Numbers 21
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The Destruction of Hormah

1When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev,a heard that Israel was coming along the Atharim caravan route, he fought against Israel and took some of them captive. 2Then Israelb made this vow in the LORD’s presence: “If you give these people into our control,c we intend to devote their cities to total destruction.” 3When the LORD heard what Israel had decided to do,d he delivered the Canaanites to them, and Israele exterminated them and their cities. They named the place Hormah.f

The Bronze Serpent

4After this, they traveled from Mount Hor along the caravan route by way of the Sea of Reeds and went around the land of Edom. But when the people got impatient because it was a long route, 5the people complained against the LORD and Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” they asked. “There’s no foodg and water, and we’re tired of this worthless bread.”h

6In response, the LORD sent poisonousi serpents among the people to bite them. As a result, many people of Israel died. 7Then the people approached Moses and admitted, “We’ve sinned by speaking against the LORD and you. Pray to the LORD, that he’ll removej the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed in behalf of the people.

8Then the LORD instructed Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent out of brass and fasten it to a pole. Anyone who has been bitten and who looks at it will live.” 9So Moses made a bronze serpent and fastened it to a pole. If a person who had been bitten by a poisonous serpent looked to the serpent,k he lived.

Travels in the Wilderness

10After this, the Israelis traveled and encamped at Oboth. 11Then they traveled from Oboth and encamped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness that is in the vicinity of Moab’s eastern border. 12From there, they traveled and encamped in the valley of Zered. 13Then they traveled to the other side of Arnon and camped in the wilderness that borders the territory of the Amorites. (Arnon borders Moab between Moab and the Amorites, 14which is why the Book of the Wars of the LORDl reads, “Waheb and Suphah and the wadism of the Arnon, 15and the slope of the valleys, that extends to the dwelling places of Ar and the borders of Moab.”)

16From there they traveledn to the Well of Beer, where the LORD had instructed Moses, “Gather the people together and I’ll give you water.” 17That’s also where Israel sang this song:

Rise up, well!

Sing to it!

18It’s the well that the leaders dug,

the one carved out by the nobles of the people

with their scepters and staffs.

Then they moved on in the wilderness from there to Mattanah, 19then from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20and from Bamoth to the valley of Moab where their fields are, and from there to the top of Mount Pisgah, that looks down toward the open desert.

Israel Conquers the Amorites

21Later, Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who conveyed this request:o 22“Permit us to pass through your land. We won’t trespass in your fields or vineyards. We won’t drink water from any well, and we’ll only travel along the King’s Highway until we’ve passed through your territory.”

23Instead of letting Israel pass through his territory, Sihon mustered his entire army and marched out to meet them in the wilderness. He arrived at Jahaz and attacked Israel. 24But Israel defeatedp him in battleq and took possession of all his lands from Arnon to Jabbok, including the Ammonites, even though the border of the Ammonites was strong. 25So Israel captured all of those cities, occupiedr all the Amorite cities in Heshbon, and all its towns.s 26Heshbon was the capital city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who fought against the previous king of Moab and captured all his land from his capital cityt to Arnon. 27Therefore the ones who speak in proverbs say:

Come to Heshbon

and let it be built!

Let the city of Sihon be established!

28A fire has gone out from Heshbon,

and a flame from the city of Sihon.

It consumed Ar of Moab

and the lords of the high places who lived in Arnon.

29Woe to you, Moab!

You are destroyed, you people of Chemosh!

He has given up his sons as fugitives

and his daughters have gone into captivity

to Sihon, king of the Amorites.

30We’ve fired at them.

Heshbon has perished as far as Dibon.

We’ve destroyed them as far as Nophah

even as far as Medeba.

31So Israel lived in Amorite territory.

Israel Conquers Bashan

32Then Moses sent out explorers to scout Jazer. They captured its townsu and drove out the Amorites who were there. 33Then they turned toward Bashan. However, Og, the king of Bashan, mustered his army and went out to attack them at Edrei. 34The LORD told Moses, “You are not to fear him, because I’m going to deliver him, his entire army, and his land into your control. Do to him just what you’ve done to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who used to live in Heshbon.” 35So they attacked him, his sons, and his entire army, until there wasn’t even a single survivor left. Then they took possession of his land.

a 21:1 i.e. the southern regions of the Sinai peninsula; cf. Josh 10:40
b 21:2 i.e. the Israelis personified as a nation
c 21:2 Lit. hand
d 21:3 Lit. heard the voice of Israel
e 21:3 Lit. he
f 21:3 The Heb. name Hormah sounds like the Heb. verb devoted
g 21:5 Lit. bread
h 21:5 Or light bread; i.e. the manna
i 21:6 Lit. fiery
j 21:7 Lit. turn away
k 21:9 Lit. to it
l 21:14 i.e. a book chronicling ancient Israel’s history, now lost to history
m 21:14 i.e. seasonal rivers that are dry in the summer
n 21:16 The Heb. lacks they traveled
o 21:21 The Heb. lacks who conveyed this request
p 21:24 Lit. smote
q 21:24 Lit. him with the edge of the sword
r 21:25 Lit. lived
s 21:25 Lit. in all its daughters
t 21:26 Lit. his hand
u 21:32 Lit. daughters

The Holy Bible: International Standard Version® Release 2.1
Copyright © 1996-2012 The ISV Foundation

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