Week #21; Wed, May 23: Num. 12:1–17:13
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses and it kindled the Lord’s anger against them. Miriam became leprous and Moses pleaded with the Lord to heal her. The Lord required Miriam to be set outside the camp for seven days and then be allowed to return.
The Lord told Moses to send men from each tribe to spy out the land of Canaan. All of the men were heads of the people of Israel. Moses wanted them to report on the strength of the people, the number of the people, the quality of the agricultural land (good or bad), the living conditions (cities or camps). When they returned, they brought back grapes, pomegranates and figs and stated that it flows with milk and honey. However, they reported that the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. But Caleb stated, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” The men that went up with Caleb disagreed, saying, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”
The people begin to rebel and grumble against Moses and Aaron saying, they preferred to go back to Egypt under new leadership. Joshua intervened restating that the land is an exceedingly good land and with the Lord, the land could be taken. The Glory of the Lord prevented them from being stoned. The Lord threatened to destroy them but Moses intercedes for the people. He spoke to the Lord in a convincing manner to pardon the iniquity of the people through His steadfast love. The Lord agrees but promises judgment; the rebels will not go over into the land. Because Caleb has a different spirit and followed the Lord fully, he and his descendants will go into the land and possess it. But all of those numbered in the census shall not come into the land, they will fall in the wilderness. Apparently, this accounts for the 40 years it took for all of the rebels to fall in the wilderness. The men who brought a bad report about the land died by plague before the Lord. The people reasoned it best that they enter the land on their own to take it, but Moses warned them that the Lord is not with you because you have turned back from following the Lord and he cautioned against invading the land. The rebels suffered a major defeat.
Sacrifices were specified by the Lord when the people were to come into the land; they were governed by an intricate set of laws for the people and the sojourners with the people. Laws about unintentional sins were published about a sin attributed to a mistake; those breaking this law were to be cut off from the people unless atoned by sacrifice. However, when a breaker of the Sabbath laws was discovered, he was executed as instructed by the Lord to Moses. The Lord also told Moses to inform the people to make blue tassels for their garments to “remind them to remember (and do) the commandments, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which they inclined to whore after.”
Korah and a band of men of 250 (chiefs of the congregation, not descendants of Aaron) rose up against Moses for exalting themselves above the assembly of the Lord. But, the Lord destroyed the rebels by fire and their families were swallowed in the ground under them in a split that opened up and closed over them taking them down alive into Sheol. More rebellion followed and the Lord brought on a plague that destroyed an additional 14,700 of the people.
The Lord spoke to Moses saying have the people bring the staff of each of the father’s house of the twelve tribes and place them in the tent of meeting to allow for the choosing of the one to stop the grumblings. Aaron’s staff from the house of Levi was chosen for it had budded. It was to be be put back in the tent of testimony to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that they may make an end of their grumblings against the Lord lest they die.