Story Thirty-One

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
THE Ĭś̞ ra-el-ītes stayed in their camp before Mount Sī nāi almost a year, while they were building the Tabernacle and learning God's laws given through Mṓ s̝es̝. At last the cloud over the Tabernacle rose up; and the people knew that this was the sign for them to move. They took down the Tabernacle and their own tents, and journeyed northward toward the land of Cā́ năan for many days led by the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night.
At last they came to a place just on the border between the desert and Cā́ năan, called Kedesh, or Kā́ desh or Kā́ desh=bāŕ ne˗ȧ Here they stopped to rest, for there were many springs of water and some grass for their cattle. While they were waiting at Kā́ desh=bāŕ ne-ȧ, and were expecting soon to march into the land which was to be their home, God told Mṓ s̝es̝ to send onward some men who should walk through the land, and look at it, and then come back and tell what they had found; what kind of a land it was, and what fruits and crops grew in it, and what people were living in it. The Ĭś̝ ra˗el-ītes could more easily win the land, if these men after walking through it could act as their guides, and point out the best places in it and the best plans of making war upon it. There was need of wise and bold men for such a work as this, for it was full of danger.
So Mṓs̝es̝ chose out some men of high rank among the people, one ruler from each tribe, twelve men in all. One of these was Jŏsh́ ú a, who was the helper of Mṓ s̝es̝ in caring for the people, and another was Cā́ leb, who belonged to the tribe of Jū́ dah. These twelve men went out, and walked over the mountains of Cā́ năan, and looked at the cities, and saw the fields. In one place, just before they came back to the camp, they cut down a cluster of ripe cranes which was so large that two men carried it between them, hanging from a staff. They named the place where they found this bunch of grapes Ĕsh́ cŏl, a word which means "a cluster." These twelve men were called "spies," because they 'went "to spy out the land." After forty days they came back to the camp; and this was what they said:
"We walked all over the land, and found it a rich land. There is grass for all our flocks, and fields where we can raise grain, and trees bearing fruits, and streams running down the sides of the hills. But we found that the people who live there are very strong, and are men of war. They have cities with walls that reach almost up to the sky; and some of the men are giants, so tall that we felt that we were like grasshoppers beside them.”
One of the spies, who was Cắ leb, said, "All that is true, yet we need not be afraid to go up and take the land. It is a good land, well worth fighting for. God is on our side, and he will help us to overcome those people.”
But all the other spies, except Jŏsh́ u-ȧ, said, "No; there is no use in trying to make war upon such strong people. We can never take those walled cities, and we dare not fight those tall giants." And the people, who had journeyed all the way through the wilderness to find this very land, were so frightened by the words of, the ten spies, that now on the very border of Cā́ năan they dared not enter it. They forgot that God had led them out of Ḗ ġy̆pt, that he had kept them in the dangers of the desert, that he had given them water out of the rock, and bread from the sky, and his law from the mountain.
All that night, after the spies brought back their report, the people were so filled with fear that they could not sleep. They cried out against Mṓs̝es̝, and blamed him for bringing them out of the land of Wept. They forgot all their troubles in Ḗ ġy̆pt, their toil and their slavery; and they resolved to go back to that land. They said, "Let us choose a ruler in place of Mṓ s̝es̝, who has brought us into all these evils, and let us turn back to the land of Ḗ ġy̆pt!”
But Cā́ leb and Jŏsh́ u-ȧ, two of the spies, said, "Why should we fear? The land of Cā́ năan is a good land; it is rich with milk and honey. If God is our friend and is with us, we can easily conquer the people who live there. Above all things, let us not rebel against the Lord or disobey him and make him our enemy.”
But the people were so angry with Cā́ leb and Jōsh́ u-ȧ, that they were ready to stone them and kill them. Then suddenly the people saw a strange sight. The glory of the Lord, which stayed in the Holy of Holies, the inner room of the Tabernacle, now flashed out and shone from the door of the Tabernacle in the faces of the people.
And the Lord out of this glory spoke to Mṓs̝es̝, and said:
"How long will this people disobey me and despise me? They shall not go into the good land that I have promised them. Not one of them shall enter in except Caleb and Josh́ u-ȧ, who have been faithful to me. All of the people who are twenty years old and over it, shall die in the desert; but their little children shall grow up in the wilderness, and when they become men they shall enter in and own the land that I promised to their fathers. You people are not worthy of the land that I have been keeping for you. Now turn back into the desert, and stay there until you die. After you are dead, Josh́ u-ȧ shall lead your children into the land of Cā́ năan. And because Cā́ leb showed another spirit, and was true to me, and followed my will fully, Cā́ leb shall live to go into the land, and shall have his choice of a home there: To-morrow, turn back into the desert by the way of the Red Sea.”
And God told Mṓ s̝es̝ that for every day that the spies had spent in Cā́ năan, looking at the land, the people should spend a year in the wilderness; so that they should live in the desert forty ' years, instead of going at once into the promised land.
When Mṓ s̝es̝ told all God's words to the people, they felt worse than before. They changed their minds as suddenly as they had made up their minds. "No," they all said, "we will not go back to the wilderness. We will go straight into the land, and see if we are able to take it, as Josh́ u-ȧ and Cā́ leb have said.”
"You must not go into the land," said Mṓ s̝es̝, "for you are not fit to go; and God will not go with you. You must turn back into the desert, as the Lord has commanded.”
But the people would not obey. They rushed up the mountain, and tried to march at once into the land. But they were without leaders and without order, a mob of men untrained and in confusion. And the people in that part of the land, the Cā́ năan˗ītes and the Ăḿ or-ītes, came down upon them and. killed many of them, and drove them away. Then, discouraged and beaten, they obeyed the Lord and Mṓ s̝es̝, and went once more into the desert.
And in the desert of Pā́ ran, on the south of the land of Cā́năan, the children of Ĭś̝ ra-el stayed nearly forty years; and all because they would not trust in the Lord.
It was not strange that the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes should act like children, eager to go back one day, and then eager to go forward the next day. Through four hundred years they had been weakened by living in the hot land of Ḗ ġy̆pt; and their hard lot as slaves had made them unfit to care for themselves. They were still in heart slavish and weak. Mṓ s̝es̝ saw that they needed the free life of the wilderness; and that their children, growing up as free men and trained for war, would be far better fitted to win the land of promise than they had shown themselves to be. So they went back into the wilderness to wait and to be trained for the work of winning their land in war.