Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
NAMES OF THE
1, 2. The Lord spake unto Moses, Send thou men, that they may search
the land, of Canaan--Compare
whence it appears, that while the proposal of delegating confidential
men from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan emanated from the
people who petitioned for it, the measure received the special sanction
of God, who granted their request at once as a trial, and a punishment
of their distrust.
3. those men were heads of the children of Israel--Not the princes
who are named
(Nu 10:14-16, 18-20, 22-27),
but chiefs, leading men though not of the first rank.
16. Oshea--that is, "a desire of salvation." Jehoshua, by prefixing the
name of God, means "divinely appointed," "head of salvation,"
"Saviour," the same as Jesus
17. Get you up this way . . . , and go up into the mountain--Mount
which lay directly from Sinai across the wilderness of Paran, in a
northeasterly direction into the southern parts of the promised
20. Now the time was the time of the first grapes--This was in August,
when the first clusters are gathered. The second are gathered in
September, and the third in October. The spies' absence for a period of
forty days determines the grapes they brought from Eshcol to have been
of the second period.
21-24. So they . . . searched the land--They advanced from south to
north, reconnoitering the whole land.
the wilderness of Zin--a long level plain, or deep valley of sand, the
monotony of which is relieved by a few tamarisk and rethem trees.
Under the names of El Ghor and El Araba, it forms the continuation of
the Jordan valley, extending from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Akaba.
Rehob--or, Beth-rehob, was a city and district situated, according
to some, eastward of Sidon; and, according to others, it is the same as
El Hule, an extensive and fertile champaign country, at the foot of
Anti-libanus, a few leagues below Paneas.
as men come to Hamath--or, "the entering in of Hamath"
now the valley of Balbeck, a mountain pass or opening in the northern
frontier, which formed the extreme limit in that direction of the
inheritance of Israel. From the mention of these places, the route of
the scouts appears to have been along the course of the Jordan in their
advance; and their return was by the western border through the
territories of the Sidonians and Philistines.
22. unto Hebron--situated in the heart of the mountains of Judah, in
the southern extremity of Palestine. The town or "cities of Hebron," as
it is expressed in the Hebrew, consists of a number of sheikdoms
distinct from each other, standing at the foot of one of those hills
that form a bowl round and enclose it. "The children of Anak" mentioned
in this verse seem to have been also chiefs of townships; and this
coincidence of polity, existing in ages so distant from each other, is
Hebron (Kirjath Arba,
was one of the oldest cities in the world.
Zoan--(the Tanis of the Greeks) was situated on one of the eastern
branches of the Nile, near the lake Menzala, and was the early royal
residence of the Pharaohs. It boasted a higher antiquity than any other
city in Egypt. Its name, which signifies flat and level, is
descriptive of its situation in the low grounds of the Delta.
23. they came unto the brook of Eshcol--that is, "the torrent of the
cluster." Its location was a little to the southwest of Hebron. The
valley and its sloping hills are still covered with vineyards, the
character of whose fruit corresponds to its ancient celebrity.
and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of
grapes--The grapes reared in this locality are still as magnificent
as formerly--they are said by one to be equal in size to prunes, and
compared by another to a man's thumb. One cluster sometimes weighs ten
or twelve pounds. The mode of carrying the cluster cut down by the
spies, though not necessary from its weight, was evidently adopted to
preserve it entire as a specimen of the productions of the promised
land; and the impression made by the sight of it would be all the
greater because the Israelites were familiar only with the scanty vines
and small grapes of Egypt.
26. they came . . . to Kadesh--an important encampment of the
Israelites. But its exact situation is not definitely known, nor is it
determined whether it is the same or a different place from
Kadesh-barnea. It is supposed to be identical with Ain-el-Weibeh, a
famous spring on the eastern side of the desert
[ROBINSON], or also
with Petra [STANLEY].
27, 28. they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou
sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey--The report was
given publicly in the audience of the people, and it was artfully
arranged to begin their narrative with commendations of the natural
fertility of the country in order that their subsequent slanders might
the more readily receive credit.
29. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south--Their territory
lay between the Dead and the Red Seas, skirting the borders of Canaan.
Hittites . . . dwell in the mountains--Their settlements were in the
southern and mountainous part of Palestine
the Canaanites dwell by the sea--The remnant of the original
inhabitants, who had been dispossessed by the Philistines, were divided
into two nomadic hordes--one settled eastward near the Jordan; the
other westward, by the Mediterranean.
32. a land that eateth up the inhabitants--that is, an unhealthy
climate and country. Jewish writers say that in the course of their
travels they saw a great many funerals, vast numbers of the Canaanites
being cut off at that time, in the providence of God, by a plague or
men of a great stature--This was evidently a false and exaggerated
report, representing, from timidity or malicious artifice, what was
true of a few as descriptive of the people generally.
33. there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak--The name is derived
from the son of Arba, a great man among the Arabians
who probably obtained his appellation from wearing a splendid collar or
chain round his neck, as the word imports. The epithet "giant"
evidently refers here to stature. (See on
And it is probable the Anakims were a distinguished family, or perhaps
a select body of warriors, chosen for their extraordinary size.
we were in our own sight as grasshoppers--a strong Orientalism, by
which the treacherous spies gave an exaggerated report of the physical
strength of the people of Canaan.