Men Dare Tread

The twelve spies wore light woolen robes purchased at the market of Kadesh. They passed Arad and reached the foothills of Hebron. Joshua looked up at the climb ahead and felt pity for some of the heavier members of the delegation. Shammua of the tribe of Reuven walked in front of the group and panted from exertion.

“We can’t conquer Arad,” Shammua sighed and wiped his brow.

“What are you talking about?” Caleb answered from the rear. “Arad is child’s play for God.”

“We can’t count on miracles here in Canaan. Our people won’t adapt to sieges, open warfare and life beyond the encampment.”

“What has gotten into to you, Shammua? Did you not witness God’s might and miracles? Do you doubt His care and love for us? Do you doubt His promise to give us Canaan?”

“God would sooner destroy us than save us. I think he tires of us. How many times has he visited punishment upon us since we left Sinai? One more misstep and he will consume us all. Our people no longer have the strength or the faith to be stewards of God,” Shammua pointed at the dry brush. “This land will be the death of us.”

Joshua noticed the other spies nodding at Shammua’s words. His palms started to sweat.

The twelve Israelite spies kept walking northward from Arad. They passed rocky, sparsely vegetated flatlands. The thorny shrubs matched the dusty color of the ground. They climbed up a steep mountain range, pockmarked with grey boulders, moss covered stones and wild bright green grass. Joshua thought God must have rolled giant marbles down the mountain. Halfway up the mountain they reached a forest overgrown with tall majestic oaks.

“We should visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs,” Caleb said. “It will do us all some good. It is God’s promise to them we will see fulfilled.”

“You’re too sentimental,” Shammua said. “We’re on a reconnaissance mission. We don’t have time for sightseeing.”

“Visiting the graves of our forefathers is sightseeing?” Caleb raised his eyebrow.

“We’re here to report on the tactical aspects of invading and conquering Canaan. Hebron would be a waste of time.”

“Let us look at the map,” Caleb motioned to Yigal of Yissachar.

“What’s there to look at?” Shammua asked. “Hebron is just trouble. The giants are there. I would give them a wide berth.”

Caleb stopped. The others stopped as well. Shammua turned around.

Caleb stared into Shammua’s eyes. “By God Almighty, I swear to you all here and now that I shall visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Not man, nor giant, nor any mortal agency shall stop me. So swears Caleb son of Yefuneh of the tribe of Judah. Now show us the map, Yigal.”

Yigal found a large flat stone in a clearing.

He pulled a roll of parchment from his backpack and spread it over the stone.

“We are here on the Atarim road,” Yigal spoke through his nose. “We’ve passed Arad and we’re approaching Hebron. The next city is Jerusalem.”

“Who will join me in Hebron?” Caleb asked. “We can all meet up in Jerusalem.”

The oaks stirred followed by loud thumping sounds.

The men split up and headed back into the forest, hiding behind rocks, trees and shrubs.

An enormous hand the size of a human body reached out from behind the trees and grabbed Shammua’s robe.

The hand lifted Shammua above the ground, above the trees, and higher still. The giant’s mop of dull blond hair covered most of his face.

“Got one, I did,” the blond giant bellowed.

“Fool!” a second giant yelled. He had thick coils of dark black hair. “I told ye to wait for us, Ahiman. We could have gotten us more. Now we’ll have to work to catch the little fellers.”

“But it is so much fun to play, Sheshai,” a third giant said, emerging from the trees. He was bald, except for a tuft of bright red on top of his head.

Joshua and Caleb watched from behind a shrub. Joshua saw the other spies’ heads peaking behind stone and tree. There are too many of us, he thought. They will catch more of us.

“Unhand me,” Shammua yelled as he dangled in the air trying to get out of the blond giant’s grip. “We are simple travelers and have done nothing wrong.”

The redheaded giant approached the captive Shammua.

“Oh, but you are not simple travelers,” he said. “We know that you are Israelite spies. We could smell you a mile away.”

“What do you want from us?” Shammua pleaded.

“Our king would like a few words with you. And then we will eat you. You will make a tasty morsel, my plump little friend.” The redhead squeezed Shammua’s torso between his thumb and finger. “You would go well with carrots and onions.” The blond and black-haired giants nodded and licked their lips.

Caleb whispered to Joshua. “We need to save him. Now.”

“What will we do?”

“I’ll distract them and you’ll release Shammua from the giant.”

“And how to you propose I do that?”

“You’ll figure it out.” Caleb got out of hiding and walked towards the clearing.

“Wait,” Joshua said, but Caleb kept walking, sword in hand.

“Are all Canaanites so ugly or is it just the big ones?” Caleb called up to the giants.

The three giants turned their attention to Caleb.

“Excellent,” the redhead grinned and reached for Caleb.

Caleb ran under the redhead’s legs and slashed at the inside of the giant’s ankle as he passed underneath. “Argh!” the redhead screamed and held up his leg in his hand as Caleb ran back to the trees.

Joshua spotted a springy bush and ran towards it. He jumped high and landed hard on the bush. The bush launched him upwards. With sword in hand he flew towards the face of the blond giant. Joshua cut the blond giant’s nose. “Perhaps he will look prettier with less of a nose,” Joshua called out midair. The giant dropped Shammua who fell to the ground, picked himself up and ran to the forest. The force of Joshua’s jump carried him above the treetops. He was surprised to see giant grapes on vineyards to the west. He landed, rolled to slow his momentum and stopped in front of the black-haired giant.

“He poked me!” the blond cried as he tried to catch the blood pouring from his nose. “My life is flowin’! My life is flowin’!”

The black haired giant bent over to intercept Joshua. Joshua headed towards the redhead hopping on one leg and slashed at it. The redhead lost his balance and fell on the black haired giant. The black hair giant fell over and knocked down the blond, still holding his nose. A pile of massive bodies and three sets of legs and arms intertwined on the clearing floor as the giants tried to disentangle themselves. “Get off of me you oafs,” the redhead cried.

“I knew you’d figure it out,” Caleb told Joshua as he met him under the trees. “Shammua is okay. He’s leading the others towards Jerusalem.”

“What about Hebron?” Joshua asked.

“They are too frightened to stay in the giant’s territory. You go on and stay with them. Somebody needs to keep an eye on those cowards. I have a promise to keep. I will go to Hebron and meet you in Jerusalem. Move quickly before those buffoons get up.”

“God be with you, brother,” Joshua clasped Caleb’s shoulder.

Caleb returned the gesture. “If our brothers are not with us, God may not be enough.”


* * * * * *


Biblical Sources:


Numbers Chapter 13


1 And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 ‘Send thou men, that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a prince among them.’ 3 And Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran according to the commandment of the Lord; all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel. 4 And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur.


6 Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh. 7 Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph. 8 Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun.


16 These are the names of the men that Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua. 17 And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them: ‘Get you up here into the South, and go up into the mountains; 18 and see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they are strong or weak, whether they are few or many; 19 and what the land is that they dwell in, whether it is good or bad; and what cities they are that they dwell in, whether in camps, or in strongholds; 20 and what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is 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 first-ripe grapes.– 21 So they went up, and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, at the entrance to Hamath. 22 And they went up into the South, and came unto Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were there.–Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.—


28 Howbeit the people that dwell in the land are fierce, and the cities are fortified, and very great; and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.


32 And they spread an evil report of the land which they had spied out unto the children of Israel, saying: ‘The land, through which we have passed to spy it out, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.’


Secondary Sources:


I saw one source that the spies met and fought the giants using the staff of Moses.




Names are all directly from the text. Scene with giants inspired in part by issue of Thor comic book written and illustrated by one of my favorite artist/writers, Walt Simonson. Coincidentally featured three giants (I wonder if he got them from the Torah’s listing?).

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and a candidate for the Knesset for the Zehut party. He is the author of three books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.