The Lord Commands Israel to Leave Mount Horeb
1These are the words Moses spoke to all the Israelites. At that time, they were in the desert east of the Jordan River. It’s in the Arabah Valley across from Suph. The people were between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. 2It takes 11 days to go from Mount Horeb to Kadesh Barnea if you travel on the Mount Seir road.
3It was the 40th year since the Israelites had left Egypt. On the first day of the 11th month, Moses spoke to them. He told them everything the Lord had commanded him to tell them. 4They had already won the battle over Sihon. Sihon was the king of the Amorites. He had ruled in Heshbon. Israel had also won the battle over Og at Edrei. Og was the king of Bashan. He had ruled in Ashtaroth.
5The people were east of the Jordan River in the territory of Moab. There Moses began to explain the law. Here is what he said.
6The Lord our God spoke to us at Mount Horeb. He said, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7Take your tents down. Go into the hill country of the Amorites. Go to all the people who are their neighbors. Go to the people who live in the Arabah Valley. Travel to the mountains and the western hills. Go to the people in the Negev Desert and along the coast. Travel to the land of Canaan and to Lebanon. Go as far as the great Euphrates River. 8I have given you all this land. Go in and take it as your own. The Lord promised he would give the land to your fathers. He promised it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He also said he would give it to their children after them.”
Some Officials Are Chosen to Help Moses
9At that time I spoke to you. I said, “You are too heavy a load for me to carry alone. 10The Lord your God has caused there to be many of you. Today you are as many as the stars in the sky. 11The Lord is the God of your people. May he cause there to be a thousand times more of you. May he bless you, just as he promised he would. 12But I can’t handle your problems and troubles all by myself. I can’t settle your arguments. 13So choose some wise men from each of your tribes. They must understand how to give good advice. The people must have respect for them. I will appoint those men to have authority over you.”
14You answered me, “Your suggestion is good.”
15So I chose the leading men of your tribes who were wise and respected. I appointed them to have authority over you. I made them commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. I appointed them to be officials over the tribes. 16Here is what I commanded your judges at that time. I said, “Listen to your people’s cases when they argue with one another. Judge them fairly. It doesn’t matter whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and an outsider living among you. 17When you judge them, treat everyone the same. Listen to those who are important and those who are not. Don’t be afraid of anyone. God is the highest judge. Bring me any case that is too hard for you. I’ll listen to it.” 18At that time I told you everything you should do.
Twelve Men Check Out the Land of Canaan
19The Lord our God commanded us to start out from Mount Horeb. So we did. We went toward the hill country of the Amorites. We traveled all through the huge and terrible desert you saw. Finally, we reached Kadesh Barnea. 20Then I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites. The Lord our God is giving it to us. 21The Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take it. Do what the Lord says. He’s the God of your people. Don’t be afraid. Don’t lose hope.”
22Then all of you came to me. You said, “Let’s send some men ahead of us. They can check out the land for us and bring back a report. They can suggest to us which way to go. They can tell us about the towns we’ll come to.”
23That seemed like a good idea to me. So I chose 12 of you. I picked one man from each tribe. 24They left and went up into the hill country. There they came to the Valley of Eshkol. They checked it out. 25They got some of the fruit of that land. Then they brought it down to us and gave us their report. They said, “The Lord our God is giving us a good land.”
Israel Refuses to Obey the Lord
26But you wouldn’t go up. You refused to obey the command of the Lord your God. 27You spoke against him in your tents. You said, “The Lord hates us. That’s why he brought us out of Egypt to hand us over to the Amorites. He wanted to destroy us. 28Where can we go? The men who checked out the land have made us afraid. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are. The cities are large. They have walls that reach up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’ ”
29Then I said to you, “Don’t be terrified. Don’t be afraid of them. 30The Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will fight for you. With your own eyes you saw how he fought for you in Egypt. 31You also saw how the Lord your God brought you through the desert. He carried you everywhere you went, just as a father carries his son. And now you have arrived here.”
32In spite of that, you didn’t trust in the Lord your God. 33He went ahead of you on your journey. He was in the fire at night and in the cloud during the day. He found places for you to camp. He showed you the way you should go.
34The Lord heard what you said. So he became angry. He made a promise. He said, 35“I promised to give this good land to your people of long ago. But no one alive today will see it. 36Only Caleb will see the land. He is the son of Jephunneh. I will give him and his children after him the land he walked on. He followed me with his whole heart.”
37Because of you, the Lord became angry with me also. He said, “You will not enter the land either. 38But Joshua, the son of Nun, is your helper. Joshua will enter the land. Help him to be brave. Give him hope. He will lead Israel to take the land as their own. 39You said your little ones would be taken prisoner. But they will enter the land. They do not yet know right from wrong. But I will give them the land. They will take it as their own. 40As for you, turn around. Start out toward the desert. Go along the road that leads to the Red Sea.”
41Then you replied, “We have sinned against the Lord. We will go up and fight. We’ll do just as the Lord our God has commanded us.” So all of you got your swords and put them on. You thought it would be easy to go up into the hill country.
42But the Lord spoke to me. He said, “Tell them, ‘Do not go up and fight. I will not be with you. Your enemies will win the battle over you.’ ”
43So I told you what the Lord said. But you wouldn’t listen. You refused to obey his command. You were so filled with pride that you marched up into the hill country. 44The Amorites who lived in those hills came out and attacked you. Like large numbers of bees they chased you. They beat you down from Seir all the way to Hormah. 45You came back and wept in front of the Lord. But he didn’t pay any attention to your weeping. He wouldn’t listen to you. 46So you stayed in Kadesh for many years. You spent a long time in that area.