What was the logic of sending tribes' representatives and not simply [from the] the elders, isn't it what the elders were elected for - to decide for the masses?

In other words, even if some of them were probably the elders already, the way it is presented in the Torah points to them as representatives and not the elected elders.

  • How do you know they weren't elders? We don't know the elders' names. כלם אנשים ראשי בני ישראל המה
    – Heshy
    Jun 23, 2019 at 14:30
  • @Heshy Thank you, I elaborated.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 23, 2019 at 14:33
  • 3
    Do you mean to say they should have sent elders on a spying mission? I would have thought their age and position would have precluded them from going.
    – Tamir Evan
    Jun 23, 2019 at 15:26
  • Related: "Why did Moshe send these spies"?
    – Tamir Evan
    Jun 23, 2019 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


The commentators point out that younger representatives had to be sent in order to be able to travel and examine the land. It was like a congressional delegation sending the appropriate staffers to report back what they found.

Rav Hirsch explains:

These were not the tribal princes, the נשיאי מטות אבותם, who are called ראשי אלפי ישראל, ראש לבית אבותיו in Ch I,4 &16, the official heads of a state division, but each one was נשיא בהם, they were בהם, not the head but amongst them; but in their characters and abilities they ranged above the masses, were נשיא בהם. Although they were not the official leaders, they were as it says in the following verse ראשי בני ישראל, popular heads, men of leading influence among the people.

  • I don't understand, who said they were younger? You say "to be able", "appropriate" and that's unclear why the elders were unfit for this purpose.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 23, 2019 at 15:41
  • In particular, they were not that young; Calev was 45; Yehoshua was 57.
    – Menachem
    Jul 10, 2019 at 0:52
  • You mean like Moshe who was 81 and Aharon who was 84? @Menachem Jul 10, 2019 at 0:56
  • @sabbahillel Yehoshua became the leader of Klal Yisrael when Moshe died 39 years later, and died 14 years afterwards at the age of 110. Calev asked for permission to conquer Chevron, as even though he was 85, he was still as strong as he'd been 40 years earlier.
    – Menachem
    Jul 10, 2019 at 1:06
  • @Menachem The point was that Rav Hirsch is saying that the full leaders of each tribe were not sent to "spy" out the land. It was people like Yehoshua who were sent. That is the younger generation who were probably going to take over the next generation. Jul 10, 2019 at 2:31

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