Why was it necessary for Israel to send out spies into Canaan?

RonJohnSilver

Well-Known Member
I'm teaching Numbers in Sunday School in December and this is one question I'll ask the group. I know what my answer is but I'd like to know what all of you think. Remember, God has already promised to give the Israel the land, so again, why then, did they need to send out spies?
 

Kaatje

Well-Known Member
Before the Israelites entered Canaan, the Promised Land, God commanded Moses, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them” (Numbers 13:2, ESV). By sending these twelve men into Canaan on a reconnaissance mission, Moses was obeying the Lord.

Moses, in his capacity as a military leader, sought to accomplish several goals in sending the twelve spies into Canaan. He asked the spies to gather intel about the following:
⁃ whether the people who lived there were strong or weak, few or many (Numbers 13:18)
⁃ whether the land was good or bad (Numbers 13:19)
⁃ whether the cities were like camps or strongholds
⁃ whether the land was rich or poor (Numbers 13:20)
⁃ whether or not there were forests there

Finally, Moses wanted some of the fruit of the land brought back to display (Numbers 13:20).

The spies did as Moses asked and came back with a report: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit” (Numbers 13:27). Moses probably smiled when he saw the fruit and heard this good news, knowing that it would encourage the Israelites as they prepared for battle. Unfortunately, the spies weren’t done. They also gave a discouraging report about the people of Canaan being huge and the cities being fortified, making it sound like the Israelites had no chance against them. Only two spies, Caleb and Joshua, trusted that God would enable Israel to take the land (Numbers 14:6–9).

God had commanded Moses to send the twelve spies so the Israelites would be equipped to do battle in the land—thus Moses’ goals of finding out about the people, the cities, and the landscape. God would ultimately fight the battles for them, but they had to do their part, which was to move forward in faith. Long before, God had promised to give the Israelites the land of Canaan as their own (Exodus 6:4, 8). He had said assured them of total victory, if they would trust Him: “My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out” (Exodus 23:23).

Even though only two spies brought back a good report about Canaan, Moses acted in obedience to God in sending the spies. Valuable information about the land was gathered, and the hearts of the people of Israel were revealed.

https://www.gotquestions.org/twelve-spies.html
 

Jonathan

Well-Known Member
It well could have been one per tribe, as so each ribe could hear from their own "man" about the land. But of course, I don't think Scripture specifies that.
Yea, I don't think it does either, but for whatever reason(s), numbers are symbolically important to The Lord in imparting his message. If that is one of those times, I really don't know it. I guess the question that begs itself is that, if, 12 spies represented the 12 tribes, and only 2 had a good report, what does that say, if anything specific to supposed tribes.

Again, just brainstorming and not intending to convey any sort of insight. Just wondering.

Thanks for the reply.
 

Jan51

Well-Known Member
I'm teaching Numbers in Sunday School in December and this is one question I'll ask the group. I know what my answer is but I'd like to know what all of you think. Remember, God has already promised to give the Israel the land, so again, why then, did they need to send out spies?
The account in Num. 13 makes more sense when compared with the version of the story that Moses tells the younger generation who are about to enter the land.

Deu 1:19 "Then we set out from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, just as the LORD our God had commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea.
Deu 1:20 "I said to you, 'You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which the LORD our God is about to give us.
Deu 1:21 'See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.'
Deu 1:22 "Then all of you approached me and said, 'Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us, and bring back to us word of the way by which we should go up and the cities which we shall enter.'
Deu 1:23 "The thing pleased me and I took twelve of your men, one man for each tribe.
Deu 1:24 "They turned and went up into the hill country, and came to the valley of Eshcol and spied it out.

So here we learn details that are not given in Num. 13. It was NOT necessary to send spies! It was not God's idea. They should have just obeyed. But they doubted, so they came up with this idea.

Moses himself thought it was a good idea. There are many instances of Moses failing to believe and obey, but compromising with the grumbling and disobedient Israelites, and this is one. Apparently he then talked to the Lord about this plan, or perhaps God just intervened at that point and told Moses how to go about implementing his plan.

As we often find in the Bible, God does not stop people from sinning or disobeying. But when they do, He mercifully continues to work with them and He tells them how to go about doing the thing they want to do. For example, He planned for marriage to be one man and one woman, yet when they wanted polygamy and divorce, He allowed it, and gave them rules to follow. They were not to have a king, but when they insisted on having one, He set up rules for kings.
 

Sojourner414

Well-Known Member
The account in Num. 13 makes more sense when compared with the version of the story that Moses tells the younger generation who are about to enter the land.

Deu 1:19 "Then we set out from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, just as the LORD our God had commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea.
Deu 1:20 "I said to you, 'You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which the LORD our God is about to give us.
Deu 1:21 'See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.'
Deu 1:22 "Then all of you approached me and said, 'Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us, and bring back to us word of the way by which we should go up and the cities which we shall enter.'
Deu 1:23 "The thing pleased me and I took twelve of your men, one man for each tribe.
Deu 1:24 "They turned and went up into the hill country, and came to the valley of Eshcol and spied it out.

So here we learn details that are not given in Num. 13. It was NOT necessary to send spies! It was not God's idea. They should have just obeyed. But they doubted, so they came up with this idea.

Moses himself thought it was a good idea. There are many instances of Moses failing to believe and obey, but compromising with the grumbling and disobedient Israelites, and this is one. Apparently he then talked to the Lord about this plan, or perhaps God just intervened at that point and told Moses how to go about implementing his plan.

As we often find in the Bible, God does not stop people from sinning or disobeying. But when they do, He mercifully continues to work with them and He tells them how to go about doing the thing they want to do. For example, He planned for marriage to be one man and one woman, yet when they wanted polygamy and divorce, He allowed it, and gave them rules to follow. They were not to have a king, but when they insisted on having one, He set up rules for kings.
Thanks for researching that! So they did represent the 12 tribes, but it wasn't the Lord's command to do so.
 

antitox

Well-Known Member
God has man walk thru the process of doing things so that he can learn. God already knows everything about the land and its inhabitants, but man must first step out and learn to weigh what he sees in its proper light. If he has any issues, then that process will bring those problems to the surface. That's why God tells us that He tests us to see what's in our heart. Not for Him to see it but so we can see what's really there. (because He already knows).
 

kathymendel

Well-Known Member
So, is that why, then, that Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land? Because he didn't believe God and just go in the first place? Instead of sending spies - which was a sign of distrust in God's plan?
It makes sense..............
 

Jan51

Well-Known Member
So, is that why, then, that Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land? Because he didn't believe God and just go in the first place? Instead of sending spies - which was a sign of distrust in God's plan?
It makes sense..............
Moses had a number of issues, but the one that kept him out of the promised land was this, in Num. 20:6-12. (The significance of this disobedience was that the rock had already been struck previously; now God said to speak to the rock. This symbolically pointed to Christ, the Rock, who was "struck" once for all, never to be "struck" again, Heb. 9:26,27,28, 10:10)

Num 20:6 Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to them;
Num 20:7 and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 20:8 "Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink."
Num 20:9 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him;
Num 20:10 and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, "Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?"
Num 20:11 Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.
Num 20:12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."
 

antitox

Well-Known Member
If you check out Psalm 106, it says that Moses's spirit was made bitter and that he spoke words that were rash. "Losing it" with the people is what displayed improper representation of the Lord. If he had not lost his temper he would have been clear headed about what God directed him to do.
 

Almost Heaven

Well-Known Member
I'm teaching Numbers in Sunday School in December and this is one question I'll ask the group. I know what my answer is but I'd like to know what all of you think. Remember, God has already promised to give the Israel the land, so again, why then, did they need to send out spies?
So what is your answer, and how did class go?
 

Jan51

Well-Known Member
If you check out Psalm 106, it says that Moses's spirit was made bitter and that he spoke words that were rash. "Losing it" with the people is what displayed improper representation of the Lord. If he had not lost his temper he would have been clear headed about what God directed him to do.
Moses definitely had a problem with his temper.
 

RonJohnSilver

Well-Known Member
So what is your answer, and how did class go?
I start Dec. 1st but my thought is that God wanted the nation to actually see what He was promising and also to actually see the obstacles and then, after that, would they still trust Him? Similar to what others have said. Would they keep their eyes on God or focus them on the giants in the land? Taking your eyes off of God never turns out well.
 

RonJohnSilver

Well-Known Member
Note also that in Deuteronomy 1:22, when Moses is reminding the nation of their history, he says that YOU (the nation) asked me to send out spies/scouts. So, did God initiate the sending or was He just allowing what the people wanted?
 
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