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6 The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7Resume your journey, and go into the hill country of the Amorites as well as into the neighboring regions—the Arabah, the hill country, the Shephelah, the Negeb, and the seacoast—the land of the Canaanites and the Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. 8See, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land that I swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them.”

Appointment of Tribal Leaders

9 At that time I said to you, “I am unable by myself to bear you. 10The Lord your God has multiplied you, so that today you are as numerous as the stars of heaven. 11May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times more and bless you, as he has promised you! 12But how can I bear the heavy burden of your disputes all by myself? 13Choose for each of your tribes individuals who are wise, discerning, and reputable to be your leaders.” 14You answered me, “The plan you have proposed is a good one.” 15So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and reputable individuals, and installed them as leaders over you, commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, commanders of tens, and officials, throughout your tribes. 16I charged your judges at that time: “Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien. 17You must not be partial in judging: hear out the small and the great alike; you shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God’s. Any case that is too hard for you, bring to me, and I will hear it.” 18So I charged you at that time with all the things that you should do.

Israel’s Refusal to Enter the Land

19 Then, just as the Lord our God had ordered us, we set out from Horeb and went through all that great and terrible wilderness that you saw, on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, until we reached Kadesh-barnea. 20I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. 21See, the Lord your God has given the land to you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you; do not fear or be dismayed.”

22 All of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead of us to explore the land for us and bring back a report to us regarding the route by which we should go up and the cities we will come to.” 23The plan seemed good to me, and I selected twelve of you, one from each tribe. 24They set out and went up into the hill country, and when they reached the Valley of Eshcol they spied it out 25and gathered some of the land’s produce, which they brought down to us. They brought back a report to us, and said, “It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us.”


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6. The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount—Horeb was the general name of a mountainous district; literally, "the parched" or "burnt region," whereas Sinai was the name appropriated to a particular peak [see on Ex 19:2]. About a year had been spent among the recesses of that wild solitude, in laying the foundation, under the immediate direction of God, of a new and peculiar community, as to its social, political, and, above all, religious character; and when this purpose had been accomplished, they were ordered to break up their encampment in Horeb. The command given them was to march straight to Canaan, and possess it [De 1:7].

7. the mount of the Amorites—the hilly tract lying next to Kadesh-barnea in the south of Canaan.

to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon—that is, Phœnicia, the country of Sidon, and the coast of the Mediterranean—from the Philistines to Lebanon. The name "Canaanite" is often used synonymously with that of "Phœnician."

8. I have set the land before you—literally, "before your faces"—it is accessible; there is no impediment to your occupation. The order of the journey as indicated by the places mentioned would have led to a course of invasion, the opposite of what was eventually followed; namely, from the seacoast eastward—instead of from the Jordan westward (see on Nu 20:1).

9-18. I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone—a little before their arrival in Horeb. Moses addresses that new generation as the representatives of their fathers, in whose sight and hearing all the transactions he recounts took place. A reference is here made to the suggestion of Jethro (Ex 18:18). In noticing his practical adoption of a plan by which the administration of justice was committed to a select number of subordinate officers, Moses, by a beautiful allusion to the patriarchal blessing, ascribed the necessity of that memorable change in the government to the vast increase of the population.

10. ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude—This was neither an Oriental hyperbole nor a mere empty boast. Abraham was told (Ge 15:5, 6) to look to the stars, and though they "appear" innumerable, yet those seen by the naked eye amount, in reality, to no more than three thousand ten in both hemispheres. The Israelites already far exceeded that number, being at the last census above six hundred thousand [Nu 26:51]. It was a seasonable memento, calculated to animate their faith in the accomplishment of other parts of the divine promise.

19-21. we went through all that great and terrible wilderness—of Paran, which included the desert and mountainous space lying between the wilderness of Shur westward, or towards Egypt and mount Seir, or the land of Edom eastwards; between the land of Canaan northwards, and the Red Sea southwards; and thus it appears to have comprehended really the wilderness of Sin and Sinai [Fisk]. It is called by the Arabs El Tih, "the wandering." It is a dreary waste of rock and of calcareous soil covered with black sharp flints; all travellers, from a feeling of its complete isolation from the world, describe it as a great and terrible wilderness.

22-33. ye came … and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land—The proposal to despatch spies emanated from the people through unbelief; but Moses, believing them sincere, gave his cordial assent to this measure, and God on being consulted permitted them to follow the suggestion (see on Nu 13:1). The issue proved disastrous to them, only through their own sin and folly.




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