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Deuteronomy 1:26-33

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Deuteronomy 1:26
  • Deuteronomy 1:27
  • Deuteronomy 1:28
  • Deuteronomy 1:29
  • Deuteronomy 1:30
  • Deuteronomy 1:31
  • Deuteronomy 1:32
  • Deuteronomy 1:33

The book of Deuteronomy is the fifth and last book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of the first 4 books and picks up exactly where the book of Numbers ends (with the people on the plain of Moab). Therefore, as we set the context for the book of Deuteronomy, it is important that we briefly summarize the theme of the previous books to see how the story of God unfolds.

Genesis describes God’s plan to bless the Israelites and the world through one man named Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Exodus focuses on God’s loving act by which He rescued the Israelites from Egypt in order to have a covenant relationship with them. Once the children of Israel are redeemed, Leviticus instructs them to live a holy life that reflects the life of their covenant redeemer (cf. Lev. 19). Since the first generation of the Israelites failed to obey God wholeheartedly, the book of Numbers displays a strong contrast between God’s faithfulness and the nation’s failure. That is why the book of Deuteronomy reiterates and expands on the covenant to a new generation of Israelites poised to enter and conquer the Promised Land. The message of the book is centered around two key terms: love and loyalty (Deut. 6:4-5).


Deuteronomy mainly consists of messages from Moses to the second generation of Israelites, in contemplation of their imminent entry into the Promised Land. God judged the first generation of Israelites who were delivered from Egypt for covenant violation by preventing them from entering the Promised Land. God led them to the edge of the Promised Land and told them to conquer it. The Israelites refused, saying God had led them there to die. God then judged that generation by decreeing that the Israelites fate would be as they had spoken: every numbered person twenty years and older will die in the wilderness.

Now all those decreed to die in the wilderness are dead. God prepares the second generation to enter the land by exhorting them. Deuteronomy is the record of that exhortation.

Deuteronomy begins with Moses reiterating God’s covenant, or agreement, with the people of Israel. Moses identifies each party in this covenant. He recounts the Israelites’ experiences in order to encourage them to press on to conquer the Promised Land. He reviews Israel’s history since the departure from Mount Horeb (also called Mt. Sinai), where they were given the Law, to Kadesh-barnea, at the border of the Promised Land. He reminds the Israelites of God’s command to leave Horeb.

Moses had appointed wise and respected men chosen by the people as leaders because the Israelites had become numerous. He called the judges to conduct their legal procedures with equity, knowing that every judgment belongs to the LORD. At Kadesh-barnea, he commanded the Israelites to go up and occupy the Promised Land. But due to lack of trust in the LORD, the Israelites rebelled against the command to conquer the land of Canaan.


Moses continues recounting their exodus history. Due to lack of trust in the LORD, the Israelites rebelled against the command to go up to possess the land. They refused to take possession of what God had given.

Despite the statement of the scouts — It is a good land which the LORD our God is about to give us the people rebelled against the command of the LORD to go up and possess the land of Canaan. In spite of the good report, God’s promise, and God’s faithfulness up to that point, the people chose to focus on the fearful news. They grumbled in their tents and fretted that the people in Canaan were bigger and taller than them. Further, they worried that the cities are large and fortified to heaven. And besides, they saw the sons of the Anakim there. The descendants of Anak were giants and warlike people (Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 2:10; 9:2). Moses emphasizes that the rebellion of the Israelites was due to their lack of trust in their LORD. They had a good report but chose to focus on the things that were fearful.

Moses recounts his admonition to them. He told them at that time, ‘Do not be shocked, nor fear them.’ Moses reminded Israel of all the battles God had fought for them to that point, saying, ‘The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes.’ But not only did God fight for the people while they dwelt in Egypt, He also protected them during their wandering in the desert. As Moses stated, ‘in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.

Israel had been carried just like a child is carried, all the way to that point. They had walked into difficulty ignorantly following God. Now that they knew the difficulty (because of the spies report) their fear made their hearts melt.

Rather than believing by faith, the Israelites insisted that the LORD hated them and desired to deliver them into the hands of the Amorites. In other words, they thought that God, the suzerain (ruler), would reject His vassals as covenantal partner. This contradicts God’s own words that He intended for Israel to be His “own possession among all the peoples, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation”(Exodus 19:5-6). The people already forgot how God bore them on eagles’ wings in order to bring them to Himself (Exodus 19:4). So, they began to doubt His power.

This unbelief caused the Israelites to ask, “Where can we go up?” The function of this rhetorical question is to show the extent to which the people lost all their hope to enter and conquer the Promised Land. Again, the reason for this hopelessness was because the Israelites heard from the spies that the people residing in Canaan were bigger and taller than they and that the cities were large and fortified. Besides all this, the spies also saw the sons of the Anakim there, an ancestry that can be traced back to Anak, the son of Arba (Deuteronomy 2:10; Joshua 15:13). Despite the impressive portrayal of the Anakim or the size of Canaan, Moses continued to encourage the people telling them not to be shocked nor fear them, because the battle belongs to Yahweh the great warrior (cf. Exodus 14:14; Exodus 15:3). God has fought for His people when He redeemed them from slavery in Egypt and carried them through the wilderness experience, just as a man carries his son. All these experiences with God would have resulted in trust on the part of the Israelites. Unfortunately, they refused to trust the God who went ahead of them by day in a pillar of cloud to provide guidance for them on their journey and by night in a pillar of fire to enlighten them (cf. Exodus 13:21). Such an attitude was unacceptable, and God was going to deal with it accordingly.

Biblical Text:

26 “Yet you were not willing to go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; 27 and you grumbled in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us. 28 ‘Where can we go up? Our brethren have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are bigger and taller than we; the cities are large and fortified to heaven. And besides, we saw the sons of the Anakim there.” 29 “Then I said to you, ‘Do not be shocked, nor fear them. 30 ‘The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31 and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.’ 32 “But for all this, you did not trust the Lord your God, 33 who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go.

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