At God’s command, Moses to send 12 spies to scout out the land of Canaan . Each tribe sends one representative.  They enter into the land and after 40 days they return bringing with them a cluster of grapes that is so heavy, it has to be carried by two men. The majority of the returning spies say that the land is beautiful and “flows with milk and honey” but the inhabitants are so powerful that they can’t be defeated.

The people, hearing this reacted to this news with fear and wept all night.  The next morning, two of the scouts, Joshua and Caleb tell the people the with faith in God and God’s promise to their ancestors, they will be successful in defeating the Canaanites and will inhabit the land.  The Israelites are about to attack Joshua and Caleb when the spirit of God appears.

God is about to destroy the Israelites because of their lack of faith, but Moses convinces God to spare the people. God forgives them but punishes them, declaring that they will wander the desert for 40 years.  Other than the two scouts who had faith in God, none of the people who left Egypt would survive to enter the Land of Israel.

The portion then goes onto describe the types of sacrifices that are to be offered up to God once their descendant enter the Promised Land. Some are for giving thanks, and others are to atone for sins.  They people are told that if someone rejects God, that person is to be cut off from the community. We also read of a man who was collecting wood on Shabbat. He is brought before the entire community, where he is executed.

God also tells Moses to tell the people to tie fringes on the corners of their garments, to remind them of the commandments of God.

Torah Portion in English

1) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2) “Send men to scout the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelite people; send one man from each of their ancestral tribes, each one a chieftain among them.” 3) So Moses, by the Lord’s command, sent them out from the wilderness of Paran, all the men being leaders of the Israelites. 4) And these were their names: From the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zaccur.  5) From the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori. 6) From the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh. 7) From the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph. 8) From the tribe of Ephraim, Hosea son of Nun. 9) From the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Rafu. 10) From the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi. 11) From the tribe of Joseph, namely, the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi son of Susi. 12) From the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli.  13) From the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael. 14) From the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi. 15) From the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Machi. 16) Those were the names of the men whom Moses sent to scout the land; but Moses changed the name of Hosea son of Nun to Joshua. 17) When Moses sent them to scout the land of Canaan, he said to them, “Go up there into the Negeb and on into the hill country, 18) and see what kind of country it is. Are the people who dwell in it strong or weak, few or many? 19) Is the country in which they dwell good or bad? Are the towns they live in open or fortified? 20) Is the soil rich or poor? Is it wooded or not? And take pains to bring back some of the fruit of the land.”—Now it happened to be the season of the first ripe grapes.

Getting to Know my Parasha

What Does my Parasha Say?

  1. How many spies were sent into the land, and what was their background?
  2. What was Joshua’s original name?
  3. What was the spies’ mission?
  4. What did the spies bring back with them?
  5. How long were the spies away?
  6. Who were the two spies who spoke in favor of going into the Land?
  7. What was Israel’s punishment?
  8. What is the purpose of the fringes?