The People Rebel
1 And all the congregation cried out with a loud voice, and [they] wept that night. 2 All the Israelites grumbled and deplored their situation, accusing Moses and Aaron, to whom the whole congregation said, Would that we had died in Egypt! Or that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why does the Lord bring us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and little ones will be a prey. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt? 4 And they said one to another, Let us choose a captain and return to Egypt.
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of Israelites. 6 And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among the scouts who had searched the land, rent their clothes, 7 And they said to all the company of Israelites, The land through which we passed as scouts is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their defense and the shadow [of protection] is removed from over them, but the Lord is with us. Fear them not. 10 But all the congregation said to stone [Joshua and Caleb] with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent of Meeting before all the Israelites.
Moses Pleads for the People
11 And the Lord said to Moses, How long will this people provoke (spurn, despise) Me? And how long will it be before they believe Me [trusting in, relying on, clinging to Me], for all the signs which I have performed among them? 12 I will smite them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and will make of you [Moses] a nation greater and mightier than they.
13 But Moses said to the Lord, Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for You brought up this people in Your might from among them. 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 [of Israel], that You, Lord, are seen face to face, and that Your cloud stands over them, and that You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if You kill all this people as one man, then the nations that have heard Your fame will say, 16 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which He swore to give to them, therefore He has slain them in the wilderness. 17 And now, I pray You, let the power of my Lord be great, as You have promised, saying, 18 The Lord is long-suffering and slow to anger, and abundant in mercy and loving-kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and fourth generation. 19 Pardon, I pray You, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your mercy and loving-kindness, just as You have forgiven [them] from Egypt until now.
The Lord Pardons and Rebukes
20 And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to your word. 21 But truly as I live and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, 22 Because all those men who have seen My glory and My [miraculous] signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tested and proved Me these ten times and have not heeded My voice, 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I swore to give to their fathers; nor shall any who provoked (spurned, despised) Me see it. 24 But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. 25 Now because the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valley, tomorrow turn and go into the wilderness by way of the Red Sea.
26 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 27 How long will this evil congregation murmur against Me? I have heard the complaints the Israelites murmur against Me. 28 Tell them, As I live, says the Lord, what you have said in My hearing I will do to you: 29 Your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness -- "of all who were numbered of you, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against Me, 30 Surely none shall come into the land in which I swore to make you dwell, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 But your little ones whom you said would be a prey, them will I bring in and they shall know the land which you have despised and rejected. 32 But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your children shall be wanderers and shepherds in the wilderness for forty years and shall suffer for your whoredoms (your infidelity to your espoused God), until your corpses are consumed in the wilderness. 34 After the number of the days in which you spied out the land [of Canaan], even forty days, for each day a year shall you bear and suffer for your iniquities, even for forty years, and you shall know My displeasure [the revoking of My promise and My estrangement]. 35 I the Lord have spoken; surely this will I do to all this evil congregation who is gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed [by war, disease, plagues], and here they shall die.
36 And the men whom Moses sent to search the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble and complain against him by bringing back a slanderous report of the land, 37 Even those men who brought the evil report of the land died by a plague before the Lord. 38 But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among the men who went to search the land, lived still.
39 Moses told [the Lord's] words to all the Israelites, and [they] mourned greatly. 40 And they rose early in the morning and went up to the top of the mountain, saying, Behold, we are here, and we intend to go up to the place which the Lord has promised, for we have sinned. 41 But Moses said, Why now do you transgress the command of the Lord [to turn back by way of the Red Sea], since it will not succeed? 42 Go not up, for the Lord is not among you, that you be not struck down before your enemies. 43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned away from following after the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you. 44 But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country; however, neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed out of the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites came down and the Canaanites who dwelt in that hill country and smote the Israelites and beat them back, even as far as Hormah.