The command to leave Horeb
1These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan – that is, in the Arabah – opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. 2(It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.)
3In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the Lord had commanded him concerning them. 4This was after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.
5East of the Jordan in the territory of Moab, Moses began to expound this law, saying:
6The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighbouring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. 8See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore he would give to your fathers – to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and to their descendants after them.’
The appointment of leaders
9At that time I said to you, ‘You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. 10The Lord your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky. 11May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! 12But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? 13Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.’
14You answered me, ‘What you propose to do is good.’
15So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you – as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. 16And I charged your judges at that time, ‘Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. 17Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.’ 18And at that time I told you everything you were to do.
Spies sent out
19Then, as the Lord our God commanded us, we set out from Horeb and went towards the hill country of the Amorites through all that vast and dreadful wilderness that you have seen, and so we reached Kadesh Barnea. 20Then I 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 you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’
22Then all of you came to me and said, ‘Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.’
23The idea seemed good to me; so I selected twelve of you, one man from each tribe. 24They left and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshkol and explored it. 25Taking with them some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, ‘It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us.’
Rebellion against the Lord
26But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. 27You grumbled in your tents and said, ‘The Lord hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. 28Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, “The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.” ’
29Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.’
32In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, 33who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.
34When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: 35‘No-one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, 36except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’
37Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, ‘You shall not enter it, either. 38But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it. 39And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad – they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it. 40But as for you, turn round and set out towards the desert along the route to the Red Sea.’
41Then you replied, ‘We have sinned against the Lord. We will go up and fight, as the Lord our God commanded us.’ So every one of you put on his weapons, thinking it easy to go up into the hill country.
42But the Lord said to me, ‘Tell them, “Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.” ’
43So I told you, but you would not listen. You rebelled against the Lord’s command and in your arrogance you marched up into the hill country. 44The Amorites who lived in those hills came out against you; they chased you like a swarm of bees and beat you down from Seir all the way to Hormah. 45You came back and wept before the Lord, but he paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you. 46And so you stayed in Kadesh many days – all the time you spent there.