Moses Talks to the Israelites

This is the message Moses gave to all the people of Israel in the desert east of the Jordan River. They were in the desert area near Suph, between Paran and the towns of Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab.

(The trip from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea on the Mount Seir road takes eleven days.) Forty years after the Israelites had left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses told the people of Israel everything the Lord had commanded him to tell them. This was after the Lord had defeated Sihon and Og. Sihon was king of the Amorite people and lived in Heshbon. Og was king of Bashan and lived in Ashteroth and Edrei.

Now the Israelites were east of the Jordan River in the land of Moab, and there Moses began to explain what God had commanded. He said:

The Lord our God spoke to us at Mount Sinai and said, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Get ready, and go to the mountain country of the Amorites, and to all the places around there—the Jordan Valley, the mountains, the western hills, the southern area, the seacoast, the land of Canaan, and Lebanon. Go as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land, so go in and take it for yourselves. The Lord promised it to your ancestors—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants.”

Moses Appoints Leaders

At that time I said, “I am not able to take care of you by myself. 10 The Lord your God has made you grow in number so that there are as many of you as there are stars in the sky. 11 I pray that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, will give you a thousand times more people and do all the wonderful things he promised. 12 But I cannot take care of your problems, your troubles, and your arguments by myself. 13 So choose some men from each tribe—wise men who have understanding and experience—and I will make them leaders over you.”

14 And you said, “That’s a good thing to do.”

15 So I took the wise and experienced leaders of your tribes, and I made them your leaders. I appointed commanders over a thousand people, over a hundred people, over fifty people, and over ten people and made them officers over your tribes. 16 Then I told your leaders, “Listen to the arguments between your people. Judge fairly between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner. 17 When you judge, be fair to everyone; don’t act as if one person is more important than another, and don’t be afraid of anyone, because your decision comes from God. Bring the hard cases to me, and I will judge them.” 18 At that time I told you everything you must do.

Spies Enter the Land

19 Then, as the Lord our God commanded us, we left Mount Sinai and went toward the mountain country of the Amorite people. We went through that large and terrible desert you saw, and then we came to Kadesh Barnea. 20 I said to you, “You have now come to the mountain country of the Amorites, to the land the Lord our God will give us. 21 Look, here it is! Go up and take it. The Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you to do this, so don’t be afraid and don’t worry.”

22 Then all of you came to me and said, “Let’s send men before us to spy out the land. They can come back and tell us about the way we should go and the cities we will find.”

23 I thought that was a good idea, so I chose twelve of your men, one for each tribe. 24 They left and went up to the mountains, and when they came to the Valley of Eshcol they explored it. 25 They took some of the fruit from that land and brought it down to us, saying, “It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us.”

Israel Refuses to Enter

26 But you refused to go. You would not obey the command of the Lord your God, 27 but grumbled in your tents, saying, “The Lord hates us. He brought us out of Egypt just to give us to the Amorites, who will destroy us. 28 Where can we go now? The spies we sent have made us afraid, because they said, ‘The people there are stronger and taller than we are. The cities are big, with walls up to the sky. And we saw the Anakites there!’”

29 Then I said to you, “Don’t be frightened; don’t be afraid of those people. 30 The Lord your God will go ahead of you and fight for you as he did in Egypt; you saw him do it. 31 And in the desert you saw how the Lord your God carried you, like one carries a child. And he has brought you safely all the way to this place.”

32 But you still did not trust the Lord your God, even though 33 he had always gone before you to find places for you to camp. In a fire at night and in a cloud during the day, he showed you which way to go.

34 When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and made an oath, saying, 35 “I promised a good land to your ancestors, but none of you evil people will see it. 36 Only Caleb son of Jephunneh will see it. I will give him and his descendants the land he walked on, because he followed the Lord completely.”

37 Because of you, the Lord was also angry with me and said, “You won’t enter the land either, 38 but your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to take the land for their own.

39 “Your little children that you said would be captured, who do not know right from wrong at this time, will go into the land. I will give the land to them, and they will take it for their own. 40 But you must turn around and follow the desert road toward the Red Sea.”

41 Then you said to me, “We have sinned against the Lord, but now we will go up and fight, as the Lord our God commanded us.” Then all of you put on weapons, thinking it would be easy to go into the mountains.

42 But the Lord said to me, “Tell the people, ‘You must not go up there and fight. I will not be with you, and your enemies will defeat you.’”

43 So I told you, but you would not listen. You would not obey the Lord’s command. You were proud, so you went on up into the mountains, 44 and the Amorites who lived in those mountains came out and fought you. They chased you like bees and defeated you from Edom to Hormah. 45 So you came back and cried before the Lord, but the Lord did not listen to you; he refused to pay attention to you. 46 So you stayed in Kadesh a long time.