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The Brook Eshcol (Num 13.23-24)


One year had passed since the power of Egypt had been broken and Israel, no longer slaves, had crossed the Red Sea. What followed was the preparation of the Tabernacle for worship and then entry into the land of Canaan. Moses directed twelve men to enter and spy out the land, to "see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein" (Num 13.18). They had to examine the cities of the land, and the food and fruits which were available.

Having almost completed the charge given to them they arrived at the "valley of Eshcol" (JND) ready to go back and re-join the host of Israel. They took a cluster of grapes, of such a weight that it was placed upon a staff, with two of the spies necessary to carry it. Together with pomegranates and figs it was an impressive display encouraging the Israelites to move forward.

The message was brought to Moses. The fruits of the land were displayed; the ideal place for the children of Israel to settle. However, the returned spies were disconsolate. They claimed that the nations dwelling in Canaan - the Amalekites, the Jebusites, the Amorites and the Canaanites - were too mighty to be overcome by Israel. Their cry was that "the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great" (v.28). Their complaint went further, "it is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof" (v.32). Two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, spoke to the people and sought to still them before Moses: "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it" (v.30), and "rebel not ye against the Lord" (14.9). However, the words of Caleb and Joshua were rejected and the Israelites waited many years before they crossed into the land of Canaan. Is this not a warning for today?


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