1 The whole community then cried out in dismay, and the people wept all that night.
2 All the Israelites muttered at Moses and Aaron, and the whole community said to them, 'Would to God we had died in Egypt, or even that we had died in this desert!
3 Why has Yahweh brought us to this country, for us to perish by the sword and our wives and children to be seized as booty? Should we not do better to go back to Egypt?'
4 And they said to one another, 'Let us appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.'
5 At this, Moses and Aaron threw themselves on their faces in front of the whole assembled community of Israelites,
6 while Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, two of the men who had reconnoitred the country, tore their clothes
7 and addressed the whole community of Israelites as follows, 'The country we went to reconnoitre is a good country, an excellent country.
8 If Yahweh is pleased with us, he will lead us into this country and give it to us. It is a country flowing with milk and honey.
9 But do not rebel against Yahweh or be afraid of the people of the country, for we shall gobble them up. Their protecting shade has deserted them, while we have Yahweh on our side. Do not be afraid of them.'
10 The whole community was talking of stoning them, when the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the Israelites, inside the Tent of Meeting,
11 and Yahweh said to Moses: 'How much longer will these people treat me with contempt? How much longer will they refuse to trust me, in spite of all the signs I have displayed among them?
12 I shall strike them with pestilence and disown them. And of you I shall make a new nation, greater and mightier than they are.'
13 Moses said to Yahweh: 'Suppose the Egyptians hear about this -- for by your power you brought these people out of their country-
14 and tell the people living in this country. They have heard that you, Yahweh, are with this people, and that you, Yahweh, show yourself to them face to face; that your cloud stands over them and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
15 If you kill this people now as though it were one man, then the nations who have heard about you will say,
16 "Yahweh was not able to bring this people into the country which he had sworn to give them, and so he has slaughtered them in the desert."
17 No, my Lord! Now is the time to assert your power as you promised when you said, earlier,
18 "Yahweh, slow to anger and rich in faithful love, forgiving faults and transgression, and yet letting nothing go unchecked, punishing the parents' guilt in the children to the third and fourth generation."
19 In your most faithful love, please forgive this people's guilt, as you have done from Egypt until now.'
20 Yahweh said, 'I forgive them as you ask.
21 But -- as I live, and as the glory of Yahweh fills the whole world-
22 of all these people who have seen my glory and the signs that I worked in Egypt and in the desert, who have put me to the test ten times already and not obeyed my voice,
23 not one shall see the country which I promised to give their ancestors. Not one of those who have treated me contemptuously will see it.
24 However, since my servant Caleb is of another spirit and since he has obeyed me completely, I shall bring him into the country where he has been, and his descendants will own it
25 (the Amalekites and Canaanites occupy the plain). Tomorrow you will turn about and go back into the desert, in the direction of the Sea of Suph.'
26 Yahweh then spoke to Moses and Aaron and said:
27 'How much longer am I to endure this perverse community muttering against me? I have heard what the Israelites mutter against me.
28 Say to them, "As I live, Yahweh declares, I shall do to you what I have heard you saying.
29 In this desert your dead bodies will fall, all you who were counted in the census, from the age of twenty years and over who have muttered against me.
30 I swear none of you will enter the country where I swore most solemnly to settle you, except Caleb son of Jephunneh, and Joshua son of Nun.
31 Your children, who you said would be seized as booty, will be the ones whom I shall bring in so that they get to know the country you disdained,
32 but, as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this desert
33 and your children will be nomads in the desert for forty years, bearing the consequences of your faithlessness, until the last one of you lies dead in the desert.
34 For forty days you reconnoitred the country. Each day will count as a year: for forty years you will bear the consequences of your guilt and learn what it means to reject me."
35 I, Yahweh, have spoken: this is how I swear to treat this entire perverse community united against me. In this desert, to the last man, they shall die.'
36 The men whom Moses had sent to reconnoitre the country and who on their return had incited the whole community of Israel to mutter about him by disparaging it,
37 these men who had disparaged the country were all struck dead before Yahweh.
38 Of the men who had gone to reconnoitre the country, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh were left alive.
39 When Moses told all the Israelites what had been said, the people set up a great outcry.
40 Early next morning they set out for the heights of the hill country saying, 'Look, we will set out for the place about which Yahweh said that we have sinned.'
41 To which, Moses said, 'Why disobey Yahweh's order? No success will come of doing so.
42 Do not go, for Yahweh is not among you, and you will be defeated by your enemies.
43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are ahead of you, and you will be put to the sword, since you have turned away from Yahweh, and Yahweh is not with you.'
44 All the same, they presumptuously set off for the heights of the hill country. Neither the ark of the covenant of Yahweh nor Moses left the camp.
45 The Amalekites and Canaanites living in those highlands then came down, defeated them and harried them all the way to Hormah.