Numbers 14

The people speak bad words

1 Then all the people started to cry very loudly. And the people cried all night. 2 And all the Israelites spoke bad words against Moses and Aaron. And all the people said to them, ‘We wish that we had died in the country called Egypt, or even in this desert! 3 We do not know why the LORD is bringing us into this country. Its people will kill us all with swords. They will take our wives and our little children for themselves. We think that it would be better to return to Egypt.’ 4 So they said to each other, ‘We should choose a new leader and we should return to Egypt.’

5 Then Moses and Aaron threw themselves on the ground in front of all the Israelites. Their faces were touching the ground. 6 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh were among those who had explored the country. And they tore their clothes. 7 And they said to all the Israelites, ‘The country that we travelled through to explore is a very, very good country. 8 If the LORD is happy with us, he will bring us into this country. And he will give it to us. And there is a lot of milk and honey everywhere in that country. 9 But do not refuse to obey the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people in that country. We will beat them easily. The LORD is with us and he has made them not safe. Do not be afraid of them.’

10 But all the people wanted to throw stones at Joshua and Caleb until they had killed them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites. 11 And the LORD said to Moses, ‘These people turn away from me all the time. I did great miracles and they saw them. But still they will not trust me. 12 I will send an illness that will kill all those people. And they will not get any of the good things that I wanted to give to them. And I will make you, Moses, the ancestor of a nation greater and more powerful than they are.’

13 But Moses said to the LORD, ‘But you brought these people out of Egypt because you are a powerful God. If you do that, someone will tell the people in Egypt about it. 14 And they will tell the people who live in this country about it. Those people already know that you, LORD, are with your people. They know that you talk to your people. They know that your cloud is over the people. And they know that you lead them as a tall cloud during the day and as fire during the night. 15 And there are people in other nations who know a lot about you. So if you kill all your people together now the people in those nations will say, 16 “The LORD could not bring those people into the country that he had seriously promised to them. So he killed all those people in the desert.” ’

14:16‘Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes’ (verse 6). The Israelites used to tear their own clothes to show that they were very unhappy. Usually, people tore their clothes when someone had died.

17 ‘But now, I am praying. And I am asking you to show how powerful you are. Please do as you promised to do. You said, 18 “I, the LORD, do not get angry easily. My people can trust me to love them very much always. I forgive people if they sin. And I forgive them if they do not obey me. But I do punish people for the wrong things that they do. And I do say that people's children, their grandchildren and their grandchildren's children are guilty because of their sin.”

19 I pray that you will forgive the very bad sin of these people. Forgive them because you have promised to love them very much always. You have forgiven these people like that since they left Egypt and until now.’

20 So the LORD said, ‘I have forgiven them as you asked me to do. 21 But I live and all the earth will be full of the LORD's glory. 22 And these men have seen my glory and the miracles that I did in Egypt and in the desert. But they have tested me 10 times now. And they have not obeyed me. 23 So certainly, none of them will see the country that I seriously promised to their ancestors. Those men thought that I am not important. So none of those men will see the country. 24 But my servant Caleb has thought differently. And he has obeyed me completely. So, I will bring him into the country that he explored. And it will be his descendants' country. 25 The Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys now. So turn tomorrow and start to travel to the desert past the Red Sea.’

26 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 27 ‘These bad people have said bad things about me too many times! I have heard the bad things that the Israelites are saying about me. 28 Say to them, “I live,” says the LORD. “And I will do to you as you have said. I heard your words. And I will certainly do as you have asked. 29 Your dead bodies will fall to the ground in this desert. All the men that Moses counted will die. All the men who were 20 years old or older will die. All those men said bad words about me and they will die in this desert. 30 None of those men will go into the country that I promised to put you in. The only men who will go in are Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 You said that the people in Canaan would take your children for themselves. But I will bring those children into the country. And the country that you did not want will be their home. 32 But you will be different. Your dead bodies will fall to the ground in this desert. 33 And your sons will be shepherds for 40 years in the desert. And they will have trouble because you did not trust me. They will have trouble until all your dead bodies are lying in the desert. 34 You explored the country for 40 days. So you will have trouble because of your sins for 40 years. And you will know that I am angry with you. 35 I, the LORD, have spoken. I will certainly do all those things to these very bad people. That is because they have all come together against me. In this desert they will die. So that will be the end of them.” ’

36 But the men that Moses sent to explore the country had returned. And they had given a bad report to the people about the country. So they caused all the people to say bad things against Moses. 37 So the LORD sent a bad illness. And it killed those men who gave a bad report about the country to the people. 38 But only two men who had gone to explore the country did not die. They were Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh.

39 And when Moses spoke these words to all the Israelites, the people were very sad. 40 But the next morning, they got up early. And they went up to the top of the hills in the country. And they said, ‘Here we are. We certainly did sin. But we will go to the place that the LORD has promised to us.’

41 But Moses said, ‘I do not know why you are not obeying the LORD. Your ideas will not happen. 42 Do not go into that country. The Lord is not with you. So your enemies will beat you. 43 The Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you. That is because you have refused to obey the LORD. So the LORD will not be with you. And so they will kill you with their swords.’

44 But the people did not listen to Moses. They went up to the top of the hills in the country. But Moses and the LORD's Covenant Box stayed in the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in those hills came down. And they attacked the Israelites. So the people had to run away to Hormah.

14:45Hormah was a village on the south of Canaan (see Joshua 15:30).