Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Pharan, at Rethma, chap. xxxiii. 48.; though Barradius confounds that station with that at Cades-barne. The Samaritan copy inserts here a long passage, taken probably from Deuteronomy i. 20, 21, and 22, which shews that the Hebrews first proposed the sending spies, out of timidity; which God severely punished in the sequel, though in his anger he here consents to their proposal, which seemed to originate in motives of prudence, ver. 3.
Ver. 3. Rulers of a hundred men, according to Hiscuni, inferior to those mentioned, chap. x. 14. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Huri: Septuagint, “Souri.” None of the tribe of Levi, the third son of Jacob, are sent; but two represent the different branches of the tribe of Joseph, ver. 9, 12. The tribe of Ephraim comes out of its natural order, and has been overlooked by Calmet. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Sceptre. Hebrew matte, means also “a tribe.”
Ver. 17. Josue. His former name Osee, or Hoseah, means “one saved, or salvation;” but the addition of the i, taken from the name of the Lord, intimates, “he shall save, or the Saviour of God.” Some think that Moses had given him this name after the defeat of the Amalecites; but the Book of Exodus, where the name is found, might have been written after he received this commission. (Calmet) — The Septuagint have, “Ause, the son of Nave, Jesus,” as he was a striking figure of our blessed Saviour, and their names are written with the same letters, Yehoshuah. This Moses foresaw, and also that he whould be the happy instrument, in the hand of God, of saving the Israelites, by introducing them to the land of promise, and establishing them in peace therein. (Menochius) — The changing of his name imported likewise, that he should be the chief leader. (Theodoret, q. 25.) (Worthington)
Ver. 18. South side, which is to the north of where you now dwell. Moses enters into several details for the satisfaction of the people, though they had probably a general idea of the country and of its fruitfulness already, having lived not far off. They might not know, however, but that some part of the inhabitants might dwell in tents, instead of towns, as many of the Arabians did.
Ver. 21. First ripe (præcoquæ:) Hebrew literally, “the first-born.” Septuagint, “the days of spring, forerunners of the grape.” In Madeira, grapes ripen in March. Some suppose the messengers departed in June, others in July. In Palestine, they have fresh grapes from the end of June till Martinmas [memorial day of St. Martin of Tours, November 11?], and three vintages, in August, and in each of the two following months.
Ver. 22. Sin. The desert of Pharan was contiguous to that of Sin. They departed from Cades-barne, and went along the Jordan to Rohob, at the foot of Mount Libanus, and on the road to Emath; then they returned by the confines of the Sidonians and Philistines, through Hebron, to the camp at Cades.
Ver. 23. And came. The printed Hebrew has, “and he came:” but the Samaritan and all the versions, as well as some manuscripts, properly retain the plural, which the Massorets allow is right. (Kennicott, Diss. 1.) — Enac, the founder of Hebron, and father of the giants of Chanaan, Josue xv. 13. The Greek word anax, “king,” was perhaps derived from him, as also the famous Inachides, who settled in Greece, after they were driven out by Josue. (Grotius) — Tanis, where the tyrants of the Hebrews resided; a city, which the Egyptians represented as the most ancient in the world. Moses represses their vain boasting, by informing them that Hebron was of greater antiquity. It was afterwards assigned to the priests, and for a city of refuge, in the tribe of Juda, Josue xx. 7.
Ver. 24. Torrent. Septuagint, “vale.” — Its. Hebrew, “one cluster.” — Two men, Josue and Caleb; (St. Maximus) though the Rabbins say they carried nothing. — Lever, or staff, suspending it thus, in order that it might not be crushed. In that valley, Doubdan (i. 21,) was assured by the religious, that clusters, weighing twelve pounds, might still be found. Pliny (Natural History? xiv. 1,) says, there are some in Africa, larger than a male infant. Strabo (xi.) describes some in Carmania, two cubits high. Forster saw a religious man at Nuremberg, who had lived eight years in Palestine, and assured him that two men could hardly carry a bunch of grapes, such as grew in the vale of Hebron: (Calmet) but this may seem to be an hyperbole. (Haydock) — Lucas (T. i. p. 310,) assures us, that he had seen a bunch at Damascus, weighing above forty pounds. The Fathers here contemplate Jesus Christ, suspended between the two testaments, the synagogue and the Church: the juice, or blood of the grape, (Genesis xlix. 2., and Deuteronomy xxxii. 14,) denotes his passion. (St. Jerome, ep. ad Fab.; St. Bernard in Cant. ser. xliv.) (Calmet)
Ver. 27. Cades. The desert of Pharan, or of Cades, is the same. (Haydock) — The town is sometimes called Cades-barne, or Recem, (Chaldean) which is Petra, the capital of the stony Arabia, and lies rather nearer to the Dead Sea than to the Mediterranean. It was on the high road from the Red Sea to Hebron. In one part of the desert of Cades, the people murmured for want of water, chap. xx. 1. But there was plenty near the city. Moses continued here a long time after the return of the spies, Deuteronomy i. 19, 46. (Calmet)
Ver. 30. South. They had already routed the Amalecites; but the spies insidiously recall to their remembrance, that they would be again in arms to obstruct their passage. — Hethites, dwelt nearest the Philistines, in the country which fell to the shares of Simeon and of Dan. The Jebusites occupied Jerusalem; and the Amorrhites, the most powerful of all those nations, held possession of most of the territory which was allotted to Juda. Nearer the Dead Sea, on the same mountains, dwelt the Cinezeans and the Cineans. Bonfrere places the Chanaanites on the banks of the Jordan, from the lake of Sodom as far as the sea of Tiberias. But they dwelt also near the Mediterranean; and the Phœnicians maintained themselves at Tyre and Sidon, against the most powerful kings of the Jews, and extended their commerce over the old world, to many parts of which they sent out colonies. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. Caleb, to whom Josue alone joined himself, to bear witness of the truth against the other ten; whom the people were, however, more inclined to believe, (chap. xiv. 6., and Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 9,) paying more attention to numbers than to authority, when it suited their humour. (Haydock)
Ver. 33. Spoke ill, &c. These men, who, by their misrepresentations of the land of promise, discouraged the Israelites from attempting the conquest of it, were a figure of worldlings, who, by decrying or misrepresenting true devotion, discourage Christians from seeking in earnest and acquiring so great a good, and thereby securing to themselves a happy eternity. (Challoner) — Devoureth, by being exposed to continual wars from the Arabs, Idumeans, and from its own inhabitants, the monsters of the race of Enac. With this God had threatened the Hebrews, if they proved rebellious, Leviticus xxvi. 38. See Ezechiel xxxvi. 13. (Calmet)
Ver. 34. Monsters. Hebrew, “giants.” — Locusts, or grasshoppers. So much inferior in size were we to them. Hebrew insinuates that the spies entertained these sentiments when they beheld the giants, and the latter seemed to look down upon them with contempt; “and so we were in their sight.” These wicked men scrupled not to exaggerate in order to fill the people with dismay. (Haydock) — Their suggestions tended to make them distrust the goodness or the power of God; and therefore he would not suffer them to enjoy the sweets of the land, chap. xiv. 23, 29. (Worthington) See Deuteronomy i. 28., and Isaias xl. 21.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The twelve spies are sent to view the land: The relation they make of it.
1 And the people marched from Haseroth, *and pitched their tents in the desert of Pharan.
2 And there the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
3 Send men to view the land of Chanaan: which I will give to the children of Israel, one of every tribe, of the rulers.
4 Moses did what the Lord had commanded, sending from the desert of Pharan, principal men, whose names are these:
5 Of the tribe of Ruben, Sammua, the son of Zechur.
6 Of the tribe of Simeon, Saphat, the son of Huri.
7 Of the tribe of Juda, Caleb, the son of Jephone.
8 Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal, the son of Joseph.
9 Of the tribe of Ephraim, Osee, the son of Nun.
10 Of the tribe of Benjamin, Phalti, the son of Raphu.
11 Of the tribe of Zabulon, Geddiel, the son of Sodi.
12 Of the tribe of Joseph, of the sceptre of Manasses, Gaddi, the son of Susi.
13 Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel, the son of Gemalli.
14 Of the tribe of Aser, Sthur, the son of Michael.
15 Of the tribe of Nephthali, Nahabi, the son of Vapsi.
16 Of the tribe of Gad, Guel, the son of Machi.
17 These are the names of the men, whom Moses sent to view the land: and he called Osee, the son of Nun, Josue.*
18 And Moses sent them to view the land of Chanaan, and said to them: Go you up by the south side. And when you shall come to the mountains,
19 View the land, of what sort it is: and the people that are the inhabitants thereof, whether they be strong or weak: few in number or many:
20 The land itself, whether it be good or bad: what manner of cities, walled or without walls:
21 The ground, fat or barren, woody or without trees. Be of good courage, and bring us of the fruits of the land. Now it was the time when the first ripe grapes are fit to be eaten.
22 And when they were gone up, they viewed the land from the desert of Sin, unto Rohob as you enter into Emath.
23 And they went up at the south side, and came to Hebron, where were *Achiman and Sisai, and Tholmai, the sons of Enac. For Hebron was built seven years before Tanis the city of Egypt.
24 *And going forward as far as the torrent of the cluster of grapes, they cut off a branch with its cluster of grapes, which two men carried upon a lever. They took also of the pomegranates and of the figs of that place:
25 Which was called Nehelescol, that is to say, the torrent of the cluster of grapes, because from thence the children of Israel had carried a cluster of grapes.
26 And they that went to spy out the land returned after forty days, having gone round all the country,
27 And came to Moses and Aaron, and to all the assembly of the children of Israel, to the desert of Pharan, which is in Cades. And speaking to them and to all the multitude, they shewed them the fruits of the land:
28 And they related and said: We came into the land to which thou sentest us, which in very deed floweth with milk and honey, as may be known by these fruits:
29 But it hath very strong inhabitants, and the cities are great and walled. We saw there the race of Enac.
30 Amalec dwelleth in the south; the Hethite, and the Jebusite, and the Amorrhite in the mountains: but the Chanaanite abideth by the sea and near the streams of the Jordan.
31 In the mean time Caleb, to still the murmuring of the people that rose against Moses, said: Let us go up and possess the land, for we shall be able to conquer it.
32 But the others, that had been with him, said: No, we are not able to go up to this people, because they are stronger than we.
33 And they spoke ill of the land, which they had viewed, before the children of Israel, saying: The land, which we have viewed, devoureth its inhabitants: the people, that we beheld, are of a tall stature.
34 There we saw certain monsters of the sons of Enac, of the giant-kind: in comparison of whom, we seemed like locusts.
1: Year of the World 2514.
17: Acts vii. 45.; Hebrews iv. 8.
23: Josue xv. 14.
24: Deuteronomy i. 24.