וַתִּשָּׂא כָּל־הָעֵדָה וַיִּתְּנוּ אֶת־קֹולָם וַיִּבְכּוּ הָעָם בַּלַּיְלָה הַהוּא   14:1

Numb. 14:1  And the whole congregation rose up and put forth their voice, and the people wept on that night.

וַיִּלֹּנוּ עַל־מֹשֶׁה וְעַל־אַהֲרֹן כֹּל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם כָּל־הָעֵדָה לוּ־מַתְנוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם אֹו   14:2

בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה לוּ־מָתְנוּ

Numb. 14:2  And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt, or would that we had died in this wilderness!”

וְלָמָה יְהוָה מֵבִיא אֹתָנוּ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת לִנְפֹּל בַּחֶרֶב נָשֵׁינוּ וְטַפֵּנוּ יִהְיוּ לָבַז הֲלֹוא טֹוב לָנוּ שׁוּב    14:3


Numb. 14:3  “And why is the Lord bringing us to this land?  To fall by the sword!  Our wives and our little ones will be for prey.  Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?”

וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל־אָחִיו נִתְּנָה רֹאשׁ וְנָשׁוּבָה מִצְרָיְמָה   14:4

Numb. 14:4  And they said one to another, “Let us appoint a chief and return to Egypt.”

וַיִּפֹּל מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן עַל־פְּנֵיהֶם לִפְנֵי כָּל־קְהַל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל   14:5

Numb. 14:5  And Moses fell, and Aaron, on their faces before the entire assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel,

וִיהֹושֻׁעַ בִּן־נוּן וְכָלֵב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּה מִן־הַתָּרִים אֶת־הָאָרֶץ קָרְעוּ בִּגְדֵיהֶם   14:6

Numb. 14:6  and Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, from those spying out the land, rent their garments.

וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל־כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר עָבַרְנוּ בָהּ לָתוּר אֹתָהּ טֹובָה הָאָרֶץ מְאֹד   14:7


Numb. 14:7  And they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel saying, “The land that we passed through to spy it out is the very, very best of land.”

אִם־חָפֵץ בָּנוּ יְהוָה וְהֵבִיא אֹתָנוּ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וּנְתָנָהּ לָנוּ אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־הִוא זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ   14:8

Numb. 14:8  “If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us to this land and give it to us; it is a land gushing milk and honey.”

אַךְ בַּיהוָה אַל־תִּמְרֹדוּ וְאַתֶּם אַל־תִּירְאוּ אֶת־עַם הָאָרֶץ כִּי לַחְמֵנוּ הֵם סָר צִלָּם מֵעֲלֵיהֶם וַיהוָה   14:9

אִתָּנוּ אַל־תִּירָאֻם

Numb. 14:9  “Only you must not be rebellious toward the Lord, and you need not fear the people of the land, for they will be our bread.  Their defense is removed from them, as the Lord is with us; you should not fear them.”

וַיֹּאמְרוּ כָּל־הָעֵדָה לִרְגֹּום אֹתָם בָּאֲבָנִים וּכְבֹוד יְהוָה נִרְאָה בְּאֹהֶל מֹועֵד אֶל־כָּל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל   14:10

Numb. 14:10   Then the whole congregation demanded to kill them by stoning, but the glory of the Lord became visible in the tent of meeting to all the children of Israel.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה עַד־אָנָה יְנַאֲצֻנִי הָעָם הַזֶּה וְעַד־אָנָה לֹא־יַאֲמִינוּ בִי בְּכֹל הָאֹתֹות אֲשֶׁר    14:11

עָשִׂיתִי בְּקִרְבֹּו

14:11   And the Lord said to Moses, “How much longer will this people despise Me!  And how much longer will they not believe in Me with all the signs that I have wrought in its midst!”

Is the Lord losing His “temper” or becoming impatient?  The Lord knows the answers to His questions?  Is He just venting like His servants?  I see this as the scribe’s way of illustrating the frustrating nature of the situation.

אַכֶּנּוּ בַדֶּבֶר וְאֹורִשֶׁנּוּ וְאֶעֱשֶׂה אֹתְךָ לְגֹוי־גָּדֹול וְעָצוּם מִמֶּנּוּ   14:12

Numb. 14:12   “I will smite it with pestilence and destroy it, and I will fashion you into a nation greater and mightier than it.”

The word for destroy in this verse implies disinheriting, a bringing to poverty.  So the people’s destruction would be dire indeed.

There are also two imperfect first-person verbs with non-inverting vavs in this verse.  They are the third and fourth words, translated as and destroy it, and I will fashion.

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־יְהוָה וְשָׁמְעוּ מִצְרַיִם כִּי־הֶעֱלִיתָ בְכֹחֲךָ אֶת־הָעָם הַזֶּה מִקִּרְבֹּו   14:13

Numb. 14:13   But Moses said to the Lord, “But the Egyptians would hear – for You have brought out this people from its midst by Your might,

וְאָמְרוּ אֶל־יֹושֵׁב הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת שָׁמְעוּ כִּי־אַתָּה יְהוָה בְּקֶרֶב הָעָם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר־עַיִן בְּעַיִן נִרְאָה    14:14

אַתָּה יְהוָה וַעֲנָנְךָ עֹמֵד עֲלֵהֶם וּבְעַמֻּד עָנָן אַתָּה הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם יוֹמָם וּבְעַמּוּד אֵשׁ לָיְלָה

Numb. 14:14   and they would have said to the inhabitant of this land they hear that You are the Lord in the midst of this people, Who appears eye to eye.  You are the Lord, and Your cloud stands over them, and You go before them in a column of cloud by day and in a column of fire by night.”

וְהֵמַתָּה אֶת־הָעָם הַזֶּה כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד וְאָמְרוּ הַגֹּויִם אֲשֶׁר־שָׁמְעוּ אֶת־שִׁמְעֲךָ לֵאמֹר   14:15

Numb. 14:15   “So should You kill this people but one man, then the nations that have heard Your fame will speak saying,

מִבִּלְתִּי יְכֹלֶת יְהוָה לְהָבִיא אֶת־הָעָם הַזֶּה אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּע לָהֶם וַיִּשְׁחָטֵם בַּמִּדְבָּר   14:16

Numb. 14:16   ‘Because the Lord was unable to bring this people to the land that He swore to them, so He slew them in the wilderness.’”

וְעַתָּה יִגְדַּל־נָא כֹּחַ אֲדֹנָי כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ לֵאמֹר   14:17

Numb. 14:17   “So now, please, let the might of the Lord be great as You have spoken saying,

יְהוָה אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב־חֶסֶד נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וָפָשַׁע וְנַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבֹות עַל־בָּנִים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁים    14:18


Numb. 14:18   ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression, yet will not acquit innocence, visiting the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and to the fourth generations.’”

See the discussion relating to Exod. 34:5 to 34:7 for my thoughts that bear on this verse.  In v. 14:17 above Moses says, addressing the Lord, “... as You have spoken saying,”  The fact that I attributed words similar to these in this verse in Exod. 34:7 to Moses does not diminish my argument that Moses spoke them there.  He could very easily have been speaking words that the Lord had previously spoken to him at an earlier time, and the event was not recorded by the scribe.  I recognize that this is weak logic and I am manipulating my argument to fit my inclination.  Nevertheless, I stand by my contention that the Lord was not speaking in Exod. 34:5 to 34:7; it was Moses who was, just as he certainly is here.

סְלַח־נָא לַעֲוֹן הָעָם הַזֶּה כְּגֹדֶל חַסְדֶּךָ וְכַאֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתָה לָעָם הַזֶּה מִמִּצְרַיִם וְעַד־הֵנָּה   14:19

Numb. 14:19   “Be forgiving, I pray You, regarding the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of Your loving kindness, and as You have shown forgiveness to this people from Egypt and until now.”

The verses from 14:12 to this one are reminiscent of Exod. 32:10 to 32:13.  There Moses pleads for the life of the people as he does here and appeases the Lord’s anger.  See the discussion following Exod. 32:14.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה סָלַחְתִּי כִּדְבָרֶךָ   14:20

Numb. 14:20   And the Lord said, “I have forgiven according to your speaking.”

וְאוּלָם חַי־אָנִי וְיִמָּלֵא כְבֹוד־יְהוָה אֶת־כָּל־הָאָרֶץ   14:21

Numb. 14:21   “But truly as I live and the glory of the Lord has filled all the earth –

כִּי כָל־הָאֲנָשִׁים הָרֹאִים אֶת־כְּבֹדִי וְאֶת־אֹתֹתַי אֲשֶׁר־עָשִׂיתִי בְמִצְרַיִם וּבַמִּדְבָּר וַיְנַסּוּ אֹתִי זֶה עֶשֶׂר   14:22

פְּעָמִים וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ בְּקֹולִי

Numb. 14:22   for all of the men have seen My glory and My signs that I wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet they have tested Me this tenth time and have heard nothing in My voice --

אִם־יִרְאוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לַאֲבֹתָם וְכָל־מְנַאֲצַי לֹא יִרְאוּהָ   14:23

Numb. 14:23   none shall see the land that I swore to their fathers, and all despising Me shall not see it.”

There’s some interesting commentary regarding this verse.  It is believed that the second part of the verse refers to those under twenty who also despise the Lord.  In fact, in some translations, the second part reads something like “... neither shall any of them that despised Me see it.”  However, that translation takes significant liberties with the Hebrew.  The word translated as despised is not a verb, it is a participle, and the pronoun them is not found in the Hebrew.  Moreover, this belief appears to be contradicted by v. 14:31, where the Lord says that the children will enter the land.  With my translation, the second part of this verse, unlike the first, can be interpreted as an additional and perpetual prophecy.  Anyone who ever despises the Lord will not be able to dwell in Israel, at least for long.

וְעַבְדִּי כָלֵב עֵקֶב הָיְתָה רוּחַ אַחֶרֶת עִמֹּו וַיְמַלֵּא אַחֲרָי וַהֲבִיאֹתִיו אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־בָּא שָׁמָּה   14:24

וְזַרְעֹו יֹורִשֶׁנָּה

Numb. 14:24   “But my servant, Caleb, because he has a different spirit with him and has been filled after Me, so I will bring him to the land where he went, and his seed shall possess it.”

The words “... filled after Me, ...” must mean something like having faith in the Lord, and wholly desiring to follow Him.  That’s what the Lord “wants” from all of us, I’m fairly certain.

וְהָעֲמָלֵקִי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי יֹושֵׁב בָּעֵמֶק מָחָר פְּנוּ וּסְעוּ לָכֶם הַמִּדְבָּר דֶּרֶךְ יַם־סוּף   14:25

Numb. 14:25   “Now the Amalekite dwells, with the Canaanite, in the valley.  Tomorrow turn yourselves and go out of the wilderness toward the Reed Sea.”

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר   14:26

Numb. 14:26   Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron saying,

עַד־מָתַי לָעֵדָה הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר הֵמָּה מַלִּינִים עָלָי אֶת־תְּלֻנֹּות בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר הֵמָּה מַלִּינִים   14:27

עָלַי שָׁמָעְתִּי

Numb. 14:27   “How long for this evil congregation, that they would keep murmuring against Me!  I hear the complaints of the children of Israel that they keep murmuring against Me.”

אֱמֹר אֲלֵהֶם חַי־אָנִי נְאֻם־יְהוָה אִם־לֹא כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתֶּם בְּאָזְנָי כֵּן אֶעֱשֶׂה לָכֶם   14:28

Numb. 14:28   “Say to them, ‘I exist, declares the Lord.  Although not as you have declared in My ear, this I will do to you.’”

This verse, along with the next one, lend strong support for my supposition that when a group of people is being addressed, the second-person plural pronoun refers to the individuals of the group, while the singular form of the pronoun refers to the group.  The second-person pronouns in this verse are plural, as are those in the next few verses.  It is rather obvious to me that the Lord is speaking to individuals there and here when He says “Your corpses ....”

בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה יִפְּלוּ פִגְרֵיכֶם וְכָל־פְּקֻדֵיכֶם לְכָל־מִסְפַּרְכֶם מִבֶּן עֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וָמָעְלָה אֲשֶׁר הֲלִינֹתֶם   14:29


Numb. 14:29   “Your corpses and all of your numbered shall fall in this wilderness, for all your counted from age twenty years and up who have murmured against Me.”

אִם־אַתֶּם תָּבֹאוּ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתִי אֶת־יָדִי לְשַׁכֵּן אֶתְכֶם בָּהּ כִּי אִם־כָּלֵב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּה וִיהֹושֻׁעַ   14:30


Numb. 14:30   “You shall not enter in to the Land in which I raised My hand to establish you, except for Caleb son of Jephunneh, and Joshua son of Nun,

וְטַפְּכֶם אֲשֶׁר אֲמַרְתֶּם לָבַז יִהְיֶה וְהֵבֵיאתִי אֹתָם וְיָדְעוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר מְאַסְתֶּם בָּה   14:31

Numb. 14:31   and your children, whom you said would be for a prey.  And I shall bring them in, and they shall know the land which you refused.”

וּפִגְרֵיכֶם אַתֶּם יִפְּלוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה   14:32

Numb. 14:32   “But you, your corpses, will fall in this wilderness,

וּבְנֵיכֶם יִהְיוּ רֹעִים בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה וְנָשְׂאוּ אֶת־זְנוּתֵיכֶם עַד־תֹּם פִּגְרֵיכֶם בַּמִּדְבָּר   14:33

Numb. 14:33   as your children shall have been grazers in the wilderness forty years while they bear your infidelities until the consumption of your corpses in the wilderness.”

The third Hebrew word, רֹעִים, translated above as grazers, carries a connotation of sheep.  That is, the Lord is prophesying here that they will have wandered aimlessly for forty years.  If the narrative of this book (and of Exodus and Leviticus) has been more or less chronological thus far (although it has not always been), we may presume that this situation occurred at least two years after the Exodus from Egypt.  Therefore, if the Israelites had wandered a total of forty years, as we are repeatedly told in Deuteronomy (Deut. 2:7, 8:2, 8:4, and 29:4), then my translation is more accurate than many of the others, which make it appear that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for more than forty years.  The above translation differs from most with the words shall have been.  Other translations have will be or something similar.  The latter translation implies that the Israelites will wander in the wilderness for yet another forty years.  But we know from Deuteronomy that they wander a total of forty years, not forty-two.  The translation given here assures that a total of forty years will be accurate.

Another comment:  The ninth Hebrew word, זְנוּתֵיכֶם, translated as your infidelities, implies more than that – fornications or harlotries, behaviors the Lord calls abominations elsewhere.

 בְּמִסְפַּר הַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר־תַּרְתֶּם אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אַרְבָּעִים יֹום יֹום לַשָּׁנָה יֹום לַשָּׁנָה תִּשְׂאוּ אֶת־עֲוֹנֹתֵיכֶם  14:34

אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה וִידַעְתֶּם אֶת־תְּנוּאָתִי

Numb. 14:34   “By the number of days that you spied out the land, forty days, a day for a year, a day for a year, shall you have borne your iniquities, forty years; then you shall know My alienation.”

אֲנִי יְהוָה דִּבַּרְתִּי אִם־לֹא זֹאת אֶעֱשֶׂה לְכָל־הָעֵדָה הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת הַנֹּועָדִים עָלָי בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה יִתַּמּוּ   14:35

וְשָׁם יָמֻתוּ

Numb. 14:35   “I, the Lord, have spoken.  Surely this I will do to all this evil congregation of the assembled against Me; in this wilderness shall they be consumed and there they shall die,

וְהָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר־שָׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לָתוּר אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וַיָּשֻׁבוּ (וַיִּלּונוּ) [וַיַּלִּינוּ] עָלָיו אֶת־כָּל־הָעֵדָה לְהֹוצִיא  14:36

דִבָּה עַל־הָאָרֶץ

Numb. 14:36   with the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and they returned and caused the whole congregation to murmur against him in spreading a slanderous report about the land.”

The allegedly misspelled Hebrew word in parentheses contains a vav when it appears it would be more suitable to be spelled with a yad.  The presumed correctly spelled word is in the brackets.

וַיָּמֻתוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים מֹוצִאֵי דִבַּת־הָאָרֶץ רָעָה בַּמַּגֵּפָה לִפְנֵי יְהוָה   14:37

Numb. 14:37   And the men spreading the slanderous report of the land died by the plague before the Lord.

וִיהֹושֻׁעַ בִּן־נוּן וְכָלֵב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּה חָיוּ מִן־הָאֲנָשִׁים הָהֵם הַהֹלְכִים לָתוּר אֶת־הָאָרֶץ   14:38

Numb. 14:38   But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh remained alive from those men who went to spy out the land.

וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֶל־כָּל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּתְאַבְּלוּ הָעָם מְאֹד   14:39

Numb. 14:39   And Moses spoke these words to all the children of Israel, and the people mourned deeply.

וַיַּשְׁכִּמוּ בַבֹּקֶר וַיַּעֲלוּ אֶל־רֹאשׁ־הָהָר לֵאמֹר הִנֶּנּוּ וְעָלִינוּ אֶל־הַמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר־אָמַר יְהוָה כִּי חָטָאנוּ   14:40

Numb. 14:40   And they rose early in the morning and they ascended to the top of the mountain saying, “We are here, and we will go up to the place that the Lord had promised, for we have sinned.”

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה לָמָּה זֶּה אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת־פִּי יְהוָה וְהִוא לֹא תִצְלָח   14:41

Numb. 14:41   But Moses said, “Why are you now carrying out the wish of the Lord when it will not succeed?”

אַל־תַּעֲלוּ כִּי אֵין יְהוָה בְּקִרְבְּכֶם וְלֹא תִּנָּגְפוּ לִפְנֵי אֹיְבֵיכֶם   14:42

Numb. 14:42   “You should not go up, for the Lord will not be in your midst that you would not be smitten before your enemies.”

כִּי הָעֲמָלֵקִי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי שָׁם לִפְנֵיכֶם וּנְפַלְתֶּם בֶּחָרֶב כִּי־עַל־כֵּן שַׁבְתֶּם מֵאַחֲרֵי יְהוָה וְלֹא־יִהְיֶה יְהוָה   14:43


Numb. 14:43   “For the Amalekite and the Canaanite are there before you, and you shall fall by the sword, for the reason that you turned away from following the Lord, and the Lord will not be with you.”

וַיַּעְפִּלוּ לַעֲלֹות אֶל־רֹאשׁ הָהָר וַאֲרֹון בְּרִית־יְהוָה וּמֹשֶׁה לֹא־מָשׁוּ מִקֶּרֶב הַמַּחֲנֶה   14:44

Numb. 14:44   Still they presumed to ascend to the top of the mountain, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord and Moses did not withdraw from the midst of the camp.

וַיֵּרֶד הָעֲמָלֵקִי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּהָר הַהוּא וַיַּכּוּם וַיַּכְּתוּם עַד־הַחָרְמָה   14:45

Numb. 14:45   Then the Amalekite came down, and the Canaanite who lived in that hill country, and smote them and hammered them as far as Hormah.


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Numbers 14