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The People Complain Again

14 That night all the people in the camp began crying loudly. All the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron. All the people said to them, “We should have died in Egypt. Or we should have died in the desert. Why is the Lord bringing us to this land? We will be killed with swords. Our wives and children will be taken away. We would be better off going back to Egypt.” They said to each other, “Let’s get a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Then Moses and Aaron bowed facedown in front of all the Israelites gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh were among those who had explored the land. They tore their clothes. They said to all of the Israelites, “The land we went to explore is very good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land. He will give us that land where much food grows. Don’t turn against the Lord! Don’t be afraid of the people in that land! We will chew them up. They have no protection, but we have the Lord. So don’t be afraid of them.”

10 Then all the people talked about killing them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the Meeting Tent to the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people ignore me? How long will it be before they believe me? I have done miracles among them. 12 I will give them a terrible sickness. I will destroy them. But I will make you into a great nation. It will be stronger than they are.”

13 Then Moses said to the Lord, “The Egyptians will hear about it! You brought these people from there by your great power. 14 And the Egyptians will tell this to those who live in this land. They have already heard about you, Lord. They know that you are with your people. And they know you were seen face to face. They know your cloud stays over your people. They know you lead your people with that cloud during the day and with fire at night. 15 The nations have heard about your power. If you put to death your people all at once, the nations will talk. They will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring them into the land he promised them. So he killed them in the desert.’

17 “So show your strength now, my Lord. Do what you said. You said: 18 ‘The Lord doesn’t become angry quickly. The Lord has great love. The Lord forgives sin and law breaking. He has great mercy. But the Lord does not forget to punish guilty people. When parents sin, he will also punish their children. He will punish their grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.’ 19 Show your great love. Forgive these people’s sin. Forgive them as you have from the time they left Egypt until now.”

20 The Lord answered, “I have forgiven them as you asked. 21 But, as surely as I live, I make this promise. As surely as my glory fills the whole earth, I make this promise. 22 All these men saw my glory. They saw the miracles I did in Egypt and in the desert. But they disobeyed me and tested me 10 times. 23 So not one will see the land I promised to their ancestors. No one who angered me will see that land. 24 But my servant Caleb has a different spirit. He follows me completely. So I will bring him into the land he has already seen. And his children will own that land. 25 The Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys. So leave tomorrow and go back. Follow the desert road toward the Gulf of Aqaba.”

The Lord Punishes the People

26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 27 “How long will these evil people complain about me? I have heard these Israelites’ grumbling and complaining. 28 So tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says. I heard what you said. As surely as I live, I will do those things to you. 29 You will die in this desert. Every one of you who is 20 years old or older and who was counted with the people will die. You complained against me, the Lord. 30 Not one of you will enter and live in the land I promised to you. Only Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun will go in. 31 You said that your children would be taken away. But I will bring them into the land. They will enjoy what you refused. 32 As for you, you will die in this desert. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for 40 years. They will suffer because you were not loyal. They will suffer until you lie dead in the desert. 34 For 40 years you will suffer for your sins. That is a year for each of the 40 days you explored the land. You will know me as your enemy.’ 35 I, the Lord, have spoken. I will certainly do these things to all these evil people. They have come together against me. So they will all die here in this desert.”

36 The men Moses had sent to explore the land had returned. They had spread complaints among all the Israelites. They had given a bad report about the land. 37 They were responsible for the bad report. So the Lord killed them with a terrible sickness. 38 Only two of the men did not die. They were Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh.

39 When Moses told these things to the Israelites, they were very sad. 40 Early the next morning they started to go toward the beginning of the mountains. They said, “We have sinned. We will go where the Lord told us.”

41 But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? You will not win! 42 Don’t go. The Lord is not with you. You will be beaten by your enemies. 43 You will run into the Amalekites and Canaanites. They will kill you with swords. You have turned away from the Lord. He will not be with you.”

44 But they were proud. They went toward the beginning of the mountains. But Moses and the Ark of the Covenant with the Lord did not leave the camp. 45 The Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in those mountains came down. And they attacked the Israelites. They beat them back all the way to Hormah.

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