Numbers 13:20
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Now the time . . . —The first grapes ripen in Palestine as early as August, or even July, although the vintage does not take place until September or October.

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.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. 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. Fat; rich and fertile.

Be ye of good courage; doubt not but God will preserve you in this dangerous journey, and be not dismayed nor discouraged if you find the people numerous, potent, and well fortified.

And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean,.... That is, what the soil of it is, whether it be rich and fertile, or whether it be poor and barren, which would be seen by the fruits it produced, this being now the fruitful season of the year; and so the Targum of Jonathan,"and what is the praise of the land, whether its fruits are fat or lean;''plump and full, rich and juicy, or otherwise, as their grapes, olives, &c. whether it was a land flowing with milk and honey, Exodus 33:3, abounding with all good things, and those of the best sort, or not:

whether there be wood thereon or not; timber for building, and other manual operations, or wood for fuel, which are great conveniences in a country; though the Targum of Jonathan interprets it of fruit-bearing trees, which bear fruits fit for eating, or not, as apples, pears, figs, pomegranates, &c.

and be ye of good courage; and not be afraid of being taken up for spies, suggesting, that the power and providence of God would protect and preserve them, in which they should put their trust, and be of good heart:

and bring of the fruit of the land; as a sample and specimen of what it brought forth, which would serve to encourage and animate the people in general, to go up and possess it:

now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes; when they and the other summer fruits were coming to their perfection; and which was a proper season to see them in, and bring a sample of them; though Chaskuni suggests, that it was a more dangerous time to bring off fruit, because the keepers of the vineyards were then there; and hence they needed strengthening, and are bid to be of good courage; the Targum of Jonathan is,"the day on which they went was the twenty ninth of the month Sivan, the time of the first ripe grapes;''and as this month answers to part of our May and part of June, and it being at the latter end of that month, it must be about the middle of June; by which we may observe the forwardness of grapes in the land of Canaan, the time of vintage now drawing nigh.

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 first ripe grapes.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 20. - And what the land is. It is impossible to suppose that Moses needed himself to be informed on such particulars as are here mentioned. The intercourse between Egypt and Palestine was comparatively easy and frequent (see on Genesis 1:7), and no educated Hebrew could have failed to make himself acquainted with the main features of his fathers' home. We may see in these instructions a confirmation of the statement in Deuteronomy 1, that it was at the desire of the people, and for their satisfaction, that the spies were sent. The time of the first-ripe grapes. The end of July: the regular vintage is a month or more later. Numbers 13:20They were to see the land, "what it was," i.e., what was its character, and the people that dwelt in it, whether they were strong, i.e., courageous and brave, or weak, i.e., spiritless and timid, and whether they were little or great, i.e., numerically; (Numbers 13:19) what the land was, whether good or bad, sc., with regard to climate and cultivation, and whether the towns were camps, i.e., open villages and hamlets, or fortified places; also (Numbers 13:20) whether the land was fat or lean, i.e., whether it had a fertile soil or not, and whether there were trees in it or not. All this they were to search out courageously (התחזק, to show one's self courageous in any occupation), and to fetch (some) of the fruits of the land, as it was the time of the first-ripe grapes. In Palestine the first grapes ripen as early as August, and sometimes even in July (vid., Robinson, ii. 100, ii. 611), whilst the vintage takes place in September and October.
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