When he slew them
Some of them, the spies particularly; or when he threatened to slay them, or was about to do it:
then they sought him;
that is, those who either survived the slain, or were threatened with destruction; these sought the Lord by prayer and supplication, that he would not destroy them; the Targum is,
``they repented and sought him;''see ( Numbers 14:37 Numbers 14:39 Numbers 14:40 ) ,
and they returned;
from their evil ways, and by repentance, at least in show and appearance:
and inquired early after God;
but not earnestly, and with their whole hearts and spirits; the Targum is,
``they prayed before God;''
which is often done, by carnal professors, in trouble; see ( Isaiah 26:16 ) ( Hosea 5:15 ) .