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When the Israelites reached Kadesh for the first time, and were encamped there, Moses selected twelve spies from among the chiefs of the divisions of the tribes, and sent them forth to spy the land of Canaan (Num. 13), and to bring back to him a report of its actual condition.
Their report was very discouraging, and the people were greatly alarmed, and in a rebellious spirit proposed to elect a new leader and return to Egypt. Only two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, showed themselves on this occasion stout-hearted and faithful. All their appeals and remonstrances were in vain.
Moses announced that as a punishment for their rebellion they must now wander in the wilderness till a new generation should arise which would go up and posses the land. The spies had been forty days absent on their expedition, and for each day the Israelites were to be wanderers for a year in the desert. (See Eshcol.)
Two spies were sent by Joshua “secretly,” i.e., unknown to the people (Josh. 2:1), “to view the land and Jericho” after the death of Moses, and just before the tribes under his leadership were about to cross the Jordan.
They learned from Rahab (q.v.), in whose house they found a hiding place, that terror had fallen on all the inhabitants of the land, because of the great things they had heard that Jehovah had done for them (Ex. 15:14-16; compare 23:27; Deut. 2:25; 11:25). As the result of their mission, they reported: