Numbers 13–14: Scoping Out the Promised Land

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 66–65

What is the most difficult thing you ever had to do to keep the Lord’s commandments or receive a promised blessing from Him? Why did you do it? What would have happened if you hadn’t?When the Lord delivered the Israelites from Egypt, He said He would lead them into the land of Canaan, which was the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their posterity forever. After many miracles and over a year of difficult travels in the wilderness, the Israelites finally arrived at the borders of this promised land. Numbers 13–14 tells the story of twelve men, one from each tribe, who were sent to find out what the land looked like and who lived there. We also read about their report to the people and what the people decided to do about what they heard.As you read Numbers 13–14, ask yourself the following question: When faced with what seems to be a very difficult task from the Lord, do I react with fear or with faith? If most people around you chose fear over faith, how might you be affected? (see D&C 30:1–2). The way you respond tells how much you trust the Lord—how much you believe that if He gives a commandment or a promise He has also prepared a way for you to accomplish it (see 1 Nephi 3:7).

Understanding the Scriptures

Numbers 13

Oshea, Jehoshua (vv. 8, 16)Joshua 
Bare (v. 23)Carried 
Two (v. 23)Two men 
Staff (v. 23)Straight stick 
Stilled (v. 30)Quieted 
Stature (v. 32)Size 

Numbers 14

Prey (vv. 3, 31)Something captured 
Rent their clothes (v. 6)Tore their clothes as a sign of great sorrow 
Bade (v. 10)Requested 
Provoke, provoked (vv. 11, 23)Make angry 
Ere (v. 11)Before 
Pestilence (v. 12)Plague, disease 
Clearing the guilty (v. 18)Letting the guilty go without punishment 
Pardon, pardoned (vv. 19–20)Forgive 
Carcases (vv. 29, 32–33)Dead bodies 
Fall (v. 29)Die 
Save (v. 30)Except 
Despised (v. 31)Rejected 
Wasted (v. 33)Dead and decayed 
Slander (v. 36)Bad report 
Presumed (v. 44)Knowingly moved on without permission (an act of defiance) 
Discomfited (v. 45)Clearly defeated 

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–D) as you study Numbers 13–14.

Activity A iconCreate an Advertisement

Create an advertisement from the point of view of Joshua or Caleb to encourage the Israelites to enter the promised land.

Activity B iconConvince the Israelites

  1. 1.

    Give the reasons why most of the Israelites did not want to enter the promised land.

  2. 2.

    Use the events and teachings you already read about in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, or the first part of Numbers to convince the Israelites to go forward and enter their land of promise.

Activity C iconCompare Events in the Story

  1. 1.

    Summarize the response of the children of Israel to the report of the spies (found in Numbers 14:1–4).

  2. 2.

    Read Numbers 14:28–33 and compare what the children of Israel said to what the Lord said about their lack of faith.

Activity D icon“We Can Do This on Our Own”

What did the Israelites decide to do, and why didn’t they succeed?