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Home » Daily Gospel, Daily Readings, History, Old Testament

The Episode of the Spies (Numbers 13-14)

Submitted by on Wednesday, 3 August 2011One Comment

pb-twelve-spies-sm

Today’s Readings

  • Reading I:  Numbers 13-14 (passim)
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 106
  • Gospel Reading: Matthew 15:21-28

The Old Testament selection from Numbers 13-14 highlights the following contents:

  • the command to spy Canaan
  • The report of the spies and their insistence that Israel is too weak for the inhabitants of the land
  • the Lord’s reaction to the grumbling of the assembly

Below is an outline of these chapters.

Outline of Numbers 13-14

  • The Command to Spy the Land of Canaan (13:1-3)
  • The Spies (13:4-16)
  • The Mission to Spy in Detail (13:17-21)
  • The Mission
    • from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob (21)
    • Negeb and Hebron (22)
    • VAlley of Eshcol (23-24)
  • Report of the Spies
    • Narrative Introduction (25-26)
    • It is a land flowing with milk and honey (27)
    • the people who live there are strong (28-29)
    • Caleb’s Reaction (30)
    • Spies respond to Caleb (31-33)
  • Reactions to the Report
    • The Reaction of the People to the Report of the Spies (14:1-4)
    • The Reaction of Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb (14:5-9.10a)
    • The Reaction of the Lord (10b-12)
  • Moses intercedes (14:13-19)
  • God forgives and lays down the punishment
    • Of those who saw God’s signs in Egypt and in the wilderness, none shall live to enter the promised land (14:20-25)
    • Only the "little ones" will enter the Promised Land after forty years more of wandering in the desert (14:26-35)
    • Of the men sent out to espy the land, only Caleb and Joshua shall live (14:36-38)
  • Israelites attempt to take over the land and fail (14:39-45)

The twelve spies sent representing the twelve tribes of Israel return with good news and bad news. The good news is that the land was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey, with abundance of resources. The bad news is that it is inhabited by people who are superior in size and stronger than Israel.

The "bad report" brought fear and the refusal to enter the land. Caleb and Joshua were the ones who spoke against the assembly’s decision to replace Moses and Aaron, for which they were almost stoned. The Lord would have decided to kill everyone with pestilence that day, if not for the intercession of Moses. Yahweh relents from his resolution and commutes the punishment to forty years more of wandering. In those forty years, those who saw His signs in Egypt and in the desert will die out. Only the "little ones" — literally, the children — will grow up and enter the land promised to the fathers.

faith

Psalm 106 which is used for the responsory is a national examination of conscience which highlights the Prophet’s role in interceding for the rebellious Israelites in the desert.

Psalm 95 however is the psalm that directly recalls the rebelliousness of the Israelites in the desert and highlights the grumblings in the desert. It is also the psalm that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews uses in order to motivate his hearers to a greater faith.

The Gospel reading from Matthew 15:21-28 is the story of the Canaanite who asks the Lord’s help for her daughter. Her story is taken in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an example of prayer of faith to which the Lord listens and responds.

Matthew 15:21-28
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
21And Jesus went from thence, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22And behold a woman of Canaan who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David: my daughter is grieviously troubled by the devil.
23Who answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us:
24And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.
25But she came and adored him, saying: Lord, help me.
26Who answering, said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs.
27But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.
28Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that hour.
Matthew 15:21-28
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
21And Jesus went from thence, and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22And behold a woman of Canaan who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to him: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David: my daughter is grieviously troubled by the devil.
23Who answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us:
24And he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.
25But she came and adored him, saying: Lord, help me.
26Who answering, said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs.
27But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.
28Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that hour.

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One Comment »

  • Daily Inspirations » Like Little Children said:

    […] mention of "the little ones" as those whom God chose to enter the Promised Land following the incident of the Twelve Spies(Numbers 13-14). They were, after all, the ones who did not grumble while their parents looked for ways to […]

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