This is the record of what Moses told all the Israelites during their time in the desert to the east of the Jordan. They were in the Arabah*
near Suph, between Paran on the one side and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab on the other. 2
(It takes eleven days to go from Horeb†
to Kadesh-barnea by the road that passes Mount Seir.)
On the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year,‡
Moses recounted to the Israelites everything that the Lord had instructed him to tell them. 4
This happened after he defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and then at Edrei after he defeated Og king of Bashan, who ruled in Ashtaroth.
Speaking on the east side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain these instructions, saying:§
6 The Lord our God told us at Horeb: “You have remained here beside this mountain for long enough. 7 Continue your journey and go to the hill country of the Amorites and all their neighbors, into the Jordan Valley, into the hill country, into the foothills, into the Negev, and along the coast to the country of the Canaanites up to Lebanon, as far as the great River Euphrates.
8 Look, I'm giving this land to you. Go and take ownership of the land that the Lord promised he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their descendants who would follow them.”
9 That's when I told you, “I can't take responsibility for all of you by myself. 10 The Lord your God has increased your numbers so much that today there are as many of you as there are stars in the sky. 11 May the Lord, the God of your forefathers, multiply you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised. 12 But how can I take on all your troubles, burdens, and arguments just by myself? 13 You must choose for yourselves wise, experienced men with good judgment from each of your tribes, and I will put them in charge as your leaders.”
14 You replied to me, saying, “Your proposal is a good one.”
15 So I summoned your tribal leaders, men with good judgment, and put them in charge of you, as commanders and officials for your tribes. Some were responsible for thousands, some for hundreds, some for fifties, and some for tens.
16 At the same time I gave strict instructions to your judges: “Hear the cases brought between your brothers, and make sure you are fair when you judge between a man and his brother or a foreigner living among you. 17 Don't show any favoritism when you judge—treat the powerful and the common people just the same. Don't let anyone intimidate you, because judgment is done on God's behalf. Bring me any case that is too hard for you, and I will hear it.”
18 This was also the time I instructed you about everything you had to do.
19 Following the orders of the Lord our God, we left Horeb and set off towards the hill country of the Amorites, passing through the whole of the large and terrifying desert that you yourselves have experienced. When we reached Kadesh-barnea, 20 I explained to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving to us. 21 Look, the Lord your God has given you the land! Go and take ownership of the land as the Lord, the God of your forefathers, has told you. Don't be frightened or terrified.”
22 Then you all came to me and suggested, “Let's send men on ahead to explore the land and report back to us about what route to take and which towns we'll come across.”
23 It seemed like a good plan to me, so I chose twelve of your men, one from each tribe. 24 They set off and went up into the hill country as far as the Valley of Eshcol, exploring the land. 25 They brought back some of the country's fruit, carrying it down to us, and gave us the report: “The Lord our God is giving us good land.”
But you didn't want to go. You rebelled against the instructions of the Lord your God. 27
You complained while you were in your tents and said, “It's because the Lord hates us that he led us out of Egypt in order to hand us over to the Amorites to be wiped out. 28
Where are we going? Our brothers terrified us*
because they told us: ‘The people are bigger and taller than us; the towns are large, with high walls that reach the sky. We even saw the descendants of the giant Anak there!’ ”
29 So I told you, “Don't be frightened or scared of them! 30 The Lord your God who leads your way will fight for you in the same way you saw him do for you in Egypt. 31 He did the same in the desert—you saw how the Lord your God carried you like a father carries his son during your whole journey until you arrived here.” 32 Despite all this, you didn't trust the Lord your God, 33 who led you on the journey, present in the fire by night and in the cloud by day, looking to find a place for you to camp and to show you the way to go.
34 When the Lord heard what you were saying, he got angry and swore an oath: 35 “Not a single one of this evil generation will see the good land I promised to give your forefathers, 36 except Caleb, son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he explored, because he was completely committed to the Lord.”
37 The Lord also got angry with me because of you. He told me, “Even you won't enter the country. 38 However, Joshua, son of Nun, your assistant, will enter it. Encourage him, for he will help Israel to occupy the land. 39 Your small children that you claimed would become prisoners, your children who at the time didn't know good from evil, they will be the ones to enter the land that I will give them, and they will occupy it. 40 But now turn around and head back into the desert on the road that leads to the Red Sea.”
41 But you answered and told me, “We have sinned against the Lord! We will go and we will fight and we will do everything the Lord our God has ordered us to do.” Then you all picked up your weapons and prepared for battle thinking it would be easy to go and fight in the hill country.
42 But the Lord instructed me, “Order them not to go and fight because I won't be with you to prevent you from being defeated by your enemies.”
43 I told you this, but you refused to listen. You defied the instructions of the Lord and arrogantly went to fight in the hill country.
44 Then the Amorites living there in the hills came and attacked you. They chased after you like a swarm of bees, killing you all the way from Seir to Hormah. 45 You came back to camp and wept before the Lord, but he refused to listen to what you said or to pay attention to you. 46 You stayed there in Kadesh for a long time.