Questions seem to pop into my mind when I pray pretty often, usually instigating a scripture search and/or study. “Who died in the desert?” rattled around in my brain a day or two before I got out one of my Bibles and looked it up.
I knew it referred to the 40 years of wandering that Israel did after leaving Egypt and I felt sure I knew the answer. The ten doubting spies, of course. Joshua and Caleb were the only spies who brought back a good report, the other ten brought back an evil report, so those ten weren’t allowed into the promised land. So why the question?
The “rest of the story” was waiting for me to find.
All sorts of other questions came to me as I looked for that story. I kept getting sidetracked with all sorts of other interesting bits of information and questions to find answers for.
Was the wilderness truly a desert? Was there anything other than sand and rocks out there? Where was it, exactly? Were there any towns or villages, any trade routes, along the way? Why did they have to go through that particular wilderness, far south and later east of the Jordan River, instead of other wilderness areas?
Who all went along on the trip? Was it only Israelites? (no) Or were there some Egyptians, some slaves, some other foreigners in the crowd? (yes)
What did they take with them? (everything they owned, furniture, clothing, pots and pans, etc.)
Were they poor? (no! they had been given the wealth of Eqypt- gold, silver, jewels, etc., etc.)
Was manna all they had to eat? (no – at first they had wheat and oil to make bread, though unleavened, plus lots of meat from all their livestock, sheep, goats, cattle)
What did they house themselves in on the trip? (hmmm – tents?)
I’m still reading, still looking, still getting sidetracked, still finding questions.
But that first question, who died in the desert – the doubters died in the desert. Everyone 20 years old and up who listened to the ten faithless spies and who grumbled and complained! It wasn’t just those ten men! It was a multitude of men, and while the ten faithless spies died “now,” the other died during the next 40 years, some sooner than others. Not until they were all dead could the children of Israel enter the promised land.
You’d think that after the ten faithless spies were killed for their griping at God that the others would learn their lesson – but it doesn’t look like they did. They kept on finding fault, complaining and criticizing, and dying.
Start reading Numbers 14 and go backwards, like I did – or start with Exodus and go forward. It’s enlightening to say the least. Lots of lessons in there that apply to people today.
FYI – I’m reading the “Contemporary English Version” Bible that was given to me several years ago as a Christmas present. It’s a paperback, easy reading, nice size print, with paragraph headings and modern language. I wish it had an index / concordance, but I am enjoying it.