Numbers 14

The People Rebel

14 Then all the congregation [a]raised their voices and cried out, and the people wept [b]that night. And all the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the entire congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or even if we had died in this wilderness! So why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder! Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and return to Egypt!”

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our [c]prey. Their [d]protection is gone from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.

Moses Pleads for the People

11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people be disrespectful to Me? And how long will they not [e]believe in Me, despite all the signs that I have performed in their midst? 12 I will strike them with [f]plague and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.”

13 But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for by Your strength You brought this people up from their midst, 14 and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, Lord, are in the midst of this people, because You, Lord, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if You put this people to death [g]all at once, then the nations who have heard of Your fame will [h]say, 16 ‘Since the Lord could not bring this people into the land which He promised them by oath, He slaughtered them in the wilderness.’ 17 So now, please, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in mercy, forgiving wrongdoing and violation of His Law; but He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, inflicting the [i]punishment of the fathers on the children [j]to the third and the fourth generations.’ 19 Please forgive the guilt of this people in accordance with the greatness of Your mercy, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”

The Lord Pardons and Rebukes

20 So the Lord said, “I have forgiven them in accordance with your word; 21 however, as I live, [k]all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. 22 Certainly all the people who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, 23 shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who were disrespectful to Me see it. 24 But as for My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring him into the land which he [l]entered, and his [m]descendants shall take possession of it. 25 Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys; turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way of the [n]Red Sea.”

26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron again, saying, 27 “How long shall I put up with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel which they are [o]voicing against Me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ declares the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you; 29 your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness, all your [p]numbered men according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. 30 By no means will you come into the land where I [q]swore to settle you, except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 Your children, however, whom you said would become plunder—I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness. 33 Also, your sons will be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and they will [r]suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your bodies perish in the wilderness. 34 In accordance with the number of days that you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall suffer the punishment for your [s]guilt a year, that is, forty years, and you will know My opposition. 35 I, the Lord, have spoken, I certainly will do this to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. They shall be worn out in this wilderness, and there they shall die.’”

36 As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, and who returned and led all the congregation to grumble against him by bringing a bad report about the land, 37 those men who brought the bad report of the land also died by a plague in the presence of the Lord. 38 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive out of those men who went to spy out the land.

Israel Repulsed

39 Now when Moses spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people mourned greatly. 40 In the morning, however, they got up early and went up to the [t]ridge of the hill country, saying, “Here we are; and we will go up to the place which the Lord has [u]promised, for [v]we have sinned.” 41 But Moses said, “Why then are you violating the [w]command of the Lord, when doing so will not succeed? 42 Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, [x]to prevent you from being defeated [y]by your enemies. 43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there [z]to confront you, and you will fall by the sword, since you have turned back from following the Lord. And the Lord will not be with you.” 44 But they foolishly dared to go up to the [aa]ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses left the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down, and struck them and scattered them as far as Hormah.


  1. Numbers 14:1 Lit raised and gave their voice
  2. Numbers 14:1 Lit in that
  3. Numbers 14:9 Lit food
  4. Numbers 14:9 Lit shadow
  5. Numbers 14:11 Or trust in
  6. Numbers 14:12 Lit the plague
  7. Numbers 14:15 Lit as one man
  8. Numbers 14:15 Lit say, saying
  9. Numbers 14:18 I.e., punishment for the wrongdoing
  10. Numbers 14:18 Lit on
  11. Numbers 14:21 Lit and all
  12. Numbers 14:24 Lit entered there
  13. Numbers 14:24 Lit seed
  14. Numbers 14:25 Lit Sea of Reeds
  15. Numbers 14:27 Lit complaining
  16. Numbers 14:29 Lit mustered
  17. Numbers 14:30 Lit raised My hand
  18. Numbers 14:33 Lit bear
  19. Numbers 14:34 Or wrongdoings
  20. Numbers 14:40 Or top of the mountain
  21. Numbers 14:40 Lit said
  22. Numbers 14:40 I.e., by lacking faith to go
  23. Numbers 14:41 Lit mouth
  24. Numbers 14:42 Lit so that you are not
  25. Numbers 14:42 Lit before
  26. Numbers 14:43 Lit before you
  27. Numbers 14:44 Or top of the mountain