Then all the people began weeping aloud, and they cried all night.
Their voices rose in a great chorus of complaint against Moses and Aaron. "We wish we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!" they wailed.
"Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and little ones will be carried off as slaves! Let's get out of here and return to Egypt!"
Then they plotted among themselves, "Let's choose a leader and go back to Egypt!"
Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the people of Israel.
Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing.
They said to the community of Israel, "The land we explored is a wonderful land!
And if the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey, and he will give it to us!
Do not rebel against the LORD, and don't be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don't be afraid of them!"
But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites from above the Tabernacle. a11
And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people reject me? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?
I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation far greater and mightier than they are!"
"But what will the Egyptians think when they hear about it?" Moses pleaded with the LORD. "They know full well the power you displayed in rescuing these people from Egypt.
They will tell this to the inhabitants of this land, who are well aware that you are with this people. They know, LORD, that you have appeared in full view of your people in the pillar of cloud that hovers over them. They know that you go before them in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
Now if you slaughter all these people, the nations that have heard of your fame will say,
'The LORD was not able to bring them into the land he swore to give them, so he killed them in the wilderness.'
"Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed it to be. For you said,
'The LORD is slow to anger and rich in unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so he does not leave sin unpunished, but he punishes the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations.'
Please pardon the sins of this people because of your magnificent, unfailing love, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt."
Then the LORD said, "I will pardon them as you have requested.
But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the LORD's glory,
not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they tested me by refusing to listen.
They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will enter it.
But my servant Caleb is different from the others. He has remained loyal to me, and I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will receive their full share of that land.
Now turn around and don't go on toward the land where the Amalekites and Canaanites live. Tomorrow you must set out for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea. b "
Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
"How long will this wicked nation complain about me? I have heard everything the Israelites have been saying.
Now tell them this: 'As surely as I live, I will do to you the very things I heard you say. I, the LORD, have spoken!
You will all die here in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, none of you who are twenty years old or older and were counted in the census
will enter the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
"'You said your children would be taken captive. Well, I will bring them safely into the land, and they will enjoy what you have despised.
But as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness.
And your children will be like shepherds, wandering in the wilderness forty years. In this way, they will pay for your faithlessness, until the last of you lies dead in the wilderness.
"'Because the men who explored the land were there for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years -- a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. You will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.'
I, the LORD, have spoken! I will do these things to every member of the community who has conspired against me. They will all die here in this wilderness!"
Then the ten scouts who had incited the rebellion against the LORD by spreading discouraging reports about the land
were struck dead with a plague before the LORD.
Of the twelve who had explored the land, only Joshua and Caleb remained alive.
When Moses reported the LORD's words to the Israelites, there was much sorrow among the people.
So they got up early the next morning and set out for the hill country of Canaan. "Let's go," they said. "We realize that we have sinned, but now we are ready to enter the land the LORD has promised us."
But Moses said, "Why are you now disobeying the LORD's orders to return to the wilderness? It won't work.
Do not go into the land now. You will only be crushed by your enemies because the LORD is not with you.
When you face the Amalekites and Canaanites in battle, you will be slaughtered. The LORD will abandon you because you have abandoned the LORD."
But the people pushed ahead toward the hill country of Canaan, despite the fact that neither Moses nor the Ark of the LORD's covenant left the camp.
Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in those hills came down and attacked them and chased them as far as Hormah.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)