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Grapes of Eshcol
A sequel to the booklet "The Dispensational Frontier"
pp. 161 - 180
A cluster of peculiar blessings, brought from the high calling of
the Mystery, and exhibited to the Lord's people in much the
same spirit as prompted the witness of Caleb and Joshua.
The book of Deuteronomy opens with the words of Moses "on this side Jordan" in the
wilderness over against the Red Sea, but the record is interrupted at the second verse, by
a parenthetical observation:
"There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir unto
Kadesh-barnea" (Deut. 1: 2).
Somewhat comparable, and at first sight as difficult to understand, is the strange
interruption of the narrative of Acts 1: 15:
"And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples and said, the number of
names together were about an hundred and twenty, Men and brethren, this Scripture, etc.,
etc." (Acts 1: 15, 16).
We have purposely omitted the marks of parenthesis (. . . . .), there being none in the
original to intensify the strangeness of this interpolation. The structure reveals that there
is a correspondence between this 120 with the addition of Matthias to the "eleven", thus
making up the number of the apostolate (12) (Acts 1: 26), and with the number of
different countries represented at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 9-11) which
are twelve, because it was essential, if Israel were to be called once more to repentance,
that there should be "twelve" thrones judging the "twelve" tribes of Israel. So, returning
to Deuteronomy, the break in the narrative is inspired and purposeful. Let us ponder its
meaning and its implications. At Horeb, the solemn covenant had been made between
the Lord and this people, and from Mount Sinai to Kadesh there are twenty-one stages
indicated (Numb. 33: 16-37) and some of these were marked by gross disobedience as
at Kibroth-hattavah, so that Israel took much longer than "eleven days" to traverse the
route laid down in Numb. 33: Disobedience and unbelief apart, the direct route
would have occupied just eleven days, and the implication is that one more day would
have seen Israel over the border, and into the land. Instead, Moses reminded Israel:
"The space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the
brook Zered, was thirty and eight years" (Deut. 2: 14).
The thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Numbers set out the tragedy of
Kadesh-barnea at some length. The twelve spies search the land from one end to the
other, and at Eshcol, a valley in the vicinity of Hebron (Numb. 13: 22, 23), very near the
Southern border of the land of promise, they cut a cluster of grapes which they bore
between two upon a staff, and brought it as an evidence of the goodliness of the land