This Week’s Torah Portion: Shelach

Name: Shelach (or Sh’lach)

Reading: Numbers 13:1 – 15:41

Haftarah: Joshua 2:1 – 2:24

Parasha Summary – Shelach

The 12 Spies Go to Canaan

God tells Moses to send 12 men to spy out the land of Canaan. Moses sends the leader of each of the 12 tribes to spy out the land of Canaan. He tells them to go up into the mountains and check out the land and the people. The spies travel as far as Hebron. They cut down a cluster of grapes, and pomegranates, and figs.

After 40 days, they return to camp. The spies report that the land flows with milk and honey, but the land is filled with fierce people and fortified cities that the Israelites will not be able to overcome. They spread bad news and negative reports throughout the camp.

The people cry out and claim that it would be better to have stayed in Egypt than to die in the wilderness. Moses and Aaron collapse defeated before the people. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, tell the Israelites that Canaan is a good land flowing with milk and honey, and God will lead them there.

God is Angered

God is angry that the people do not trust Him and even despise Him. He tells Moses that He will smite them. Moses entreats God not to harm the people, and praises him as slow to anger and forgiving. God assures Moses that He has pardoned the people, but decides that those who left Egypt will not see Canaan. The adults will die in the wilderness, but their children will see the land. God issues a new set of laws regarding sacrifices. A man is stoned to death for desecrating the Sabbath.