Punishment

06/7/15

And Hashem said to Moshe, “How long will this people spurn Me, and how long will they have no faith in Me despite all the signs that I have performed in their midst?
Numbers 14:11
And the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that hill country came down and dealt them a shattering blow at Hormah.
Numbers 14:45

God is infuriated by the people’s mistrust and ingratitude, and threatens to wipe out the nation. Moses begs God to reconsider, taking into account the impression such action would make on the nations that watched God take Israel out of Egypt. God relents, in accordance with Moses’s words, and opts instead to sentence the nation to wander in the desert for forty years — one year for each day the spies spent in the Holy Land. Their children, who they thought would die in the desert, would instead be the only ones to enter the land. He commands the people to break camp and turn back towards the desert.

 

The ten spies who brought the negative report died immediately, struck down by the hand of God.

 

After Moses conveys God’s message to the people, they are ashamed of what they have done. Wanting to make up for their mistakes, a group of them decide to climb the mountains facing them and enter the Promised Land, as they should have done in the first place. Moses warns them that now God is no longer with them in that endeavor; they have lost their chance and an attempt without God’s backing will fail. They ignore Moses and go anyway, resulting in the deaths of all the misguided rebels.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

When God accepts Moses’s argument and agrees to spare the people, he mentions only Caleb’s name as being faithful and earning the right, alone in his generation, to enter the land of Israel (14:24). Yet when speaking to both Moses and Aaron, He singles out both Caleb and Joshua as exceptions to his decree (14:30). Why do you think that is? What might be the difference between Caleb and Joshua?