Shlach, Shelach, Sh'lah, Shlach Lecha, or Sh’lah L’kha (שלח or שלח לך — Hebrew for "send”, “send to you”, or "send for yourself" ) is the 37th weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the fourth in the book of Numbers. It constitutes Numbers 13:1–15:41. Jews in the Diaspora generally read it in June. Its name comes from the first distinctive words in the parshah, in Numbers 13:2.

The parshah tells the story of the scouts who discouraged the Israelites, commandments about offerings, the story of the Sabbath violator, and the commandment of the fringes.

Lanfranco Moses and the Messengers from Canaan

Moses and the Messengers from Canaan (painting by Giovanni Lanfranco)


Figures The spies showing the fertility of Canaan

The Spies Showing the Fertility of Canaan (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible)

Dore Return of the Spies From the Land of Promise

Return of the Spies from the Land of Promise (engraving by Gustave Doré)

The scouts

God told Moses to send one chieftain from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to scout the land of Canaan, and Moses sent them out from the wilderness of Paran. (Numbers 13:1–2.) Among the scouts were Caleb son of Jephunneh from the Tribe of Judah and Hosea son of Nun from the Tribe of Ephraim. (Numbers 13:6–8.) Moses changed Hosea’s name to Joshua. (Numbers 13:16.) They scouted the land as far as Hebron. (Numbers 13:21–22.) At the wadi Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it had to be borne on a carrying frame by two of them, as well as some pomegranates and figs. (Numbers 13:23.)

At the end of 40 days, they returned and reported to Moses, Aaron, and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh saying that the land did indeed flow with milk and honey, but that the people who inhabited it were powerful, the cities were fortified and very large, and that they saw the Anakites there. (Numbers 13:25–28.) Caleb hushed the people and urged the people to go up and take the land. (Numbers 13:30.) But the other scouts spread calumnies about the land, calling it “one that devours its settlers.” (Numbers 13:32.) They reported that the land’s people were giants and stronger than the Israelites. (Numbers 13:31–32.) The whole community broke into crying, railed against Moses and Aaron, and shouted: “If only we might die in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14:1–2.)

Moses and Aaron fell on their faces, and Joshua and Caleb rent their clothes and exhorted the Israelites not to fear, and not to rebel against God. (Numbers 14:5–9.) Just as the community threatened to pelt them with stones, God’s Presence appeared in the Tabernacle. (Numbers 14:10.) God complained to Moses: “How long will this people spurn Me,” and threatened to strike them with pestilence and make of Moses a nation more numerous than they. (Numbers 14:11–12.) But Moses told God to think of what the Egyptians would think when they heard the news, and how they would think God powerless to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. (Numbers 14:13–16.) Moses asked God to forbear, quoting God’s self-description as “slow to anger and abounding in kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression.” (Numbers 14:17–18.) In response, God pardoned, but also swore that none of the men who had seen God’s signs would see the Promised Land, except Caleb and Joshua, and that all the rest 20 years old and up would die in the wilderness. (Numbers 14:20–30.) God said that the Israelites’ children would enter the Promised Land after roaming the wilderness, suffering for the faithlessness of the present generation, for 40 years, corresponding to the number of days that the scouts scouted the land. (Numbers 14:32–34.) The scouts other than Caleb and Joshua died of plague. (Numbers 14:36–38.)

Barnards Israel Driven Back into the Desert

Israel Driven Back into the Desert (illustration by B. Barnards from the 1908 Bible and Its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons)

Early the next morning, the Israelites set out to the Promised Land, but Moses told them that they would not succeed without God in their midst. (Numbers 14:40–42.) But they marched forward anyway, and the Amalekites and the Canaanites dealt them a shattering blow at Hormah. (Numbers 14:44–45.)


God told Moses to tell Israelites that when they entered the Promised Land and would present an offering to God, the person presenting the offering was also to bring flour mixed with oil and wine. (Numbers 15:1–13.) And when a resident alien wanted to present an offering, the same law would apply. (Numbers 15:14–16.) When the Israelites ate bread of the land, they were to set the first loaf aside as a gift to God. (Numbers 15:17–21.)

Tissot The Sabbath-Breaker Stoned

The Sabbath-Breaker Stoned (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)

If the community unwittingly failed to observe any commandment, the community was to present one bull as a burnt offering with its proper meal offering and wine, and one he-goat as a sin offering, and the priest would make expiation for the whole community and they would be forgiven. (Numbers 15:22–26.) And if an individual sinned unwittingly, the individual was to offer a she-goat in its first year as a sin offering, and the priest would make expiation that the individual might be forgiven. (Numbers 15:27–29.) But the person who violated a commandment defiantly was to be cut off from among his people. (Numbers 15:30–31.)

The Sabbath violator

Once the Israelites came upon a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day, and they brought him before Moses, Aaron, and the community and placed him in custody. (Numbers 15:32–34.) God told Moses that the whole community was to pelt him with stones outside the camp, so they did so. (Numbers 15:35–36.)

The fringes

God told Moses to instruct the Israelites to make for themselves fringes (in Hebrew, ציצת or tzitzit) on each of the corners of their garments. (Numbers 15:37–38.) They were to look at the fringes, recall the commandments, and observe them. (Numbers 15:39–40.)

In inner-biblical interpretation

Numbers chapter 13

Numbers 13:1–14:45 and Deuteronomy 1:19–45 both tell the story of the spies. Whereas Numbers 13:1–2 says that God told Moses to send men to spy out the land of Canaan, in Deuteronomy 1:22–23, Moses recounted that all the Israelites asked him to send men to search the land, and the idea pleased him.

In classical rabbinic interpretation

Hinterglasbild Josua und Caleb (crop)

Joshua and Caleb

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 058

The Return of the Israelite Spies (woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld from the 1860 Bible in Pictures)

Numbers chapter 13

Resh Lakish interpreted the words “Send you” in Numbers 13:2 to indicate that God gave Moses discretion over whether to send the spies. Resh Lakish read Moses’ recollection of the matter in Deuteronomy 1:23 that “the thing pleased me well” to mean that agreeing to send the spies pleased Moses well but not God. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 34b.)

Rabbi Isaac said that the spies’ names betrayed their lack of faith, and that Sethur’s name (in Numbers 13:13) meant that he undermined (sathar) the works of God. And Rabbi Johanan said that the name of Nahbi the son of Vophsi (in Numbers 13:14) meant that he hid (hikbi) God’s words. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 34b.)

Raba noted that Numbers 13:22 literally reads “they went up into the South, and he came to Hebron,” and deduced from the change in the number of the pronoun that Caleb separated himself from the spies’ plan and prostrated himself in prayer on the graves of the patriarchs in Hebron. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 34b.)

Interpreting the names Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai in Numbers 13:22, a Baraita taught that Ahiman was the most skilful of the brothers, Sheshai turned the ground on which he stepped into pits, and Talmai turned the ground into ridges when he walked. It was also taught that Ahiman built Anath, Sheshai built Alush, and Talmai built Talbush. They were called “the children of Anak” (the giant) because they seemed so tall that they would reach the sun. (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 10a.)


A Baraita interpreted the words “and Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt” in Numbers 13:22 to mean that Hebron was seven times as fertile as Zoan. The Baraita rejected the plain meaning of “built,” reasoning that Ham would not build a house for his younger son Canaan (in whose land was Hebron) before he built one for his elder son Mizraim (in whose land was Zoan, and Genesis 10:6 lists (presumably in order of birth) “the sons of Ham: Cush, and Mizraim, and Put, and Canaan.” The Baraita also taught that among all the nations, there was none more fertile than Egypt, for Genesis 13:10 says, “Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.” And there was no more fertile spot in Egypt than Zoan, where kings lived, for Isaiah 30:4 says of Pharaoh, “his princes are at Zoan.” And in all of Israel, there was no more rocky ground than that at Hebron, which is why the Patriarchs buried their dead there, as reported in Genesis 49:31. But rocky Hebron was still seven times as fertile as lush Zoan. (Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 112a.)

Ebbinghaus The Spies Return

The Spies Return (illustration by Wilhelm Ebbinghaus from the 1908 Bible and Its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons)

The Two Reports of the Spies (crop)

The Two Reports of the Spies (illustration from Bible card published 1907 by Providence Lithograph Company)

The Gemara interpreted the words “between two” in Numbers 13:23 to teach that the scouts carried the large cluster of grape on two staffs. Rabbi Isaac said that the scouts carried the grapes with a series of balancing poles. The Gemara explained that eight spies carried the grape-cluster, one carried a pomegranate, one carried a fig, and Joshua and Caleb did not carry anything, either because they were the most distinguished of them, or because they did not share in the plan to discourage the Israelites. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 34a.)

Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai that the words “And they went and came to Moses” in Numbers 13:26 equated the going with the coming back, indicating that just as they came back with an evil design, they had set out with an evil design. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a.)

The Gemara reported a number of Rabbis’ reports of how the Land of Israel did indeed flow with “milk and honey,” as described in Exodus 3:8 and 17, 13:5, and 33:3, Leviticus 20:24, Numbers 13:27 and 14:8, and Deuteronomy 6:3, 11:9, 26:9 and 15, 27:3, and 31:20. Once when Rami bar Ezekiel visited Bnei Brak, he saw goats grazing under fig trees while honey was flowing from the figs, and milk dripped from the goats mingling with the fig honey, causing him to remark that it was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey. Rabbi Jacob ben Dostai said that it is about three miles from Lod to Ono, and once he rose up early in the morning and waded all that way up to his ankles in fig honey. Resh Lakish said that he saw the flow of the milk and honey of Sepphoris extend over an area of sixteen miles by sixteen miles. Rabbah bar Bar Hana said that he saw the flow of the milk and honey in all the Land of Israel and the total area was equal to an area of twenty-two parasangs by six parasangs. (Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 111b12a.)

Rabbi Johanan said in the name of Rabbi Meir that the spies began with a true report in Numbers 13:27 and then spoke ill in Numbers 13:28, because any piece of slander needs some truth in the beginning to be heard through to the end. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a.)

The Spies Return from Canaan Carrying a Large Bunch of Grapes

The Spies Return from Canaan Carrying a Large Bunch of Grapes (miniature on vellum by a follower of Simon Bening from a 1500–1525 Southern Netherlands Book of Hours)

Rabbah interpreted Numbers 13:30 to report that Caleb won the people over with his words, for he saw that when Joshua began to address them, they disparaged Joshua for failing to have children. So Caleb took a different tack and asked, “Is this all that Amram's son [Moses] has done to us?” And as they thought that Caleb was about to disparage Moses, they fell silent. Then Caleb said, “He brought us out of Egypt, divided the sea, and fed us manna. If he were to ask us to get ladders and climb to heaven, should we not obey? And then Caleb said the words reported in Numbers 13:30, “We should go up at once, and possess the land, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a.)

Rabbi Hanina bar Papa read the spies to say in Numbers 13:31 not “they are stronger than we” but “they are stronger than He,” questioning God’s power. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a, Arakhin 15a.)

Davis Joshua Saved

Joshua Saved (illustration by John Steeple Davis from the 1908 Bible and Its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons)

The Mishnah noted that the evil report of the scouts in Numbers 13:32 caused God to seal the decree against the Israelites in the wilderness in Numbers 14:22–23. The Mishnah thus deduced that one who speaks suffers more than one who acts. (Mishnah Arakhin 3:5; Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 15a.)

Rav Mesharsheya said that Numbers 13:33 proved that the spies were liars, for though they might well have known that they saw themselves as grasshoppers, they had no way of knowing how the inhabitants of the land saw them. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 35a.)

Numbers chapter 14

A Baraita taught that when Moses ascended to receive the Torah from God, Moses found God writing “longsuffering” among the words with which Exodus 34:8 describes God. Moses asked God whether God meant longsuffering with the righteous, to which God replied that God is longsuffering even with the wicked. Moses exclaimed that God could let the wicked perish, but God cautioned Moses that Moses would come to desire God’s longsuffering for the wicked. Later, when the Israelites sinned at the incident of the spies, God reminded Moses that he had suggested that God be longsuffering only with the righteous, to which Moses recounted that God had promised to be longsuffering even with the wicked. And that is why Moses in Numbers 14:17–18 cited to God that God is “slow to anger.” (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 111a–b.)

The Mishnah deduced from Numbers 14:22 that the Israelites in the wilderness inflicted ten trials on God, one of which was the incident of the spies. (Mishnah Avot 5:4; see also Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 15a.) And the Mishnah deduced further from Numbers 14:22 that those who speak ill suffer more than those who commit physical acts, and thus that God sealed the judgment against the Israelites in the wilderness only because of their evil words at the incident of the spies. (Mishnah Arakhin 3:5; Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 15a.)

Because with regard to the ten spies in Numbers 14:27, God asked, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation?” the Mishnah deduced that a “congregation” consists of no fewer than ten people. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 1:6; Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 2a.) Expounding on the same word “congregation,” Rabbi Halafta of Kefar Hanania deduced from the words “God stands in the congregation of God” in Psalms 82:1 that the Shekhinah abides among ten who sit together and study Torah. (Mishnah Avot 3:6.)

Noting that in the incident of the spies, God did not punish those below the age of 20 (see Numbers 14:29), whom Deuteronomy 1:39 described as “children that . . . have no knowledge of good or evil,” Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani taught in Rabbi Jonathan’s name that God does not punish for the actions people take in their first 20 years. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 89b.)

Rav Hamnuna taught that God’s decree that the generation of the spies would die in the wilderness did not apply to the Levites, for Numbers 14:29 says, “your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from 20 years old and upward,” and this implies that those who were numbered from 20 years old and upward came under the decree, while the tribe of Levi — which Numbers 4:3, 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, and 47 say was numbered from 30 years old and upward — was excluded from the decree. (Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 121b.)

A Baraita taught that because of God’s displeasure with the Israelites, the north wind did not blow on them in any of the 40 years during which they wandered in the wilderness. The Tosafot attributed God’s displeasure to the incident of the spies, although Rashi attributed it to the Golden Calf. (Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 72a.)

Rabbi Akiba interpreted Numbers 14:35 to teach that the generation of the wilderness have no share in the world to come and will not stand at the last judgment. Rabbi Eliezer said that it was concerning them that Psalm 50:5 said, “Gather my saints together to me; those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 110b.)

The Mishnah deduced from Numbers 14:37 that the spies have no portion in the world to come, as the words “those men . . . died” in Numbers 14:37 indicated that they died in this world, and the words “by the plague” indicated that they died in the world to come. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:3; Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 108a.)

Rabbah in the name of Resh Lakish deduced from Numbers 14:37 that the spies who brought an evil report against the land died by the plague, and died because of the evil report that they had brought. (Babylonian Talmud Arakhin 15a.)

Numbers chapter 15

The Mishnah exempted the meal-offering that accompanied the drink-offering in Numbers 15:4–5 from the penalty associated with eating piggul, offerings invalidated for improper intent. (Mishnah Zevachim 4:3; Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 43a.) And the Mishnah ruled that these meal-offerings required oil but not frankincense. (Mishnah Menachot 5:3; Babylonian Talmud Menachot 59a.)

The Prayer- Shema Yisroel from the Siddur

the beginning of the Shema prayer in the Siddur

Tzitzis Shot

tzitzit on the corner of a tallit

Tractate Challah in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Jerusalem Talmud interpreted the laws of separating a portion of bread for the priests in Numbers 15:17–21. (Mishnah Challah 1:1–4:11; Tosefta Challah 1:1–2:12; Jerusalem Talmud Challah 1a–49b.)

The Mishnah instructed that there is a section break in the Shema between reciting Deuteronomy 11:13–21 and reciting Numbers 15:37–41 during which one may give and return greetings out of respect. And similarly, there is a section break between reciting Numbers 15:37–41 and reciting emet veyatziv. But Rabbi Judah said that one may not interrupt between reciting Numbers 15:37–41 and reciting emet veyatziv. The Mishnah taught that the reciting of Deuteronomy 11:13–21 precedes the reciting of Numbers 15:37–41 in the Shema because the obligation of Deuteronomy 11:13–21 applies day and night, while the obligation of Numbers 15:37–41 to wear tzizit applies only during the day. (Mishnah Berakhot 2:2; Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 13a.)

The School of Rabbi Ishmael taught that whenever Scripture uses the word “command (tzav)” (as Numbers 15:23 does), it denotes exhortation to obedience immediately and for all time. A Baraita deduced exhortation to immediate obedience from the use of the word “command” in Deuteronomy 3:28, which says, “charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him.” And the Baraita deduced exhortation to obedience for all time from the use of the word “command” in Numbers 15:23, which says, “even all that the Lord has commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord gave the commandment, and onward throughout your generations.” (Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 29a.)

Rav Hisda taught that one walking in a dirty alleyway should not recite the Shema, and one reciting the Shema who comes upon a dirty alleyway should stop reciting. Of one who would not stop reciting, Rav Adda bar Ahavah quoted Numbers 15:31 to say: “he has despised the word of the Lord.” And of one who does stop reciting, Rabbi Abbahu taught that Deuteronomy 32:47 says: “through this word you shall prolong your days.” (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 24b.)



According to Maimonides and Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are 2 positive and 1 negative commandments in the parshah.

(Maimonides. Mishneh Torah, Positive Commandments 14, 133, Negative Commandment 47. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180. Reprinted in Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 1:21–22, 140–41; 2:46–47. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 4:94–119. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1988. ISBN 0-87306-457-7.)


Tissot The Flight of the Spies (color)

The Flight of the Spies (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)

The haftarah for the parshah is Joshua 2:1–24.


Joshua secretly dispatched two spies from Shittim, instructing them to view the land and Jericho, and they went to the house of a harlot named Rahab. (Joshua 2:1.) That night, the king of Jericho received word that Israelite men had come to search out the land, and the king sent a demand to Rahab to deliver the men who had come to her house. (Joshua 2:2–3.) But Rahab hid the men among stalks of flax on her roof, saying that when it was dark the men had left, and she did not know where they went. (Joshua 2:4–6.) The king’s men left the city in pursuit of the spies on the road to the Jordan River, and the people of the city shut the city gate after them. (Joshua 2:7.)

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 066

Escape from Rahab's House (woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld from the 1860 Bible in Pictures)

Rahab promptly went up to the spies on the roof and told them that she knew that God had given the Israelites the land, and that the people lived in terror of the Israelites, having heard how God dried up the Red Sea before them and how the Israelites had destroyed the forces of Sihon and Og. (Joshua 2:8–11.) So Rahab asked the spies to swear by God, since she had dealt kindly with them, that they would also deal kindly with her father's house and give her a token to save her family from the coming invasion. (Joshua 2:12–13.) The spies told her that if she would not tell of their doings, then when God gave the Israelites the land, they would deal kindly with her. (Joshua 2:14.) She let them down by a cord through her window, as her house was on the city wall. (Joshua 2:15.) She told them to hide in the mountain for three days. (Joshua 2:16.) They told her that when the Israelites came to the land, she was to bind in her window the scarlet rope by which she let the spies down and gather her family into her house for safety, as all who ventured out of the doors of her house would die. (Joshua 2:17–19.) She agreed, sent them on their way, and bound the scarlet line in her window. (Joshua 2:21.)

The spies hid in the mountain for three days, and the pursuers did not find them. (Joshua 2:22.) The spies returned to the Israelite camp and told Joshua all that had happened, saying that surely God had delivered the land into their hands and the inhabitants would melt away before them. (Joshua 2:23–24.)

Connection to the Parshah

Both the parshah and the haftarah deal with spies sent to scout out the land of Israel, the parshah in connection with the ten scouts sent to reconnoiter the whole land (Numbers 13), and the haftrah in connection with the two spies sent to reconnoiter Jericho. (Joshua 2) Joshua participated in both ventures, as a scout in the parshah (Numbers 13:8, 16), and as the leader who sent the spies in the haftarah. (Joshua 2:1.) In the parshah, God complained about how the Israelites did not believe the “signs” (’otot) that God had sent (Numbers 14:11), and in the haftarah, Rahab asked the spies for a true “sign” (’ot) so that she might believe them. (Joshua 2:12)

Whereas in the parshah, the spies were well-known men (Numbers 13:2–3), in the haftarah, Joshua dispatched the spies secretly. (Joshua 2:1) Whereas in the parshah, Moses sent a large number of 12 spies (Numbers 13:2–16), in the haftarah, Joshua sent just 2 spies. (Joshua 2:1) Whereas in the parshah, many of the spies cowered before the Canaanites (Numbers 13:31–33), in the haftarah, the spies reported that the Canaanites would melt before the Israelites. (Joshua 2:24) Whereas in the parshah, the spies reported their findings publicly (Numbers 13:26), in the haftarah, the spies reported directly to Joshua. (Joshua 2:23–24)

In the liturgy

The rebellious generation and their Wilderness death foretold in Numbers 14:35 are reflected in Psalm 95:10–11, which is in turn the first of the six Psalms recited at the beginning of the Kabbalat Shabbat prayer service. (Reuven Hammer. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 15. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2003. ISBN 0-916219-20-8.)

Numbers 15:37–41 is the third of three blocks of verses in the Shema, a central prayer in Jewish prayer services. Jews combine Deuteronomy 6:4–9, Deuteronomy 11:13–21, and Numbers 15:37–41 to form the core of K’riat Shema, recited in the evening (Ma’ariv) and morning (Shacharit) prayer services. (Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 30–31, 112–13, 282–83. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2007. ISBN 0-916219-13-5.)

The Weekly Maqam

In the Weekly Maqam, Sephardi Jews each week base the songs of the services on the content of that week's parshah. For parshah Shlach, Sephardi Jews apply Maqam Hijaz, the maqam that expresses mourning and sadness. This maqam is appropriate in this parshah because it is the parshah that contains the episode of the spies and the punishment on Israel.

Further reading

The parshah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:




  • Jeremiah 31:28–29 (31:29–30 in NJPS) (not punishing children for fathers’ sin).
  • Ezekiel 18:1–4 (not punishing children for fathers’ sin); 20:5 (God lifted up God’s hand).
  • Nehemiah 9:12 (pillar of fire); 9:15 (God lifted up God’s hand); 9:19 (pillar of fire).
  • Psalms 19:13 (God clears from hidden faults); 22:9 (God’s delight); 25:13 (his seed shall inherit the land); 37:11 (shall inherit the land); 44:2–4 (not by their own sword did they get the land); 72:19 (earth filled with God’s glory); 78:12, 22 (Zoan; they didn’t believe); 95:9–11 (that generation should not enter); 103:8 (God full of compassion, gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy); 106:24–27, 39 (spurning the desirable land; they went astray); 107:40 (God causes princes to wander in the waste); 118:8–12 (with God’s help, victory over the nations); 145:8 (God gracious, full of compassion; slow to anger, of great mercy); 147:10–11 (God’s delight).


Early nonrabbinic



Classical rabbinic

  • Mishnah: Berakhot 2:2; Challah 1:1–4:11; Sanhedrin 1:6, 10:3; Eduyot 1:2; Avot 3:6; 5:4; Horayot 1:4; 2:6; Zevachim 4:3; 12:5; Menachot 3:5; 4:1; 5:3; 9:1; Arakhin 3:5; Keritot 1:1–2; Tamid 5:1. Land of Israel, circa 200 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 5, 147–58, 585, 605, 640, 679, 685, 691, 694, 705, 726, 739–40, 742, 751, 813, 836–37, 869. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
  • Tosefta: Challah 1:1–2:12; Sotah 4:13–14; 7:18; 9:2; Sanhedrin 13:9–10; Eduyot 1:1; Horayot 1:4; Bekhorot 3:12; Arakhin 2:11. Land of Israel, circa 300 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:331–40, 848–49, 865, 873; 2:1190–91, 1245, 1296, 1479, 1500. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
  • Sifre to Numbers 107:1–115:5. Land of Israel, circa 250–350 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifré to Numbers: An American Translation and Explanation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 2:133–84. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986. ISBN 1-55540-010-8.
  • Sifra 34:4. Land of Israel, 4th Century C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifra: An Analytical Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:214. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-205-4.
  • Jerusalem Talmud: Berakhot 10a; 12b–13a; 20b, 24b, 75b; Peah 8a; Maaser Sheni 57b; Challah 1a–49b; Orlah 5b, 41b. Land of Israel, circa 400 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, vols. 1–3, 10–12. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2005–2009.
  • Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael Pisha 1, 5; Beshallah 1–2; Vayassa 3; Amalek 1–3; Bahodesh 9. Land of Israel, late 4th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta According to Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:6, 30, 126, 131, 137, 247; 2:6, 16, 22, 92. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-237-2. And Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Z. Lauterbach, 1:2–3, 26, 117–18, 124, 129, 237; 2:255, 266–67, 273, 341. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1933, reissued 2004. ISBN 0-8276-0678-8.
  • Mekhilta of Rabbi Simeon 12:3; 20:1, 5; 37:1; 44:1; 45:1; 54:2. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai. Translated by W. David Nelson, 40, 81, 85, 160, 184, 193, 248. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006. ISBN 0-8276-0799-7.
First page of the first tractate of the Talmud (Daf Beis of Maseches Brachos)


Ibn Gabirol

Ibn Gabirol


  • Avot of Rabbi Natan, 9:2; 20:6; 34:1; 36:4, 7. Circa 700–900 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan. Translated by Judah Goldin, 54, 96–97, 136, 149, 152. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1955. ISBN 0-300-00497-4. The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan: An Analytical Translation and Explanation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 71, 136, 202, 217, 219. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986. ISBN 1-55540-073-6.
  • Solomon ibn Gabirol. A Crown for the King, 27:334–35. Spain, 11th Century. Translated by David R. Slavitt, 44–45. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-511962-2.
  • Rashi. Commentary. Numbers 13–15. Troyes, France, late 11th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, 4:147–88. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-89906-029-3.
Rashi woodcut


  • Judah Halevi. Kuzari. 2:50; 3:11, 38. Toledo, Spain, 1130–1140. Reprinted in, e.g., Jehuda Halevi. Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel. Intro. by Henry Slonimsky, 115, 147, 169. New York: Schocken, 1964. ISBN 0-8052-0075-4.
  • Numbers Rabbah 1:11; 2:19; 3:7; 4:14, 20; 7:4; 8:6; 9:18; 10:2; 13:15–16; 14:1, 3–4; 15:24; 16:1–17:6; 18:3, 6, 21; 19:20–21; 20:23; 21:10. 12th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Numbers. Translated by Judah J. Slotki, 5:18, 57, 79, 112, 130, 183, 229, 275, 339, 344; 6:534, 564, 566, 573, 584, 670, 673–707, 709, 715, 735, 738, 769–70, 820, 836. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
  • Benjamin of Tudela. The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela. Spain, 1173. Reprinted in The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela: Travels in the Middle Ages. Introductions by Michael A. Singer, Marcus Nathan Adler, A. Asher, 91. Malibu, Calif.: Joseph Simon, 1983. ISBN 0-934710-07-4. (giants).
Thomas Hobbes (portrait)



Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch


  • Samson Raphael Hirsch. Horeb: A Philosophy of Jewish Laws and Observances. Translated by Isidore Grunfeld, 9–12, 180–86, 196–203. London: Soncino Press, 1962. Reprinted 2002 ISBN 0-900689-40-4. Originally published as Horeb, Versuche über Jissroel’s Pflichten in der Zerstreuung. Germany, 1837.
  • Thomas Mann. Joseph and His Brothers. Translated by John E. Woods, 577. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. ISBN 1-4000-4001-9. Originally published as Joseph und seine Brüder. Stockholm: Bermann-Fischer Verlag, 1943.
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel. Man's Quest for God: Studies in Prayer and Symbolism, 36. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1954.
  • Jacob Milgrom. “Of Hems and Tassels: Rank, authority and holiness were expressed in antiquity by fringes on garments.” Biblical Archaeology Review. 9 (3) (May/June 1983).
  • Mayer Rabinowitz. “An Advocate's Halakhic Responses on the Ordination of Women.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1984. HM 7.4.1984a. Reprinted in Responsa: 1980–1990: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by David J. Fine, 722, 727, 733 n. 28. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2005. ISBN 0-916219-27-5. (defining a minyan based on the community who heard the spies’ evil report).
  • Joel Roth. “On the Ordination of Women as Rabbis.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1984. HM 7.4.1984b. Reprinted in Responsa: 1980–1990: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by David J. Fine, 736, 750, 782 n. 82. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2005. ISBN 0-916219-27-5. (defining a minyan based on the ten spies who brought the evil report).
  • Jacob Milgrom. The JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation, 100–28, 387–414. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1990. ISBN 0-8276-0329-0.
  • Baruch A. Levine. Numbers 1–20, 4:345–402. New York: Anchor Bible, 1993. ISBN 0-385-15651-0.
  • Mary Douglas. In the Wilderness: The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers, xix, 54, 59, 84, 88, 103, 106–07, 110–12, 121–26, 137, 145, 147, 150–51, 164, 188–90, 194, 201, 210, 212, 232. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. Reprinted 2004. ISBN 0-19-924541-X.
  • Shoshana Gelfand. “May Women Tie Tzitzit Knots?” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1997. OH 14:1.1997. Reprinted in Responsa: 1991–2000: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine, 3–8. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2002. ISBN 0-916219-19-4.
  • Elie Kaplan Spitz. “Mamzerut.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2000. EH 4.2000a. Reprinted in Responsa: 1991–2000: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine, 558, 562–63, 576, 580–81. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2002. ISBN 0-916219-19-4. (evolution of interpretation of visiting the sins of the father on the children, the punishment of Sabbath violation, and the blue thread of the tzitzit).
  • Ari Greenspan. “The Search for Biblical Blue.” Bible Review. 19 (1) (Feb. 2003): 32–39, 52.
  • Rose Mary Sheldon. “Spy Tales.” Bible Review. 19 (5) (Oct. 2003): 12–19, 41–42.
  • John Crawford. “Caleb the Dog: How a Biblical Good Guy Got a Bad Name.” Bible Review. 20 (2) (Apr. 2004): 20–27, 45.
  • Aaron Wildavsky. Moses as Political Leader, 129–33. Jerusalem: Shalem Press, 2005. ISBN 965-7052-31-9.
  • Tzvi Novick. “Law and Loss: Response to Catastrophe in Numbers 15.” Harvard Theological Review 101 (1) (Jan. 2008): 1–14.

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