race of horrible giants that are mentioned in Genesis 6:4. There are
different ideas of what is meant by that term in Genesis (Martin Luther did
not believe the term referred to gigantic people at all).
(1.) What they actually were isn’t what matters here, but what images the
spies are creating in the minds of the Israelites. Peter Pett contends
that the spies are turning the ordinary Canaanites into superstitious
creatures. The spies don’t say “Rephaim” they say “Nephilim”. It
would be as if someone were scaring people by saying, “Don’t go in
that woods, Big-foot is in there.”
(1.) Pett tells us that the people were not only afraid of the real military
capability of the Canaanites, but of tall-tale like thoughts; with
statements that “we are only grass-hoppers in their sight.”
V. They attack the land itself: It devours its inhabitants. Instead of the Children of Israel
enjoying the milk and honey, and the land’s produce; they would be consumed. This
seems like a contradiction in that the current residents are spoken of in such powerful
terms. If land was so horrid, how did the Canaanites get to be such giants? What is
even worse, in declaring that the land was hostile to them; they were denying the
promise of God about the land for them. Not only are the giants to big to fight, the
land is too rough for them to settle.
A. Coffman writes that one reason the people were so easily demoralized was their
slave heritage. They were, “schooled in slavery and reared in servitude”.
B. These things are said after Caleb has tried to encourage the people. Caleb speaks
and the spies react with exaggerations.
VI. Caleb separates himself from the group.
A. “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”
B. Caleb calls for the people to quit complaining about the problem and simply deal
with the situation. The option is there to realize the promise of God, go possess it.
1. The people admitted that the land was good, but focused on the obstacles.
Caleb doesn’t deny the military power of the various nations of Canaan. Yes,
they are powerful, but his focus is on God and the promise.
C. In chapter 14 we read that both Caleb and Joshua want the people to enter Canaan.
1. The people threaten to kill them by stoning.
a. That is a strange reaction to the words that were so encouraging. The people
simply couldn’t face the truth of what they had to do.
2. Coffman: “They had a small eye upon themselves, a big eye upon their enemies, and no eye at all upon God.
3. Pett: So while on the one hand Caleb looked at Yahweh, the Almighty, the other
scouts, and the people looked at the Nephilim. Whom we look at very often
determines what we are and what we do.
VII. There is a penalty for the people since they would take the land. They had to return
to the wilderness. They would wander a year for each day that the spies had
viewed the land: 40. The opportunity was lost.
A. Clarke: And how many are prevented from receiving the higher degrees of
salvation by foolishly attributing insurmountable power, either to their inward
corruptions or outward enemies.”