Why did Moses send spies if God was helping the Israelites?
Shelach (Chapters 13:1–15:41)
The plain reading of the Torah text reveals a discrepancy. There are two different accounts concerning the dispatching of spies to reconnoiter Canaan in advance of the impending military offensive to conquer the land during the days of Moses. Deuteronomy 1:22 states that the spies were sent because the people requested that they be sent. But Numbers 13:2 and 3 state: “The Lord spoke with Moses, saying: ‘Send men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.’ And Moses sent them forth … at the Lord’s command.” So who initiated this undertaking?
If we accept Maimonides interpretation of Scripture, it was the people’s initiative, not God’s. In his Guide of the Perplexed 2:48, Maimonides informs readers that whenever Scripture states that God did something, it should be understood that it was performed through the laws of nature that God created, in this case human intelligence, but God was not the direct cause of the act. God was the indirect cause, because God created the laws of nature, which included the human mind . Seen from this perspective, both are correct, the people wanted spies to reconnoiter Canaan. They understood that people should not depend upon God to do what must be done.