THE LESSON BACKGROUND.
At the time of this week’s lesson, the Israelites were coming to the end of their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. After spending about two years at Mount Sinai (also called Mt. Horeb) after leaving Egypt, the Israelites proceeded toward Canaan. Eleven days later (see Deuteronomy 1:1-2) after leaving Mount Sinai, they arrived at Kadesh-barnea which was on the border of Canaan. Now some 38 years later, they were there once again. But during that earlier stay at Kadesh, the Israelites rebelled against both Moses and God when instead of believing the good report by Caleb and Joshua, they believed the evil report brought by ten of the twelve spies that Moses sent out to explore the land of Canaan (see Numbers 13:26-33; 14:1-10). As a result of the people’s unbelief, God told them to turn around and go back into the wilderness (see Numbers 14:25; Deuteronomy 1:37-40; 2:1) where they would spend another 38 years before God allowed them to enter the Promise Land (see Numbers 33:38; Deuteronomy 1:3). After the remaining 38 years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites, once again came to Kadesh (see Numbers 20:1). Now after a total of 40 years from the time they left Egypt until arriving again at Kadesh, and the deaths of the entire generation that rebelled against God, a new generation was ready to enter Canaan, the Promised Land. They were now in the wilderness or desert of Zin which was just north of Kadesh where God’s people had once again made their camp. From Kadesh, the people would have direct entry into the land of Canaan. This is where our lesson begins.