4. WILDERNESS WANDERINGS (NUMBERS)
During the year spent before sinai we have four leading events, as follows:
(1) To Kadesh-barnea
After a solemn observance of the Passover, the hosts of Israel, numbering upwards of two millions, broke camp, and, led on by the pillar of cloud, set out toward Canaan, reaching Kadesh-barnea, on its southern shore, at the time of the first ripe grapes, in the month of September.
(2) The spies sent
In obedience to the command of Jehovah, twelve men, selected from the Twelve Tribes of Israel, went up throughout the whole land to spy it out. On their return they brought back a unanimous report as to the fertility and resources of the land, and as to the fierceness of its inhabitants. Here their agreement ceased. Ten men, declaring that they could not take the land, made the hearts of the people melt with fear. The other two, Caleb and Joshua, bravely withstood the majority, saying, “Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13: 30).
(3) The people turned back
The two men were unable to overcome the tide of doubt and dismay caused by the adverse report of the ten. The courage and faith of Israel signally failed and the people turned back, to wander in the desert until that generation of unbelieving men was dead.
(4) Wilderness Wanderings
For thirty-seven and a half years the children of Israel lived the nomadic life of the desert. We are not to to suppose that the people traveled constantly during this time, but rather that they lived a wandering and unsettled life, moving from place to place as the necessities of water and pasturage required.