It took the spies 40 days to do the job they were given of searching out the land of Canaan in order to bring a detailed account back to the Sinai desert region. Scripture gives us the time of this examination.
Numbers 13:17 And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain: 18And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; 19And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; 20And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.
The time of the early grapes is August 6. So it may have been this day that the spies were sent out, to return on September 14. Pomegranates come ripe September 6, and the large red grape on September 10.
Ten of the spies were discouraged and brought back an evil report, and the two spies who obeyed God in spirit and action were Joshua and Caleb. The fruit samples were so large and juicy; they were suspended on a pole the two men carried. The transportation of this sample into the desert camp was a feat in and of itself!
The result of democratic, majority opinion was that the land was impossible to take. The people agreed with this "committee" decision. The minority opinion was the correct and godly action, and their commission was to spy out the lay of the land and to bring back proof of its value. They were not to render an opinion on the feasibility of conquest. The battle is for God to decide.
Because the people voted overwhelmingly to side with the majority opinion, they were all condemned to die in the wilderness, except the two spies who honored God. The year of this event has been placed at B.C. 1490.
Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary: Numbers, electronic ed., Logos Library System; (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1999). Nu. 13:23
John Kitto, Palestine (Redding, CA: Pleasant Places Press; Galaxie Software, 2004), p. 175.