Discussion of the praise of Eretz Yisrael (also called Eretz Hemdah) is a worthwhile thing to do during the Shabbat of Parashat Shelach – to counteract the sin of the spies. Happiness about the rebuilding of the “Desired Land” atones for the crying on the night after the evil reports were given, which became set as the day for national mourning (Tisha B’Av).
The special relationship between Eretz Yisrael (eretz hemdah = the desired Land) and Am Yisrael, is at the heart of our parasha. The sin of the meraglim (the spies), who checked out the Land of Cana’an and “came to despise eretz hemdah” (Tehillim 106:24), has accompanied the nation throughout its history.
The spies, who returned from their survey of the Land, described it and put special stress on the fearsome giants who occupied it (Bamidbar 13:27-33). This depiction is repeated in Sefer Devarim (1:28). Various giants lived in different places in the Land historically and at the time of Moshe. There are nefilim (one of the names for giants) in the Land (which can, although does not have to, refer to Eretz Yisrael) at the time before the flood (Bereishit 6:4). Yehoshua found giants in Chevron but destroyed them (Yehoshua 11:21). We find some on the eastern bank of the Jordan in the story of the four kings and the five kings (Bereishit 14:5). In Sefer Devarim, we find interaction between eimim and refaim and between the Moavites, who lived in present day Jordan (2:10-11). After Yehoshua finished his conquest of Eretz Yisrael, there were giants remaining only in the Plishti areas of Azza, Gat, and Ashdod (Yehoshua 11:22).