“Every single one of you who were included in the census over the age of twenty, you who have complained against me, will certainly not enter the land about which I raised my hand to swear that I would have you live in it — except for Kalev the son of Y’funeh and Y’hoshua the son of Nun.”-Numbers 14:29-30
The Lord announces that all those over the age of 20 are barred from entering the Promised Land.
Why age 20?
The age 20 is significant because all the men from this age up to age 50 were the group who were to make up the army of Israel.
This was the very group of men who were commissioned to battle on behalf of Israel but they refused to fight.
Thus they had been singled out for punishment by the Lord.
And along the same lines, the Lord singled out Caleb and Joshua as the two exceptions who would be allowed to enter the Promised Land because they tried their best to persuade the people to trust God and be bold in taking the Land of Canaan.
Speaking about ages and numbers, the Lord then goes on to explain why the rebellious Israelites will be forced to wander in the Wilderness for exactly 40 years.
The Lord explains that since 12 men when exploring the land of Canaan were gone for exactly 40 days, HASHEM is going to count one year for each day that the men were gone because each day they were in the Holy Land should have increased their faith, not decreased it.
What’s being demonstrated here is a form of proportional justice.
Do you know which famous Torah phrase expresses this idea of proportional justice?
That’s right, it’s “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth“.
Next, take a look at verse 37.
“…those men who gave the unfavorable report about the land died by the plague in the presence of Adonai.”
The Lord had reserved an especially harsh punishment for those who had been given the privilege of entering the Holy Land and came back filled with faithless negativity.
Again, there’s an important lesson being communicated here.
I hope you’re catching it.
Okay, so after God makes it clear to the rebels the horrible consequences their behavior will bring about, you’d think the people would have been on their knees weeping and asking for repentance at this point.
You’d think it had finally penetrated through their thick skulls that God is sovereign and He means what He says.
Unfortunately, as we’re going to see in the next post, the people still hadn’t learned their lesson.
The rebels were about to learn that God is NOT a man who is fickle and changes His mind.
And they were about to learn that when you’re dealing with God, you have to deal with Him on His terms and according to His established system of morality, NOT yours.