When the spies returned from scouting the land and gave their report of mighty opponents, 13:30 tells us that Caleb silenced the crowd and argued for going into the land, and then 13:31 says "the men who went with him" argued otherwise. It is only after the people begin to rebel that Yehoshua joins Caleb in speaking in favor of going into the land (14:6-7).

Why didn't Yehoshua speak up earlier? Was he not initially convinced (it was 11 to 1) but he changed his mind? Or did his opinion not change but for some reason he left Caleb to handle it, even when it wasn't working?

Rashi has nothing to say on this, and I didn't find anything else in scans of (incomplete) chumash commentary.

2 Answers 2


The Gemara (Sotah 35a) reports that he indeed tried to, but the people ridiculed him, saying, דין ריש קטיעה ימלל - "Should this person with the cut-off head speak?"

Rashi explains that they meant that Yehoshua himself has no sons to inherit a portion of the land (he had only daughters - Megillah 14b - and at this point the law that daughters can inherit too hadn't been promulgated yet), so that they claimed that the question of whether to go into Eretz Yisrael or not would be effectively irrelevant to him. (Indeed, it's possible that his daughters were born only later, and that at this time he was childless.)

Aruch (cited in Mesores Hashas there) explains that they were mockingly referring to the extra yud (a small, "cut-off" letter) that Moshe had added to the "head" of his name. (It sounds like according to this explanation they weren't arguing that he has nothing useful to say, just attacking him ad hominem - unless perhaps they meant that he's too closely associated with Moshe to be an objective reporter.)


The Law says that by the mouth of two or more witnesses shall a matter be established (Deuteronomy 19:15). He was a witness that established Caleb's testimony as true.

  • 5
    So why did he wait?
    – Double AA
    Jun 13, 2012 at 19:43
  • he had to wait to have a cause to witness against his neighbor
    – ironman
    Jun 13, 2012 at 19:53
  • 4
    Two people can't make the same statement without it being a judicial matter? Jun 13, 2012 at 19:58
  • where they not standing before God, the priest, and the judges?
    – ironman
    Jun 13, 2012 at 20:01
  • 1
    While I kind of like your answer, I can't help but notice that you're assuming this was set up like testimony in a court of law. I don't know that this is correct. Even if it were correct, again, why wait? They are not testifying on the evilness of the other spies, but on the greatness of the land. There is no (obvious) reason why they had to wait to give the good report until after the bad report had been given.
    – Seth J
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:03

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