Currently, I'm presented with two views on the purpose of sending spies - some commentators say that the purpose was strictly military (to learn the strategy), and some say to probe the land's resources.

It seems that both contradict the already established premises, by G-d and Moses and make Moses' approval questionable and surely provoke G-d's rage:

  • If the purpose was strategic, that contradict G-d's promise of "ה' יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם וְאַתֶּם תַּחֲרִישׁוּן" (Ex 14,14). They should have trusted this attitude as it worked already a couple of times. So, seemingly, Moses couldn't favor this idea. (see Malbim, for example, that they were not supposed to touch their enemies at all.)

  • If the purpose was to probe the quality of the land, that would contradict G-d (and Moses') promise that the land is good. So that way could also be interpreted as mistrust.

How do the interpreters solve those contradictions?

  • 1
    Wasn’t that one of the problems (according to some meforshim) which is why later moshe chastises the Jews for asking for spies?
    – Lo ani
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 17:51
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Why did Moshe complain about the Spies in Bamidbar if he thought it was a good idea?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 18:26
  • @DonielF I don't understand where is the connection between the questions? Your question is about Moses' changing attitude, my question is about the whole idea that seems illogical.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


Rav Hirsch says that the initial request was (as I say in Did G-d command or not on sending the spies?) presented in order to follow the idea that the Bnai Yisrael would have to start living a normal life. This is based on the way Rav Hirsch explains לחפור את הארץ.

Rav Hirsch also points out that they were to then to see which parts were most appropriate for each tribe to settle based on the various characteristics of the tribes and put the military aspect in the background.

By the order: ויתרו את הארץ the mission received a somewhat different and extended task. It was no longer just to spy out the most suitable way to conquer the land. That purpose was to be in the background, and the task set was to learn to know the land itself as a base for national development and the significant indication was given to consider it from two points of view, as ארץ כנען אשר אני נתן לבני ישראל it is at the present ארץ כנען, the land of a most degenerate nation, and it is the land was given by Hashem to the Children of Israel for them to develop in it a national life according to His revealed Will, the Torah.

  • The very first assumption is [seemingly] innately false - if Moses entered Israel and immediately built the Temple (and was the Messiah) I doubt it could be called "normal life". Anyways everything is supposed to follow G-d and Moses' word, just as they followed blindly from the Exodus. What happened suddenly they need to research?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 15:47
  • They had already been told that miraculous life was only in the desert. In the land was to be more normal @AlBerko Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 17:52
  • who said the manna is gonna end?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 17:59
  • The manna was sent only to be during the time of traveling in the desert. The commentators give the fact that the Bnai Yisrael would have to live a normal life once they entered the land as one of the reasons the meraglim tried to stop the entry. @AlBerko Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 20:30
  • Where did G-d say that Manna will ever end?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 9:20

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