and give it to us. It flows with milk and honey. However, don’t rebel against the Lord or be afraid of the people who live in the land, because we’ll gobble them right up.[c] Their defenses will collapse, because the Lord is with us. You are not to be afraid of them.”

10 But the entire congregation was talking about stoning them to death.

God Rebukes Unbelieving Israel

Suddenly, the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all of the Israelis. 11 “How long will this people keep on spurning me and refusing to trust me, despite all the miracles[d] that I’ve done among them?” the Lord asked Moses. 12 “That’s why I’m going to attack them with pestilence and disinherit them. Instead, I’ll make you a great nation—even mightier than they are!”

Moses Intercedes for Israel

13 But Moses responded to the Lord, “When Egypt hears that you’ve brought this people out from among them with a mighty demonstration of power,[e] 14 they’ll also proclaim to the inhabitants of this land that they’ve heard you’re among this people, Lord, whom they’ve seen face to face,[f] since your cloud stands guard over them. You’ve guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and with a pillar of fire by night. 15 But if you slaughter this people all at the same time,[g] then the nations who heard about your fame[h] will say, 16 ‘The Lord slaughtered this people in the wilderness because he wasn’t able to bring them to the land that he promised them.’

17 “Now, let the power of the Lord be magnified, just as you promised when you said, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in faithful love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he won’t acquit the guilty. He recalls the iniquity of fathers to the third and fourth generation.’[i]

19 “Forgive, please, the iniquity of this people, according to your great, faithful love, in the same way that you’ve carried this people from Egypt to this place.”

God Responds to Moses

20 The Lord responded, “I’ve forgiven them based on what you’ve said. 21 But just as I live, and just as the whole earth will be filled with the Lord’s glory, 22 none of those men who saw my glory and watched my miracles that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness—even though they’ve tested me these ten times and never listened to my voice— 23 will ever see the land that I promised to their ancestors. Those who spurned me won’t see it. 24 Now as to my servant Caleb, because a different spirit is within him and he has remained true to me, I’m going to bring him into the land that he explored,[j] and his descendants are to inherit it. 25 Now the Amalekite and the Canaanite live in the valley. Tomorrow, turn and then travel to the wilderness in the direction of the Reed[k] Sea.”

26 Then the Lord told Moses and Aaron, 27 “How long will this wicked assembly keep complaining about me? I’ve heard the complaints of the Israelis that they’ve been murmuring against me. 28 So tell them that as long as I live—consider this to be an oracle from the Lord—as certainly as you’ve spoken right into my ears, that’s how I’m going to treat you. 29 Your corpses will fall in this wilderness—every single one of you who has been counted among you, according to your number from 20 years and above, who complained against me. 30 You will certainly never enter the land about which I made an oath with my uplifted hand to settle you in it, except for Jephunneh’s son Caleb and Nun’s son Joshua. 31 However, I’ll bring your little ones—the ones whom you claimed would become war victims—into the land so that they’ll know by experience the land that you’ve rejected.

32 “Now as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness 33 and your children will wander throughout the wilderness for 40 years. They’ll bear the consequences of your idolatries[l] until your bodies are entirely consumed in the wilderness. 34 Just as you explored the land for 40 days, you’ll bear the consequences of your iniquities for 40 years—one year for each day—as you experience my hostility. 35 I, the Lord, have spoken. I will indeed do this to this evil congregation, who gathered together against me. They’ll be eliminated in this wilderness and will surely die.”

God Kills the Unbelieving Explorers

36 After this, the men whom Moses sent out to explore the land, who returned and made the whole congregation complain against him by bringing an evil report concerning the land, 37 and who produced an evil report about the land, died of pestilence in the Lord’s presence. 38 However, Nun’s son Joshua and Jephunneh’s son Caleb, who had explored the land, remained alive.

Rebellion against God’s Punishment

39 After Moses had told all of this to the Israelis, the people deeply mourned. 40 So they got up early the next morning and traveled to the top of the mountain, telling themselves, “Look, we’re here and we’re going to go up to the place that the Lord had spoken about, even though we’ve sinned.”

41 But Moses asked them, “Why do you continue to sin against what the Lord said? Don’t you know that you can never succeed? 42 Don’t go up, since you know that the Lord is no longer with you.[m] You’ll be attacked right in front of your own enemies. 43 The Amalekites and Canaanites are there waiting for you. You’ll die[n] violently,[o] since you’ve turned your back and have stopped following the Lord. The Lord won’t be with you.”

44 But they presumed to go up to the top of the mountain, even though the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and Moses didn’t leave the camp. 45 The Amalekites came down, accompanied by some Canaanites who lived in the mountains. They attacked and defeated them even while the Israelis were retreating[p] to Hormah.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 14:1 Or congregation
  2. Numbers 14:2 Lit. that we have died
  3. Numbers 14:9 Lit. because they are bread for us
  4. Numbers 14:11 Or signs
  5. Numbers 14:13 The Heb. lacks demonstration of
  6. Numbers 14:14 Lit. seen eye to eye
  7. Numbers 14:15 Lit. as a man
  8. Numbers 14:15 Lit. report
  9. Numbers 14:18 The Heb. lacks generation
  10. Numbers 14:24 Lit. entered
  11. Numbers 14:25 So MT; LXX reads Red
  12. Numbers 14:33 Lit. fornications
  13. Numbers 14:42 Lit. longer in your midst
  14. Numbers 14:43 Or fall
  15. Numbers 14:43 Lit. die by the sword
  16. Numbers 14:45 The Heb. lacks even while the Israelis were retreating

The People Rebel

14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.(A) 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) 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) And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.(I)

Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown(J) in front of the whole Israelite assembly(K) gathered there. Joshua son of Nun(L) and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes(M) and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.(N) 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) 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)

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 14:25 Or the Sea of Reeds

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