Moses speaks to the people
1 These are the words that Moses spoke to all the Israelites. They were together in the desert on the east side of the Jordan river. This is in the Jordan valley near Suph. It is between the towns called Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. 2 (It is a journey of 11 days from Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea, along the road past Mount Seir.) 3 Moses spoke to the Israelites on the first day of the 11th month, in the 40th year of their journey. He told the Israelites the message that the Lord had commanded him to speak.
1:1These people are the children of the Israelites who left Egypt. They were born while their parents travelled in the desert.
1:2The journey from Mount Sinai should only have been 11 days. The Israelites had travelled through the desert for 40 years because they did not trust God.
1:3When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.
4 This happened after Moses and the Israelites had won against Sihon, king of the Amorites. Sihon ruled in Heshbon. They had also won against Og, the king of Bashan, who ruled in Ashtaroth. The Israelites fought against him at Edrei. 5 Moses began to speak the Lord's message on the east side of the Jordan river, in Moab's country. This is what he said:
1:4The Amorites were a group of people who lived in Canaan before the Israelites lived there. They lived on both sides of the Jordan river. They were enemies of the Israelites.
6 The Lord our God said to us at Mount Sinai, ‘You have stayed for a long time near this mountain. 7 Now you must continue your journey. Go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all the regions near there. Go to the Jordan valley and the mountains and the low hills in the west. Go to the Negev in the south, and to the Mediterranean coast. Go to the land of Canaan and to Lebanon, even as far as the great Euphrates river. 8 Look! I have given you all this land. Go there and take it for yourselves. I, the Lord, promised to give this land to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to their descendants.’
Moses chooses leaders
9 At that time I, Moses, said this to you: ‘I cannot lead you and help you by myself. It is too difficult for me to do alone. 10 The Lord your God has caused you to become very many people. You are as many as the stars in the sky! 11 I pray that the Lord, your ancestors' God, will cause you to become a thousand times as many people. That is how he has promised to bless you. 12 But I cannot help you with your troubles and arguments all by myself. 13 You must choose some wise men who understand what is right. Choose people that you know, from each of your tribes. Then I will give them authority as your leaders.’
14 You answered me, ‘That is a good idea!’
15 So I chose men that you knew were wise to be the leaders in your tribes. I gave them authority to rule over you. Some were leaders of groups of 1,000 men. Some led groups of 100 men, or 50 men, or 10 men. I also chose other officers for each tribe.
16 At that time, I said to your leaders, ‘Listen to the arguments between the Israelites that you lead. Decide what is right. Do that when the argument is between two Israelites. Do the same thing when the argument is between an Israelite and a foreign person who lives among you. 17 When you judge them, do not make any difference between important people and poor people. Listen to all of them in a careful way. Do not be afraid of anyone. God is the one who decides what is right. If it is too difficult for you to decide who is right, bring it to me. I will listen and then I will decide what is right.’
18 So, at that time, I told you about everything that you should do.
Moses sends out men to explore
19 Then we left Mount Sinai, as the Lord our God had commanded us to do. We travelled through the desert towards the hill country of the Amorites. You saw that the desert was very big and it made you very afraid. Finally, we arrived at Kadesh-Barnea. 20 Then I said to you, ‘You have reached the hill country of the Amorites. The Lord our God is giving this land to us. 21 Look at the land! It is now in front of you! The Lord your God has given it to you. Go in and take it for yourselves. The Lord, your ancestors' God, has told you to do this. So do not be afraid. Be brave!’
22 Then all of you came to me and you said, ‘Let us send some men into the land first, before we all go in. They can explore the land. Then they can bring a report to us. They can tell us the best way for us to go in there. They can tell us about the towns that we will come to.’
23 I thought that this was a good idea. I chose 12 men, one from each of your tribes. 24 They left and went up into the hill country. They came to Eshcol valley and they explored it. 25 They picked some of the fruit that they found there and they brought it back to us. They told us, ‘The land that Lord our God is giving to us is a very good land.’
The people refuse to obey the Lord
26 But you refused to go into the land. You turned against the Lord your God. 27 You complained to each other in your tents. You said, ‘The Lord hates us. That is why he brought us out of Egypt. He wanted to give us to the Amorites, so that they would kill us. 28 We do not know what will happen to us now. Our brothers who explored the land have made us afraid. They say, “Those people in Canaan are taller and stronger than we are. Their cities are big and strong. They have walls around them that reach up to the sky. We even saw some men there who are descendants of Anak.” ’
1:26The Israelites did not believe that God would fight for them. They did not trust God to do what he said he would do.
29 Then I said to you, ‘Do not be so frightened of those people. 30 The Lord your God will go in front of you. He will fight to help you, as he fought for you in Egypt. You saw him do it. 31 He was also with you in the desert. He helped you when you were weak, as a father carries his son. You saw how he helped you all the way on your journey. He brought you safely here to this place.’
32 But you did not trust the Lord your God to help you. 33 He was the one who went in front of you on your journey. He was there in a fire during the night and in a cloud during the day. He found good places for you to put up your tents. He showed you the way that you should go.
34 When the Lord heard that you were complaining, he was angry. He made this serious promise: 35 ‘You people who are now alive are wicked. None of you will see the good land that I promised to give to your ancestors. 36 Only Jephunneh's son Caleb will see it. He has obeyed me faithfully. So I will give to him and to his descendants the land that he walked on.’
37 As for me, the Lord became angry with me also, because of you. He said to me, ‘You also will not go into the land. 38 But your servant Joshua, the son of Nun, will go in there. You must tell him to be brave. He will lead the Israelites into the land. It will become their land. 39 You thought that enemies would catch your small children. But they are the people who will go into the land. Your children who are still too young to know the difference between good and bad will also go in there. I will give the land to them and it will become their land. 40 But now you must all turn back towards the desert. Travel along the road to the Red Sea.’
41 Then you answered me. You said, ‘Yes, we have done wrong things against the Lord. We will now go and fight those people. We will do what the Lord our God has told us to do.’ So then each one of you picked up his weapons. You thought that it would be easy to go up into the hill country.
42 But the Lord told me, ‘Do not let them go up there to fight. I will not be with you to help you. Your enemies will win against you.’
43 So I told you what the Lord had said, but you would not agree. Instead, you turned against the Lord. You were so proud that you marched up into the hill country. 44 The Amorite people who lived in those hills came out to attack you. You ran away from them, as if they were a crowd of bees. They attacked you as you ran down into the country of Edom, all the way to Hormah.
45 Then you came back to Kadesh-Barnea. You wept to show the Lord that you were very sorry. But he would not listen to your prayers. 46 So you stayed in Kadesh for a long time, until it was time to leave.