When the twelve spies returned from spying the land of Canaan and gave their report to the people, they all wailed and wished they never left Egypt. Yahweh was going to kill them all but Moses interceded and Yahweh relented from harming them. However, he swore that not one person over twenty would ever enter the land of Canaan except Caleb and Joshua. Yahweh swore that the carcases of all the people will rot in the wilderness and that they would wander through the desert until the last person over twenty would die [Numbers 14:28-35]. In Numbers 26:64-65, after the completion of the second census in the fortieth year, this statement has been made by the author of the book of Numbers:
“There was not even one man left among those whom Moses and Aaron had listed in the first census in the Sinai Desert. The LORD had said that all of them would die in the wilderness, and except for Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun they all did.”
The first census took place in the 2nd year of their wanderings in the desert [Numbers 1:1]. In all there were 603,550 who were 20 years and over and therefore fighting men. Thus according to Numbers 26:64-65 all of them died in the desert except for Caleb and Joshua. But the book of Deuteronomy clearly shows that all these men who apparently died in the 38th year were actually alive and poised to enter the Promised Land in the 40th year. So unless that whole generation was resurrected and their sins forgiven, there is a serious problem and discrepancy in the Pentateuch. On the first day of the eleventh month in the fortieth year the words of Moses begin in the Book of Deuteronomy[1:3]. Moses began to teach the people saying:
“When WE were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to US, you have stayed long enough at this mountain [1:6].
The history of the people Moses spoke to stretched back to Mount Sinai - 40 years back - as did Moses’ own. To this original crowd Moses continually refers to as WE and US. Then in 1:19-25 Moses says how they all arrived in Kadesh Barnea from where they actually sent the spies. Moses also relates how the spies returned and even brought some fruit back. Then in verse 26 Moses says to the crowd:
“But YOU rebelled against the command of the LORD your God, and YOU would not enter the land.”
Then Moses makes a remarkable comment in1:34-37:
“The LORD heard your complaints and became angry and so he solemnly declared, Not one of you from this evil generation will enter the fertile land that I promised to give your ancestors. Only Caleb son of Jephunneh will enter it. He has remained faithful to me, and I will give him and his descendants the land that he has explored. Because of you the LORD also became angry with me and said, Not even you, Moses, will enter the land…Then the LORD said to all of us, Your children, who are still too young to know right from wrong, will enter the land - the children you said would be seized by your enemies. I will give the land to them, and they will occupy it.”
Moses speaks to the original crowd which sinned and rebelled when the spies returned. It is very plain that this was the original adult crowd. He did not speak to their children since Moses says that at that time they were too young to know the difference between right and wrong. Then in 2:13 Moses says to this original adult crowd that the original evil and rebellious generation died in the 38th year - that is, two years previously. How could Moses speak with those
who rebelled at Kaddesh Barnea, when actually they had died two years earlier. Please note Deuteronomy 2:13-16:
“Then we crossed the Zered River as the LORD told us to do. This was THIRTY EIGHT YEARS AFTER WE LEFT KADESH BARNEA. All the fighting men of that generation had died, as the LORD had said they would. The LORD kept on opposing them until he had destroyed them all. After they had all died, the LORD said to us…”
Despite of the two passages in Deuteronomy which oddly say that the whole adult generation which rebelled died by the 38th year, the whole book clearly shows that they did not die and that they were very much alive throughout the 40 years of the wanderings and that they were poised to enter the land of Canaan. Moses continued:
“YOU replied, Moses, we have sinned against the LORD” [1:41].
The people twenty and over rebelled and sinned against God. And to those identical people Moses speaks in the fortieth year. These could not have been their children now grown up - since it was not they who rebelled nor was it they who asked Moses to send the spies nor were they old enough to know right from wrong. In 1:22 Moses says that the crowd he was speaking to asked him to send the spies. In 2:7 Moses says to the crowd:
“Remember how the LORD your God has blessed YOU in everything that YOU have done. He has taken care of YOU as you wandered through this vast desert. He has been with YOU these forty years.”
In 3:23-26 Moses tells the people that it was because of THEM that Yahweh was angry also with him and would not let him enter the land. You will recall that this was all due because Moses did not glorify Yahweh when he struck the rock in order to bring the water out of the rock in the first year of their wanderings. So all this shows that Moses was speaking to the same and identical crowd that complained and demanded water in the first year. Moses went on to say in 4:1 and 15:
“Obey all the laws that I am teaching YOU, and you will live and occupy the land which the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving YOU. When the LORD spoke to YOU from the fire on Mount Sinai.”
The people he spoke to witnessed the fire and heard Yahweh speak the Ten Commandments in the third month after they left Egypt. In 5:1-5 Moses tells the Israelites:
“People of Israel, listen to all the laws that I am giving you today. Learn them and be sure that you obey them. At Mount Sinai the LORD our God made a covenant…There on the mountain the LORD spoke face to face from the fire. I stood between YOU and the LORD at that time to tell YOU what he said, because YOU were afraid of the fire and would not go up the mountain.”
Clearly the crowd Moses spoke to was present at Mount Sinai in the third moth after they left Egypt. In 6:22-23 Moses says:
“With OUR own eyes we saw him work miracles and do terrifying things to the Egyptians and to their king and to all his officials. He freed US from Egypt to bring US here and give us this land.”
The crowd Moses spoke to was the same crowd that was brought out of Egypt and who saw all the wonders with their own eyes. Moses went on and shows that the people he spoke to was actually the same crowd that worshipped the golden calf and kept rebelling against Yahweh in the desert throughout those years:
“Never forget how YOU made the LORD your God angry in the desert. FROM THE DAY THAT YOU LEFT EGYPT UNTIL YOU ARRIVED HERE, YOU HAVE REBELLED AGAINST HIM. Even at Mount Sinai you made the LORD angry - angry enough to destroy you…Then the LORD said to me, go down the mountain at once, because your people, whom you led out of Egypt, have become corrupt and have done evil. They have already turned away from what I commanded them to do, and they have made an idol for themselves…I saw that YOU had already disobeyed the command that the LORD your God had given YOU, and that YOU had sinned against him by making yourselves a metal idol in the form of a bull. So there in front of YOU I threw the stone tablets down and broke them to pieces. Then once again I lay down face downward in the LORD’s presence for forty days and forty nights and did not eat or drink anything. I did this because YOU had sinned against the LORD and had made him angry. I was afraid of the LORD’s fierce anger, because he was furious enough to destroy YOU…I took that sinful thing that YOU had made - that metal bull - and threw it into the fire. YOU also made the LORD your God angry when you were at Taberah, Massah, and Kibroth Hattavah. And when he sent YOU from Kadesh Barnea with orders to go and take possession of the land that he was giving you, YOU rebelled against him; you did not trust him or obey him. Ever since I have known YOU, YOU have rebelled against the LORD” [excerpts from chapter 9].
The crowd Moses spoke to in the fortieth year was the same crowd that came out of Egypt and worshipped the calf at Mount Sinai. It was the same crowd that mumbled and complained against their troubles and hardships and because of whom Yahweh sent fire and burned the outskirts of the camp. Taberah refers to this incident [Numbers 11:1-3]. It was the same crowd which at Rephidim complained because there was no water. Because of this incident the place was called Massah [Exodus 17:1-7]. It was the same crowd that lusted after flesh and the food of Egypt. Because of their craving for meat many were killed and the place was called Kibbroth Hattavah [Numbers 11:33-34]. And it was the same crowd who at Kadesh Barnea rebelled against Yahweh after the spies returned and the crowd that refused to go and possess the land - the very crowd that Yahweh swore to destroy in the desert and which was to leave their bones in the desert.
The crowd that was supposed to be exterminated to the last person. The crowd that Yahweh swore would never enter the land - except Caleb and Joshua. The very crowd that according to the gloss of Deuteronomy 2:14-16 died by the 38th year. But according to the overall flow of the Deuteronomic text we find that this crowd was not dead after all but was very much alive in the 40th year and was ready to cross the Jordan and enter the land of Canaan.
Please note Deuteronomy 11:1-12:
“Remember today what YOU have learned about the LORD through your experiences with him. It was YOU, NOT YOUR CHILDREN, who had these experiences. YOU saw the LORD’s greatness, his power, his might, and his miracles. YOU saw what he did to the king of Egypt and to his entire country. YOU saw how the LORD completely wiped out the Egyptian army, along with their horses and chariots, by drowning them in the Sea of Reeds when they were PERSUING YOU. You know what the LORD did for YOU in the desert BEFORE YOU ARRIVED HERE. YOU recall what he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab of the tribe of Reuben. In the sight of everyone the earth opened up and swallowed them, along with their families, their tents, and all their servants and animals. Yes, YOU are the ones who have seen ALL THESE GREAT THINGS that the LORD has done. Obey everything that I have commanded you today. Then YOU will be able to cross the river and occupy the land that you are about TO ENTER. And YOU will live a long time in the rich and fertile land that the LORD promised to give your ancestors and their descendants. The land that YOU are about to occupy is not like the land of Egypt, WHERE YOU LIVED BEFORE. There, WHEN YOU PLANTED GRAIN, YOU HAD TO WORK HARD TO IRRIGATE THE FIELDS; but the land that YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER is a land of mountains and valleys, a land watered by rain.”
Did you get that? The crowd that Moses addressed witnessed all the miracles in Egypt and they - not their children - had great experiences in the desert. This rules out the possibility that the original generation was dead and that Moses addressed their grown up children. Moses said that this crowd originally LIVED and actually WORKED in EGYPT. They planted grain and irrigated the land. And Moses promised them that when they soon enter the land of Canaan they would not have to do that again - since the Promised Land was well irrigated by rain. They who can’t see that Moses spoke actually to the same and original crowd that left Egypt are either unable to comprehend the real facts or else deliberately persist in their wrong opinion in order to be able to maintain that the Bible is infallible and that it never says what is not so. And finally in Deuteronomy 29:2-5 and 16, while making the covenant with the crowd, Moses once again makes it very plain that this crowd was the original crowd that lived in Egypt and was led out and survived the wanderings of forty years:
“Moses called together all the people of Israel and said to them, YOU saw for yourselves what the LORD did to the king of Egypt, to his officials, and to his entire country. You saw the terrible plagues, the miracles, and the great wonders that the LORD performed. BUT TO THIS VERY DAY HE HAS NOT LET YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED. For forty years the LORD led you through the desert, and your clothes and sandals never wore out. YOU REMEMBER WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE IN EGYPT.”
Moses says that the crowd he addressed saw all the plagues which befell Egypt. They saw all the miracles and wonders Yahweh did in Egypt. He also says that this crowd was led through the desert for FORTY YEARS. Moses also pointed out that this crowd remembered what life was like in Egypt. In other words, they remembered their bitter slavery. But verse 4 is especially striking. After Moses explained that this crowd originally lived in Egypt and saw all the wonders which took place there, he pointed out that
“to this very day He has not let you understand what you have experienced.”
This statement could never refer to the children and the little ones of the original generation. They did not rebel throughout the forty years nor were they old enough to remember what was life like in Egypt. Nor were they old enough to plant the grain and irrigate the fields - since they were not able to tell right from wrong in Kaddesh Barnea. Moses clearly spoke to the original people who lived in Egypt and who witnessed all the miracles and who rebelled against Yahweh throughout the forty years. Therefore, according to the book of Deuteronomy it is simply not true that all the people - 20 and over - perished in the desert and left their bones in its sand. Nor is it true that only Caleb and Joshua actually entered the Promised Land. There is therefore great and striking discrepancy between the testimony of Moses related in the book of Deuteronomy and the passages which say that all the original generation which rebelled actually perished in the desert and never entered the land of Canaan.