Numbers 14:25-45

This is a tentative proposal stimulated by the unexpected parenthesis in verse 25 about the Amalekites and Canaanites who are then mentioned at the end of the chapter. On the basis that these references signal a chiastic pattern here is a suggestion for a large scale pattern. BB’ asks and answers the question of “how long” – 40 years for the nation, but instant judgment for the ten spies. CC’ contrasts those who will not and those who will enter the land, and D draws attention to the faithful two who were exempt from punishment. )

A. (25) (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

B. (26) And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, (27) How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. (28) Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: (29) Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,

C.(30) Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein,

D. save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

C’. (31) But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.


a. (32) But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.

b. (33) And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.

c. (34) After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities,

b’. even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.

a’. (35) I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. 


a. (36) And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, (37)

b. … died … (Following Hebrew syntax)

c. Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land … by the plague before the LORD.

c’. (38) But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh ...

b’. lived still … (Following Hebrew syntax)

a’. which were of the men that went to search the land

A’. (39) And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly. (40) And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned. (41) And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper. (42) Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies. (43) For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you. (44) But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. (45) Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

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