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Numbers 21 International Standard Version (ISV)

The Destruction of Hormah

21 When 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. Then Israel[b] 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.” When the Lord heard what Israel had decided to do,[d] he delivered the Canaanites to them, and Israel[e] exterminated them and their cities. They named the place Hormah.[f]

The Bronze Serpent

After 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, the 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 food[g] and water, and we’re tired of this worthless bread.”[h]

In response, the Lord sent poisonous[i] serpents among the people to bite them. As a result, many people of Israel died. Then the people approached Moses and admitted, “We’ve sinned by speaking against the Lord and you. Pray to the Lord, that he’ll remove[j] the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed in behalf of the people.

Then 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.” So 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

10 After this, the Israelis traveled and encamped at Oboth. 11 Then they traveled from Oboth and encamped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness that is in the vicinity of Moab’s eastern border. 12 From there, they traveled and encamped in the valley of Zered. 13 Then 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, 14 which is why the Book of the Wars of the Lord[l] reads, “Waheb and Suphah and the wadis[m] of the Arnon, 15 and the slope of the valleys, that extends to the dwelling places of Ar and the borders of Moab.”)

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

Rise up, well!
    Sing to it!
18 It’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, 19 then from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and 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

21 Later, 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.”

23 Instead 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. 24 But Israel defeated[p] him in battle[q] and took possession of all his lands from Arnon to Jabbok, including the Ammonites, even though the border of the Ammonites was strong. 25 So Israel captured all of those cities, occupied[r] all the Amorite cities in Heshbon, and all its towns.[s] 26 Heshbon 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 city[t] to Arnon. 27 Therefore the ones who speak in proverbs say:

Come to Heshbon
    and let it be built!
        Let the city of Sihon be established!
28 A 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.
29 Woe 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.
30 We’ve fired at them.
    Heshbon has perished as far as Dibon.
We’ve destroyed them as far as Nophah
    even as far as Medeba.

31 So Israel lived in Amorite territory.

Israel Conquers Bashan

32 Then Moses sent out explorers to scout Jazer. They captured its towns[u] and drove out the Amorites who were there. 33 Then they turned toward Bashan. However, Og, the king of Bashan, mustered his army and went out to attack them at Edrei. 34 The 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.” 35 So 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.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 21:1 I.e. the southern region of Israel; cf. Josh 10:40
  2. Numbers 21:2 I.e. the Israelis personified as a nation
  3. Numbers 21:2 Lit. hand
  4. Numbers 21:3 Lit. heard the voice of Israel
  5. Numbers 21:3 Lit. he
  6. Numbers 21:3 The Heb. name Hormah sounds like the Heb. verb devoted
  7. Numbers 21:5 Lit. bread
  8. Numbers 21:5 Or light bread; i.e. the manna
  9. Numbers 21:6 Lit. fiery
  10. Numbers 21:7 Lit. turn away
  11. Numbers 21:9 Lit. to it
  12. Numbers 21:14 I.e. a book chronicling ancient Israel’s history, now lost to history
  13. Numbers 21:14 I.e. seasonal rivers that are dry in the summer
  14. Numbers 21:16 The Heb. lacks they traveled
  15. Numbers 21:21 The Heb. lacks who conveyed this request
  16. Numbers 21:24 Lit. smote
  17. Numbers 21:24 Lit. him with the edge of the sword
  18. Numbers 21:25 Lit. lived
  19. Numbers 21:25 Lit. in all its daughters
  20. Numbers 21:26 Lit. his hand
  21. Numbers 21:32 Lit. daughters
International Standard Version (ISV)

Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.

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.

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