spy out the land

spy out the land

To find out about or come to understand a particular state of affairs or the way a situation exists or has developed, especially before taking any decisive or definitive action. Given the turbulent nature of this market, I think it would be prudent for us to spy out the land before we agree to invest in your company. I'm just spying out the land regarding my parents' divorce before I make any solid plans to come visit them this Christmas.
See also: land, out, spy
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

ˌspy out the ˈland

find out about a situation, a place, an organization, etc. before you make a decision: The manager is sending Mark to Iceland to spy out the land. He wants to know whether we can do business there.
See also: land, out, spy
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also:
References in classic literature ?
So our game surely is to lie low for a time and spy out the land. We want to have a good look at our neighbors before we get on visitin' terms."
In the Bible we read that Joseph accuses his brothers of being spies (Genesis 42:9); Moses is told, "Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan ..." (Numbers 13:2 and Joshua 2:1-3); "David sent out spies, and he knew that Saul was definitely coming." (1 Samuel 26:4); and in the New Testament in Galatians 2:4 we read, "But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage."
Currently we are reading the episode of the twelve spies who were sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan before the children of Israel were to enter.
When the Israelites arrived at the border of Canaan in their flight from Egypt, Joshua was one of the twelve sent in to spy out the land. They came back reporting it was fruitful but inhabited by " giants, the sons of Anak, " which so terrified the Israelites that they decided to return to Egypt, despite the plea of Joshua and Caleb, one of his fellow spies.