Here again we have a list of names, one man from each tribe (except Levi) who Moses appointed as spies to check out the land of Canaan. These men are not the same men as those appointed as leaders and elders of Israel in prior chapters. God appointed those men.
Be careful about saying that Moses did a lousy job at choosing the spies. This is an object lesson in this chapter on what happens to a nation when the leadership are called by God to move and they do not move. When we refuse to move when God tells us to move, we can block God’s blessing. When we do not do what God wants us to go, God’s blessing won’t flow to us.
They were sent to spy out the land for 40 days. These men are recorded for a reason.
What and who was God testing with this spy mission? The one trait that most of these spies lacked was courage.
Some of the names have obvious and easily ascertained meanings, others are “unknown.” Here are the spies (tribe: spy, family):
- Reuben: Shammua (renowned, be desolate, to be stunned, appalled or angry) the son of Zaccur (memory, mindful)
- Simeon: Shaphat (he has been judged, to perish, to enter into controversy, execution of judgement) the son of Hori (cave dweller, dwelling in a dark place)
- Judah: Caleb (a dog that attacks, to come with force) the son of Jephunneh (“God is turned”, prepare, reconcile)
- Issachar: Igal (“He redeems”, redeemer) the son of Joseph (God adds, increase)
- Ephraim: Hoshea* (deliverer) the son of Nun (offspring, prosperity)
- Benjamin: Palti (“my deliverance”) the son of Raphu (remedy, healer, medicine)
- Zebulun: Gaddiel (“El is my fortune”) the son of Sodi (“intimate with Yah”)
- Joseph: from the tribe of Manasseh: Gaddi (substance,existence) the son of Susi (to come to an end, perish, die in epidemic);
- Dan: Ammiel (my kinsman is God) the son of Gemalli (become abundant)
- Asher: Sethur (the hidden things, to shelter) the son of Michael (Who is like God?)
- Naphtali: Nahbi (faint-hearted) the son of Vophsi (meaning unk)
- Gad: Geuel (the majesty of God) the son of Machi (someone who sells himself for wages).
*Moses later changed his name to יְהוֹשֻׁעַ Yehoshua/Yahushua/Yahshua (Joshua), which means salvation or deliverance.
Joshua is not known for saving people but for being a fierce leader who executed people. He was not a “push-over.” He was as feared and revered as Moses. His job was to deliver them into the Promised Land.
Why did Moses change Hoshea’s name? It’s because the name Joshua makes it clear that God is salvation, God is the deliverer.
Is God’s only goal to deliver you out of sin? No, God also wants to deliver you into life. God wants to deliver us from sin and move us into a better place. God delivered them from death and God was wanting to take them into life to thrive.
God was delivering them into a land they were supposed to conquer but they were too scared to do the job.
Except for Caleb and Joshua, these men died in the wilderness, they did not live up to their names. They didn’t trust or believe God.
The fact that there isn’t much of a pattern to the names in this list showed me that if you don’t live up to your name, then your name is not relevant, it has no meaning.
Moses gave the spies a certain charge:
“When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. “See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. “How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications? “How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.” (Numbers 13:17–20 NASB)
The spies obeyed the letter of Moses’ decree. They traveled across the land and learned about the inhabitants of the land, the layout of the cities and brought back fruit from the land.
They were afraid of the giants. There are times when we have to face our own giants and we have to make a decision that is not pleasant and face them head-on. The 10 spies to spread the report did not want to fight the giants. They challenged God’s wisdom. God knew what He was doing to give them that land and they doubted God’s provision.
The Canaanites were a very wicked people, whose cultural and religious practices were abhorrent to God but they were more scared of the “giants” than they were of God. They considered God untrustworthy.
We all have a fear of those who are bigger or more powerful than we are. It’s easier to judge them than to put ourselves in their shoes. It’s easier to dismiss them as “cowards.”
Instead of facing what we fear, we want to cower and back away, but you will lose if you don’t walk forward when God tells you to walk.
When you walk where God wants you to walk, you might lose your job, your friends, even your family yet you have to make the unpleasant decision sometimes.
Yeshua also verbally attacked His opponents when they were interpreting the bible in such a way as to oppress others. He also defended the defenseless against those who were oppressed. Yeshua’s only job is not to deliver us from sin, He is also going to bring us to the Kingdom of God.
King and Kings and Lord of Lords are two functions: one to save and one to deliver. Save from sin and deliver to the promised land.
The first thing the Son of God had to do for us was to deliver us out of the hands of the liar, the destroyer.
The land that God was going to give them was a land of abundance. The blessings were shown to them to show us that He can give His people food, prosperity, wealth, blessing which they did not sow or reap. It was already done for them, all they had to do was walk in and take it, but they would have to work for it to appreciate it.
We did not sow or reap our lives. God does that. We did not chose to be born, we can not choose when we die. It is God who sows and it will be God who will resurrect and reap us in His time.
When the Israelites doubted God’s word, He took the blessing away from the majority of that generation of forever. They never entered into the Promise. But for Caleb and Joshua, the promise was delayed to them for 40 years. Joshua and Caleb paid a price for the cowardice and unbelief of their peers.
Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.