Numbers 13:28
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.
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(28) Nevertheless the people be strong . . . —The spies adopted the words of Exodus 3:8, “flowing with milk and honey,” as descriptive of the fertility of the land of Canaan, but at the same time they discouraged the hearts of their brethren by their description of the strength of the fortified cities and the gigantic stature of the inhabitants.

The children of Anak.—Better, of the Anakim. (See Numbers 13:22, and Note.)

13:26-33 We may wonder that the people of Israel staid forty days for the return of their spies, when they were ready to enter Canaan, under all the assurances of success they could have from the Divine power, and the miracles that had hitherto attended them. But they distrusted God's power and promise. How much we stand in our own light by our unbelief! At length the messengers returned; but the greater part discouraged the people from going forward to Canaan. Justly are the Israelites left to this temptation, for putting confidence in the judgment of men, when they had the word of God to trust in. Though they had found the land as good as God had said, yet they would not believe it to be as sure as he had said, but despaired of having it, though Eternal Truth had engaged it to them. This was the representation of the evil spies. Caleb, however, encouraged them to go forward, though seconded by Joshua only. He does not say, Let us go up and conquer it; but, Let us go and possess it. Difficulties that are in the way of salvation, dwindle and vanish before a lively, active faith in the power and promise of God. All things are possible, if they are promised, to him that believes; but carnal sense and carnal professors are not to be trusted. Unbelief overlooks the promises and power of God, magnifies every danger and difficulty, and fills the heart with discouragement. May the Lord help us to believe! we shall then find all things possible.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). 27, 28. they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey—The report was given publicly in the audience of the people, and it was artfully arranged to begin their narrative with commendations of the natural fertility of the country in order that their subsequent slanders might the more readily receive credit. Strong; potent for the strength of their body, and the valour of their minds. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land,.... Though so plentiful and fruitful and desirable to enjoy, yet this objection lay against all hopes and even attempts to possess it, as they thought; the strength of the people, its present inhabitants, both in body and mind, being persons of a large, and some of a prodigious stature, and to all appearance men of valour and courage:

and the cities are walled and very great; and so inaccessible, and able to hold out a long siege, and repel what force may be brought against them; so that to attack them would be to little purpose:

and moreover we saw the children of Anak there: whom they had heard of before, and so had the congregation of Israel, and many terrible and frightful stories were told of them, and these they now saw with their eyes, and very formidable they appeared to them; this seems to prove that others beside Caleb and Joshua were at Hebron, where the sons of Anak lived, Numbers 13:22; and so they might, and yet not be together with them.

Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the {k} children of Anak there.

(k) Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, whom Caleb slew afterward, Jos 11:21,22.

Verse 28. - Nevertheless. אֶפֶס כִּי. "Only that." Septuagint, ἀλλ η} ὅτι. The people be strong. Moses himself had directed their attention to this point, and now they dwell on it to the exclusion of everything else. Journey of the Spies; Their Return, and Report. - Numbers 13:21. In accordance with the instructions they had received, the men who had been sent out passed through the land, from the desert of Zin to Rehob, in the neighbourhood of Hamath, i.e., in its entire extent from south to north. The "Desert of Zin" (which occurs not only here, but in Numbers 20:1; Numbers 27:14; Numbers 33:36; Numbers 34:3-4; Deuteronomy 32:51, and Joshua 15:1, Joshua 15:3) was the name given to the northern edge of the great desert of Paran, viz., the broad ravine of Wady Murreh, which separates the lofty and precipitous northern border of the table-land of the Azazimeh from the southern border of the Rakhma plateau, i.e., of the southernmost plateau of the mountains of the Amorites (or the mountains of Judah), and runs from Jebel Madarah (Moddera) on the east, to the plain of Kadesh, which forms part of the desert of Zin (cf. Numbers 27:14; Numbers 33:36; Deuteronomy 32:51), on the west. The south frontier of Canaan passed through this from the southern end of the Dead Sea, along the Wady el Murreh to the Wady el Arish (Numbers 34:3). - "Rehob, to come (coming) to Hamath," i.e., where you enter the province of Hamath, on the northern boundary of Canaan, is hardly one of the two Rehobs in the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28 and Joshua 19:30), but most likely Beth-rehob in the tribe of Naphtali, which was in the neighbourhood of Dan Lais, the modern Tell el Kadhy (Judges 18:28), and which Robinson imagined that he had identified in the ruins of the castle of Hunin or Honin, in the village of the same name, to the south-west of Tell el Kadhy, on the range of mountains which bound the plain towards the west above Lake Huleh (Bibl. Researches, p. 371). In support of this conjecture, he laid the principal stress upon the fact that the direct road to Hamath through the Wady et Teim and the Bekaa commences here. The only circumstance which it is hard to reconcile with this conjecture is, that Beth-rehob is never mentioned in the Old Testament, with the exception of Judges 18:28, either among the fortified towns of the Canaanites or in the wars of the Israelites with the Syrians and Assyrians, and therefore does not appear to have been a place of such importance as we should naturally be led to suppose from the character of this castle, the very situation of which points to a bold, commanding fortress (see Lynch's Expedition), and where there are still remains of its original foundations built of large square stones, hewn and grooved, and reminding one of the antique and ornamental edifices of Solomon's times (cf. Ritter, Erdkunde, xv. pp. 242ff.). - Hamath is Epiphania on the Orontes, now Hamah (see at Genesis 10:18).

After the general statement, that the spies went through the whole land from the southern to the northern frontier, two facts are mentioned in Numbers 13:22-24, which occurred in connection with their mission, and were of great importance to the whole congregation. These single incidents are linked on, however, in a truly Hebrew style, to what precedes, viz., by an imperfect with Vav consec., just in the same manner in which, in 1 Kings 6:9, 1 Kings 6:15, the detailed account of the building of the temple is linked on to the previous statement, that Solomon built the temple and finished it;

(Note: A comparison of 1 Kings 6, where we cannot possibly suppose that two accounts have been linked together or interwoven, is specially adapted to give us a clear view of the peculiar custom adopted by the Hebrew historians, of placing the end and ultimate result of the events they narrate as much as possible at the head of their narrative, and then proceeding with a minute account of the more important of the attendant circumstances, without paying any regard to the chronological order of the different incidents, or being at all afraid of repetitions, and so to prove how unwarrantable and false are the conclusions of those critics who press such passages into the support of their hypotheses. We have a similar passage in Joshua 4:11., where, after relating that when all the people had gone through the Jordan the priests also passed through with the ark of the covenant (Joshua 4:11), the historian proceeds in Joshua 4:12, Joshua 4:13, to describe the crossing of the two tribes and a half; and another in Judges 20, where, at the very commencement (Judges 20:35), the issue of the whole is related, viz., the defeat of the Benjamites; and then after that there is a minute description in Judges 20:36-46 of the manner in which it was effected. This style of narrative is also common in the historical works of the Arabs.)

so that the true rendering would be, "now they ascended in the south country and came to Hebron (ויּבא is apparently an error in writing for ויּבאוּ), and there were הענק ולידי, the children of Anak," three of whom are mentioned by name. These three, who were afterwards expelled by Caleb, when the land was divided and the city of Hebron was given to him for an inheritance (Joshua 15:14; Judges 1:20), were descendants of Arbah, the lord of Hebron, from whom the city received its name of Kirjath-Arbah, or city of Arbah, and who is described in Joshua 14:15 as "the great (i.e., the greatest) man among the Anakim," and in Joshua 15:13 as the "father of Anak," i.e., the founder of the Anakite family there. For it is evident enough that הענק (Anak) is not the proper name of a man in these passages, but the name of a family or tribe, from the fact that in Numbers 13:33, where Anak's sons are spoken of in a general and indefinite manner, ענק בּני has not the article; also from the fact that the three Anakites who lived in Hebron are almost always called הענק ולידי, Anak's born (Numbers 13:22, Numbers 13:28), and that הענק בּני (sons of Anak), in Joshua 15:14, is still further defined by the phrase הענק ולידי (children of Anak); and lastly, from the fact that in the place of "sons of Anak," we find "sons of the Anakim" in Deuteronomy 1:28 and Deuteronomy 9:2, and the "Anakim" in Deuteronomy 2:10; Deuteronomy 11:21; Joshua 14:12, etc. Anak is supposed to signify long-necked; but this does not preclude the possibility of the founder of the tribe having borne this name. The origin of the Anakites is involved in obscurity. In Deuteronomy 2:10-11, they are classed with the Emim and Rephaim on account of their gigantic stature, and probably reckoned as belonging to the pre-Canaanitish inhabitants of the land, of whom it is impossible to decide whether they were of Semitic origin or descendants of Ham. It is also doubtful, whether the names found here in Numbers 13:21, Numbers 13:28, and in Joshua 15:14, are the names of individuals, i.e., of chiefs of the Anakites, or the names of Anakite tribes. The latter supposition is favoured by the circumstance, that the same names occur even after the capture of Hebron by Caleb, or at least fifty years after the event referred to here. With regard to Hebron, it is still further observed in Numbers 13:22, that it was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt. Zoan - the Tanis of the Greeks and Romans, the San of the Arabs, which is called Jani, Jane in Coptic writings - was situated upon the eastern side of the Tanitic arm of the Nile, not far from its mouth (see Ges. Thes. p. 1177), and was the residence of Pharaoh in the time of Moses. The date of its erection is unknown; but Hebron was in existence as early as Abraham's time (Genesis 13:18; Genesis 23:2.).

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