The Torah relates that after two difficult years of wandering in the wilderness that the Israelites are at last at the border of the Promised Land. God has kept His promise and led them safely out of Egypt and through the wilderness. But still the people are fearful and apprehensive about their future.
We’re told that they were afraid of what awaited them in the Promised Land. And so, as a way of reassuring them, Moses selects twelve respected men to go forth and scout out the land, and come back with a report.
After 40 days, the scouts return, and they bring back what we might call “a mixed review.” They tell that yes, the land flows with milk and honey. But the cities are heavily fortified and the people so strong that it would be arduous, if not fatal, for the Israelites to try to enter and take possession of the country. Ten of the twelve spies go so far as to describe themselves as ‘grasshoppers” in comparison to the “giants” who inhabit the land.
Only Calib and Joshua speak against that report, as they insist that conquest is possible, if the people will but believe in themselves and in their God. But the people do not listen. In their fear, and in their lack of faith in themselves and in God, they demand to return to Egypt.
The Torah relates that God becomes disheartened with the people, and that He threatens to destroy them. But Moses pleads on the people’s behalf, and finally God relents. But God decrees, as punishment, that the Israelites must wander in the wilderness for forty years-one year for each day the scouts spent investigating their destined home.
For all of us: I trust that there is something in all of our lives that we might equate with a so-called Promised Land. A hope, a goal, a challenge that spells greater fulfillment, or more significant living.
May we find within ourselves the courage and the faith to take those steps that only we can take for ourselves.