"And The Lord's [see Rock Of Ages] anger was kindled on that day, and He swore, saying, 'Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me; none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed The Lord.' And The Lord's anger was kindled against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of The Lord was consumed." (Numbers 32:10-13 RSV)
An often overlooked fact of Bible History is that the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years not because the Wilderness Journey (see also Bible Places) took that long to physically complete, but as a punishment for those who refused to enter the Promised Land when they first had the chance to do so. They were placed in a "holding pattern" until all of the disobedient and cowardly ones of adult age had died off (Numbers 32:10-13).
Of the twelve scouts sent into the Promised Land to gather information prior to what would have been the Israelites' entry just a little more than two years after the Exodus (Numbers 10:11), only two of them, Joshua and Caleb, had the courage and faith to report that the people should go in and take the land that God was giving them:
"But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it."
"Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we." So they brought to the people of Israel an evil report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land, through which we have gone, to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim; and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them." Then all the congregation raised a loud cry; and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!" (Numbers 13:30-14:2 RSV)
Caleb, of the tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6), was forty years old when he was sent to spy out the Promised Land with the others. Over four decades later, he received his reward:
"Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal; and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know what The Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of The Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed The Lord my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children for ever, because you have wholly followed The Lord my God.'"
"And now, behold, The Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years since the time that The Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness; and now, lo, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong to this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war, and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which The Lord spoke on that day; for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities: it may be that The Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out as The Lord said."
"Then Joshua blessed him; and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. So Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed The Lord, the God of Israel." (Joshua 14:6-14 RSV)
Fact Finder: What kind of people will be cast into the lake of fire?