Israel’s Refusal to Enter Canaan
1Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. 2All the Israelites complained about Moses and Aaron, and the whole community told them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to die by the sword? Our wives and children will become plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.”
5Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole assembly of the Israelite community. 6Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who scouted out the land, tore their clothes 7and said to the entire Israelite community, “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. 8If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. 9Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!”
10While the whole community threatened to stone them, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the tent of meeting.
God’s Judgment of Israel’s Rebellion
11The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people despise me? How long will they not trust in me despite all the signs I have performed among them? 12I will strike them with a plague and destroy them. Then I will make you into a greater and mightier nation than they are.”
13But Moses replied to the Lord, “The Egyptians will hear about it, for by your strength you brought up this people from them. 14They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, Lord, are among these people, how you, Lord, are seen face to face, how your cloud stands over them, and how you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15If you kill this people with a single blow, the nations that have heard of your fame will declare, 16‘Since the Lord wasn’t able to bring this people into the land he swore to give them, he has slaughtered them in the wilderness.’
17“So now, may my Lord’s power be magnified just as you have spoken: 18The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, forgiving iniquity and rebellion. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children to the third and fourth generation. 19Please pardon the iniquity of this people, in keeping with the greatness of your faithful love, just as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now.”
20The Lord responded, “I have pardoned them as you requested. 21Yet as I live and as the whole earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, 22none of the men who have seen my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested me these ten times and did not obey me, 23will ever see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have despised me will see it. 24But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it. 25Since the Amalekites and Canaanites are living in the lowlands, turn back tomorrow and head for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.”
26Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 27“How long must I endure this evil community that keeps complaining about me? I have heard the Israelites’ complaints that they make against me. 28Tell them: As I live — this is the Lord’s declaration — I will do to you exactly as I heard you say. 29Your corpses will fall in this wilderness — all of you who were registered in the census, the entire number of you twenty years old or more — because you have complained about me. 30I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31I will bring your children whom you said would become plunder into the land you rejected, and they will enjoy it. 32But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. 33Your children will be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years and bear the penalty for your acts of unfaithfulness until all your corpses lie scattered in the wilderness. 34You will bear the consequences of your iniquities forty years based on the number of the forty days that you scouted the land, a year for each day. You will know my displeasure. 35I, the Lord, have spoken. I swear that I will do this to the entire evil community that has conspired against me. They will come to an end in the wilderness, and there they will die.”
36So the men Moses sent to scout out the land, and who returned and incited the entire community to complain about him by spreading a negative report about the land — 37those men who spread the negative report about the land were struck down by the Lord. 38Only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh remained alive of those men who went to scout out the land.
39When Moses reported these words to all the Israelites, the people were overcome with grief. 40They got up early the next morning and went up the ridge of the hill country, saying, “Let’s go to the place the Lord promised, for we were wrong.”
41But Moses responded, “Why are you going against the Lord’s command? It won’t succeed. 42Don’t go, because the Lord is not among you and you will be defeated by your enemies. 43The Amalekites and Canaanites are right in front of you, and you will fall by the sword. The Lord won’t be with you, since you have turned from following him.”
44But they dared to go up the ridge of the hill country, even though the ark of the Lord’s covenant and Moses did not leave the camp. 45Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that part of the hill country came down, attacked them, and routed them as far as Hormah.