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haps by the Wady el 'Ain, and so through the great valley el 'Arabah, (which stretches northwards from Akabah to the Dead Sea) along the western base of Mount Seir, till they arrived at Kadesh, situated on the western side of the same valley, probably near the fountain now called 'Ain-el-Weibeh.-[See Bibl. Res. II. p. 609–612.]
Their toilsome marches seemed now to be over, and the time to have arrived for their taking possession of the promised land. Moses was full of encouragement at the prospect. “Behold,” said he, addressing the people, " the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee : go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”
But they wanted faith in the promises of God. Unbelief suggested difficulties. They could not follow implicitly the moving cloud directing the way, with the certainty of divine guidance; and marking out, as it had always done, the path of a safe and sure progress. They would ascertain the best course by inquiries of their own, and know something of the most accessible points, before hazarding an entrance into Canaan. They thus slighted the pledged direction and support of the Almighty; and we shall see to what this sinful unbelief led.
should go up,
They came to Moses with a request, that certain persons might be sent before them, to search out the land, and bring word again by what way they
and into what cities they should come. He seems to have thought well of the proposal. He knew the character of his countrymen, and perceived, doubtless, the want of their confidence in God, though they might hope to conceal it. To oppose their wisheş, under the circumstances in which they were placed, he probably regarded as inexpedient and dangerous. He was willing to adopt the measure that they suggested; hoping that it might prevent them from breaking out into open murmurings and complaints, which would draw
them some renewed expression of the divine displeasure; and that it might lead them, through the forbearance of God, to a better state of mind.
We have reason to believe that Moses brought this subject before the Lord, to receive his direction with regard to it. For, although this is not expressly stated in the sacred narrative, we find that the command came from God himself, to send men to search the land of Canaan. This was probably done in reply to the inquiry of Moses ; and that, thus, in compliance with their own wishes, the character of the Israelites might be more fully drawn, out, and the justice of the subsequent divine dealings with them made manifest.
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One was chosen from each tribe to go on this important errand; twelve in all, rulers among the people, in whom it was thought confidence could be placed for the faithful execution of such a trust. They were instructed by Moses to ascertain, whether the inhabitants were few or many; their military strength; what cities they dwelt in, and whether in tents, or in strong holds. They were, also, to learn the nature of the soil and its producutions, and what else they could discover of the character of the country and the people. of good courage,” was the parting advice of Moses, ' and bring of the fruit of the land.” We can readily conceive, that their return would be looked for with the deepest solicitude.
How would you have felt, my young friend, had you been one of the Israelites, and thus brought to the very borders of a land, to be taken possession of in spite of the numerous and powerful inhabitants who would resist your entrance ? For numerous and powerful you might expect them to be, and bold in the defence of their country.
Would your faith in the promises and protection of God have been unwavering ? Could you have gone forward, dauntless and sure of victory, because the divine word was pledged to sustain
How do you now meet difficulties and dangers, in the path of duty ? God has promised to strengthen you in the conflict, if you truly put your trust in him. How do you expect to meet severer trials, and, at length, to pass through the valley of the shadow of death?
Faith in God and the Saviour can alone inspire you with the courage that you will need. Happy, indeed, if you have this faith, and can say, in
every season of difficulty and danger, I can do all things through Christ strengthening me.
The spies return. Discouragement at their report. Joshua
and Caleb faithful. The divine denunciations.
The twelve spies, having left Kadesh-barnea, commenced their expedition. It must have been a highly perilous one, demanding much prudence and circumspection. But there were two of their number, as we shall see in the sequel, Joshua and Caleb, who were well fitted for the enterprise. They were not only men of great resolution and personal courage, but of piety and prayer. There is no doubt that, under the blessing of God, the safety and success with which the object was ac
complished, depended principally on their counsels and efforts.
Having found their way into Canaan, the spies explored it, from the wilderness of Zin, which lies around the south-western shore of the Dead Sea, as far as Rehob, a city near mount Libanus, at the northern extremity of the country. Then they returned through the heart of it, and going by Hebron, where the descendants of Anak dwelt, they passed through the valley of the brook of Eshcol, quite in the south of Canaan, and reached the camp of the Israelites, after an absence of forty days.
At the brook of Eshcol, they cut off a branch of a grape-vine, with a cluster of grapes on it so heavy that, in bringing it away, they had to carry it on a staff borne by two men.
This, with pomegranates and figs, they brought back to show as specimens of the productions of the country.
Their return had been anxiously expected, and was hailed with great joy. A deep curiosity was awakened, to know from their own lips the result of their investigations. The people were speedily assembled to hear them, and one of their nuniber, addressing Moses, said : " We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless, the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great : and