“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Send men on your behalf to reconnoiter the land of Kena‘an, which I am giving to the people of Isra’el. From each ancestral tribe send someone who is a leader in his tribe’” (Numbers 13:1-2).
The Twelve Spies
From the Pa’ran Desert, Moshe sent 12 men as spies into Canaan with the instructions to go to the Negev desert and up into the hills to see what the Land of Promise is like. They were to observe if the Canaanites were few or many, strong or weak. They were to make note if the land was good or bad, fertile or unproductive, and whether there were trees for wood. They were to search out the cities to see if they were fortified or would be easily taken. And, if they had the courage, they were to bring some of the fruit of the land.
The men chosen were: Shamua, Tribe of Reuben; Shaphat, Tribe of Simeon; Kalev (Caleb), Tribe of Judah; Yigal, Tribe of Issachar; Y’hoshua (Joshua), Tribe of Ephraim; Palti, Tribe of Benjaimin; Gadiel, Tribe of Zebulun; Gadi, Tribe of Joseph (Manasseh); Ammi’el, Tribe of Dan; Stur, Tribe of Asher, Nachbi, Tribe of Naftalii; and Ge’u’el, Tribe of Gad.
Hebrew Word Pictures
Shamua (Name) – שמיע – shin, mem, yod, ayin
– consume the mighty finished work, see
Shafat (Decide) – שפט – shin, peh, tet
– consume the source of the twisting
Kalev (Heart) – כלב – kaf, lamed, bet
– what is behind, urges forward the house
Yig’al (Redeem) – יגאל – yod, gimel, alef, lamed
– finished work lifts up the first strength urging forward
Hoshea or Y’hoshua (Salvation) – הושע – hey, vav, shin, ayin
– reveal the binding consumed, understand
Benjamin (Son of My People)
Palti (My Deliverer) – פלטי – peh, lamed, vav, yod
– source urges forward the binding of the finished work
Gadi’el (God of My Troops) – גדיאל – gimel, dalet, yod, alef, lamed
– lift up the pathway, the finished work of the first strength, urging forward
Gadi (My Good Fortune) – גדי – gimel, dalet, yod
– lift up the pathway, the finished work
Ammi’el (God of My People) – עמיאל – ayin, mem, yod, alef, lamed
– see the mighty finished work of the first strength urging forward
Setur (Hidden) – סתור – samech, tav, vav, resh
– support the covenant sign of binding the highest authority
Naftali (My Struggle)
Nachbi (Refuge) – נחבי – nun, chet, bet, yod
– life protects the house of the finished work
Ge’u’el (God is Exalted) – גאואל – gimel, alef, vav, alef, lamed
– lift up the first strength binding, the first strength urges forward
The spies left during the season when the first grapes would ripen (July/August). They searched out the Land from the Tzin Desert to Rechov near the entrance to Hamat. From the Negev, they arrived at Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai, Talmai, and the Anakim lived. In the Eshkol Valley (Cluster), they cut off a branch bearing one cluster of grapes that had to be carried on a pole between two of them. They also took pomegranates and figs.
The Tzin Desert was in the southern area of the Promised Land where the Amalekites lived. Rechov (Street) was west of the Jordan River where the Canaanites lived. Hamat (Fortress), near Damascus, Syria, was as far north as the spies traveled. Hebron (To Join) is in the Judean Hills about 19 miles south of Jerusalem. This is the area that Abraham settled and where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah are buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Forty days later, the spies returned to the Pa’ran Desert in Kadesh (Holy) from their expedition. The whole community gathered so the 12 men could show them the fruit of the land and tell them what they had seen.
“We entered the land where you sent us, and indeed it does flow with milk and honey – here is its fruit! However the people living in the land are fierce, and the cities are fortified, and very large. Moreover, we saw the ‘Anakim there. Amalek lives in the area of the Negev; the Hitti, the Y’vusi and the Emori live in the hills; and the Kena’ani live by the sea and along the Yarden” (Numbers 13:27-29).
Kalev wanted to immediately go in and take the Land. There was no doubt in his mind that the Israelite armies could conquer the people. However, the other men who went on the mission had another view of the inhabitants. They were giants! And, the land devoured its people.
“All the people we saw there were giant! We saw the N’filim, the descendants of ‘Anak, who was from the N’filim; to ourselves we looked like grasshoppers by comparison, and we looked that way to them too!” (Numbers 13:32-33)
Giants Among Grasshoppers
While on their reconnaissance mission, the spies encountered giants. The first explanation I ever heard about these ‘giants’ was that they weren’t real people. The Israelites were so afraid of going into battle against an unknown enemy that their fear made the people seem gigantic. However, with the size of the grape cluster and the testimony of the spies, there were gigantic people in the land, and because of their large size, the spies felt like grasshoppers.
‘Men of great stature’ in the Hebrew text is Nephilim. These ‘men of great stature,’ the Anakim, descended from Anak who descended from Arba (Joshua 5:13). Arba founded a city named Kiriath Arba, south of Canaan near Edom and Moab. In Genesis 9:25, Canaan was cursed by Noach because his father had exposed Noach’s nakedness as he slept off a drunken state. Some believe that Ham’s wife, and therefore Canaan, carried the Nephilim gene which is how they (the descendants of Canaan) were on the earth ‘after the flood.’
Og, the King of Bashan, was a giant descended from Repha along with Ishbi-Benob, Saph and a man with 12 fingers and 12 toes. Og’s bed was 14-feet long and 6-feet wide. Eventually Joshua expels the Nephilim from the land except for a remnant that took refuge in Gaza and Ashdod. Goliath, the Philistine that David encountered, was a descendant of the Anakim who had brothers. Amalek was the son of Eliphaz, the grandson of Esau. The descendants of Amalek were known as the Amalekites and have always been the enemies of Isra’el (Deuteronomy 3:11, 2 Joshua 11:22, 2 Samuel 21:15-22).
According to the Book of Enoch, the Nephilim devoured the land by consuming its plants, animals, and even human life. Devouring the land was part of the report given by the spies suggesting their concern was not oversized fear, but actual giants.
Hebrew Word Pictures
Giant or Nephilim – נפלים – nun, peh, lamed, yod, mem
– life source urges forward the finished work mighty
Anakim – ענקים – ayin, nun, kof, yod, mem
– see life, what is behind the finished work mighty
Amalek – עמלק – ayin, mem, lamed, kof
– see the chaos urging forward what is in the past
“Y’hoshua the son of Nun and Kalev the son of Y’funeh, from the detachment that had reconnoitered the land, tore their clothes and said to the whole community of Isra’el, ‘The land we passed through in order to spy it out is an outstandingly good land! If Adonai is pleased with us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us — a land flowing with milk and honey. Just don’t rebel against Adonai. And don’t be afraid of the people living in the land — we’ll eat them up! Their defense has been taken away from them, and Adonai is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!’”(Numbers 14:6-9)
Because of the Nephilim and the fear emanated by ten of the spies, the Israelites wanted to return to Egypt; however, Caleb and Joshua tried to encourage them. They saw the ‘land flowing with milk and honey,’ a land of abundance. If they didn’t rebel against Adonai, He would give them victory over their enemies. Their plea didn’t affect the faithless hearts of the Israelites and they demanded Caleb and Joshua be stoned to death!
Elohim became so angry that He wanted to destroy the entire nation and make from Moshe an even greater nation. Again, Moshe intercedes for the people and for Adonai’s reputation among the Egyptians and the pagan nations around them. He pleads with Adonai to forgive His people according to the ‘greatness of His grace.’ The Hebrew word for ‘grace’ is chesed and is also translated as ‘lovingkindness.’ Chesed is found throughout the Torah and the prophets 193 times showing that Adonai is loving, kind, merciful, full of grace Elohim to His people. This stifles the heresy that Adonai is a mean, judgmental Elohim in the Old Testament.
“So now, please, let Adonai’s power be as great as when you said, ‘Adonai is slow to anger, rich in grace, forgiving offenses and crimes; yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative effects of the parents’ offenses to be experienced by their children and even by the third and fourth generations.’ Please! Forgive the offense of this people according to the greatness of your grace, just as you have borne with this people from Egypt until now” (Numbers 14:17-19).
Hebrew Word Pictures
Grace (Favor) or chen – חן – chet, nun
– protect life
Lovingkindness or chesed – חסד – chet, samech, dalet
– protect and support the pathway
Forgive or salach – סלח – samech, lamed, chet
– support urging forward protection
The first time ‘forgive’ is used in the Hebrew Scriptures is when Abraham pleads for the righteous living in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Unfortunately, there were not enough righteous people, and their sin was so grievous that Elohim destroyed them. They were never given an opportunity to repent. The next time ‘forgive’ is occurs is when Pharaoh becomes overwhelmed with the plagues and feigns repentance only to harden his heart again. When the children of Isra’el sin against ‘I Am’ with the golden calf, Moshe pleads with Him to ‘forgive’ their sin. Moshe pleads again with Adonai to ‘forgive’ His people so that His Name is not profaned among the nations.
“Adonai answered, ‘I have forgiven, as you have asked. But as sure as I live, and that the whole earth is filled with the glory of Adonai, none of the people who saw my glory and the signs I did in Egypt and in the desert, yet tested me these ten times and did not listen to my voice, will see the land I swore to their ancestors! None of those who treated me with contempt will see it. But my servant Kalev, because he had a different Spirit with him and has fully followed me — him I will bring into the land he entered, and it will belong to his descendants’” (Numbers 14:20-24).
Though Elohim forgives the Israelites, there are consequences to their sin and rebellion. His justice must prevail or they would consider Him a ‘pushover.’ They will wander in the desert 40 years, one year for each day the spies were in the Promised Land. Adults over 20 who saw His glory and deliverance from Egypt would die in the wilderness. Their children, however, would live to enter the Promised Land. The ten spies whose fearful hearts led the people into rebellion immediately died in a plague. Caleb and Joshua who had stood firm in their faith were the only two who left Egypt who would enter the Promised Land.
“Your carcasses will fall in this desert! Every single one of you who were included in the census over the age of twenty, you who have complained against me, will certainly not enter the land … except for Kalev the son of Y’funeh and Y’hoshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would be taken as booty — them I will bring in. They will know the land you have rejected. But you, your carcasses will fall in this desert; and your children will wander about in the desert for forty years bearing the consequences of your prostitutions until the desert eats up your carcasses. It will be a year for every day you spent reconnoitering the land that you will bear the consequences of your offenses — forty days, forty years. Then you will know what it means to oppose me! I, Adonai, have spoken.’ I will certainly do this to this whole evil community who have assembled together against me — they will be destroyed in this desert and die there’” (Numbers 14:29-35).
When faced with the consequences of their sin, the Israelites had remorse. The New International Version says, “They mourned bitterly.” Rather than admitting their faithlessness and repenting, they devise a ‘fig-leaf’ way to correct the situation.
The next morning a group of Israelites decided they would go to the high country and fight the Amalekites and the Canaanites. Moshe warns them that Elohim wouldn’t be with them because He had already decided their fate. They become presumptuous in the face of Elohim and go to the hill country without Moshe or the Ark of the Covenant. The Amalekites and Canaanites descend upon them and push them all the way back to Hormah.
Hebrew Word Pictures
Remorse or chartah – חרטה – chet, resh, tet, hey
– protect highest authority’s twisting, behold
Presumptuous or zed – זד – zayin, dalet
– divide the pathway
The rebellion of a few fearful men led an entire nation into rebellion and transformed a ten-day journey into a 40-year trek through the wilderness. The hope of entering the Promised Land was denied those who had been delivered from Egypt and given to their children. Caleb and Joshua will enter the Land, but the rest of their peers will die along the way.
Moshe changes Hoshea’s name to Y’hoshua in Numbers 13:15. Though Hoshea means ‘help and salvation of Elohim,’ Y’hoshua is attached to the name of Adonai from where that salvation comes. Changing Joshua’s name becomes prophetic to Yeshua, the salvation of Isra’el.
Y’hoshua is from the Tribe of Ephraim; and Kalev meaning ‘heart’ is from the Tribe of Judah. The faithfulness of these two men brings Isra’el into the Promised Land as one nation under their leadership. After the death of King Solomon, Isra’el divides into the House of Isra’el (Ephraim) and the House of Judah. These two kingdoms remain divided today and many wait for the prophecy of Ezekiel to be fulfilled. Even the disciples hoped for the restoration of Isra’el when Judah and Ephraim come together as two sticks in the hand of Elohim as they were in the days of Kalev and Y’hoshua –– a united nation with ‘a heart for the salvation of Adonai.’
“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him. Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’ Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.’”
“When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand. Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Isra’el. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms’” (Ezekiel 37:15-22).
One Torah for Isra’el and the Foreigner
“For this community there will be the same law for you as for the foreigner living with you; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations; the foreigner is to be treated the same way before Adonai as yourselves. The same Torah and standard of judgment will apply to both you and the foreigner living with you” (Numbers 15:14-16).
“You are to have one law for whoever it is that does something wrong by mistake” (Numbers 15:29).
Elohim knew that Isra’el, along with the foreigners who joined with her, would continue to ‘fall short of the mark’ and sin, not always intentionally, but through a loss of knowledge. He wanted His children to have a vision of hope for entering the Promised Land. He gave them regulations for burnt offerings, sacrifices for fulfilling a vow, a voluntary offering, and His ‘appointed times.’ Every citizen of Isra’el or foreigner who wanted to draw near to Adonai were to follow the same regulations.
“But an individual who does something wrong intentionally, whether a citizen or a foreigner, is blaspheming Adonai. That person will be cut off from his people. Because he has had contempt for the word of Adonai and has disobeyed his command, that person will be cut off completely; his offense will remain with him” (Numbers 15:30-31).
The definition of ‘blasphemy’ is ‘the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.’ Blasphemy occurs when an individual, whether from Isra’el or a foreigner, intentionally breaks a command showing contempt for Adonai’s word. It also includes insulting and showing lack of reverence for Him and His sacred commandments.
Some will argue about the ‘end’ of certain commandments. They not only blaspheme the Word of Adonai with their arguments, but mock the righteous who continue to obey the commandments. My family has been mocked by Christians when we say we eat according to Elohim’s dietary instructions. Bacon is flaunted in our faces in such a way that could only be described as blasphemous. This intentional sin carries a severe consequence: to be cut off from the people of Isra’el, and, in essence, they are.
In this post-modern world, even some ‘faith-based’ movies are blasphemous. Many films have been produced that entice believers into the theater because the title or trailer that includes some Biblical names or concepts. Once in the theater, the ‘father of lies’ builds on the great deception and many believers subtly fall away from Truth into a humanistic world view that blasphemes Adonai.
Sabbath Sabbath Sabbath
Adonai is serious about the Sabbath. First, the Israelites learned He was their Provider when He gave them manna. They learned that His instructions were to be followed or their manna would become worm infested. They learned about the importance of remembering the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments. They were no longer slaves and were not to work like slaves, but cease their work as Elohim did. In the moed’im, Sabbath became the first ‘appointed time.’ Whenever Adonai gives Moshe regulations, there is one more command about Sabbath, because forgetting it blasphemes Adonai.
A man is stoned to death outside the camp by the entire community of Isra’el for gathering wood on the Sabbath. Regulation: Do not gather wood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:36).
Tzizit – Tassels
“Speak to the people of Isra’el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of Adonai’s mitzvot and obey them, so that you won’t go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; but it will help you remember and obey all my mitzvot and be holy for your God. I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to be your God. I am Adonai your God” (Numbers 15:38-41).
Next to this Scripture, I had written shomer mitzvot which means ‘guardian of the commandments.’ The purpose for wearing tzizit was to help the Israelites remember to guard all of Adonai’s commands. He wanted them to have a physical reminder of His commandments on their garments so they would not go wherever their heart led them and prostitute themselves to other gods. By obeying this mitzvah, they would live as Kingdom servants of ‘I Am.’
The blue thread reminded them the commands came from Adonai Himself, from the realm of heaven where He dwells. According to the Talmud, the blue for the thread is techelet that came from a sea invertebrate called the chillazon and looked like a fish. Its body and blood were the color of the sea and it buried itself in the sand and rose to the surface of the sea once every 70 years making the dye rare and very expensive.
The Torah Observant and Hebrew Roots movements teach that everyone, men and women, should wear tzizit based on the verse ‘one Torah for the citizen and the foreigner.’ The Hebrew rendering of Israelites, however, is ben Isra’el or ‘sons of Isra’el.’ Ben is inclusive of all men of Isra’el whether they are fathers, sons, grandsons or nephews, but does not include women. Jewish law says that women should not wear tzizit because it would be like wearing the clothing of the opposite gender. Also, gentiles are not to wear them either. This command was specifically given to the men of Isra’el so they would ‘guard the commandments’ and be a light to the nations around them. This instruction enabled them to do it. Today, it is easy to recognize an observant Jewish man as they still wear tzizit.
As gentiles join the Commonwealth of Isra’el, they need to be respectful of a community that existed long before they entered it. Thousands of years of rabbinical study and midrash have been documented regarding this subject before any of us came into the faith of our father Abraham –– who did not wear tzizit.
From a spiritual aspect, the purpose for the tzizit was to remember the commandments. With the institution of the new covenant, the Ruach haKodesh writes the commandments on our hearts. It is the Ruach haKodesh that convicts us of sin and guides us into all Truth. The faithful who walk according to the Ruach haKodesh should not need a physical reminder on their garments of the commandments, whether Jew or gentile, male or female.
Sha’ul spoke directly to the gentiles when he said they were remain in the condition in which they were called (1 Corinthians 7:20). This means that gentiles should not try to be something they are not –– Israelite Jews. This borders on coveting a lineage and creates an identity crisis in the Body of Messiah. Though believing gentiles become part of the Commonwealth of Isra’el, their DNA does not change.
Just as Jewish followers of Yeshua along with the nations have different callings, so do men and women. Sha’ul explains this difference between men and women and their respective roles in the Body of Messiah. Women need a ‘sign of authority’ and it is the head covering or veil, not multicolored tzizit hanging from their purses (1 Corinthians 11). Our unity in uniqueness is the witness to the world that both the Jew and gentile, male and female, worship the Elohim of Isra’el together.
From personal experience from visiting Orthodox Jewish synagogues and the Western Wall in Jerusalem, it is enough witness to discuss Yeshua as Messiah as a gentile who keeps the Shabbat, celebrates Pesach and eats according Levitical dietary regulations. Tzizit on me, a gentile woman, would not have been merely a stumbling block, it would have been offensive and put a dividing wall between us instead of breaking one down. It was a powerful testimony of Messiah Yeshua that I had the commandments written on my heart as promised in the new covenant, more than if I had worn tzizit.
Yeshua and Blasphemy
“Those who are not with me are against me, and those who do not gather with me are scattering. Because of this, I tell you that people will be forgiven any sin and blasphemy, but blaspheming the Ruach haKodesh will not be forgiven. One can say something against the Son of Man and be forgiven; but whoever keeps on speaking against the Ruach haKodesh will never be forgiven, neither in the ‘olam hazeh’ [this world] nor in the ‘olam haba” [world to come] (Matthew 12:31-32).
“Yes! I tell you that people will be forgiven all sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; however, someone who blasphemes against the Ruach haKodesh never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin.” For they had been saying, “He has an unclean spirit in him” (Mark 3:28-30).
“When Yeshua saw their trust, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ The Torah-teachers and the P’rushim began thinking, ‘Who is this fellow that speaks such blasphemies? Who can forgive sin except God?’ But Yeshua, knowing what they were thinking, answered, ‘Why are you turning over such thoughts in your hearts?’” (Luke 5:20-22)
“The Judeans replied, ‘We are not stoning you for any good deed, but for blasphemy — because you, who are only a man, are making yourself out to be God.’ Yeshua answered them, ‘Isn’t it written in your Torah, I have said, You people are Elohim? If he called ‘elohim’ the people to whom the word of Elohim was addressed (and the Tanakh cannot be broken), then are you telling the one whom the Father set apart as holy and sent into the world, ‘You are committing blasphemy,’ just because I said, ‘I am a son of Elohim?’” (John 10:33-36)
“It [the beast] was given a mouth speaking arrogant blasphemies; and it was given authority to act for forty-two months. So it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God to insult his name and his Sh’khinah, and those living in heaven; it was allowed to make war on God’s holy people and to defeat them; and it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation” (Revelation 13:5-7).
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