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Numbers 13:1-2 meaning

Before entering the Promised Land of Canaan, the LORD commanded Moses to send spies into the land. He was to select a person from each tribe.

The Israelites had now travelled to the southern border of the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 1:22 states that they were at Kadesh-Barnea, on the northern side of the Wilderness of Paran. It was here that the Lord spoke to Moses (v. 1).

He commanded Moses to send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan (v. 2). This account is different than what is in Deuteronomy 1:22, where it states that it was the people, not the LORD, who approached Moses to ask him to send the spies into Canaan. It might have happened that the people asked for the spies and the LORD agreed with them, so He then told Moses to send the spies into the land.

It could be that this was a preamble to God's judgement on the people for not believing His word, that it was a good land. A consistent pattern in scripture is God judging us by giving us what we ask for. By granting the people's request to spy out the land, God is granting their request to doubt His word, and at the same time confirming His word. In the end it will lead the people to rebel.

The land that they were to explore/spy out was the one that the LORD promised to give to the sons of Israel (Exodus 3:8, 17, 6:4). So, He told Moses to send a man from each of their fathers' tribes, and they were all to be every one a leader among them. This does not mean that they were the top leaders of the tribes. It means that they were proven leaders within the tribes.


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