People were hysterical. Everyone was upset. The entire community turned against the leaders. They brought charges against them. The accusations were serious. Attempted murder, child abuse, gross misconduct that made 400 years of slavery look “pleasant.” In fact, there was serious talk of electing new leaders who would escort the nation back into bondage.

The leaders were completely baffled about what to do. They tried to help the people see the truth, but that only made the people more furious, and plans to murder the leaders were in the works. But the lynch mob was thwarted by The Fear [Genesis 31:42,53: פַ֤חַד].

Then The Fear asked the leaders, “How long will this people despise Me? How long will they not believe in Me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?”

Then The Fear said, “I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them.”

Then one of the leaders said to The Fear, “If you disinherit these wretched people, then their former slave masters will hear of it, and they’ll say, ‘It is because The Fear was not able to manage these people and make good on His promises to them, so He just slaughtered them in the wilderness.’ …Your reputation amongst oppressive and wicked nations is jeopardized if you don’t forgive these vexatious, pig-headed, people. Please continue to pardon and abound in love for these horrible people.”

So The Fear agreed to pardon the intransigent malefactors. And The Fear issued them a consequence for their crimes of distrust and defiance. The Fear said, “None of the men who have seen My glory and My signs that I did in the land of their slave masters, and in the wilderness, shall see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors. None of those who despised Me and put Me to the test shall see it.”

Then The Fear asked again, “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me?”

The Fear said, “I have had My fill of the grumblings of this people. …As I live, declares The Fear, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number who have grumbled against Me. But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. 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. You shall know My displeasure. I, The Fear, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against Me.”

And right then and there, the men who had stirred up the lynch mob were struck by a plague and died before The Fear.

Imaginatively Inhabiting Bemidbar [דבר] chapter 14