Numbers 14

The people complain

1 Then all the people started to weep loudly. And they cried all night. 2 All the Israelites spoke bad words against Moses and Aaron. All the people said to them, ‘We would rather have died in Egypt, or even in this desert! 3 Why has the Lord brought us into this country? Its people will kill us all with swords. They will take our wives and our children for themselves. We think that it would be better for us to return to Egypt.’ 4 So they said to each other, ‘We should choose a new leader instead of Moses. Then we should return to Egypt.’

5 Then Moses and Aaron threw themselves on the ground in front the whole group of the Israelites. 6 Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, were two of the men who had explored the country. They were very upset and they tore their clothes. 7 Joshua and Caleb said to all the Israelites, ‘The land that we travelled through to explore is a very good country. 8 If the Lord is happy with us, he will bring us into this land. And he will give it to us. In that land, there is plenty of food and drink, enough for everyone. 9 But do not refuse to obey the Lord. Do not be afraid of the people in that country. They are ready for us to fight against them and win! They have no place to hide! The Lord is with us to help us. So do not be afraid of them.’

14:6The Israelites would tear their own clothes to show that they were upset. Often, people tore their clothes when someone had died.

10 Then all the people wanted to throw stones at Joshua and Caleb to kill them. But the glory of the Lord appeared over the Tent of Meeting. All the Israelites could see that.

11 The Lord said to Moses, ‘These people continue to turn away from me. I did great miracles to show them my power. But still they will not trust me. 12 I will send an illness to kill them. They will not get any of the good things that I wanted to give to them. Then I will make you, Moses, the ancestor of a nation greater and more powerful than they are.’

13 Moses said to the Lord, ‘Please do not do that! You used your great power to bring these people out of Egypt. If you destroy them, the Egyptians will hear about it. 14 Then they will tell the people who live in this country about it. They know that you, Lord, are among your people. They know that you meet with your people. They know that your cloud stays over them. They know that you lead them as a pillar of cloud during the day and as a pillar of fire during the night. 15 The people in other nations have heard of your power. So now, if you kill all your people together, the people in those nations will say, 16 “The Lord could not bring those people into the land that he had seriously promised to give to them. So he killed all of them in the desert.”

17 But now, I pray that you will show how powerful you are. You yourself have said, 18 “The Lord does not quickly become angry. His special love for his people continues for ever. He forgives people when they turn against him and they do bad things. But if someone is guilty, he surely punishes them. And he punishes their children, their grandchildren and their grandchildren's children.”

19 So please forgive the very bad thing that these people have done. Do that because your special love is so great. You have forgiven these people since they left Egypt until now. So please be kind and forgive them again now.’

20 Then the Lord said, ‘I have forgiven them as you asked me to do. 21 As surely as I live, and all the earth will be full of my glory, I tell you this. 22 All these people have seen my glory. They have seen the miracles that I did in Egypt and in the desert. But they have tested me many times now to see if I would punish them. They still do not obey me. 23 So I tell you, none of them will ever see the land that I promised to give to their ancestors. None of those men who did not trust me will see that place. 24 But my servant Caleb has thought differently, and he has obeyed me completely. So, I will bring him into the land that he explored. It will belong to his descendants. 25 The Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys now. So tomorrow you must turn back. You must travel through the desert towards the Red Sea.’

26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 27 ‘These evil people have complained against me too many times! I have heard the bad things that the Israelites have said against me. 28 Tell them that I, the Lord, say this: “As surely as I live, I will certainly 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. Those were the men who were 20 years old or older when he counted them. They complained against me and now they will die in this desert. 30 None of them will go into the land that I promised to give to you to live 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 to be their slaves. But I will bring those children into the land. You did not want that land for yourselves, but now it will belong to your children. 32 But as for you, your dead bodies will fall to the ground in this desert. 33 Your children will be shepherds in the desert for 40 years. Because you did not trust me, your children will have trouble. That will continue until all your dead bodies are lying in the desert. 34 You explored the Canaan land for 40 days. Now you will have trouble for 40 years, because of your sins. Each day becomes one year! You will know that I am not with you, but against you. 35 I, the Lord, have spoken! I will certainly do all those things to punish these evil people. That is because they have all joined together to speak against me. In this desert they will die. Yes, that will be the end of them!” ’

36-37 The men who had given a bad report to the people about Canaan land died immediately. Moses had sent them to explore the land, but they had caused all the people to turn against the Lord. So the Lord sent a bad illness to kill those men. 38 Only two men who had gone to explore the land did not die. They were Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh.

39 When Moses gave God's message to all the Israelites, the people were very sad. 40 But the next morning, they got up early. They went up to the top of the hills near there. They said, ‘We have certainly done a bad thing. But now we are ready! We will go to the place that the Lord has promised to give to us.’

41 But Moses said, ‘You are still not obeying the Lord's command. Why is that? It will not happen as you want. 42 Do not go into that land. The Lord is not with you. So your enemies will win against you. 43 The Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you. They will kill you with their swords. That will happen because you have refused to obey the Lord. So the Lord will not be with you to help you.’

44 But the people did not listen to Moses. Moses and the Lord's Covenant Box stayed in the camp. But still the men went up to the top of the hills. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in those hills ran down. They attacked the Israelite men and they chased them to Hormah.

14:45Hormah was a town on the south of Canaan. See Joshua 15:30.