This weeks Torah reading in Parsha Shlach L’kha (Num. 13:1-15:41). This Parsha includes the account of Moshe sending out the ten spies to evaluate the land of Canaan:
 And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain:
 And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many;
 And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds;
 And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.
 So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath.
 And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
 And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.
 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
(Numbers 13:17-25 KJV)
Philo of Alexandria saw an instructive allegory in this account. The view from the mountain as a watchtower, he said, represented “right reason” (Logos), the rational mind:
When any one leading us along the road, deserted by the passions and by acts of wickedness, the rod, that is, of philosophy, has led right reason to a height, and placed it like a scout upon a watch-tower, (Numbers 13:18.) and has commanded it to look around, and to survey the whole country of virtue, and to see whether it be blessed with a deep soil, and rich, and productive of herbage and of fruit, since deep soil is good to cause the learning which has been sown in it to increase, and to make the doctrines which have been planted in it, and which have grown to trees, to form solid trunks, or whether it be of a contrary character; and also to examine into actions, as one might into cities, and see whether they are strongly fortified, or whether they are defenceless and deprived of all the security which might be afforded by walls around them. Also to inquire into the condition of the inhabitants, whether they are considerable in numbers and in valour, or whether their courage is weak and their numbers scanty, the two causes acting reciprocally on one another.
(Dreams 2, 170)
The spies looked down and saw Chebron (Hebron), which Philo interprets as follows:
(60) for Moses says that the spies came to Chebron, and these three are Acheman, and Jesein, and Thalamein, of the sons of Enoch: and this he adds, “and Chebron was built seven years before Janis, in Egypt,” (Num 13:23.) and these synonymous appellations are distinguished according to their species in a most natural manner. Chebron, being interpreted, means compunction, and this is of two kinds; one with reference to the soul being joined to the body, the other with reference to its being adapted to virtue. (61) Now the soul that subjects itself to bodily compunctions has the beforementioned inhabitants. Acheman, being interpreted, means, my brother, and Jesein means “outside of me,” and Thalmein means, some one in suspense; for it follows of necessity, that the body must be thought akin to the souls that love the body, and that external good things must be exceedingly admired by them, and all the souls which have this kind of disposition depend on dead things, and, like persons who are crucified, are attached to corruptible matter till the day of their death. (62) But the soul that is united to virtue has for its inhabitants those persons who are preeminent for virtue, persons whom the double cavern has received in pairs, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebeckah, Leah and Jacob, virtues and those who possess them; Chebron itself keeping the treasure-house of the memorials of knowledge and wisdom, which is more ancient than Janis and the whole land of Egypt, for nature has made the soul more ancient than the body, that is than Egypt, and virtue more ancient than vice, that is than Janis (and the name Janis, being interpreted, means the command of answer), estimating seniority rather by dignity than by length of time.
(On the Posterity of Cain and His Exile 60-62)
The Hebrew word for Chebron (Hebron) is actually הברון which means “association”. In another of his writings, Philo defines it more correctly:
(15) But you see that he here gives a superfluously minute description of the country from which he sends him forth, in a way which all but commands us to forsake the strict letter of what is written. “For out of the valley of Chebron,” now the name Chebron, when interpreted, means conjoined and associated, being a figurative way of intimating our body which is conjoined and which is associated in a sort of companionship and friendship with the soul.
(Worse is Wont to Attack Better 15a)
The spies looking down from the mountain like a watchtower, represent man looking with the view or the rational mind. The spies looked down and saw Chebron “association”, of which there are two types. Either the soul is associated and cojoined with the body and its inclinations and passions, or the soul is associated and cojoined with the virtues that flow forth from the rational mind.
Philo explains this choice of association elsewhere:
“For these passions are the causes of all good and of all evil; of good when they submit to the authority of dominant reason, and of evil when they break out of bounds and scorn all government and restraint.”
(Life of Moses 1; VI, 26)
And in the ancient Hebraic Stoic work, 4Maccabees (also known as On the Supremacy of Reason) we read:
21 Now when Elohim fashioned man, he planted in him emotions and inclinations,
22 but at the same time he enthroned the mind among the senses as a sacred governor over them all.
23 To the mind he gave the Torah; and one who lives subject to this will rule a kingdom that is temperate, just, good, and courageous.
Unfortunately the allegory in our parsha is one of failure, one in which the rational mind fails, and the soul attaches itself to the inclinations and passions of the body. The spies gave a report colored by fear and the people reacted by longing for Egypt:
 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto 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?
 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
(Numbers 14:1-4 KJV)
Philo interprets “Egypt” as representing the passions:
(175) And God also causes us hunger, not that which proceeds from virtue, but that which is engendered by passion and vice. And the proof of this is, that he nourishes us with his own word, which is the most universal of all things, for manna being interpreted, means “what?” and “what” is the most universal of all things; for the word of God is over all the world, and is the most ancient, and the most universal of all the things that are created. This word our fathers knew not; I speak not of those who are so in truth, but of those who are grey with age, who say, “Let us give them a guide, and let us turn Back”(Num. 14:1.) unto passion, that is to say, to Egypt. (176) Therefore, let God enjoin the soul, saying to it that, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” speaking in a figure, “but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” (Deut. 8:3) that is to say, he shall be nourished by the whole word (Logos) of God, and by every portion of it. For the mouth is the symbol of the language, and a word (Logos) is a portion of it. Accordingly the soul of the more perfect man is nourished by the whole word (Logos); but we must be contented if we are nourished by a portion of it.
(Allegorical Interpretation, III, 175-176)
Thus the people of Israel, having rejected the Logos, and having been controlled by their passions, were not yet ready to enter the Promised Land.
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