He sent twelve men to spy the land
to learn if it were strong or weak,
and whether there were giants and,
if so, did they respect the meek.
Did women all wear bodices
and show their legs in tight, short dresses,
and did they worship goddesses,
invulnerable in fortresses,
Astarte with Jehovah, maybe,
or even sans Jehovah? Could
the two of them have had a baby?
They clearly all misunderstood
the Canaanite religion, and
were curious to about the gods
in order that they’d understand
how long against them were the odds?
He asked if all the fruit was fresh,
and was good wine made from the grapes?
He hoped their answers would refresh
his memory, and he made them traipse
for forty days and forty nights––
twelve leaders who had been in charge
of simpler problems Israelites
had had, not acts of espionage.

Although the leader Moses gave
this mission, he would later claim
God had commanded him, to save
his face, for they would all defame
the land and say that it could not
conceivably by them be conquered,
deserting God whom they forgot
while for the land of Ham they hankered.
One therefore feels quite forced to ask
why did he in the first place send them
and give, impossible, the task
whose failure fatally would end them,
and cause them in the wilderness
to die before their children crossed
the Jordan––failure from success
in less time than a pentecost?

Their message––Israelites all bought it:
“The conquest that is planned is bound
to be by men of Canaan thwarted:
they walk twelve feet above the ground”––
far taller than the Hebrews, stunted
by diets that in Egypt lacked
the nutrients in Canaan hunted
or found in stores where shelves were stacked
with vitamins and healthy foods
so vital for one’s normal growth.
The Hebrews lack this sort of goods
in Egypt, masters being loath
to give slaves more than absolutely
necessary. Ectomorphs
the Hebrew were, acutely
unaware why they were dwarfs.
“Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai,
in Hebron, such an ancient city
with walls far higher than the sky, ”
was their report, whose nitty-gritty
has others details they would add,
while asking why there were no graves
to bury them, as Egypt had,
though drowned by roughest Reed Sea waves,
miraculously all preserved
despite the havoc God had wrought.
Forgetting Him now, they deserved
to die, as God thought that they ought,
although He let them live their lives
for very nearly forty years
in wildernesses with their wives,
while wasting wistfully their tears,
because they missed the pots of flesh,
and garlic, onions, leeks, cucumbers,
and fish in Egypt, always fresh––
you learn this in the Book of Numbers––
foreshadowing the waste that came
when Babylonians burnt the Temple.
The date this happened was the same…..
God always tries to keep it simple.

There was, minority report,
a different story from two spies,
which never much attention caught,
discredited as allied lies,
told by two allies of the leader,
supporters of pre-emptive strike
against the Canaanites––the reader
can recognize a look alike
in story of the Desert Storm
that George Bush, Tony Blair prepared
against Saddam. Lies are the norm
to stop the soldiers being scared.
But Joshua and Caleb, too,
unlike the Jews who’d rather render
to Canaan homage while untrue
to God, said: “We will not surrender! ”
Once these two men had crossed the Jordan,
Joshua sent spies to a harlot,
whom he saved later with a cordon––
not blue, it’s said, the thread was scarlet.
She lived to see the ancient walls
of Jericho fall in a trice.
No hesitation or miscalls––
misfortune did not happen twice.

The moral is, we do need spies,
but must check everyone’s credential,
remembering that spies tell lies,
not finding truth to be essential.
We cannot recognize defectors,
behind top spies may be a mole,
nor can we trust our lie detectors,
as tricky as a grassy knoll,
and when we hazard a deduction
we may be totally blindsided,
for claims of weapons of destruction
may make us massively derided.
This for the CIA applies
as should it have applied to Moses––
all Monday quarterbacks are wise,
but do not follow these men’s noses!
I think that it was Moses’ fault
the spies were sent, but am prepared,
if you’ll buy me an Islay malt
for the analysis I’ve shared,
to modify this judgment since
perhaps we ought to blame not him
but God for trying to convince
him to send spies. It was God’s whim
according to the Numbers version,
though Deuteronomy maintains
the idea for the spy incursion
was Moses’ own. Good Book contains
two contradictory accounts
about this tale like many others.
My verdict here I will announce.
To blame the prophet I’ve no druthers.
Let’s leave him without reprimand
implied in Deuteronomy.
It’s better for the Promised Land
if not the world’s economy.


by gershon hepner

Comments (1)

Wow! That said alot (and covered alot of territory as well) . My history is not a strong point, but I believe you make alot of sense. Great read. Linda