When the people hear that they might not be able to waltz into the Promised Land like God assured them, there's a major group freak out.
Everyone starts to panic and say that it would have been better to stay slaves and die in Egypt. Or to die here in the wilderness. But now God is trying to get them stabbed to death by crazed giants with swords.
Maybe it's time to pack up and go home to Egypt? We're sure Pharaoh would be glad to see them. We're guessing he's still got some pyramids he'd like built.
Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb tear their clothes and beg the people not to test God. They promise that the land is just as good as God said it would be and they can totally beat down the folks that live there. They do have God on their side, don't they? Please, guys, do not do anything stupid.
They Are So Grounded
Too late. God has heard everything and he is none too pleased.
Why does everyone hate me? he asks Moses. Poor God. He's a little sad, so he threatens to kill everyone right then and there. Are you Israelites happy? Now no one gets the Promised Land.
Moses reminds God that the Egyptians will be waiting for the Israelites to set foot in this new country. If God doesn't follow through with his plan, he's totally gonna lose face with all the other nations on the earth. People are gonna say, That Yahweh is a real jerk. First, he promises his people land, then he kills them all. Who wants to believe in him? Lame.
Remember, Moses tells God, you're all about loving and forgiving. That's kind of your deal. So, why not once more? For old time's sake?
Oh, fine, God says. But the Israelites are not gonna get off that easy.
God decides that, because they didn't trust in him, no one over twenty years old is gonna set foot in the Promised Land. (Except for Caleb and Joshua and their families. Those guys are cool.)
He's gonna make all the over-twenties wander around in the desert for forty years until every single person who was counted in the census is dead. Their kids will get to head into the land after they're gone.
Remember, this is God's way nicer consolation punishment.
The ten men who wimped out after Moses sent them to spy—they're the first to die. Plague. Nasty business.
So, Moses tells the people what God has in store for them and they're pretty annoyed. They decide to try to take the Promised Land anyway without God's help.
Oh, no, Moses tells them. You do not want to do that. After all, God decided that they're not gonna set foot on that land and, as you know, God is never wrong.
Sure enough, the people head to the Promised Land, but get beaten back by the Amalekites and Canaanites who live there. Sigh. Will they ever learn?