Land of Canaan: 1st Appraisal Began 3,200 Years Ago
Is the land fertile or barren?
The practice of real estate appraisal began about 3,200 years ago. We learn this from the Book of Numbers, Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen.
God commanded Moses to commission one person from each of the twelve tribes, “to make a reconnaissance” of the Land of Canaan, now Israel.
Each person chosen was a leader within his tribe. His selection was based on sincerity of purpose, integrity, honesty, wisdom, judgment, and knowledge. Each leader was capable of guiding the course of this important assignment. A Leader is “one who goes first.” These appraiser were to “scout” and then to make a report.
The objective for this appraisal was to determine the highest and best used of the subject property, the Land of Canaan. It required that these twelve leaders, whom we will now call appraisers, go and inspect this land. They also had to meet the people who lived on the land and to provide demographic data. The appraisal report was to be delivered to Moses.
In order to carry out their instructions, the appraisers traveled to the Negev and from there up to the Highlands. The appraisal problem revolved around these points: Is the land fertile or barren? Are the towns open or fortified? Are the people who live there weak or strong? Can you bring back samples of the agricultural produce? Today’s appraisers would not need to bring back fruits and vegetables, relying instead on photography to illustrate the features of the subject property.
The twelve appraisers journeyed to the Negev, going as far as Hebron and from there to the Valley of Eshcol. There they were able to collect the evidence to support their findings. From one vine, they lopped off a cluster of grapes that were so huge that two of the twelve appraisers tied the giant grapes to a pole and carried the cluster between them. They also collected figs and pomegranates.
The appraisal report was to be delivered forty days from the day the twelve appraisers were selected. Today, this important and complex assignment would surely require at least ninety to one hundred eighty days to complete.
At the end of forty days, the appraisers returned from their inspection and submitted their report to Moses and to the whole community. The oral report clearly identified the property of Hebron and the Valley of Eshcol. They showed the giant grapes, the figs, the pomegranates as evidence. “We went into the land to which you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey; this is its produce. Its inhabitants are a powerful people. The towns are fortified and very big; yes, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites holds the Negev; the Hittite, Amorite and Jebusite, the highlands; and the Canaanite, the seacoast and the banks of Jordan.”
Thus the twelve parenthetically identified the property rights in the appraisal. They set forth the appraisal procedures that they followed, the date of the appraisal, the reasoning that supported their conclusion along with certain limiting conditions.
The twelve appraisers split up into perhaps six teams so that they could get a good overview of Canaan, an area of great diversity.
The twelve appraisers knew that their report should not be so limited in scope that it might mislead or confuse Moses.
This is what their report indicated.
“The coastal plain has abundant water resources and fertile soil; the hills of the lowlands are well suited for vineyards and olive groves. The central mountains are covered by forests and some of the wide valleys intersecting them from east to west are among the most fertile parts of the country.”
In contrast, the Negev, the large Judean desert and parts of the Jordan Valley were found to be unsuitable for agriculture and settlement.
Of the twelve appraisers, ten returned to give negative reports. Two, however, Caleb and Joshua, presented a well reasoned credible oral report based on careful analysis of the data they had collected. “The land we were assigned to appraise is a good land, an excellent land. It is a land where milk and honey flow. Do not be afraid of the people of the land.”
The conflicting reports gave rise to confusion within the community. Moses knew that Caleb and Joshua had made a wise and thoughtful appraisal. However, the time for action had to be postponed until the new generation was ready for the mission. Moses did not live to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. It was Joshua, his loyal scout and responsible appraiser, who, with his people, entered the Land of Canaan!
Source of quotes: The Old Testament, Book of Numbers, Chapters 13 & 14