Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Motivation Behind the Evil Report

And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. Numbers 13:32-33

"[Jewish writings] portray for us the devastation which accompanies the quest for honor and self-aggrandizement. This is revealed to us by our Sages who relate that the spies, who were chieftains of their people, feared and suspected that their right to leadership would be repudiated upon the entry of Israel into the Promised Land. As a result they spoke slanderously of the land so that Israel would choose to remain in the desert and they would thereby retain their supremacy (Zohar, Parshas Shelach, Mesilas Yeshorim ch. 11).

Thus, we perceive with great clarity the inordinate amount of sorrow, tribulation, and retribution brought about by the desire for glory. The events depicted are a blatant display of the bitter and frightful consequences which accompany the attribute of jealousy. It was this trait which caused Korah and his band of followers to perish from both this world and the next. Thus we have a tangible portrayal of the aphorism of our Sages: "Jealousy, desire, and (the quest for) glory remove a person from the world."

(Kaplan, Aryeh, ed. 1991. The Torah Anthology, Book Fourteen. Brooklyn, New York: Moznaim Publishing Corporation., pg xii)

Only Joshua and Caleb dared to give a faithful report of the Promised land and that at the peril of their lives.


  1. Hmm, I'd never thought of that before. Good to ponder on.

  2. Amazing how we (mankind) would rather retain power in a the barren wilderness, than live in a land of promise!

  3. Interesting! So much of the Bible is not really as it appears. So glad to have the Book of Mormon and latter day prophets...