It was a normal dirt road. Dusty. Big rocks. Potholes. A trade route. Just an everyday stretch of well-traveled road.
Years ago, a man of some account walked it. By all accounts, including his own, he was a good Jew. Obeyed the law. Zealous. A Benjamite, circumcised the 8th day, and a regular in the synagogue. His parents placed him under the instruction of one of the greatest teachers in the history of Israel -- Gamaliel, where he excelled and by the age of 12, he'd memorized the Torah. All five books. By heart. He then spent 7 years studying the prophets. But don't take my word for it. Of himself, he says: "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today." (Acts 22) To the Philippians he says: "circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." He would describe his education this way:, "I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers." (Galatians 1:13-14) He also happened to be a Roman citizen which would radically change the course of his life in the years ahead...
He was known as the ‘blind beggar who sat by the city gate.’ That was his calling card. His resume. The best he could do. We don’t know if he was married or had children — I rather doubt it. The only definitives we have for certain are that his father was Timaeus and his name was Bartimaeus and that he lived in Jericho and sat daily by the gate. His story comprises about a paragraph in both Mark’s and Luke’s gospel and if you blink or yawn you’ll miss it.
Moses sent them to 'spy' because they were 'the heads' of their families. Their tribes. All 12 men were trusted, admired, respected, and their words carried weight. When they spoke, people shut up and listened.
These men had been slaves. Had the scars on their backs to prove it. Their dads had been slaves. Their grandfathers had been slaves. Everyone they'd ever known had been a slave. And yet, they'd been delivered out of Egypt. These men witnessed the ten plagues: water becoming blood, frogs, lice, flies, the dead livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness at noon. These are the very men who had painted their door frames with lamb's blood so that the angel of God would pass over them. Sparing their first born. And He had. These same men woke that morning to the cries and wales of the Egyptians who woke to dead children in their house. Then there was the whole business at the Red Sea where the most powerful army in the world is breathing down their necks, about to pillage, rape and kill and God parted the waters. And once they reached the other side, these are the same men who watched the waters return and then walked the shore line stepping over the armored bodies littering the beach.
These guys were eye witnesses to the greatest, most miraculous events in the history of mankind.