Numbers 13

1 And there the Lord spake to Moses, and said,
2 Send thou men, that shall behold the land of Canaan, which I shall give to the sons of Israel; of each lineage send thou one man of the princes. (Send thou some men, to look over the land of Canaan, which I shall give to the Israelites; send thou one of the leaders from each tribe.)
3 Moses did that that the Lord commanded, and sent from the desert of Paran (the) princes, (the) men of which these be the names. (Moses did what the Lord commanded, and sent from the wilderness of Paran twelve of their leaders, of which these be their names.)
4 Of the lineage of Reuben, Shammua, the son of Zaccur.
5 Of the lineage of Simeon, Shaphat, the son of Hori.
6 Of the lineage of Judah, Caleb, the son of Jephunneh.
7 Of the lineage of Issachar, Igal, the son of Joseph.
8 Of the lineage of Ephraim, Oshea, the son of Nun. (Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea, or Joshua, the son of Nun.)
9 Of the lineage of Benjamin, Palti, the son of Raphu.
10 Of the lineage of Zebulun, Gaddiel, the son of Sodi.
11 Of the lineage of Joseph, of the generation of Manasseh, Gaddi, the son of Susi. (Of the tribe of Joseph, that is, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi, the son of Susi.)
12 Of the lineage of Dan, Ammiel, the son of Gemalli.
13 Of the lineage of Asher, Sethur, the son of Michael.
14 Of the lineage of Naphtali, Nahbi, the son of Vophsi.
15 Of the lineage of Gad, Geuel, the son of Machi.
16 These be the names of [the] men, which Moses sent to behold the land of Canaan; and Moses called Oshea, the son of Nun, Joshua. (These be the names of the men, whom Moses sent to look over the land of Canaan; and Moses called Hoshea, the son of Nun, Joshua.)
17 Therefore Moses sent them to behold the land of Canaan, and said to them, Go ye up by the south coast; and when ye come [in]to the hills, (And so Moses sent them to look over the land of Canaan, and he said to them, Go ye up by the Negeb, or by the southern part, and when ye come into the hill country,)
18 behold ye the land, what manner land it is; and behold ye the people which is the dweller thereof, whether it is strong, either feeble, few in number, either many; (look over the land, and see what it is like; and look over the people who live there, whether they be strong, or feeble, and few in number, or many;)
19 whether that land is good, either evil (or bad); what manner cities be there, walled, either without walls;
20 whether the land is fat, either barren, whether it is full of woods, either without trees. Be ye comforted, and bring ye to us of the fruits of that land. Soothly then the time was, when [the] grapes first ripe might be eaten. (whether the land is fertile, or barren, whether it is full of woods, or without trees. Be ye strengthened, that is, be ye of good courage, and bring ye to us some of the fruits of that land. For it was then the time when the first ripe grapes could be eaten.)
21 And when they had gone up, they espied the land, from the desert of Zin till to Rehob, as men enter to Hamath. (And so when they had gone up, they spied out the land, from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as people go to Hamath.)
22 And they went up to the south coast, and came into Hebron, where Ahiman, and Sheshai, and Talmai, the sons of Anak, were; for Hebron was made seven years before Tanis, the city of Egypt. (And they went up by the Negeb, or by the southern part, and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, and Sheshai, and Talmai, the sons of the giants, were living; for Hebron was built seven years before Tanis, the city of Egypt.)
23 And they went to the strand of [the] cluster, and they cutted down a scion with his grapes, which two men bare with a bearing staff; also they took of [the] pomegranates, and of the figs of that place, (And they went to the Eshcol Valley, and cut down a branch with all of its grapes, which two men had to carry on a carrying bar, or a carrying pole; and they also took pomegranates and figs from that place,)
24 which is called Nahal-eshcol, that is, the strand of (the) grape(s), or the strand of (the) cluster, for the sons of Israel bare a cluster from thence. (which they called Nahal-eshcol, that is, the Eshcol Valley, or the Valley of the Cluster of Grapes, for the Israelites carried a cluster of grapes from there.)
25 And the spyers of the land [turned again], when they had compassed all the country(side), after forty days (And the spies returned, when they had gone about all the countryside, yea, after forty days)
26 they came to Moses and Aaron, and to all the company of the sons of Israel, into the desert of Paran, which is in Kadesh. And the spyers spake to them, and showed the fruits of the land to all the multitude, (they came back to Moses and Aaron, and to all the company of the Israelites, at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. And the spies spoke to them, and to all the multitude, and showed them the fruits of the land,)
27 and they told, and said (and they spoke to Moses, and said), We came to the land, to which thou sentest us, which land truly floweth with milk and honey, as it may be known by these fruits;
28 but it hath most strong dwellers, and great cities, and walled (but it hath very strong inhabitants, and great walled cities); we saw there the kindred of (the) Anakim, that is, (of the) giants;
29 Amalek dwelleth there in the south; Hittites, and Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the hilly places; forsooth Canaanites dwell beside the sea, and beside the floods of Jordan. (and the Amalekites live there in the south; and the Hittites, and Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the Mediterranean Sea, and along the Jordan River.)
30 Among these things, or sayings, Caleb peaced the grouching of the people, that was made against Moses, and said, Go we up, and wield we the land, for we be able to get it. (Then after these words, Caleb tried to calm the grumbling of the people, and said, No matter! We shall go up, and take the land, for we be well able to get it.)
31 Soothly the other spyers, that were with him, said, We be not able to go up to this people, for it is stronger than we. (But the other spies who went with him said, We shall not be able to go up against these people, for they all be stronger than us!)
32 And they spake evil of the land which they had beheld, to the sons of Israel, and said, The land that we compassed devoureth his dwellers; the people that we beheld is of large stature; (And so, they gave a bad report about the land which they had seen, to the Israelites, and said, The land which we went about shall eat up anyone who shall go there to live; and the people, who we saw there, be of very large stature;)
33 there we saw some wonders against kind, of the sons of Anak, of the kind of giants, to which we were comparisoned, and were seen as locusts. (yea, we saw some wonders against kind there, the sons of Anak, who be giants, and compared to them, we felt as small as locusts, or like grasshoppers.)

Numbers 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

Twelve men sent to search the land of Canaan, Their instructions. (1-20) Their proceedings. (21-25) Their account of the land. (26-33)

Verses 1-20 A memorable and melancholy history is related in this and the following chapter, of the turning back of Israel from the borders of Canaan, and the sentencing them to wander and perish in the wilderness, for their unbelief and murmuring. It appears, ( Deuteronomy 1:22 ) , that the motion to search out the land came from the people. They had a better opinion of their own policy than of God's wisdom. Thus we ruin ourselves by believing the reports and representations of sense rather than Divine revelation. We walk by sight not by faith. Moses gave the spies this charge, Be of good courage. It was not only a great undertaking they were put upon, which required good management and resolution; but a great trust was reposed in them, which required that they should be faithful. Courage in such circumstances can only spring from strong faith, which Caleb and Joshua alone possessed.

Verses 21-25 The searchers of the land brought a bunch of grapes with them, and other fruits, as proofs of the goodness of the country; which was to Israel both the earnest and the specimen of all the fruits of Canaan. Such are the present comforts we have in communion with God, foretastes of the fulness of joy we expect in the heavenly Canaan. We may see by them what heaven is.

Verses 26-33 We may wonder that the people of Israel staid forty days for the return of their spies, when they were ready to enter Canaan, under all the assurances of success they could have from the Divine power, and the miracles that had hitherto attended them. But they distrusted God's power and promise. How much we stand in our own light by our unbelief! At length the messengers returned; but the greater part discouraged the people from going forward to Canaan. Justly are the Israelites left to this temptation, for putting confidence in the judgment of men, when they had the word of God to trust in. Though they had found the land as good as God had said, yet they would not believe it to be as sure as he had said, but despaired of having it, though Eternal Truth had engaged it to them. This was the representation of the evil spies. Caleb, however, encouraged them to go forward, though seconded by Joshua only. He does not say, Let us go up and conquer it; but, Let us go and possess it. Difficulties that are in the way of salvation, dwindle and vanish before a lively, active faith in the power and promise of God. All things are possible, if they are promised, to him that believes; but carnal sense and carnal professors are not to be trusted. Unbelief overlooks the promises and power of God, magnifies every danger and difficulty, and fills the heart with discouragement. May the Lord help us to believe! we shall then find all things possible.

Chapter Summary


In this chapter an order is given by the Lord, to send twelve men into the land of Canaan, to search and spy it, and which was accordingly executed, Nu 13:1-3; and the names of the twelve persons are given, Nu 13:4-16; the instructions they received from Moses, what part of the land they should enter into first, and what observations they should make on it, Nu 13:17-20; which they attended to, and on their return brought some of the fruit of the land with them, Nu 13:21-26; and gave an account of it, that it was a very fruitful land, but the inhabitants mighty, and their cities walled, Nu 13:27-29; which threw the people into confusion, but that they were stilled by Caleb, one of the spies, who encouraged them, Nu 13:30; but all the rest, excepting Joshua, brought an ill report of it, as not to be subdued and conquered by them, Nu 13:31-33.

Numbers 13 Commentaries

Copyright © 2001 by Terence P. Noble. For personal use only.