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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 21

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1When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negeb, heard that the Israelites were coming by way of Atharim, he gave battle and took some of the Israelites prisoner. 2Israel made this vow to the LORD, ‘If you deliver this people into our power, we will utterly destroy their towns.’ 3The LORD listened to Israel and delivered up the Canaanites to them a 21:3 to them: so Samar.; Heb. omits. . Israel destroyed them and their towns, and the place became known as Hormah b Hormah: that is Destruction. .

4From Mount Hor they left by way of the Red Sea to march round the flank of Edom. But on the way the people grew impatient 5and spoke against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us up from Egypt’, they said, ‘to die in the desert where there is neither food nor water? We are heartily sick of this miserable fare.’ 6Then the LORD sent venomous c 21:6 venomous: lit. burning. snakes among them, and they bit the Israelites so that many of them died. 7The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and you. Plead with the LORD to rid us of the snakes.’ Moses interceded for the people, 8and the LORD told him to make a serpent d 21:8 a serpent: lit. a burning thing. and erect it as a standard, so that anyone who had been bitten could look at it and recover. 9So Moses made a bronze serpent and erected it as a standard, in order that anyone bitten by a snake could look at the bronze serpent and recover.

10The Israelites continued their journey and encamped at Oboth. 11From there they moved on and encamped at Iye-abarim in the wilderness on the eastern frontier of Moab. 12When they moved from there they encamped by the wadi Zared. 13From the Zared they moved on and encamped by the farther side of the Arnon in the wilderness which extends into Amorite territory, for the Arnon was the Moabite frontier, the frontier between Moab and the Amorites. 14That is why the Book of the Wars of the LORD speaks of Waheb e 21:14 Waheb: name meaning Watershed. in Suphah and the wadis:

Arnon 15and the watershed of the wadis that falls away towards the dwellings at Ar and slopes towards the frontier of Moab.

16From there they went on to Be-er f 21:16 Be-er: name meaning Water-hole. : this is the well where the LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather the people together and I shall give them water.’ 17It was then that Israel sang this song:

Spring up, O well! Greet it with song, 18the well dug by the princes, laid open by the leaders of the people with sceptre and staff, a gift from g 21:18 a gift from: so Samar.; Heb. and from. the wilderness.

19From Be-er h 21:19 From Be-er: prob. rdg; Heb. From a gift. they proceeded to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth; 20then from Bamoth to the valley in the Moabite country below the summit of Pisgah overlooking Jeshimon.

21Israel sent envoys to Sihon the Amorite king with this request: 22‘Grant us passage through your country. We shall not trespass on field or vineyard, nor drink from your wells. We shall keep to the king's highway until we have crossed your territory.’ 23But Sihon refused Israel passage through his territory; he mustered his whole army and marched out to oppose Israel in the wilderness. He advanced as far as Jahaz and gave battle, 24but Israel put them to the sword, and occupied their land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, the territory of the Ammonites, where the country became difficult. 25Israel seized all those Amorite towns and settled in them, that is in Heshbon and all its dependent villages.

26Heshbon was the capital of the Amorite king Sihon, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and stripped him of all his territory as far as the Arnon. 27Therefore the bards say:

Come to Heshbon! Let it be rebuilt! Let Sihon's capital be restored! 28For fire blazed out from Heshbon and flames from Sihon's city. It devoured Ar of Moab, and swept the heights of Arnon.

29Woe betide you, Moab; people of Kemosh, it is the end of you. He has made his sons fugitives and his daughters captives of Sihon the Amorite king. 30From Heshbon to Dibon their very embers are burnt out and they are extinct, while the fire i 21:30 while the fire: so Samar.; Heb. which. spreads onward to Medeba.

31Thus Israel occupied the territory of the Amorites.

32After Moses had sent men to reconnoitre Jazer, the Israelites captured it together with its dependent villages j 21:32 captured … villages: so Gk; Heb. captured its dependent villages. and drove out the Amorites there.

33They then turned and advanced along the road to Bashan. King Og of Bashan, with his whole army, took the field against them at Edrei, 34but the LORD said to Moses, ‘Do not be afraid of him. I have delivered him into your hands, with all his people and his land. Deal with him as you dealt with Sihon the Amorite king living in Heshbon.’ 35So they put him to the sword with his sons and all his people, until there was no survivor left, and they took possession of his land.

Notes:

a 21:3 to them: so Samar.; Heb. omits.

b Hormah: that is Destruction.

c 21:6 venomous: lit. burning.

d 21:8 a serpent: lit. a burning thing.

e 21:14 Waheb: name meaning Watershed.

f 21:16 Be-er: name meaning Water-hole.

g 21:18 a gift from: so Samar.; Heb. and from.

h 21:19 From Be-er: prob. rdg; Heb. From a gift.

i 21:30 while the fire: so Samar.; Heb. which.

j 21:32 captured … villages: so Gk; Heb. captured its dependent villages.

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