Numbers 13:2
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.
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(2) Every one a ruler among them.—Or, a prince among them, as in Numbers 1:16. A comparison of the names which follow with those which are given in Numbers 1:5-15 will show that the persons selected were not the tribal princes who are mentioned in connection with the census. The tribe of Levi, as in the former case, is not represented, as the Levites were to have no inheritance in the land, and the number of twelve, as in Numbers 1, is. made up by the division of the tribe of Joseph into the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

13:1-20 A memorable and melancholy history is related in this and the following chapter, of the turning back of Israel from the borders of Canaan, and the sentencing them to wander and perish in the wilderness, for their unbelief and murmuring. It appears, De 1:22, that the motion to search out the land came from the people. They had a better opinion of their own policy than of God's wisdom. Thus we ruin ourselves by believing the reports and representations of sense rather than Divine revelation. We walk by sight not by faith. Moses gave the spies this charge, Be of good courage. It was not only a great undertaking they were put upon, which required good management and resolution; but a great trust was reposed in them, which required that they should be faithful. Courage in such circumstances can only spring from strong faith, which Caleb and Joshua alone possessed.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.


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.

Do as the people press thee to do.

Of every tribe of their fathers, i.e. which comes from their several parents or patriarchs.

A ruler; a person of wisdom and authority, which might make his witness more considerable with the people.

Send thou men,.... Which is rather a permission than a command; so Jarchi interprets it,"send men according to thy mind, I do not command thee, but if thou pleasest send;''this he observed was agreeable to Moses, and to the Israelites, and therefore granted it, or allowed them to take their own way, and which issued badly, as it always does, when men are left to their own counsel:

that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; called the land of Canaan, though it consisted of seven nations, from the principal of them; this God had given in promise to the children of Israel, and had now brought them to the borders of it; nay, had given them orders to go up and possess it; but they were for searching it first, to know what sort of a land it was, and which was the best way of entering into it, which is here permitted them, see Deuteronomy 1:21,

of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man; excepting the tribe of Levi; the reason of which was because they were to have no inheritance in the land, Deuteronomy 10:9; but then, to make up the number twelve, the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, are reckoned as two tribes:

everyone a ruler among them; a prince in his tribe; so were men of honour and credit, of power and authority, of prudence and probity, and who might be trusted with such an affair, and their report believed: they were not indeed princes of the highest rank, not the same that assisted in taking the numbers of the people, who were captains over their several tribes, as in Numbers 1:4, &c. but were inferior princes and rulers, perhaps rulers of thousands.

{b} Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.

(b) After the people had required it of Moses, as it is in De 1:22 then the Lord told Moses to do it.

2. a prince] The word is very characteristic of P . The spies were not the same princes as those who represented the tribes at the census (Numbers 1:5-15). Of the following 24 names, beside Joshua, Nun, Caleb and Jephunneh, a few are found in early times, e.g. Palti (1 Samuel 25:44), Ammiel (2 Samuel 9:4), Shaphat (1 Kings 19:16), Shammua (2 Samuel 5:14), Igal (2 Samuel 23:36); in the last two cases, however, the text is uncertain. Others appear to be late. It is probable that the list is artificial, and not based on historical tradition. See on Numbers 1:5.

Verse 2. - Send thou men, that they may search the land. If this account of the mission of the spies be compared with that given in Deuteronomy 1:20-25, it may be seen in a striking instance how entirely different a colour may be put upon the same circumstances by two inspired narratives. No one indeed will affirm that the two records are contradictory, or even inconsistent, and yet they leave an entirely different impression upon the mind; and no doubt were intended to. It is important to note that the Divine inspiration did not in the least prevent two sacred authors (cf. 2 Samuel 24:1 with 1 Chronicles 21:1), or even the same author at different times, from placing on record very distinct and even strongly contrasted aspects of the same facts, according to the point of view from which he was led to regard them. In Deuteronomy 1, Moses reminds the people that on their arrival at Kadesh he had bidden them go up and take possession; that they had then proposed to send men before them to examine the land; that the proposal had pleased him so well that he had adopted it and acted upon it. It is unquestionably strange that facts so material should have been omitted in the historical Book of Numbers. It is, however, to be considered -

1. That there is no contradiction between the two accounts. We may be certain from many a recorded example that Moses would not have acted on the popular suggestion without referring the matter to the Lord, and that it would be the Divine command (when given) which would really weigh with him.

2. That the recital in Deuteronomy is distinctly ad populum, and that therefore their part in the whole transaction is as strongly emphasized as is consistent with the truth of the facts.

3. That the narrative of Numbers is fragmentary, and does not profess to give a full account of matters, especially in such particulars as do not directly concern the Divine government and guidance of Israel. It is not, therefore, a serious difficulty that the record only begins here at the point when God adopted as his own what had been the demand of the people. If we ask why he so adopted it, the probable answer is that he knew what secret disaffection prompted it, and to what open rebellion it would lead. It was better that such disaffection should be allowed to ripen into rebellion before they entered their promised land. Miserable as the desert wandering might be, it was yet a discipline which prepared the nation for better things; whereas the invasion of Canaan without strong faith, courage, and self-restraint (such as they showed under Joshua) could but have ended in national disaster and destruction. Of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man. This was not part of the original proposition (Deuteronomy 1:22), but was agreeable to the general practice in matters of national concern, and was no doubt commanded in order that the whole people might share in the interest and responsibility of this survey. Every one a ruler among them. This does not mean that they were to be the tribe princes (as the names show), for they would not be suitable in respect of age, nor could they be spared for this service. They were "heads of the children of Israel" (verse 3), i.e., men of position and repute, but also no doubt comparatively young and active, as befitted a toilsome and hazardous excursion. Numbers 13:2Despatch of the Spies of Canaan. - Numbers 13:1. The command of Jehovah, to send out men to spy out the land of Canaan, was occasioned, according to the account given by Moses in Deuteronomy 1:22., by a proposal of the congregation, which pleased Moses, so that he laid the matter before the Lord, who then commanded him to send out for this purpose, "of every tribe of their fathers a man, every one a ruler among them, i.e., none but men who were princes in their tribes, who held the prominent position of princes, i.e., distinguished persons of rank; or, as it is stated in Numbers 13:3, "heads of the children of Israel," i.e., not the tribe-princes of the twelve tribes, but those men, out of the total number of the heads of the tribes and families of Israel, who were the most suitable for such a mission, though the selection was to be made in such a manner that every tribe should be represented by one of its own chiefs. That there were none of the twelve tribe-princes among them is apparent from a comparison of their names (Numbers 13:4-15) with the (totally different) names of the tribe-princes (Numbers 1:3., Numbers 7:12.). Caleb and Joshua are the only spies that are known. The order, in which the tribes are placed in the list of the names in Numbers 13:4-15, differs from that in Numbers 1:5-15 only in the fact that in Numbers 13:10 Zebulun is separated from the other sons of Leah, and in Numbers 13:11 Manasseh is separated from Ephraim. The expression "of the tribe of Joseph," in Numbers 13:11, stands for "of the children of Joseph," in Numbers 1:10; Numbers 34:23. At the close of the list it is still further stated, that Moses called Hoshea (i.e., help), the son of Nun, Jehoshua, contracted into Joshua (i.e., Jehovah-help, equivalent to, whose help is Jehovah). This statement does not present any such discrepancy, when compared with Exodus 17:9, Exodus 17:13; Exodus 24:13; Exodus 32:17; Exodus 33:11, and Numbers 11:28, where Joshua bears this name as the servant of Moses at a still earlier period, as to point to any diversity of authorship. As there is nothing of a genealogical character in any of these passages, so as to warrant us in expecting to find the family name of Joshua in them, the name Joshua, by which Hosea had become best known in history, could be used proleptically in them all. On the other hand, however, it is not distinctly stated in the verse before us, that this was the occasion on which Moses gave Hosea the new name of Joshua. As the Vav consec. frequently points out merely the order of thought, the words may be understood without hesitation in the following sense: These are the names borne by the heads of the tribes to be sent out as spies, as they stand in the family registers according to their descent; Hosea, however, was named Joshua by Moses; which would not by any means imply that the alteration in the name had not been made till then. It is very probable that Moses may have given him the new name either before or after the defeat of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:9.), or when he took him into his service, though it has not been mentioned before; whilst here the circumstances themselves required that it should be stated that Hosea, as he was called in the list prepared and entered in the documentary record according to the genealogical tables of the tribes, had received from Moses the name of Joshua. In Numbers 13:17-20 Moses gives them the necessary instructions, defining more clearly the motive which the congregation had assigned for sending them out, namely, that they might search out the way into the land and to its towns (Deuteronomy 1:22). "Get you up there (זה in the south country, and go up to the mountain." Negeb, i.e., south country, lit., dryness, aridity, from נגב, to be dry or arid (in Syr., Chald, and Samar.). Hence the dry, parched land, in contrast to the well-watered country (Joshua 15:19; Judges 1:15), was the name given to the southern district of Canaan, which forms the transition from the desert to the strictly cultivated land, and bears for the most part the character of a steppe, in which tracts of sand and heath are intermixed with shrubs, grass, and vegetables, whilst here and there corn is also cultivated; a district therefore which was better fitted for grazing than for agriculture, though it contained a number of towns and villages (see at Joshua 15:21-32). "The mountain" is the mountainous part of Palestine, which was inhabited by Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites (Numbers 13:29), and was called the mountains of the Amorites, on account of their being the strongest of the Canaanitish tribes (Deuteronomy 1:7, Deuteronomy 1:19.). It is not to be restricted, as Knobel supposes, to the limits of the so-called mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:48-62), but included the mountains of Israel or Ephraim also (Joshua 11:21; Joshua 20:7), and formed, according to Deuteronomy 1:7, the backbone of the whole land of Canaan up to Lebanon.
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