Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Nu 13:1-33. The Names of the Men Who Were Sent to Search the Land.
1, 2. The Lord spake unto Moses, Send thou men, that they may search the land, of Canaan—Compare De 1:22, whence it appears, that while the proposal of delegating confidential men from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan emanated from the people who petitioned for it, the measure received the special sanction of God, who granted their request at once as a trial, and a punishment of their distrust.
Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.
3. those men were heads of the children of Israel—Not the princes who are named (Nu 10:14-16, 18-20, 22-27), but chiefs, leading men though not of the first rank.
And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur.
Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori.
Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph.
Of the tribe of Ephraim, Oshea the son of Nun.
Of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu.
Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi.
Of the tribe of Joseph, namely, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi.
Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli.
Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael.
Of the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi.
Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.
These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua.
16. Oshea—that is, "a desire of salvation." Jehoshua, by prefixing the name of God, means "divinely appointed," "head of salvation," "Saviour," the same as Jesus [Mt 1:21, Margin].
And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain:
17. Get you up this way … , and go up into the mountain—Mount Seir (De 1:2), which lay directly from Sinai across the wilderness of Paran, in a northeasterly direction into the southern parts of the promised land.
And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many;
And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds;
And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.
20. Now the time was the time of the first grapes—This was in August, when the first clusters are gathered. The second are gathered in September, and the third in October. The spies' absence for a period of forty days determines the grapes they brought from Eshcol to have been of the second period.
So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath.
21-24. So they … searched the land—They advanced from south to north, reconnoitering the whole land.
the wilderness of Zin—a long level plain, or deep valley of sand, the monotony of which is relieved by a few tamarisk and rethem trees. Under the names of El Ghor and El Araba, it forms the continuation of the Jordan valley, extending from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Akaba.
Rehob—or, Beth-rehob, was a city and district situated, according to some, eastward of Sidon; and, according to others, it is the same as El Hule, an extensive and fertile champaign country, at the foot of Anti-libanus, a few leagues below Paneas.
as men come to Hamath—or, "the entering in of Hamath" (2Ki 14:25), now the valley of Balbeck, a mountain pass or opening in the northern frontier, which formed the extreme limit in that direction of the inheritance of Israel. From the mention of these places, the route of the scouts appears to have been along the course of the Jordan in their advance; and their return was by the western border through the territories of the Sidonians and Philistines.
And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
22. unto Hebron—situated in the heart of the mountains of Judah, in the southern extremity of Palestine. The town or "cities of Hebron," as it is expressed in the Hebrew, consists of a number of sheikdoms distinct from each other, standing at the foot of one of those hills that form a bowl round and enclose it. "The children of Anak" mentioned in this verse seem to have been also chiefs of townships; and this coincidence of polity, existing in ages so distant from each other, is remarkable [Vere Monro]. Hebron (Kirjath Arba, Ge 23:2) was one of the oldest cities in the world.
Zoan—(the Tanis of the Greeks) was situated on one of the eastern branches of the Nile, near the lake Menzala, and was the early royal residence of the Pharaohs. It boasted a higher antiquity than any other city in Egypt. Its name, which signifies flat and level, is descriptive of its situation in the low grounds of the Delta.
And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
23. they came unto the brook of Eshcol—that is, "the torrent of the cluster." Its location was a little to the southwest of Hebron. The valley and its sloping hills are still covered with vineyards, the character of whose fruit corresponds to its ancient celebrity.
and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes—The grapes reared in this locality are still as magnificent as formerly—they are said by one to be equal in size to prunes, and compared by another to a man's thumb. One cluster sometimes weighs ten or twelve pounds. The mode of carrying the cluster cut down by the spies, though not necessary from its weight, was evidently adopted to preserve it entire as a specimen of the productions of the promised land; and the impression made by the sight of it would be all the greater because the Israelites were familiar only with the scanty vines and small grapes of Egypt.
The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.
And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
26. they came … to Kadesh—an important encampment of the Israelites. But its exact situation is not definitely known, nor is it determined whether it is the same or a different place from Kadesh-barnea. It is supposed to be identical with Ain-el-Weibeh, a famous spring on the eastern side of the desert [Robinson], or also with Petra [Stanley].
And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
27, 28. they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey—The report was given publicly in the audience of the people, and it was artfully arranged to begin their narrative with commendations of the natural fertility of the country in order that their subsequent slanders might the more readily receive credit.
Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
29. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south—Their territory lay between the Dead and the Red Seas, skirting the borders of Canaan.
Hittites … dwell in the mountains—Their settlements were in the southern and mountainous part of Palestine (Ge 23:7).
the Canaanites dwell by the sea—The remnant of the original inhabitants, who had been dispossessed by the Philistines, were divided into two nomadic hordes—one settled eastward near the Jordan; the other westward, by the Mediterranean.
And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
32. a land that eateth up the inhabitants—that is, an unhealthy climate and country. Jewish writers say that in the course of their travels they saw a great many funerals, vast numbers of the Canaanites being cut off at that time, in the providence of God, by a plague or the hornet (Jos 24:12).
men of a great stature—This was evidently a false and exaggerated report, representing, from timidity or malicious artifice, what was true of a few as descriptive of the people generally.
And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
33. there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak—The name is derived from the son of Arba, a great man among the Arabians (Jos 15:14), who probably obtained his appellation from wearing a splendid collar or chain round his neck, as the word imports. The epithet "giant" evidently refers here to stature. (See on Ge 6:4). And it is probable the Anakims were a distinguished family, or perhaps a select body of warriors, chosen for their extraordinary size.
we were in our own sight as grasshoppers—a strong Orientalism, by which the treacherous spies gave an exaggerated report of the physical strength of the people of Canaan.