21 When the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negev (the South country) heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim [the route traveled by the spies sent out by Moses], he fought against Israel and took some of them captive. 2 So Israel made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You will indeed hand over these people to me, then I will utterly destroy their cities.” 3 The Lord heard the voice of Israel and handed over the Canaanites; then they utterly destroyed them and their cities. So the name of the place was called Hormah (dedicate to destruction).
4 Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the [branch of the] Red Sea [called the Gulf of Aqabah], to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient, because [of the challenges] of the journey. 5 So the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread, nor is there any water, and we loathe this miserable food.”
The Bronze Serpent
6 Then the Lord sent fiery (burning) serpents among the people; and they bit the people, and many Israelites died. 7 So the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord, so that He will remove the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent [of bronze] and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten will live when he looks at it.” 9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on the pole, and it happened that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
10 Now the sons of Israel moved out and camped at Oboth. 11 They journeyed on from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness facing Moab, toward the sunrise. 12 From there they set out and camped in the [a]Wadi Zered. 13 From there they journeyed on and camped on the other side of [the river] Arnon, which is in the wilderness that extends from the boundary of the Amorites; for [the river] Arnon is the boundary of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 That is why it is said in the [b]Book of the Wars of the Lord:
16 From there the Israelites went on to Beer, that is the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Gather the people together and I will give them water.”(A)
17 Then Israel sang this song,
“Spring up, O well! Sing to it,(B)
The well which the leaders dug,
Which the nobles of the people hollowed out
With the scepter and with their staffs.”
And from the wilderness Israel journeyed to Mattanah, 19 and from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and from Bamoth to the valley that is in the field of Moab, to the top of Pisgah which looks down on the wasteland.
21 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, saying, 22 “Let me pass through your land; we will not turn away [from the road] into field or vineyard; we will not drink the water of the wells. We will go by the king’s highway until we have crossed your border.” 23 But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his border. Instead Sihon gathered all his people together and went out against Israel into the wilderness, and came to Jahaz, and he fought against Israel. 24 Then Israel struck the king of the Amorites with the edge of the sword and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the Ammonites, for the boundary of the Ammonites was [f]strong. 25 Israel took all these cities, and settled in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon and in all its towns. 26 For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon. 27 That is why those who use proverbs say,
“Come to Heshbon,
Let the city of Sihon be built and established.
“For fire has gone out of Heshbon,
A flame from the city of Sihon;
It devoured Ar of Moab
And the lords of the heights of the Arnon.
“Woe (judgment is coming) to you, Moab!
You are destroyed, O people of [the god] Chemosh!
Moab has given his sons as fugitives [that is, survivors of battle],
And his daughters into captivity
To Sihon king of the Amorites.
“We have shot them down [with arrows];
Heshbon is destroyed as far as Dibon,
And we have laid them waste as far as Nophah,
Which reaches to Medeba.”
31 Thus Israel settled in the land of the Amorites. 32 Now Moses sent men to spy out Jazer, and they overthrew its villages and dispossessed the Amorites who were there.
33 Then they turned and went up by the way of Bashan; and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. 34 But the Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have handed over him and all his people and his land to you; and you shall do to him just as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.” 35 So the sons of Israel killed Og and his sons and all his people, until there was no survivor left to him; and they took possession of his land.
- Numbers 21:12 The dry river valley carved by the seasonal Zered River.
- Numbers 21:14 A non-canonical work which, unfortunately, has been lost.
- Numbers 21:14 Possibly a well that is the source of the Arnon river.
- Numbers 21:14 Probably a place in Moab. However some of the rabbis took Suphah to be a reference to the Red Sea (Yam Suph in Hebrew) and maintained that these words imply God performed miracles for Israel in the valleys of Arnon such as He did at the Red Sea.
- Numbers 21:14 Dry valleys of seasonal rivers.
- Numbers 21:24 LXX reads Jazer.