Spies and lies: Faithful, courageous Israelites and truthful spies

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The leader of a great nation ponders the invasion of a country in the Middle East. The majority report of his intelligence agency indicates that an invasion would be a bad idea, but the leader invades anyway, citing a minority report. As predicted, the invasion runs into trouble. Later, the leader gives a distorted history of the events leading up to the war, portraying himself as blameless, and accusing the naysayers of lacking courage and faith. Of course, the leader is Moses; the incident is the Israelites' abortive first invasion of the Promised Land; and the intelligence agency consists of twelve spies. This article presents a novel interpretation of Numbers 13-14, a hermeneutical maxim for dealing with inconsistencies between Deuteronomy and the rest of the Torah, and a political moral.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-195
Number of pages9
JournalJournal for the Study of the Old Testament
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Ark of the Covenant
  • Caleb
  • Joshua
  • Moses
  • calumnies
  • twelve scouts
  • twelve spies


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