I'm stuck with trying to answer the following questions I have been given to answer for a class I'm teaching this evening on Numbers 13 and 14. Can you help me out with the following?

  1. Twelve spies were selected, one from each tribe. Each of the men was a "leader" (vs.2). They were "heads of the sons of Israel" (vs. 3). In any instance, was a man chosen to be a spy also a man who was designated as a leader of his tribe in chapter 2 and chapter 7?
  2. No one was selected from the tribe of Levi. Why not?

    (I thought the answer was Numbers 3:5-10. But reading another commentator he states that "it is because they did not inherit any property. They were given small parcels spread through all the other tribes. So, for Levi, there was no concern about how good, rich, or what kind of land was there." Huh? Which is correct?)

  3. In Numbers 13:29, Amalek, the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites are all distinguished from the Canaanites. Is there a sense in which any or all of these peoples could be called Canaanites?


The Hebrew word for "leader" in Numbers 13:2 is nasi, which literally means "to lift up." It can refer to anyone in a leading position, such as a tribal chieftain, but it can also refer to leaders of lesser stature. For example, it is used in Numbers 16:2 to refer to the 250 leaders who rebelled against Moses.

In Numbers 13:3, "head" comes from the Hebrew word rosh, which means the head, first, top, or most prominent of what is being addressed. When used in connection with a tribe, it means a leader of that tribe.

However, it would be incorrect to assume that there was only one leader in each tribe, just as we do not have one leader in our government. Sure, the president is the leader of our country, but we also refer to members of congress as leaders as well. We have the leaders of the military services and leaders of various other departments. All can be properly addressed as a leader in our country.

Numbers 2 gives the military leaders in each tribe. Numbers 7 talks about the offerings each of these military leaders brought before God on behalf of their respective tribe. The twelve spies selected in Numbers 13 were also leaders in their tribes, but we aren't told in what way they were leaders.

Levi wasn't included for the same reason Levi didn't supply men for Israel's army (they aren't in the list in Numbers 2). They had no need to send someone to spy out the land and bring back information to the military commander since they had no military commander. Notice that in Moses' instructions to the spies in Numbers 13:18-20, most of the information they were to bring back was of interest to a military commander -- the strength of the opposition, their numbers, and their fortifications. Even the resources of the land were necessary to know because Israel would not have time to raise crops while they were conquering the land.

These people were all Canaanites because they lived in the land of Canaan, but they did not all descend from Canaan. If you refer to ancestry, then they are distinct. But if you refer to where they live they are similar.

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