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Numbers 13:21-25

Context
The Spies’ Activities

13:21 So they went up and investigated the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, 1  at the entrance of Hamath. 2  13:22 When they went up through the Negev, they 3  came 4  to Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, 5  descendants of Anak, were living. (Now Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan 6  in Egypt.) 13:23 When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a staff 7  between two men, as well as some of the pomegranates and the figs. 13:24 That place was called 8  the Eshcol Valley, 9  because of the cluster 10  of grapes that the Israelites cut from there. 13:25 They returned from investigating the land after forty days.

1 sn Zin is on the southern edge of the land, but Rehob is far north, near Mount Hermon. The spies covered all the land.

2 tn The idiom uses the infinitive construct: “to enter Hamath,” meaning, “on the way that people go to Hamath.”

3 tc The MT has the singular, but the ancient versions and Smr have the plural.

4 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated to the following clause. The first verse gave the account of their journey over the whole land; this section focuses on what happened in the area of Hebron, which would be the basis for the false report.

5 sn These names are thought to be three clans that were in the Hebron area (see Josh 15:14; Judg 1:20). To call them descendants of Anak is usually taken to mean that they were large or tall people (2 Sam 21:18-22). They were ultimately driven out by Caleb.

6 sn The text now provides a brief historical aside for the readers. Zoan was probably the city of Tanis, although that is disputed today by some scholars. It was known in Egypt in the New Kingdom as “the fields of Tanis,” which corresponded to the “fields of Zoar” in the Hebrew Bible (Ps 78:12, 43).

7 tn The word is related etymologically to the verb for “slip, slide, bend, totter.” This would fit the use very well. A pole that would not bend would be hard to use to carry things, but a pole or stave that was flexible would serve well.

8 tn The verb is rendered as a passive because there is no expressed subject.

9 tn Or “Wadi Eshcol.” The translation “brook” is too generous; the Hebrew term refers to a river bed, a ravine or valley through which torrents of rain would rush in the rainy season; at other times it might be completely dry.

10 tn The word “Eshcol” is drawn from the Hebrew expression concerning the “cluster of grapes.” The word is probably retained in the name Burj Haskeh, two miles north of Damascus.



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