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16 JUNE 2012
The command to send spies to Eretz Israel. Moses prays for Joshua. The spies report. Caleb is shouted down. National hysteria breaks out where the people could not be placated. Israel is threatened with extermination, but Moses’ successful plea brings forgiveness from GOD, but forty years of wandering is decreed. A chastened nation realizes too late. The instructions for libations, making Challah. The atonement for public unintentional idol worship. Individual idol worship, intentional idolatry. Sabbath desecration in the wilderness, then finally ending with the command for the Tzitzis so that all the commandments will be remembered.
B’midbar (Numbers) 13:1ff
HaShem spoke to Moses saying, “Send forth men, that they may spy out the land of Canaan, that I give to the children of Israel; one man each from his father’s tribe shall you send, everyone a leader among them.” Moses sent them forth from the Wilderness of Paran at the command of HaShem. They were all distinguished men; leaders of the children of Israel.
The children of Israel were awaiting GOD’s word in order to enter the Land. At that very last moment of time, at their appointed time of triumph, as the divine plan was to bring us directly from Sinai into the Land, tragedy is about to strike.
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is deceptively sick.
Moses commanded the twelve to spy out the Land in order to confirm to the people what GOD had revealed. The land is flowing with milk and honey. Instead, ten of the twelve returned to give a bad report. Some translations call it an evil report.
Moses had asked them to look for the following:
1. Did the land indeed flow with milk and honey?
2. Were the cities there fortified?
3. How were the inhabitants?
These were the main things the spies were to look for. They found that the land was brimming with milk and honey. They even brought back the cluster of grapes, which they carried on a pole; also pomegranates and figs were abundant. Instead of reporting that the inhabitants were in fear of the Israelites and hiding behind high walls, the report of ten of the returning spies was turned around in a way that implied that the walls were too big to conquer. (Numbers 13:23-24) Furthermore, the size and abundance of fruits was interpreted in such a way as to indicate that the people were giants and the Israelites were like grasshoppers in comparison, certainly too weak to conquer such a superior people. The ten caused great fear among the Israelites by stating that the Land is one that devours its inhabitants (Numbers 13:32-33).
The people believed the bad report, lies and exaggerations of the ten spies, having itchy ears for falsehood (2 Timothy 4:3). These people listened to a lie instead of trusting GOD, even after all the miracles they had seen since leaving Egypt.
(Number 15:1) GOD states, “When you will come to the Land of your dwelling places that I give you…” This implies that the giving of the Promised Land is a done deal, as far as GOD is concerned. They are to offer voluntary Korbanot, sacrifices, as well as give a portion of their bread, Challah, to the Kohanim as a sign of GOD’s blessings on the Land, its produce, etc.
When GOD tells them to go forward, they want to run in fear back to Egypt. Only when He says that He will punish them with forty years of wanderings in the desert for their disobedience and rebellion do they suddenly find courage and prepare to go forward. Unless the Lord builds the house, it will surely fall. We must trust in GOD.
(Numbers 15:37) Finally in this Parashah is the commandment regarding the wearing of the fringes, the Tzitzit. They are a reminder to keep ALL of His commandments and to follow Him. When He directs us to stay we must stay. When He says to move forward, however, the promise He has for us is ahead, we must move ahead.
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