And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
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.
A ruler - A comparison of the list with that of Numbers 13:1 :5 following shows that they were not the princes of the tribes, but heads of houses or families Numbers 12:4.
Of the names here given those of Joshua and Caleb alone are otherwise known to us.
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.
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.
Oshea, Hoshea, or Hosea, the name also of the last king of Israel and the first minor prophet, means "deliverance" or and by the hand of him who bore the title of "God's salvation." Jehoshua was contracted (compare Nehemiah 8:17) into Jeshua.
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:
Southward - Rather, "by the Negeb," or south-country; a well-defined tract of territory forming the southernmost and least fertile portion of the land of Canaan and of the subsequent inheritance of Judah. It extended northward from Kadesh to within a few miles of Hebron, and from the Dead Sea westward to the Mediterranean (see especially Joshua 15:21-32).
Into the mountain - The hill-country of southern and central Canaan, mostly within the borders of Judah and Ephraim. It commences a few miles south of Hebron, and extending northward to the plain of Jezreel, runs out eventually northwest-ward into the sea in the headland of Carmel.
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;
In tents - i. e. in open unwalled villages.
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.
The time ... of the firstripe grapes - The first grapes ripen in Palestine in July and August: the vintage is gathered in September and October. This indication of date tallies with what we should have inferred from the previous narrative. For the Israelite host had quitted Sinai on the 20th day of the second month Numbers 13:10, Numbers 13:11, or about the middle of May: since then they had spent a month at Kibroth-hattaavah and a week at Hazeroth, and had accomplished, in all, from 150 to 200 miles of march: it therefore must have been at least the beginning of July, and may have been a month later, when the spies were despatched into the land of promise.
So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath.
The wilderness of Zin was the northeastern portion of the wilderness of Paran.
Rehob ("mod." Khurbeh) was probably the Beth-rehob of Judges 18:28, near Dan-Laish; and apparently to the north of it, since it gave its name to a Syrian kingdom 2 Samuel 8:3. The southern approach to Hamath from the plain of Coele-Syria, lay between those two ranges of Lebanon called Libanus and Antilibanus. A low screen of hills connects the northernmost points of these two ranges; and through this screen the Orontes bursts from the upper Coele-Syrian hollow into the open plain of Hamath.
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.)
The progenitor of the Anakim was Arba "the father of Anak" Joshua 15:13, from whom the city of Hebron took its name of Kirjath-Arba. Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai were probably not individual warriors, but names of three tribes of the Anakim. Hence, we find them still in existence half a century later, when Caleb, who now brought tidings of them, became their eventual destroyer Joshua 15:14.
Now Hebron ... - This parenthesis explains that these two cities had a common founder, and were built, or perhaps, at least in the case of Zoan (Tanis, see Exodus 1:8, note; Exodus 2:5, note) rebuilt, by the Hyksos, to which nations, once the conquerors of Egypt, the Anakim perhaps belonged. The Hyksos fortified and garrisoned Zoan as a defense of their Eastern frontier.
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.
The brook of Eshcol is by some identified with the rich valley immediately to the north of Hebron; (but by others with Wady Hanein to the south of Hebron). The valley was, in all likelihood, originally named after one of the three chiefs who were confederate with Abraham Genesis 14:24; but, as often came to pass, the Israelites, wittingly or unwittingly, took up in a new and significant sense the name which they found; and to them the valley thus became the Valley of the Cluster. Bunches of grapes are found in Palestine of many pounds weight.
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.
After forty days - They had no doubt in this time explored the whole land. However, it was with the southern part that the Israelites expected to have to deal immediately: and accordingly it is that which is particularly referred to in the following verses, Hebron and its vicinity above all.
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.
Kadesh is usually identified with Ain-el-Weibeh, which lies in the Arabah, about 10 miles north of the place in which Mount Hor abuts on that valley, (or with Ain-Gadis in Jebel Magrah).
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.
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.
The Amalekites - See Numbers 14:25 note.
The Canaanites - i. e. those of the Phoenician race: the word is here used in its narrow sense: compare Genesis 10:15-18 note.
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.
A land that eateth up ... - i. e. it is a land which from its position is exposed to incessant attacks from one quarter and another, and so its occupants must be always armed and watchful.
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.