Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the [a]Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the [b]people became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no [c]food and no water, and [d]we loathe this miserable food.”
The Bronze Serpent
The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “[e]Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
Now the sons of Israel moved out and camped in Oboth. They journeyed from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness which is opposite Moab, to the [f]east. From there they set out and camped in [g]Wadi Zered. From there they journeyed and camped on the other side of the Arnon, which is in the wilderness that comes out of the border of the Amorites, for the Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the Lord,
“Waheb in Suphah,
And the wadis of the Arnon,
And the slope of the wadis
That extends to the site of Ar,
And leans to the border of Moab.”
From there they continued to [h]Beer, that is the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Assemble the people, that I may give them water.”
Then Israel sang this song:
“Spring up, O well! Sing to it!
“The well, which the leaders sank,
Which the nobles of the people dug,
With the scepter and with their staffs.”
And from the wilderness they continued to Mattanah, and from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth, and from Bamoth to the valley that is in the land of Moab, at the top of Pisgah which overlooks the [i]wasteland.
Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, saying, “Let me pass through your land. We will not turn off into field or vineyard; we will not drink water from wells. We will go by the king’s highway until we have passed through your border.” But Sihon would not permit Israel to pass through his border. So Sihon gathered all his people and went out against Israel in the wilderness, and came to Jahaz and fought against Israel. Then Israel [j]struck him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the sons of Ammon; for the border of the sons of Ammon was [k]Jazer. Israel took all these cities and Israel lived in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all her [l]villages. 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. Therefore those who use proverbs say,
“Come to Heshbon! Let it be built!
So let the city of Sihon be established.
“For a fire went forth from Heshbon,
A flame from the town of Sihon;
It devoured Ar of Moab,
The [m]dominant [n]heights of the Arnon.
“Woe to you, O Moab!
You are ruined, O people of Chemosh!
He has given his sons as fugitives,
And his daughters into captivity,
To an Amorite king, Sihon.
“But we have cast them down,
Heshbon is ruined as far as Dibon,
Then we have laid waste even to Nophah,
Which reaches to Medeba.”
Thus Israel lived in the land of the Amorites. Moses sent to spy out Jazer, and they captured its villages and dispossessed the Amorites who were there.
Then they turned and went up by the way of Bashan, and Og the king of Bashan went out [o]with all his people, for battle at Edrei. But the Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand, and all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.” So they [p]killed him and his sons and all his people, until there was no remnant left him; and they possessed his land.
- Numbers 21:4 Lit Sea of Reeds
- Numbers 21:4 Lit soul of the people was short
- Numbers 21:5 Lit bread
- Numbers 21:5 Lit our soul loathes
- Numbers 21:8 Lit Make for yourself
- Numbers 21:11 Lit sunrise
- Numbers 21:12 I.e. a dry ravine except during rainy season
- Numbers 21:16 I.e. a well
- Numbers 21:20 Or Jeshimon
- Numbers 21:24 Lit smote, so with Gr and Lat
- Numbers 21:24 M.T. reads strong
- Numbers 21:25 Lit daughters
- Numbers 21:28 Lit lords of the
- Numbers 21:28 Or Bamoth
- Numbers 21:33 Lit he and
- Numbers 21:35 Lit smote
Balak Sends for Balaam
Then the sons of Israel journeyed, and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan opposite Jericho.
Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. So Moab was in great fear because of the people, for they were numerous; and Moab was in dread of the sons of Israel. Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this [a]horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the [b]River, in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me. Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too [c]mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to [d]defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”
So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand; and they came to Balaam and [e]repeated Balak’s words to him. He said to them, “Spend the night here, and I will bring word back to you as the Lord may speak to me.” And the leaders of Moab stayed with Balaam. Then God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent word to me, ‘Behold, there is a people who came out of Egypt and they cover the surface of the land; now come, curse them for me; perhaps I may be able to fight against them and drive them out.’” God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” So Balaam arose in the morning and said to Balak’s leaders, “Go back to your land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.” The leaders of Moab arose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”
Then Balak again sent leaders, more numerous and more distinguished than [f]the former. They came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor, ‘Let nothing, I beg you, hinder you from coming to me; for I will indeed honor you richly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Please come then, curse this people for me.’” Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the [g]command of the Lord my God. Now please, you also stay here tonight, and I will find out what else the Lord will speak to me.” God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do.”
- Numbers 22:4 Lit assembly
- Numbers 22:5 I.e. Euphrates
- Numbers 22:6 Or numerous
- Numbers 22:6 Lit smite
- Numbers 22:7 Lit spoke
- Numbers 22:15 Lit these
- Numbers 22:18 Lit mouth