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    The impatient & the unready – Sh’lach L’cha

    The return of the spies, by James Tissot

    Someone has to speak up for the ten spies who brought back a negative report about the Land.

    All twelve spies were prominent leaders of their tribes, men who could be relied upon to carry out a task efficiently and energetically. All must have known that with God on their side, the people would surely succeed in making a success of settling the Promised Land. However, only two spies were optimistic whilst the others said, “It will never work!”

    It is all very well to castigate the ten pessimists (Num. 14:27) for lack of faith, but were they really “a wicked congregation”?

    It was God who called them this, and He obviously knew what He was doing and saying. What did He have against them?

    They may have felt that Moses was getting too old to fulfil the requirements of leadership and too heavy a burden would be left upon the shoulders of the rest of the people’s leaders. They may have felt that God might reduce the amount of protection and support He gave to Israel and the struggle to enter and settle the land would be too great.

    In both cases they would have been too lacking in the faith to stride ahead. But the problem may have been that they were simply unready for the task. They were impatient – like everyone else – to establish the new era in the new land, but a task like that requires different skills to those they had developed in the wilderness.

    Nurturing their tribes in desert conditions was never easy, but they had learnt to manage it. The Promised Land was another story. No-one had given them any training and they were shocked at the probability that they would have to handle a completely new kind of challenge.

    Maybe Moses should have begun to train the future leaders of life in the Land. But God surely would not have abandoned them and left them to struggle against impossible odds. “If the Lord is with us we will succeed,” should have been their response.

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