This is the parsha where God finally loses it.

It happens like this. 

God tells Moses to send some scouts into Canaan to check the place out.  They come back after forty days with a huge bunch of grapes. 

The place is “flowing with milk and honey,” they say.  (To have milk, you need grass and streams for cows to graze.  To have honeybees, you need flowers, trees where they could build nests, and flowing water.)  In other words, they report that it’s a terrific place.

The only trouble, they say, is that there are giants living there!  “Fierce are the people that are settled in the land.”   (All the scouts say that except for Joshua and Caleb.)

Well, the people go bananas when they hear about the giants.  The usual.  “Why couldn’t you have left us in Egypt?  Now we’ll all die in the wilderness!”

Joshua and Caleb say “Whoa!  Wait a minute!  If God is pleased with us, God will bring us into the land.  Don’t be afraid.  We’ve got a Protector!” 

But guess what.  Everybody starts throwing stones at them.  

God is not happy.  “How long will these people spurn me?  How long will they not trust me, after all I’ve done for them?  Let me strike them all down with a plague!”

Moses begs God to have mercy. 

“If You kill all these people, Egypt and the other nations who have heard about You will say that You couldn’t bring the people into the land you promised them.  And anyway, don’t punish the children into the third and fourth generation for their parents’ sins.”

Okay,” grumbles God.  “But everyone who has seen my Glory in the wilderness and the signs I did in Egypt, (and still scorned me) they’re not going to see the land of Canaan.”

And that’s why the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness:  one year for every day the scouts were in Canaan.

The scouts returning with large bunches of grapes is now the symbol of Israel's tourism ministry
The scouts returning with grapes is the logo of Israel’s tourism ministry, symbolizing Israel as a land of milk and honey

Food for Thought

Why do you think the spies called the inhabitants of Canaan giants?