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Dwindling in Unbelief
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-God's killings in Numbers


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Numbers 14

(14:1-4) When the people heard the spies' reports (see last chapter), they believed the giant story and were a bit discouraged. So they decided to elect a leader and go back to Egypt.

(14:1) "All the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night."

(14:2) "And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!"

(14:3) "Wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?"

(14:4) "And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt."

(14:5-6) When Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb hear about this, they do what any Bible character would do: they rent their clothes and fall on their faces.

(14:5) "Moses and Aaron fell on their faces."
And they fell on their faces (FOF)

(14:6) "Joshua ... and Caleb ... rent their clothes."
They rent their clothes.

(14:7-9) Then they get up and try to talk the people out of it.

(14:7) "They spake ...saying, The land ... is an exceeding good land."

(14:8) "The LORD ... will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey."

(14:9) "Rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not."

(14:10) But the people weren't buying it. They'd had enough wandering around in the desert and they sure as hell didn't want to fight any damned giants (see 13:33), so they decide to stone Joshua and his merry men (with stones). But before they get started with the stoning, God shows up in all his glory.

(14:10a) "All the congregation bade stone them with stones."

(14:10b) "The glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel."

(14:11-12)
God tells Moses that he is going to kill all of the Israelites -- every last whining one of the them, and then make a whole bunch of brand new Israelites.

(14:11-12) "The LORD said unto Moses ... I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they."

(14:13-16) But Moses talks him out of of it (like he did in Exodus 32:11-12), saying that the Egyptians will hear about it and will say that he wasn't able to lead the Israelites to Israel, so he killed them all instead. How would that look to the neighbors?

(14:13) "And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it,"

(14:14) "Thou LORD art seen face to face."
Can God be seen?

(14:15) "If thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,"

(14:16) "Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness."

(14:18)
"The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy ... visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation."
How is punishing children for the sins of their great-great grandfathers merciful?
Are we punished for the sins of others?

(14:20-35)
So Moses talked God out of killing everyone. Instead, he'll just make sure that no one over 20 years old survives the trip to Israel. Their "carcases shall fall in the wilderness."

(14:20) "And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word."

(14:29) "Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness ... from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me."

(14:32) "But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness."

14:1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
14:2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
14:3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
14:4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
14:5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
14:6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
14:7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
14:8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
14:9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
14:10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.
14:11 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
14:12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
14:13 And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
14:14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
14:15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
14:16 Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
14:17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my LORD be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
14:18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
14:19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
14:20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
14:21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
14:22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
14:23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
14:25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) Tomorrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
14:26 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
14:27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
14:28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
14:29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.
14:30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
14:31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
14:32 But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
14:33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
14:34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
14:35 I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.

(14:35) "I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die."

(14:36-37) Ten scouts are killed for their honest report
And that would have been the end of the story, except that God was still pissed off about those ten scouts, even though they were just doing their jobs. ("To spy out the land of Canaan ... And see the land, what it is, and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many." Num 13.17-18) So he killed them all in a plague.
God's 18th Killing

(14:36) "And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,"

(14:37) "Those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD."

14:36 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,
14:37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.
14:38 But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.
14:39 And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.
14:40 And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.
14:41 And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
14:42 Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
14:43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you. (14:43-45) To further punish the Israelites for whining and plotting against Moses, God sent the Amelekites and Canaanites to smite them.

(14:43) "Ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD,"

(14:45) "Then the Amalekites ... and the Canaanites ... smote them."

14:44 But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
14:45 Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

God Dooms His People The First Rebellion
Dwindling in Unbelief
How many has God killed? (Complete list and estimated total) (Numbers 14:36-37)
Ten scouts are killed for their honest report 14:36-37)
Moses talks God out of killing several million Jews (so God kills 10 other guys instead)
The good people in the Bible (14:37)

The Bible Slam
Numbers 14

Slate Blogs the Bible by David Plotz
In Which I Discover the Source of All Jewish Comedy