Commentary on Parashat Sh'lach, Numbers 13:1 - 15:41
1. What was the background of each of the 12 men sent out as spies?
2. Since spies were sent from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, sons of Joseph, why weren’t there 13 spies?
3. Moses changed the name of one of the spies from what to what? What is the difference?
4. Name four things the spies were told to look for.
5. The spies were told to bring back which fruit of the land? This indicates it was which month of the year?
6. From what place did they bring a large cluster of grapes? What other fruits did they bring?
7. How long did they spend on this spying mission? Name three other prominent uses of this same length of time in the Torah.
8. How did the spies describe the people they saw, particularly the sons of Anak?
9. When the people heard the report of the spies, what was their reaction?
10. Two of the spies dissented from the majority report. What were their full names?
11. What was God’s reaction to the people, and what did he say he was going to do? What did Moses reply?
12. How then did God determine to punish the people?
13. What was the punishment for those spies who brought the evil report?
1. The 12 men sent as spies were princes (13:2).
2. There was no one sent from the tribe of Levi (13:4-15).
3. Moses changed Hosea’s name to Joshua. Hosea means “God has helped” and Joshua means “God will help” (13:16).
4. The spies were supposed to investigate whether those who dwelt in the land were strong or weak, whether they were few or many, whether they dwelt in camps or strongholds; whether the land was good or bad, fat or lean, and whether it had wood (13:17-20).
5. They were told to bring back the first ripe grapes; therefore it was late July or August (Tammuz or Elul ) (13:23-24).
6. They brought the cluster from the Valley of Eshkol. They also brought figs and pomegranates (13:23).
7. They spent 40 days on this spying mission (13:25). The Israelites spent 40 years in the desert (14:33). Moses was on the mount for 40 days (Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 9:9). There were 40 days and 40 nights of rain during the flood (Genesis 7:17).
8. They described the people they saw as giants. The spies felt that they looked like grasshoppers in the eyes of the “giants” (13:33).
9. The people thought it would have been better if they had died in the land of Egypt or in the wilderness. They wanted to appoint a leader to take them back to Egypt (14:2-3).
10. The two spies were Caleb ben Jephunneh and Joshua ben Nun (14:6-7).
11. God said that he would destroy all of the people except Moses, and start over with a new nation (14:11-12). Moses said that when the Egyptians hear that God had destroyed his people, they will say that after He had taken them out with miracles, He was unable to bring them into the land he had sworn to them (14:13-15).
12. God determined that all those over the age of 20, except Joshua and Caleb, would perish in the desert. Joshua, Caleb, and the younger generation would be allowed to go into the Land (14:29-33).
13. The spies who brought the evil report died of a plague (14:37).
Provided by special arrangement with the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.