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    Physical & economic strength – Sh’lach L’cha

    The return of the spies, by James Tissot

    The return of the spies, by James Tissot

    When Moses sent the twelve spies to check out the land, he gave them two subjects to investigate – the strength of the country and its inhabitants, and the health of its economy (Num. 13:2, 18-20).

    The spies came back with a largely negative report which reversed the order of subjects. They said the economy was good (the land “flowed with milk and honey”) but the inhabitants were powerful and their cities heavily fortified.

    They were not wrong on either count, but the issue was which aspect was more decisive – the physical power of the people or the economic strength of the country. The problem that weighed with the spies was whether the Israelites had any possibility of defeating powerful people and fortified cities.

    From a military point of view the spies had a point, but what they didn’t have was faith. God had told them they would prevail and surely He knew what He was talking about.

    For Moses the issue was not who would win a war but whether the economy was healthy enough to handle a change of regime.

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