Deuteronomy 1:20-46 – Rehearsing Failures


Deuteronomy 1:20-46


Moses reminds the Israelites of their failure to enter the Promised Land the first time, after the report of the spies. Moses sneaks in a brief, incomplete, description of why he was also not allowed to enter the Promised Land.


Moses reminded the Israelites of their faithlessness at the report of the spies (Numbers 13). Interestingly, the report of the spies was an unalloyed positive here, “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us” (Deuteronomy 1:25). The Valley of Eshcol contained amazing produce. Yet, somehow, the Israelites found out about giants in the land. Who the “brothers” are who bring a bad report in verse 28 is not immediately clear. We may assume that they were 10 of the 12 spies, as in Numbers, but that is not explicit here. 

Moses’ reminders of God’s deliverance were insufficient to encourage the people to enter the land, and they initially refused. Hearing this, God swore that only Caleb and Joshua would enter the land. 

At this point, Moses mentions that he, also, would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land and blames the people for God being angry at Moses “on your account.” There is no mention here of the struck rock or the events of Numbers 20. Instead, the blame for Moses’ eventual death outside the Promised Land is laid squarely on the Israelites as a whole. 

Hearing that they would die in the wilderness, the people tried to enter the Promised Land, but it was too little faithfulness, too late. They were routed by the Amorites. The survivors remained at Kadesh, doomed to die outside of the land that they had refused to enter. Their children would be the ones to enter it.