A A A A A
Bible Book List

As of August 4th, Bible Gateway Classic will no longer be available. Start using the new BibleGateway.com today!

Numbers 21 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Bronze Serpent

21 When the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negeb, heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim, he fought against Israel and took some of them captive. Then Israel made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will indeed give this people into our hands, then we will utterly destroy their towns.” The Lord listened to the voice of Israel, and handed over the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their towns; so the place was called Hormah.[a]

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea,[b] to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord sent poisonous[c] serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous[d] serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

The Journey to Moab

10 The Israelites set out, and camped in Oboth. 11 They set out from Oboth, and camped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness bordering Moab toward the sunrise. 12 From there they set out, and camped in the Wadi Zered. 13 From there they set out, and camped on the other side of the Arnon, in[e] the wilderness that extends from the boundary of the Amorites; for the Arnon is the boundary of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 Wherefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the Lord,

“Waheb in Suphah and the wadis.
The Arnon 15 and the slopes of the wadis
that extend to the seat of Ar,
and lie along the border of Moab.”[f]

16 From there they continued to Beer;[g] that is the well of which the Lord said to Moses, “Gather the people together, and I will give them water.” 17 Then Israel sang this song:

“Spring up, O well!—Sing to it!—
18 the well that the leaders sank,
that the nobles of the people dug,
with the scepter, with the staff.”

From the wilderness to Mattanah, 19 from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and from Bamoth to the valley lying in the region of Moab by the top of Pisgah that overlooks the wasteland.[h]

King Sihon Defeated

21 Then Israel sent messengers to King Sihon of the Amorites, saying, 22 “Let me pass through your land; we will not turn aside into field or vineyard; we will not drink the water of any well; we will go by the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory.” 23 But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel to the wilderness; he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 24 Israel put him to the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as to the Ammonites; for the boundary of the Ammonites was strong. 25 Israel took all these towns, and Israel settled in all the towns of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all its villages. 26 For Heshbon was the city of King Sihon of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and captured all his land as far as the Arnon. 27 Therefore the ballad singers say,

“Come to Heshbon, let it be built;
    let the city of Sihon be established.
28 For fire came out from Heshbon,
    flame from the city of Sihon.
It devoured Ar of Moab,
    and swallowed up[i] the heights of the Arnon.
29 Woe to you, O Moab!
    You are undone, O people of Chemosh!
He has made his sons fugitives,
    and his daughters captives,
    to an Amorite king, Sihon.
30 So their posterity perished
    from Heshbon[j] to Dibon,
    and we laid waste until fire spread to Medeba.”[k]

31 Thus Israel settled in the land of the Amorites. 32 Moses sent to spy out Jazer; and they captured its villages, and dispossessed the Amorites who were there.

King Og Defeated

33 Then they turned and went up the road to Bashan; and King Og of Bashan came out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. 34 But the Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him; for I have given him into your hand, with all his people, and all his land. You shall do to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.” 35 So they killed him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left; and they took possession of his land.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 21:3 Heb Destruction
  2. Numbers 21:4 Or Sea of Reeds
  3. Numbers 21:6 Or fiery; Heb seraphim
  4. Numbers 21:8 Or fiery; Heb seraph
  5. Numbers 21:13 Gk: Heb which is in
  6. Numbers 21:15 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  7. Numbers 21:16 That is Well
  8. Numbers 21:20 Or Jeshimon
  9. Numbers 21:28 Gk: Heb and the lords of
  10. Numbers 21:30 Gk: Heb we have shot at them; Heshbon has perished
  11. Numbers 21:30 Compare Sam Gk: Meaning of MT uncertain
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Numbers 21 New International Version (NIV)

Arad Destroyed

21 When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming along the road to Atharim, he attacked the Israelites and captured some of them. Then Israel made this vow to the Lord: “If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy[a] their cities.” The Lord listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns; so the place was named Hormah.[b]

The Bronze Snake

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea,[c] to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

The Journey to Moab

10 The Israelites moved on and camped at Oboth. 11 Then they set out from Oboth and camped in Iye Abarim, in the wilderness that faces Moab toward the sunrise. 12 From there they moved on and camped in the Zered Valley. 13 They set out from there and camped alongside the Arnon, which is in the wilderness extending into Amorite territory. The Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 That is why the Book of the Wars of the Lord says:

“. . . Zahab[d] in Suphah and the ravines,
    the Arnon 15 and[e] the slopes of the ravines
that lead to the settlement of Ar
    and lie along the border of Moab.”

16 From there they continued on to Beer, the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Gather the people together and I will give them water.”

17 Then Israel sang this song:

“Spring up, O well!
    Sing about it,
18 about the well that the princes dug,
    that the nobles of the people sank—
    the nobles with scepters and staffs.”

Then they went from the wilderness to Mattanah, 19 from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and from Bamoth to the valley in Moab where the top of Pisgah overlooks the wasteland.

Defeat of Sihon and Og

21 Israel sent messengers to say to Sihon king of the Amorites:

22 “Let us pass through your country. We will not turn aside into any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory.

23 But Sihon would not let Israel pass through his territory. He mustered his entire army and marched out into the wilderness against Israel. When he reached Jahaz, he fought with Israel. 24 Israel, however, put him to the sword and took over his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, but only as far as the Ammonites, because their border was fortified. 25 Israel captured all the cities of the Amorites and occupied them, including Heshbon and all its surrounding settlements. 26 Heshbon was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken from him all his land as far as the Arnon.

27 That is why the poets say:

“Come to Heshbon and let it be rebuilt;
    let Sihon’s city be restored.

28 “Fire went out from Heshbon,
    a blaze from the city of Sihon.
It consumed Ar of Moab,
    the citizens of Arnon’s heights.
29 Woe to you, Moab!
    You are destroyed, people of Chemosh!
He has given up his sons as fugitives
    and his daughters as captives
    to Sihon king of the Amorites.

30 “But we have overthrown them;
    Heshbon’s dominion has been destroyed all the way to Dibon.
We have demolished them as far as Nophah,
    which extends to Medeba.

31 So Israel settled in the land of the Amorites.

32 After Moses had sent spies to Jazer, the Israelites captured its surrounding settlements and drove out the Amorites who were there. 33 Then they turned and went up along the road toward Bashan, and Og king of Bashan and his whole army marched out to meet them in battle at Edrei.

34 The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands, along with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.

35 So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors. And they took possession of his land.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 21:2 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also in verse 3.
  2. Numbers 21:3 Hormah means destruction.
  3. Numbers 21:4 Or the Sea of Reeds
  4. Numbers 21:14 Septuagint; Hebrew Waheb
  5. Numbers 21:15 Or “I have been given from Suphah and the ravines / of the Arnon 15 to
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Viewing of
Cross references
Footnotes