The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Numbers 13

Num 13:22

HEBRON: Abraham resides in Hebron, under oaks of Mamre (Gen 13:18; 35:27). Sarah died there (Gen 23). Isaac, Jacob there (Gen 35; 37). Anakim there, defeated by Joshua. City of refuge. David reigns there 7 1/2 years. Hebron today still populated. One of world's oldest cities still extant.

ZOAN: There Moses met Pharaoh (Psa 78:12,43). Site, a wilderness now. But important even as late as time of Isaiah (Isa 19:11,13; 30:14) and Ezekiel (Eze 30:14).

HEBRON HAD BEEN BUILT SEVEN YEARS BEFORE ZOAN IN EGYPT: The city of Abraham and alliance and new covenant is older than city of slavery, law, and priests. The "new covenant" (Abraham), though brought into effect last, is actually "older" than the "old covenant" (Moses).

See Article, Hebron and Zoan (Num 13:22).

Num 13:30

THEN CALEB SILENCED THE PEOPLE BEFORE MOSES AND SAID, "WE SHOULD GO UP AND TAKE POSSESSION OF THE LAND, FOR WE CAN CERTAINLY DO IT": "When the spies came back from exploring the land they made their report. It was a good and fruitful land, the fruit was great -- it took two men to carry one bunch of grapes! It was just as God had described it to them, 'a land flowing with milk and honey.' The land was so good it had also produced giants and the giants were the reason for the huge 'BUT' in the report of the spies. 'The land is good,' they said, 'BUT the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large... they are stronger than we are... The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size... we seemed as grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.'

"All the people were distressed after this faithless report. They had forgotten that God had rescued them from the strongest power on the earth and had promised them the land. 'Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." '

"Often we come across seemingly impossible problems just as Israel did in this case, and when we do, let us remember that with God's help 'we can certainly do it!' " (RP).

Num 13:31

WE CAN'T ATTACK THOSE PEOPLE: This lament -- "We CAN'T!" -- was the downfall of Israel. God never told them that they would have to take the land by their own strength. The strength, the power, the ability, all lay with Him and not with them! He had told them, "I will GIVE it to you" (Exo 6:8; Lev 20:24). They had only to believe God's promises, and act upon them. How often do we forget that "it is your father's good pleasure to GIVE [us] the kingdom" (Luke 12:32)?

Men of faith, even though they have not as yet received God's promises, may with the eye of faith see that fulfillment, even when it is "far off". Then in spirit they "receive" those promises to themselves, and "embrace" them, and act as though they are already theirs (Heb 11:13).

Ten men who failed to see God saw cities impregnably high;
Two men, looking "far off" to God, saw doom for those cities draw nigh.
Ten men who failed to see God saw giants frightfully tall;
Two men, looking "far off" to God, saw giants as grasshoppers small.
Ten men who failed to see God reported, "We're certain to fail";
Two men, looking "far off" to God, cried, "Up! for with God we prevail!"
Ten men who failed to see God discouraged their brother men;
Two men perceived God everywhere; are you of the two -- or the ten?

Num 13:33

WE SEEMED LIKE GRASSHOPPERS IN OUR OWN EYES, AND WE LOOKED THE SAME TO THEM: "None of the children of Israel had ever been into the land of Canaan. God had promised to take them there and described it as a land flowing with milk and honey -- something they could only dream about. Now, as Moses sent the twelve spies into the land, they were the first people to see it for themselves. Their report was just what the people had hoped for. 'We went into the land to which you sent us and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its' fruit.' And at that stage they would have showed the people the huge bunch of grapes they picked, carried between two men. This was the first glimpse of the promised land for the children of Israel.. They hadn't seen it themselves yet, but it was certainly an exciting foretaste.

"Like Israel, God has given us little glimpses of the kingdom through His word and His creation -- enough to whet our appetites and know that the kingdom is what we really want.

"But when they heard of the challenges that faced them going into the land, they chickened out. They thought it would be too hard. And, unfortunately many people who have heard what God has offered also chicken out when they find out that it will take effort and faith to receive what God has promised.

"So let's be like Joshua and Caleb whose faith in action allowed them to receive the promised land" (RP).

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