Posted by / Friday 22 January 2016 / No comments

Spying the land of Canaan

Sculpture, Bronze, The Listening

As the Israelites got close to the Promised Land, they encamped in the wilderness of Paran. From there, Moses sent out twelve spies to go and spy the land of Canaan as instructed by God.

Moses picked a leader from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The spies, who included Joshua and Caleb, were mandated to determine the strength and weaknesses of the people of Canaan.

According to the terms of reference of the spies, they were to find out whether the people of the land were strong or weak. Find out whether they were few or many. They were asked to find out whether the land was fertile or not. Find out whether they dwelt in camps or in fortified cities. They were also to find out whether the land was rich or poor. They were asked to bring samples of their crops as proof of their findings.

Fruit, Watermelon, Fruits, Heart

The spies went through the land of Canaan. They passed through the wilderness of Zin and came to Rehob. They went up to the valley of Eschol where they plucked a cluster of grapes. They also plucked pomegranates and fig fruits. The spies searched the land for forty days and came to the conclusion that the land was full of milk and honey. They returned to Moses and Aaron and all of Israel. They showed them the fruits they had plucked and told them what they had seen.

They told Moses and the people the land was full of milk and honey and indicated the fruits as proof of their assertion. They also reported that the people of the land were strong and that their cities were fortified and very big. They mentioned, for example, the Amalekites, the Hittites, the Jebusites and the Amorites who dwelt in various parts of the land.

While Caleb said they should go and conquer the land, some of the other spies said they could not go against the land because they were stronger. They said they saw some descendants of the Anaks, who were giants, and that they felt like grasshoppers before them.

The report was scary. The Israelites murmured against God, Moses, and Aaron. They felt that it would have been better if they had died in Egypt. They said it was better for them to return to Egypt. There and then, they decided to choose a leader to take them back to Egypt.

Berries, Raspberries, Fruit, Fruits

Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes. They encouraged the people. They told them to proceed and take over the land. They assured them of the Lord’s presence and that God would give them the land. This did not go down well with the people. They decided to stone Joshua and Caleb.

God saw the reaction of the people as a display of a lack of faith in Him. He decided to wipe them out with a plague. Moses pleaded for them and God changed His mind. However, God decided that all the people who were twenty years and above must die in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb. He took them through a longer route to delay their stay in the wilderness.

1. There is a need to assess every situation before one takes a major decision.
2. The majority view may not necessarily be the best.
3. A few outstanding people can change the course of a nation.
4. If people have faith in God, even if the situation seems impossible, God can still solve the problem.
5. It is important for leaders to work with people of courage in times of crisis.

1. Describe the role of Joshua in the story of the twelve spies.
2. Give an account of the twelve spies sent by Moses to Canaan.
3. What was the report of the spies sent to spy the land of Canaan? How did the congregation react to the report of the spies?

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