BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 20, Day 2: Numbers 12:16-13:25

Summary of passage:  The people are camped in the Desert of Paran.  The Lord told Moses to send out leaders from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan.  Moses obeyed and sent out 12 men, including Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim.  Moses sent them up through the Negev to explore the land and see if it was fertile, who lived there, what were the towns like, etc.  After 40 days of traveling throughout the land, they returned.


3a)  The Lord told Moses to sent out leaders from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan (the land He is giving them–that’s the promise).

b)  To see what they were up against.  Every good leader does reconnaissance.  Like Moses says in verses 17-20, he lists some reasons:  to see what the land is like, if the people are few and if they are strong, what the towns are like, the soil, the fruit, etc.

c)  (Same answer I just gave in b):  To see what they were up against. Every good leader does reconnaissance. Like Moses says in verses 17-20, he lists some reasons: to see what the land is like, if the people are few and if they are strong, what the towns are like, the soil, the fruit, etc.  He tells them to explore Canaan.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Don’t compare this question to Moses’ directive. Moses was ordered by God to explore the land first.  Note the word “consider”.  My answer:  If it is on God’s order, you go without consideration.  If you are unsure, you pray first.  You then need to be prepared either way:  know what you are getting into so you can better serve God in your circumstances.  Research the area, etc.

4a)  Some of the land is a desert but it is fruitful as exhibited by the cluster of grapes, pomegranates, and figs.

b)  40 days

c)  Deuteronomy tells us they are strong and tall.  Joshua tells us that he gave Caleb, a descendant of Anak, land in Judah called Hebron.  Numbers tells us the descendants of Anak are stronger than the Israelites (or so they believe–this is Numbers 13:31) and are of great size.  They say the Nephilim live there and the Israelites are afraid to go.

Conclusions:  I liked the idea of 3d.  We should know what we are getting into when the Lord calls us to  something new.  However, that doesn’t mean we should not do it if if is not to our liking (like we’ll see in the rest of Numbers 13 and 14 where the Israelites rebels and through a huge fit out of their fears).  There is a fine line between obedience and dissent and turning away from God when we don’t like something He presents to us.

Map of Negev and Hebron:

Map showing route of 12 explorers (really small though):

Map of the 12 scouts with explanation:[pageGallery]/3/

End Notes:  Deuteronomy contradicts Numbers.  Deuteronomy 1:22 makes it seem like the idea to send out spies was the people’s idea and not directly from God.  Moses just tells them to go and take the land the people want to check it out first.  This leads scholars to speculate that maybe Moses asked God how to send out the spies and not whether or not he should send them out or not.  Either way:  the people’s faith is tested and that is God’s plan.

Joshua’s first name of Hoshea means “salvation”.  Moses changes it to Joshua, meaning “Yahweh is salvation.”

Scholars believe Moses doubted God’s word of what the land was like (flowing of milk and honey–Exodus 3:8 and good–Exodus 13:5) and wanted to find out for sure.  Here, Moses exhibits unbelief.  So we are left wondering:  would they have turned around if the land had been a barren wasteland?

Note the 40 days–a favorite testing period of God’s from the ark to wandering the desert for 40 years.

More on the Nephilim and the Anak tomorrow when we are assigned to study them.


5 thoughts on “BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 20, Day 2: Numbers 12:16-13:25

  1. Moses was chosen by God himself and not human beings,through him God made a covenant to the people of numbers 12;3, he is termed the most humble man on earth.

    They set off the journey in Numbers 12:16 to Paran, and it was after Miriam had been released by Numbers 13, Moses selects leaders from every tribe of the Israelite,there after he sent them to spy the land in which they were to settle in,I think here Moses`s faith was down, why sent spies yet God never fail his word? was he fearful when God struck her sister? was it because the Israelite had complained through out their journey?

    Through their complaining God took care of them,God keeps his command and covenant that he puts in the life of every person, may it be through his chosen servants i.e prophets and servants of God, for he uses them to convey his massage as vessels of honour


  2. I think Question #3 is interesting, and is one reason why commentaries may be useful in studying God’s Word and specifically the situation of sending out the 12 spies. First, one might ask: Whose idea was it initially to send out the spies? Was it God’s idea to check out the land? AtoZ and other commentaries can help us fill in details that could give us better insights. For example, Atoz tells us that in Deut 1:22-3, we find out that it was the people who went to Moses initially with the idea of spying out the land. Moses in his frail humanity, like us, felt that a reconnaissance mission would be helpful. HOWEVER, the main point they all seemed to forget was that God had already “given” them the land as His promise which never fails. Moses and the people should have just trusted that God had already spied out the land and it was theirs for the taking by following God. There are times when we do need preparation, take necessary precautions, etc. BUT in a time as this, they needed to commit their way unto the Lord (Ps 37:5).
    It is true that in Nu 13:1, God said to Moses to send out the men, BUT, it was only after the people and Moses had initially requested to do so. Without further info, I got the impression that this was the first time God was giving Moses the command, and Moses was simply obeying! Now, as Paul Harvey used to say “you know the rest of the story.” AtoZ gave us some of the speculation ideas in her End Notes.
    Sending in the spies was a weakness and lack of faith in Moses and the people. However, God permitted them to do it as part of His ordained plan which included testing of His people. Now, with this additional information from the passages in Deuteronomy, I would disagree with BSF in their Question 3b that “why was it WISE for Moses to send out men to explore…”. The answer they probably want is what AtoZ wrote in her answer. From a human standpoint, it would seem OK to get the answers that Moses requested. However, now that I have the rest of the picture, I would disagree that “Moses was wise in sending in the spies.” Yes, he was being obedient in Nu 13:1 to God’s permission to let them check the land, but the correct answer to me would have been to just say we trust God to lead wherever He takes us. Today, we don’t have the exact face-to-face conversation that Moses was privileged to have. Today, we do have to discern how God is leading us thru prayer, His word, faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, etc. before we can make informed decisions. Many times I truly thought it was God’s will in my life to do certain things, when actually I was just hoping that God would put His stamp of approval on what I had already decided to do!! The main thing with question 3 is that commentaries would have been helpful in seeing the composite picture from the Word of God. Sometimes one fact will be in one place in the Bible and another fact in another place. That is why I appreciate AtoZ excellent comments and study of God’s Word, and when she gives us map references and other references to consider. WOW! This sure was wordy, and I apologize, but I appreciate AtoZ letting me and others “air out” our ideas in her informative blog.


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