The Two Sins in the Wilderness

When Israel came out of Egypt,

and they dwelt in the wilderness מדבר ,

they committed two great sins.

These sins overshadowed the other sins,

even though HASHEM said that

they tested him ten times.

Numbers 14:22.

“Because all those men

who have seen my glory,

and my miracles,

which I did in Egypt,

and in the wilderness,

and have tempted me now

these ten times,

and have not listened to my voice;”

כי כל האנשים

הרואים את כבודי

ואת אתתי

אשר עשיתי במצרים


וינסו אתי זה

עשר פעמים

ולא שמעו בקולי :

These two sins were

of such magnitude that

Moses had to pray and to fast

forty days and forty nights,

and make intercession

to HASHEM so that

he would not destroy Israel.

We will examine these two sins

and see how they affect prophecy

and the history of Israel.

They run parallel to the

two destructions of

the temple in Jerusalem.


the Molten Calf עגל מסכה .

Exodus 32.

This sin occured at Mt. Sinai (Horeb)

while Moses was receiving

the commandments of G-d.

This sin was mixed with

lascivious and wicked

sexual behavior.

Exodus 32:6.

“And they rose up early on the morrow,

and offered burnt offerings,

and brought peace offerings;

and the people sat down

to eat and to drink,

and rose up to play.”

וישכימו ממחרת

ויעלו עולת ויגשו שלמים

וישב העם לאכול ושתו

ויקמו לצחק:

HASHEM said that

the result of their idolatry

was that they corrupted themselves.

Exodus 32:7

“And HASHEM said to Moses,

Go, get you down;

for your people, which you

brought out of the land of Egypt,

have corrupted themselves.”

ו ידבר יהוה אל משה

לך רד

כי שחת עמך

אשר העלית מארץ מצרים:

The first Temple בית המקדש

which Solomon שלומו

built in Jerusalem

was destroyed by the Babylonians

for the SAME sin: IDOLATRY.

HASHEM punished Israel with

seventy years captivity in Babylon,

then He allowed them to

return to Jerusalem and to

rebuild the Temple בית המקדש .

Sin #2 Unbelief, Causeless Hatred,

and Despising the Land ארץ ישראל .

Numbers 13-14.

This sin occurred at Kadesh

in the wilderness of Paran.

It has three parts.

Part #1.

Israel chose to believe the

evil report דבת הארץ

that the ten spies

brought against the land.

“And they brought an

evil report of the land

which they had searched

to the children of Israel.”

ויציאו דבת הארץ

אשר תרו אותה

אל בני ישראל:

This caused them to

despise the land.

Numbers 14:31

“But your little ones,

which you said should be a prey,

I will bring them in,

and they shall know the land

which you have despised.

וטפכם אשר

אמרתם לבז יהיה

והביאתי אתם

וידעו את הארץ

אשר מאסתם בה:

Part #2.

As a result of believing

the evil report ,

the people became

filled with fear and unbelief.

They chose not to believe

the Word of the LORD.

Numbers 14:11.

“And HASHEM said to Moses,

How long will this people

provoke me?

And how long will it be before

they believe me

for all the signs which

I have showed among them?”

ויאמר יהוה אל משה

עד אנה

ינאצני העם הזה

ועד אנה

לא יאמינו בי

בכל האתות אשר

עשיתי בקרבו:

And again it is written

in Psalm 78:32.

“For all this they sinned still,

a nd believed not

for his wondrous works.”

בכל זאת חטאו עוד

ולא האמינו בנפלאותיו:

And a third time

it is written in Psalm 106:24.

“Yes, they despised the pleasant land,

they believed not his word.”

וימאסו בארץ חמדה

לא האמינו לדברו:

And Moses says it

even a fourth time

in Deuteronomy 1:32.

“Yet in this thing

you did not believe

the LORD your G-d.”

ובדבר הזה

אינכם מאמינם

ביהוה אלהיכם:


This unbelief caused them

to voice causeless hatred


Numbers 14:3.

“And why has HASHEM

brought us to this land,

to fall by the sword,

that our wives and our children

should be a prey?

Were it not better for us

to return into Egypt?”

ולמה יהוה

מביא אתנו

אל הארץ הזאת

לנפול בחרב

נשינו וטפנו יהיו לבז

הלא טוב לנו

שוב מצרימה:

Then the LORD said

in Numbers 14:27:

“How long shall I bear

with this evil congregation,

which murmur against me?

I have heard the murmurings

of the children of Israel

which they murmur against me.”

עד מתי

לעדה הרעה הזאת

אשר המה מלינים עלי

את תלנות בני ישראל

אשר המה מלינים עלי


And again HASHEM says

in Numbers 14:35:

“I the LORD have said,

I will surely do it

to all this evil congregation,

that are gathered together

against me:

in the wilderness

they shall be consumed,

and there they shall die.”

אני יהוה דברתי

אם לא זאת אעשה

לכל העדה הרעה הזאת

הנועדים עלי

במדבר הזה יתמו

ושם ימתו:

Not even Moses escaped

from this terrible judgment,

for he says in Deuteronomy 1:37.

“Also HASHEM was angry with me

for your sakes, saying,

You also shall not enter there

(the land ארץ ישראל ).”

גם כי התאנף יהוה

בגללכם לאמר

גם אתה לא תבא שם:

The Second Temple בית המקדש

in Jerusalem

was destroyed by the Romans

for the SAME sin:


HASHEM punished Israel with

the great Diaspora, the Golahהגולה ,

the scattering among the nations

for almost two thousand years.

Psalm 106:25-27 attests to the

connection between the

punishment for the second sin

and the Diaspora הגולה .

“But they murmured

in their tents,

and listened not

to the voice of HASHEM.

therefore he lifted up

his hand against them,

to overthrow them

in the wilderness:

to overthrow their seed also

among the nations,

and to scatter them in the lands.”

וירגנו באהליהם

לא שמעו בקול יהוה:

וישא ידו להם

להפיל אותם במדבר:

ולהפיל זרעם בגוים

ולזרותם בארצות:

It is also said that it

was on Tishah B’Av

תשעה באב

that Israel mourned in

their tents over the report

of the spies.

It was on this day that

both Temples in Jerusalem

were destroyed,

and our people were exiled,

scattered among the nations,

and thrown down among the peoples.