SynopsisIn this passage, Moses recounts the Israelites’ refusal to enter the Promised Land. (This is referring to the story which originally happened in Numbers 14, and continues on from the last passage.)
I guess the best way to start this passage off is to just quote Moses’ own words:
But you were unwilling to go up [into the Promised Land]; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’”
Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.
Because of this, the LORD became angry with the Israelites, and swore that nobody from the current generation of the Israelites would enter the Promised Land; they would all die in the desert—except for Caleb and Joshua—and the next generation would be the ones to enter. (The next generation being, of course, the people Moses are speaking to right now.) The LORD describes them thusly:
And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it. (verse 39)
Moses also takes this chance to blame the Israelites, for the fact that he’s not allowed to go with them into the Promised Land:
Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either.” (verse 37)
I’m not sure if I agree with Moses when he says that he’s not being allowed to enter because of the Israelites; he has his own sin to account for, as well. But I can sense Moses’ bitterness through much of the book of Deuteronomy…
Anyway, on with the story. The Israelites changed their minds, and decided to go into the Promised Land anyway. But the LORD told them, through Moses, that He wouldn’t be going with them, so they would be defeated. But they didn’t listen, and went into the Promised Land anyway, whereupon the Amorites “chased [them] like a swarm of bees” (verse 44). They came back and wept before the LORD, but He paid no attention to their weeping—He turned a deaf ear.