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    God-given spirit – Sh’lach L’cha

    The return of the spies, by Gustave Doré

    Twelve spies were sent to check out the land (Num. 13). Ten came back with a negative report: “The people who dwell in the land are fierce and the cities are fortified and great” (Num.)

    The spies feared that any attempt to enter and settle the land would not succeed because “they are stronger than us” (Num. 13:31).

    The Hebrew for “than us” is mimennu, which – as the Talmud notices (Sotah 35a) – can also mean “stronger than Him (God)”.

    The ancient notion was that stars and deities determined whose adherents would prevail. Victory depended on who your god was and how much power he had.

    Jewish thought said that God was strong and a warrior (Ex. 15:3) but it was not He but His people who handled the weapons of war if belief in Him instilled in them the capacity for victory.

    On this verse in Exodus, Ibn Ezra says that when Israel had to fight an enemy the deciding fact was whether the Israelites had enough God-given spirit.

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