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Spying Out the Land of Canaan

The people of Israel were now not very far from the land of Canaan. Moses told them they should go into the land and take possession of it as the Lord had promised. Moses sent spies into the land of Canaan that they might see the land and the people that lived in it and report whether they were strong or weak, few or many, and what cities they had and whether they dwelt in tents or in forts. He told the spies to find out whether the land was fat or lean and to bring back some of the fruits of the land.

Then the spies went into Canaan and searched all the land from one end to the other. They came to the brook of Eschol where they found such wonderful grapes that they cut down a branch of a vine which had but one cluster of grapes, but it took two men to bear it between them upon a staff. They also gathered pomegranates and figs and after forty days returned to Moses.

They told Moses of the people of the land, that the land was fat and there was plenty to eat and to drink, also that there were many people and they were strong and lived in cities. They declared that the men were of great statue and that they saw the sons of Anak which were giants.

This made the people afraid and they murmured against Moses and Aaron and said: "Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt or in the wilderness. Why has the Lord brought us into this land to fall by the sword, and our wives and our children to be a prey to the wolves in the land of Canaan? Let us choose another captain and return to Egypt."

Then Joshua and Caleb who had been two of the spies said to the people: "The land through which we passed is a good land, a land which flows with milk and honey. Let us march into the land for the Lord has led us and we will fear them not!"

But all the people tried to stone Joshua and Caleb after what they had said. The Lord was angry with the people of Israel and told Moses that He would send a pestilence and destroy many of them. But Moses prayed to the Lord not to destroy the people and to bear with them for they were not ready to enter the promised land.

The Lord then told Moses that the people should turn back into the wilderness and there they should wander forty years until all those who refused to go into the land of Canaan were dead. He would bring their children into the land of Canaan, and Caleb and Joshua the two good spies, should they be alive, would lead the people into the land of Canaan. Then the people turned back into the wilderness for their long wandering of forty years.