Another textual indication that Numbers 13-14 now contains what once was two independent versions of the spy story are the duplicate and contradictory accounts of who steps forward to encourage the Israelites to have faith in Yahweh, and conversely whose lives out of all 600,000 men, or as the case may be 647,550 (#116 & #218), Yahweh spares!
Thus, in response to the people’s lack of faith in their ability and perhaps willingness to defeat the giants of the land, it is Caleb and Caleb alone who comes forward to quiet the people and encourage them: “Let’s go up and we’ll take possession of it” (Num 13:30-31).
Likewise, Numbers 14:20-25 relates how Yahweh vows to destroy all 600,000 of the men standing there because of their lack of faith and conversely to spare only Caleb and his seed.
“And my servant Caleb, because a different spirit was with him, and he went after me completely, I’ll bring him to the land where he went and his seed will possess it.” (14:24)
Yet contrary to these passages, where only Caleb of Judah is mentioned, other passages now woven into Numbers 13-14 speak of, in a duplicate rendition of the same storyline, Caleb and Joshua being spared.
For example, Numbers 14:1-3 [P] is a duplicate telling of how, this time, all the congregation refused to have faith. In other words, it tells again of the people’s unwillingness to fight first narrated in Num 13:31 [J].
Likewise, Numbers 14:6-9 [P] is a duplicate account of Numbers 13:30 [J], except now it is Caleb and Joshua who together encourage the people to have faith and fight. As a side note, when the author of Deuteronomy has Moses renarrate this event (Deut 1:22-40), he has Moses claim that it was him, not Caleb, who encouraged the children of Israel to have faith. We will look at this contradiction and others in this pericope later on.
Likewise, Numbers 14:26-35 [P] is a duplicate account of Numbers 14:11-25 [J], where in the first account Yahweh vows to wipe them all out save Caleb alone, and in the second rendition Yahweh again vows to wipe them all out except now only Caleb and Joshua.
From these textual duplicates, differing vocabulary and expressions, and thematic emphases, it would not be difficult to restore the original Yahwist and Priestly versions, some of which I did already in #235-236. Indeed many of my colleagues have done just this as well. For instance, consult Richard Friedman’s The Bible with Sources Revealed, p. 262-265.
At this point we might speculate why the Priestly writer added Joshua to Caleb. It might be reasoned that unlike the southern Judaic scribe who wrote the Yahwist text, or recorded its traditions, and was thus only, or primarily, interested in the fate of Judah, the later Priestly writer was more interested in a unified Israel. Thus in his retelling of the spy story, it is both Caleb from the south and Joshua from the northern tribe of Ephraim who are spared by Yahweh.
Finally, there are many other differences between the Yahwist version of Yahweh expressing his wrath, indignation and desire to wipe out all 600,000 men, and Moses placating that wrath in Numbers 14:11-25, and its Priestly duplicate in Numbers 14:26-38. One difference, however, which I added as one of our contradictions here, is that in the Priestly version, although Yahweh vows to kill off all 647,550 men, he immediately kills the other 10 chieftains by plague (14:37-38).