Saturday, August 22, 2009

NUMBERS: Chapter 14

Chapter 14
Summary:All of the people of Israel began wept that night, voicing complaints against Moses and Aaron. The people complained that dying in Egypt, or dying out in the wilderness they were in, would be an easier fate than dying at the hands of the sword from the "promised land" God was bringing them to, endangering their wives and children as well. The people argued that they'd actually be safer returning to Egypt, and decided to appoint a "captain" (or leader).

Moses and Aaron "fell on their faces" before the congregation, while Joshua and Caleb (two of the spies from Chapter 13) tore at their clothes in frustration.

Joshua and Caleb tried to tell the people of Israel that the "promised land" was in fact a good land, "flowing with milk and honey", while telling the people not to rebel against God, nor fear the current inhabitants of the land, as God will ensure their victory against them. The congregation however decided to condemn Joshua (and Caleb) to death by stoning, when God appeared in the tabernacle before all of the people of Israel.

God spoke to Moses asking him how long will these people provoke him, not believe in him, despite all the signs God has shown them all? He then tells Moses that he's simply going to kill them all with pestilence, disinherit them, and make Moses' lineage a greater nation than the people of Israel. Moses however tells God that if he does this, then the news of this will spread to Egypt and Canaan, and that people will then believe that God simply decided to slay his people out in the wilderness because he was unable to bring them into the land he had promised them.

Moses begs God not to kill all of the people, asking him to show mercy and forgive their "sins". Moses acknowledges that by no means should God clear the guilty, and that Moses understands that "sin" is to be punished not only to the father, but upon children of unto third and fourth generations, but again he begs God to show mercy upon the people.

God agrees to pardon the people of Israel, but adds that because they've witnessed God's "miracles" and have disobeyed God ten times, that they will not see the "promised land". God makes an exception for Caleb, as he had followed God fully, and states that he will bring Caleb into the "promised land".

God tells Moses that tomorrow he is to lead the people of Israel back into the wilderness towards the Red Sea. Moses and Aaron are also to tell the people of Israel that they will die out here in the wilderness, and that every man over the age of twenty who has rebelled against God shall not enter the "promised land" - with the exception of Caleb and Joshua. Those younger than twenty will inherit the land that their elders have "despised", and therefore everyone over the age of twenty will not enter the "promised land", but will die out in the wilderness.

God continues, stating that the children of the people of Israel will wander in the wilderness for forty years until their elders have all died off in the wilderness. God states that each of these forty years will be punishment for each of the forty days that the spies had searched out the "promised land" - one year for each day. God states that the people will bear this "sin" and shall remember the breach of their promise to God as they are consumed and die out in the wilderness.

God sends a plague to kill off all of the spies (minus Caleb and Joshua) whom he felt turned the people of Israel against God and brought "slander" upon the "promised land". All of the spies died from this plague, except Caleb and Joshua.

Moses delivered this message to the people of Israel, and they mourned greatly their "sins". The people rose early in the morning and climbed the mountain proclaimed to obey God's will, acknowledging their "sins", and stated that they were ready to enter the "promised land".

Moses however tells the people that they are now disobeying God's commandment by not returning to the wilderness (to die out there) and tells them to turn back. Moses tells them that if they invade the "promised land", God will not be with them and they will perish at the hands of their enemies inhabiting the land. Moses states that the Amalekites and the Canaanites will crush them because the people of Israel have turned against God, and God will not help them in battle.

The people of Israel went up the hill top anyways, despite that Moses and the ark of the covenant stayed in the camp. The Amalekites and Canaanites attacked them and chased them to Hormah.
Thoughts:Faced with discouraging news that the spies (that God had Moses pick out and selected himself) brought back when they scoped out the "promised land", the people of Israel became discouraged and began blaming Moses and Aaron for getting them into what they perceived as an unwinnable situation. The people reasoned that they were better off dying in their Egyptian slavery, or even out in the wilderness, rather than die at the hands of the "giants" currently inhabiting the "promised land". The people felt that it was a better idea to return to Egypt and decided to appoint themselves a leader.

Apparently, this displeased Moses and Aaron, as they both "fell on their faces", while two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua tore at their clothes in frustration. Joshua tried to reason with the growing rebellion, and told them that they shouldn't fear invading the land as God would protect their armies. However, the congregation of people didn't want to listen and instead decided that they should stone Joshua to death.

Meanwhile, God spoke with Moses wondering why these people keep acting so rebellious and keep doubting, despite all the "miracles" God has shown them. One has to question here whether God's repeated malevolence of plagues, setting people on fire, and giving people leprosy might possibly have anything to do with negating some of the positive "miracles" God has performed.

God decides once again (just like he did when Aaron crafted a "golden calf" for the people to worship) that he's going to kill all of the Israelites and make Moses' lineage into a great nation instead.

Moses also again, begs and pleads for God not to kill everybody, by basically stating that God's reputation will suffer if he does. God's reputation. The only concern Moses seems to have is for God's reputation not to be tarnished by killing several million people - or at least 603,550 of them. Moses tell God that he's concerned that if he commits genocide against the Israelis that word will travel back both to Egypt and Canaan that God killed everyone because he wasn't strong enough to deliver his own people into the "promised land".

God apparently seems to agree that perhaps he shouldn't build upon his reputation as a mass murderer, as he agrees to change his mind once again. This is the second time God has managed to talk God out of killing everyone, which again demonstrates that God's judgments are not necessarily as "perfect" as believers will attest to, when Moses can find faults in God's judgments and again, get God to change his mind. Unfortunately, this time Moses didn't point out to God that killing over half a million people was "evil" - as he had done back in Exodus: Chapter 32.

God decides that although he'll spare the lives of these disobedient Israelites, that none of them over the age of twenty will be allowed to enter the "promised land". God plans to have them wander around in the desert for the next forty years until the current generation dies off. God makes two exceptions - Caleb and Joshua.

God states that each of the forty years spent wandering the desert will be punishment for each of the forty days the spies had spent searching out the "promised land" and that they are to remember this as they all slowly die off in the wilderness of the desert.

He then kills off the other ten spies, save for Caleb and Joshua, with a deadly plague because he felt they were responsible for scaring the people of Israel into rebelling in the first place.

When Moses told the people of Israel that God's punishment for rebelling against God's plan to enter the ""promised land was"for them to wander the desert for forty years until they all died off, the people became remorseful. They got up early the next morning and told Moses that they were now ready and willing to invade the promised land, but Moses tells them that they're too late now and that any invasion will fail, because God won't protect them in battle. He further explains that not agreeing to die out in the desert would be disobeying God, and that the Amalekites and Canaanites will crush them without God's assistance.

The people went ahead with their invasion plan anyways, leaving Moses and the ark of the covenant back at the camp, and the Amalekites and Canaanites wound up attacking them and chasing them to the city of Hormah.

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