Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin
Tree of Life
Dispensations of the Mosaic Law.
The Mystery of the Names of the Twelve Spies.
Before we get to the reason why God had to give the Jews the 10 Commandments and the Mosaic Law, there are a few more chapters or passages that we need to note. For example, after we read the importance of the principle of spiritual authority in NUM 12, notice what is said at the end of the chapter.
NUM 12:15-16, So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again. they are on the move again, Afterward, however, the people moved out from Hazeroth and camped in the wilderness of Paran.
In Numbers chapter 13, we are now ready for two chapters which cover such principles as operation cry-baby. Two chapters are going to explain why some believers turn up their nose and say that doctrine doesn’t work…or there’s more to Christianity than doctrine. Have you ever thought that or said that?
This is dedicated to the movement that some call “the beyond doctrine movement.” It is a subtle movement that is usually accompanied with statements such as; Doctrine isn’t everything! Or, There’s more to Christianity than doctrine!
So let’s take a look at this particular passage and make the appropriate application.
NUM 13:1-2, Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, everyone a leader among them.”
Now the background to this is important because first of all, Moses didn’t do this on his own, it wasn’t his idea. It was the idea of the people.
DEU 1:18-23, “And I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do. Then we set out from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw, on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, just as the Lord our God had commanded us; and we came to Kadesh barnea. And I said to you, ‘You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which the Lord our God is about to give us. See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’ “Then all of you approached me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us, and bring back to us word of the way by which we should go up, and the cities which we shall enter.’ “And the thing pleased me and I took twelve of your men, one man for each tribe.
Now, they were not spies that were sent out but what we would call a reconnaissance patrol. A reconnaissance is a military survey of enemy territory. It is a preliminary survey to gain information. Actually, it is a French word which means “to recognize.”
And Moses thought that this was a good idea, but he didn’t move until NUM 13:1. So in verse 2 the Lord said; NUM 13:2, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel;
Please notice promise after promise, whenever the Lord mentions Canaan, He always reminds them of the fact that He “has given it” to them. Just like when he mentions His promises to you, He always reminds us the fact that He “has given them to us.”
NUM 13:2…you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, everyone a leader among them.”
Also note that God is sending out a leader from every tribe. This is very important as we will see a little bit later.
NUM 13:3, So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel.
Notice they were all leaders of the people. By birth they were in the position of aristocracy and leadership. Next, we have a roster which is given.
NUM 13:4-16, These then were their names: from the tribe of Reuben, (sham-mu-a) Shammua the son of Zaccur; from the tribe of Simeon, Sha-phat the son of Hori; from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Je-phun-neh; from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph; from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun; from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu; from the tribe of Zebulun, Gad-diel the son of Sodi; from the tribe of Joseph, from the tribe of Manasseh, Gad-di the son of Susi; from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli; from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael; from the tribe of Naphtali, Nah-bi the son of Voph-si; from the tribe of Gad, Ge-uel the son of Machi. These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
Why do we have a roster? Why do you think that this is a part of the word of God? Well, first of all these men were born aristocracy by birth and they were geared up for positions of leadership. (like ALL of you are). However, that doesn’t mean that they have the ability to lead,
Just like by spiritual birth we are all given Equal Privilege and Equal Opportunity (EP-EO), but that doesn’t guarantee automatic success. And this roster that we are about to look at is very important because 10 of them are going to die miserably…not on the patrol, but later on.
On the other hand, two of them are going to be two of the greatest leaders in the next generation. Now, we will note a few things about the meanings of their names so that we can draw a little contrast as to what might have happened behind the scenes. Remember that basically in the word of God names were given in the teachings that were equivalent to the meanings of the individuals that were named.
Also remember that the children of Israel are a type of the believer’s soul. So many times the names given to give us some insight into the character of the individual or the story behind the individual.
For example; Eve was called Eve because her name means the mother of all living. Isaac was called Isaac because his name means laughter and that is what Sarah did when she found out that the Lord said she would have a baby at age 90. And we could go on and on with names like Jacob, Abraham, Israel, Daniel etc.
So, let’s look at the passage from this standpoint.
NUM 13:4, These then were their names: from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur;
Shammua is mentioned first because his father Reuben was the first born of Jacob who became Israel and Israel means a Prince of God while Jacob means chiseler or liar and deceiver.
All we know about Shammua is that he was the number 1 Prince of the number 1 tribe…and we are never going to hear about him again.
He had EP and EO, but like most believers, all they have is their name in the book of life, and that’s a perfect description of Shammua. Perhaps we can tell a little bit about the son by noting some characteristics of the father.
Reuben was born an aristocrat, but being an aristocrat does not guarantee that you will be a winner in the Christian way of life. He was a noble man and courageous but being noble and courageous does not make you a winner in the Christian way of life.
Shammua means to listen or to hear, perhaps that’s all that he ever did – just listened and heard. And like James said in JAM 1:22-25, But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.
NUM 13:5, from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori;
Simeon was the second born son of Jacob and Shaphat the son of Hori was another one who had equal privilege and equal opportunity but we are also never going to hear from him again. Shaphat means “he has judged”, perhaps that was one of the problems that made him a loser believer.
Now we have the first one mentioned in this passage who is well known. He had EP and EO, and he took advantage of it.
NUM 13:6, from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh;
Caleb’s name means dog and perhaps that was his attitude of humility toward the Lord Jesus Christ since the word for worship is used as a dog approaching its master.
NUM 13:7, from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph;
Here is another one who is in Heaven, but that is apparently all that he has going for him! By the way Issachar was a very strong man but being strong does not guarantee that you will be a winner in the Christian way of life. Perhaps his son was just like him, but macho means nothing in the Christian way of life.
Igal – his name means “he redeems” or “he is magnificent,” perhaps he thought more highly of himself than what he should have.
NUM13:8, from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun;
However, we will see Hoshea in a moment because his name was changed by Moses, and we will see why!
NUM 13:9, from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu;
The Benjamites were always the greatest soldiers in the Jewish army. But being a great soldier does not make you a winner in the Christian way of life. Palti means to escape, perhaps he was a coward and lived in fear.
NUM 13:10, from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi;
Gaddiel means El or “God is my fortune,” perhaps he was a believer to see what he could get from God.
NUM 13:11, from the tribe of Joseph, from the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi;
Gaddi means “my fortune.” I think that his name speaks for itself. Note that Joseph was great but that doesn’t mean that his progeny was great. Joseph was by far the greatest of all his brothers, however, greatness is not inherited!
NUM 13:12, from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli;
He didn’t make it! Ammiel means “people of God,” perhaps he was a people pleaser, or one into fellowship but not doctrine.
NUM 13:13, from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael;
Sethur was a good business man but being a good business man does not make you a winner in the Christian way of life. Sethur means to hide, to conceal – perhaps he was a hypocrite.
NUM 13:14, From the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi;
Nahbi means to withdraw or to hide.
NUM 13:15, from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.
Geuel means “majesty of el” and it is taken from a word which means to rise up or to exalt.
Now why the roster? Well all of them are in Heaven! Ten of them were losers. Two of them were winners.
And so let’s take a quick look at the meanings of their name and what it could imply, nothing is dogmatic but there may be an application to many of those names mentioned.
The 10 spies and perhaps a little shrewdness concerning their character. In everyone of their names we have something mentioned which could cause them problems in the Christian way of life for the OT believer.
Shammua = to listen, to hear.
Shaphat = he has judged.
Igal = he is magnificent.
Shaphat, and of course you have been taught that the worst sin anyone could ever commit, with the exception of unbelief in the unbeliever, is the sin of judging.
Next we have Igal with the attitude that he is magnificent.
He sure did not think that about the Lord as we will see, perhaps he thought that about himself with the arrogant complex of sins.
Next we have; Palti – to escape
Gaddiel – god is my fortune
Gaddi – “my fortune”
Palti was probably the type of believer who couldn’t take any pressure and therefore tried to escape from any situation of discomfort.
Perhaps fear was his biggest problem!
Gaddiel, well “God was his fortune,” perhaps he would be a member of the name it and claim it type of movement,
Gaddi, well “my fortune” represents the me syndrome.
A believer involved in selfishness or self-centeredness will never make it when faced with the giants of life!
Then we have; Ammiel – “people of God”
Sethur – to hide, to conceal
Nahbi – to withdraw
Geuel – to rise up or to exalt
Ammiel could represent the type of believer who always puts people emphasis over God emphasis. Fellowship and people are more important to this type of believer than truth and doctrine. And as we have noted in the past, truth is an essential part of knowing the character and nature of God.
Sethur, well his name speaks itself.
There are a lot of phonies and Pharisees in the Christian way of life. They appear to be strong and dedicated until a little pressure or a giant of a problem is put in their path. This is the type of individual who will turn on you overnight in time of pressure.
There are the Nahbi’s of Christianity! They see the giants and they withdraw! They’re going to another land which is a little easier. No giants, difficulties, problems etc.
This is the type of believer who just doesn’t want to deal with anything that puts pressure in their path! And of course in this list we have to have the Geuels who simply rise up and exalt themselves anytime that they can. These are the leeches in life! These are the freeloaders. Even in Christianity there are spiritual bloodsuckers, spiritual parasites, and spiritual mooches. They have the slave mentality and they will never be free with that!
Well all of this gives us some idea as to what might have been, and the principles are all absolutely true anyway!
NUM 13:16, These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out or make a reconnaissance of the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
Hoshea in the Hebrew means deliverance. But Moses was the greatest prophet in the O.T. And the Lord told him something already about Hoshea. Before the 12 went out he changed his name, why? Hoshea means deliverance. Joshua means the Lord delivers. And He changed his name from Hoshea to Joshua because the Lord will deliver through Joshua. You see his name was deliverance and the people would have said, deliverance delivered us.
However, Joshua was humble and everyone was going to know who delivers Israel….the Lord is the deliverer!
Num 13:17, When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, He said to them, “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country…or the mountains.
The Negev is the southern part of the land of Canaan with mountains and foothills. The mountains were occupied at this time by Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, very strong tribes and very tough people. In fact, the Amorites and the Jebusites were never really conquered. And the failure to conquer certain parts of the land resulted in some disasters which we will note later on in our study.
You see there is a time for offensive action and then there’s a time for defensive action. However, the principle of offensive is the only action by which a decision is gained in military life. By analogy, offensive action is the only way to reach spiritual adulthood and spiritual maturity. This is a mental attitude.
Offensive action brings victory, while defensive action can only avoid defeat. For example, in the spiritual life, rebound or 1Jo 1:9 is defensive action. By using rebound you are back in fellowship avoiding further defeat but you are not moving forward. The only effective way to wage war is to act on the offensive, destroying the enemy’s forces. We must stay on the offensive in spite of satanic attacks.
The offensive increases the effectiveness of the force adopting it, raises morale, permits concentration of effort, and allows freedom of action to begin. That’s exactly what the spiritual offensive does. Going on the offensive increases the following; The effectiveness of your spiritual life, raises your morale, permits concentration of effort so that you can make a maximum number of good decisions from a position of strength, and allows you the freedom of action to advance to spiritual maturity and realize the wonderful capacity to enjoy your escrow blessings in time.
Defensive action should be used to assist offensive action elsewhere, to gain time, to utilize good terrain, or to compensate for weakness. Defensive action has an analogy in our spiritual lives, because we can never get away from rebound and recovery and the faith rest drill, a part of defensive action.
Offensive action should be used when there’s any reasonable chance for success. And there’s always a reasonable chance for success as long as you are alive!