The Spies and the Tribes (14 June, 2015, 27 Sivan, 5775)
The Israelites sent 12 spies into the Land of Canaan. 10 of them brought back a bad report and demoralized the people who rebelled and were punished. Two of the spies had issued a favorable account. These were Joshua from the Tribes of Ephraim and Caleb from Judah. Today we see the State of Israel being settled by Judah with support from Ephraim represented by the USA, Britain, Australia, and Canada. All the other Israelite nations are antagonistic. Is the experience of the Spies being repeated?
In Numbers 13:1-14:45 we read about the Spies who brought back a bad report concerning the Promised Land.
One prince from each of the Tribes was sent to spy out the Land.
According to the Commentary of the Natziv (Rabbi Naftoli Zvi Yehuda Berlin, 1816-1893), the spies split up into six teams of two. Each team took a different portion of the land to spy out. After 40 days they returned.
Most of the spies reported that the Land was indeed very fertile but it was occupied by different formidable peoples with fortified cities.
A negative report was then given by 10 out of the 12.
This is the report they brought back:
25 When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days, 26 they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Thus they told him, and said, 'We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 'Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 'Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.'
Two of the spies were positive: These were Joshua from the Tribe of Ephraim and Caleb from the Tribe of Judah.
All the other were negative including the representative of Manasseh who bore the interesting name of Gaddi the son of Susi (Numbers 13:11).
"Gaddi the son of Susi" could be interpreted to mean "Young Kid son of My Horse". or something like that.
Joshua and Caleb tried to convince the Israelites that the Land could be conquered and that they should go ahead.
They had however been disheartened by the report of the other spies.
30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, 'We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.' 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.' 32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, 'The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. 33 'There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.'
1 Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, 'Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 '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?' 4 So they said to one another, 'Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.'
As a result of this rebellion God spoke of wishing to wipe out the whole nation and to create a new people from descendants of Moses.
Moses prevailed upon the Almighty to forgive them and HE did so BUT all that generation were henceforth destined to die in the wilderness with the exception of Caleb and Joshua.. Only their children would enter the Land.
When the Israelites heard this they suddenly had a change of heart. They then wanted to go into the Land straight away and conquer it. Moses warned them that such action lack the blessing of God Almighty and would end in disaster. They would not listen but tried to go forward and suffered a defeat at the hands of the Amalekites and Canaanites of the hill country (Numbers 14:45).
A more detailed discussion on some of these and other points is available at:
Shelach: Entering the Land
There may be a parallel to our own times.
There were 12 spies, one spy for each Tribe.
The representative factor of the spies for their individual tribes was emphasized by the Commentator Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 1534-1572).
We have Judah represented by Caleb wanting to enter the Land and eventually doing so.
We also have Ephraim in the person of Joshua who was to lead the Israelites in conquering and apportioning the Country of Canaan.
Levi did not send a spy but was represented by Moses.
Today Judah is to be found amongst the Jews.
Ephraim is mainly the English-speaking peoples especially Britain and her offshoots.
Manasseh is the USA as far as tribal representation is concerned BUT Numerically (as we have repeated quite often) descendants of Ephraim may be physically predominant in the USA.
In our time Judah is returning to the Land.
Britain helped Judah get into the Land and lay the foundations for a Jewish State.
Nowadays nearly ALL nations of the world are against Judah and the State of Israel.
The USA is an exception.
Britain, Canada, and Australia are also on the whole favorable. None of these nations is 100% committed to helping Israel but the USA is fairly firmly in that direction despite reservations amongst its ruling elites.
Britain, Canada, and Australia are liable to turn against Israel since the rest of the world has done so and they themselves contain negative elements. Nevertheless, the feeling is that Britain, Canada, and Australia will continue to back Israel to some degree.
The other nations whom we identify as containing significant proportion of Israelites from the Ten Tribes are the nations of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Some of these nations in the past were quite friendly towards Israel but now they are mostly against her from the diplomatic point of view. Ireland unfortunately was always negative to the shame of many of its sons.
Is there a pattern here?
Is the present situation reminiscent of the 12 Spies when only TWO brought back a favorable report?
Those two were from the Tribes of Judah and Ephraim.
Is there something we should learn from this?