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Hormah, meaning broken rock, banned, or devoted to destruction, was the place marking the Canaanite rout of the Israelites after their belated attempt to enter the Promised Land from the south. It need not have happened, if they had obeyed God in the first place, but the spies, except Joshua and Caleb, gave a false report of the land, and the people rebelled against The Lord's command. When they later changed their minds, they presumed to enter the Promised Land, without the Presence of The Lord, without the Ark of the Covenant, and without Moses - with disastrous results.

Hormah Originally known as Zephath (Judges 1:17), the location of Hormah is uncertain; some archaeologists place it about half-way between Gaza and Beersheba, while others locate it about 7 miles / 11 kilometers east of Beersheba. What is known for certain is that it was in that general area, since it was later included first in the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:30), but later transferred to the tribal territory of Simeon because Judah's allotment was too large for them (Joshua 19:4). See Tribal Lands.

Pursued Back To Hormah

"And The Lord [see Rock Of Ages] said to Moses and to Aaron, "How long shall this wicked congregation murmur against Me? I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel, which they murmur against Me. Say to them, 'As I live,' says The Lord, 'what you have said in My hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; and of all your number, numbered from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against Me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun."

"But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness."

"According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know My displeasure.' I, The Lord, have spoken; surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation that are gathered together against Me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die."

"And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, and who returned and made all the congregation to murmur against Him by bringing up an evil report against the land, the men who brought up an evil report of the land, died by plague before The Lord. But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive, of those men who went to spy out the land."

"And Moses told these words to all the people of Israel, and the people mourned greatly. And they rose early in the morning, and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, "See, we are here, we will go up to the place which The Lord has promised; for we have sinned."

"But Moses said, "Why now are you transgressing the command of The Lord, for that will not succeed? Do not go up lest you be struck down before your enemies, for The Lord is not among you. For there the Amalekites and the Canaanites are before you, and you shall fall by the sword; because you have turned back from following The Lord, The Lord will not be with you."

"But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither The Ark Of The Covenant of The Lord, nor Moses, departed out of the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that hill country came down, and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah." (Numbers 14:26-45 RSV)

Fact Finder: Was the Israelites' wandering in the wilderness a punishment for their refusal to enter the Promised Land when The Lord first gave them the opportunity to do so, not long after the Exodus?
Numbers 14:32-34

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