Valley of Segola



Chapters 13-14 (quotes taken from the Lamsa version, Holy Bible, ISBN for example 9780060649234)

As he nears the land of Canaan, Moses sends ahead scouts to reconnoitre the terrain. He directs them to ascertain both the enemy’s strength and the fertility of their land.

To their delight, the land appears fertile,

And they came as far as the valley of Segola, and cut down from there a branch with one bunch of grapes, and they carried it between two of them on a pole; and they brought some pomegranates and some figs…

And they returned from spying out the land after forty days.

And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, to the wilderness of Paran, to Rakim; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.[1]

The tactical situation appears less propitious. Giants and their offspring infest the land. Fortifications gird the cities.

There we saw giants, the sons of giants, the descendants of giants; and we… [appeared] in their sight like grasshoppers…[2]

Few field surveys in the history of warfare can have returned such unfavourable results. Little wonder that most of the Israelites lose heart,

And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, Would God we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would God that we had died in this wilderness.

Why has the Lord brought up into this land, to fall by the sword…

And they said to one another, Let us appoint a leader, and let us return to Egypt.

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jophaniah… rent their clothes;

And they said to all the congregation of the children of Israel…

If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows indeed with milk and honey…

But the whole congregation said to stone them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

And the Lord said to Moses, How long will this people provoke me? And how long will they not believe me, for all the signs which I have done among them?

I will smite them with pestilence and destroy them, and I will make of you a nation… greater and mightier than they.[3]

Through his readiness to carry out mass executions for the crime of murmuring, God shows again his infinite love and mercy. Again it falls to Moses to talk him down,

And Moses said to the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it (for thou didst bring up this people in thy might from among them), [4]

Can fears about how the news might play among the Egyptians stay the hand of a God?

And if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations who have heard the fame of thee will say,
Because the Lord… [couldn’t] bring this people into the land which he swore to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness.

And now, let they power, O Lord… great according as thou hast spoken, saying,

The Lord… longsuffering and of great mercy, and thou forgivest iniquity and transgression, by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon their children’s children to the third and forth generation. Pardon the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven them from Egypt even until now.

And the Lord said to Moses, I have forgiven them according to your word…

And yet all the men who have seen my glory and signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness have tempted me, behold now, these ten times; and have not hearkened to my voice;

Surely they shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither shall any one of those who provoked me see it…

(Now the Amalekties and Canaanities dwelt in the mountains.) Tomorrow turn and set out for the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.

And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,

How long shall this wicked congregation murmur in my presence? I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel which they murmur in my presence.

Say to them, As I live, says the Lord, as you have spoken in my presence, so will I do to you;

Your corpses shall fall in this wilderness… from twenty years old and upward, because you have murmured against me.

You shall not come into the land concerning which I swore to make you dwell therin, except Caleb the son of Jophaniah, and Joshua the son of Nun.

But your little ones, who you said would become prey, and your sons who today do not know good and evil, they shall enter into the land, and I will bring them there, and they shall know the land which you have despised.
But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness.

And your sons… shepherds forty years in this wilderness, and shall suffer for your whoredom until your corpses… consumed in the wilderness.

According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, even forty days, a year for each day, shall you suffer for your iniquities, forty years…

And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation murmur against him by publishing an evil report concerning the land.

These men who published an evil report of the land died by sudden plague before the Lord.[5]

Those men just reported what they saw. One imagines that few scouts ever made that mistake again.

[1] Numbers 13; 23, 25-26. (Lamsa version)
[2] Numbers 13; 33. (Lamsa version)
[3] Numbers 14; 2-6, 8, 10-12. (Lamsa version)
[4] Numbers 14; 13. (Lamsa version)
[5] Numbers 14; 15-20, 22-23, 24-34, 36-37. (Lamsa version)

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