Rebellion at Kadesh
1 Then all the community broke out in loud cries and wept during the night. 2 All the people grumbled against Aaron and Moses; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in Egypt or died in the wilderness. 3 Why is Yahweh bringing us to this country where we shall fall under the sword, and our women and little children become part of the plunder? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and return to Egypt.”
5 Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the Israelite community. 6 Joshua, son of Nun, and Caleb, son of Jephunneh from those who had explored the country, tore their clothes 7 and then spoke to the whole community of Israel, saying, “The land we went through to explore is, indeed, a very good land. 8 If Yahweh is pleased with us, he will lead us to this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against Yahweh, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land for they will be bread for us: their protection is withdrawn and Yahweh is with us. Have no fear of them!”
10 All the community spoke of stoning them when the Glory of Yahweh appeared before all the people of Israel in the Tent of Meeting.
11 Yahweh said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? How long will they refuse to believe me, in spite of the signs I performed among them? 12 I will strike them with a plague and destroy them, and then I will make of you a greater and more powerful nation than they are.”
13 And Moses said to Yahweh, “The Egyptians know that you have brought out this people from their midst by your power, 14 and they told it to the inhabitants of the land. They know that you, Yahweh, are in the midst of your peo ple, and that they have seen you face to face. They know that your cloud stands with your people and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 And now you would destroy this people at one stroke!
15 Then the nations that have heard of you will say: 16 Yahweh was not able to bring this people to the land he had promised them in oath, so he slaughtered them in the desert. 17 Now let your power be seen, my Lord. For, according to your words, 18 you are slow to anger and rich in steadfast love: you forgive sin and rebellion, yet you do not declare innocent those who are guilty, but you punish children to the third and fourth generation for the wickedness of their fathers. 19 Pardon then, I pray you, the sin of this people according to the greatness of your mercy just as you have pardoned them from Egypt even until now.”
20 Then Yahweh said, “I pardon them as you have pleaded, 21 but as truly as I live and the Glory of Yah weh fills the earth, 22 I swear that they will not see the land I promised to their fathers. For all these have seen my Glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert, and yet have put me to the test ten times and have not heeded my voice. 23 Only my servant Caleb will enter it, 24 because he has a different spirit and because he has followed me faithfully. I will bring him to the land where he has already been and his descendants shall possess it, 25 while the Amalekites and the Ca na anites will re main in the valley.
25 So you shall turn tomorrow and leave for the desert by way of the Red Sea.”
26 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron saying, 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me?” I have heard the grumblings of the peo ple of Israel against me. 28 Say to them: As truly as I live, it is Yahweh who speaks, I will do to you what you have said in my hearing. 29 All of you of twenty years or more, numbered in the census, who grum bled against me, your corpses will fall in the desert. 30 You will not enter the land where I swore to settle you, except Caleb, son of Je phun neh and Joshua, son of Nun. 31 But your children, whom you said would be part of the plunder, them I will bring and they will know the land that you have rejected. 32 Your corpses will fall in the desert 33 and your sons will wander with their flocks for forty years in the desert, bearing the guilt of your faithlessness till the last of you lies dead in the desert.
34 According to the number of days spent in exploring the land—forty days, for every day a year—for forty years you shall bear the guilt of your sins and you shall know what it is to oppose me. 35 I, Yahweh, have spoken. Surely this is what I will do to this wicked community that has conspired against me. In this wilder ness they shall be destroyed and this is where they shall die.”
36 The men sent by Moses to explore the land and who on their return had made the community grumble against him, 37 those men who wickedly spread a bad report on the land, died of a plague before Yahweh. 38 Only Joshua, son of Nun, and Caleb, son of Jephunneh, survived out of those who went to explore the land.
39 When Moses related this to the Israelites, the people mourned bitterly. 40 They rose early in the morning and went up to the mountain saying, “Here we are! We have sinned but now we are ready to go to the place that Yahweh spoke of.” 41 But Moses said, “Why are you going to disobey Yahweh’s command? You will not succeed. 42 Do not go up lest you be struck down by your enemies for Yahweh is not with you. 43 The Amalekites and the Canaanites are there ahead of you and you will fall by the sword, for you turned away from following Yahweh and he will not be with you.”
44 They insisted on going up to the top of the mountain but neither the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh nor Moses moved from inside the camp. 45 Then the Amale kites and the Canaanites who lived in the hill country came down and defeated them, beating them back as far as Hormah.