The Fourth Book of Moses, Called Numbers

Chapter 14

The people murmur at the news, 1-5. Joshua and Caleb labor to still them, 6-10. God threatens them, 11, 12. Moses intercedes with God and obtains pardon, 13-25. The murmurers are debarred from entering into the land, 26-35. The men who raised the evil report die by a plague, 36-39. The people who would invade the land against the will of God are smitten, 40-45.

1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron. And the whole congregation said to them, "O that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or O that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword so that our wives and our children should be plunder? Would it not be better for us to return into Egypt?" 4 And they said to one another, "Let us make a captain and let us return into Egypt."

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were of those who searched the land, rent their clothes, 7 And they spoke to all the company of the children of Israel, saying, "The land which we passed through to search it is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the LORD delights in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD, neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their defense has departed from them and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them." 10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the Tabernacle of the Congregation before all the children of Israel.

11 And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be before they believe me for all the signs which I have shown among them? 12 I will smite them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and will make of you a greater and mightier nation than they are."

13 And Moses said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear it (for you brought up this people in your might from among them), 14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land, for they have heard that you LORD are among this people, that you LORD are seen face to face, and that your cloud stands over them and that you go before them in a pillar of a cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of you will speak, saying, 16 'Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness.' 17 And now, I implore you, let the power of my Lord be great, according as you have spoken, saying, 18 'The LORD is patient and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation.' 19 Pardon, I implore you, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your mercy, as you have forgiven this people from Egypt even until now."

20 And the LORD said, "I have pardoned according to your word. 21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. 22 Because all those men who have seen my glory and my miracles which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness and have tested me now these ten times and have not listened to my voice, 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither shall any of those who provoked me see it. 24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him and has followed me fully, I will bring him into the land into which he went, and his offspring shall possess it. 25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) Tomorrow turn and pass into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea."

26 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 27 "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel which they murmur against me. 28 Say to them, 'As truly as I live,' says the LORD, 'as you have spoken in my ears, so I will do to you. 29 Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all who were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me. 30 Doubtless you shall not come into the land concerning which I swore to make you dwell therein, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 But your little ones which you said should be plunder, I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. 32 But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years and bear your lewd deeds until your carcasses are wasted in the wilderness. 34 After the number of the days in which you searched the land, even forty days (each day for a year) you shall bear your iniquities, even forty years, and you shall know my breach of promise. 35 I, the LORD, have spoken. I will surely do it to all this evil congregation who are gathered against me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.'"

36 And the men whom Moses sent to search the land, who returned and made all the congregation to murmur against him by bringing a slander upon the land, 37 Even those men who brought the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD. 38 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were of the men who went to search the land, lived still.

39 And Moses told these sayings to all the children of Israel, and the people mourned greatly. 40 And they rose early in the morning and ascended to the top of the mountain, saying, "Behold, we are here and will go up to the place which the LORD has promised, for we have sinned." 41 And Moses said, "Why now do you transgress the commandment of the LORD? But it shall not prosper. 42 Do not go up, for the LORD is not among you, so that you are not smitten before your enemies. 43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you." 44 But they presumed to go up to the hill-top. Nevertheless, the ark of the covenant of the LORD and Moses did not depart out of the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites came down and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill and smote them and completely defeated them, even to Hormah.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Numbers, Chapter 14[➚]


[v.16] - Quoted in 1st Corinthians 10:5.