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21 When the king of Arad heard that the Israelis were approaching (for they were traveling the same route as the spies), he mobilized his army and attacked Israel, taking some of the men as prisoners. Then the people of Israel vowed to the Lord that if he would help them conquer the king of Arad and his people, they would completely annihilate all the cities of that area. The Lord heeded their request and defeated the Canaanites; and the Israelis completely destroyed them and their cities. The name of the region was thereafter called Hormah (meaning “Utterly Destroyed”).

Then the people of Israel returned to Mount Hor, and from there continued southward along the road to the Red Sea in order to go around the land of Edom. The people were very discouraged; they began to murmur against God and to complain against Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they whined. “There is nothing to eat here, and nothing to drink, and we hate this insipid manna.”

So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among them to punish them, and many of them were bitten and died.

Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against Jehovah and against you. Pray to him to take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Then the Lord told him, “Make a bronze replica[a] of one of these snakes and attach it to the top of a pole; anyone who is bitten shall live if he simply looks at it!”

So Moses made the replica, and whenever anyone who had been bitten looked at the bronze snake, he recovered!

10 Israel journeyed next to Oboth and camped there. 11 Then they went on to Iyeabarim, in the wilderness, a short distance east of Moab, 12 and from there they traveled to the valley of the brook Zared and set up camp. 13 Then they moved to the far side of the Arnon River, near the borders of the Amorites. (The Arnon River is the boundary line between the Moabites and the Amorites. 14 This fact is mentioned in The Book of the Wars of Jehovah, where it is stated that the valley of the Arnon River and the city of Waheb 15 lie between the Amorites and the people of Moab.)

16 Then Israel traveled to Beer (meaning “A Well”). This is the place where the Lord told Moses, “Summon the people, and I will give them water.” 17-18 What happened is described in this song the people sang:

Spring up, O well!
Sing of the water!
This is a well
The leaders dug.
It was hollowed
With their staves
And shovels.

Then they left the desert and proceeded on through Mattanah, 19 Nahaliel, and Bamoth; 20 then to the valley in the plateau of Moab, which overlooks the desert with Mount Pisgah in the distance.

21 Israel now sent ambassadors to King Sihon of the Amorites.

22 “Let us travel through your land,” they requested. “We will not leave the road until we have passed beyond your borders. We won’t trample your fields or touch your vineyards or drink your water.”

23 But King Sihon refused. Instead he mobilized his army and attacked Israel in the wilderness, battling them at Jahaz. 24 But Israel slaughtered them and occupied their land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River, as far as the borders of the Ammonites; but they were stopped there by the rugged terrain.[b]

25-26 So Israel captured all the cities of the Amorites and lived in them, including the city of Heshbon, which had been King Sihon’s capital. 27-30 The ancient poets had referred to King Sihon in this poem:

Come to Heshbon,
King Sihon’s capital,
For a fire has flamed forth
And devoured
The city of Ar in Moab,
On the heights of the Arnon River.
Woe to Moab!
You are finished,
O people of Chemosh;
Your sons have fled,
And your daughters are captured
By King Sihon of the Amorites.
He has destroyed
The little children
And the men and women
As far as Dibon, Nophah, and Medeba.

31-32 While Israel was there in the Amorite country, Moses sent spies to look over the Jazer area; he followed up with an armed attack, capturing all of the towns and driving out the Amorites. 33 They next turned their attention to the city of Bashan, but King Og of Bashan met them with his army at Edrei. 34 The Lord told Moses not to fear—that the enemy was already conquered! “The same thing will happen to King Og as happened to King Sihon at Heshbon,” the Lord assured him. 35 And sure enough, Israel was victorious and killed King Og, his sons, and his subjects, so that not a single survivor remained; and Israel occupied the land.


  1. Numbers 21:8 Make a bronze replica, literally, “Make a fiery serpent.”
  2. Numbers 21:24 but they were stopped there by the rugged terrain, literally, “for the border of the children of Ammon was strong.” Deuteronomy 2:19 indicates that God had promised the land of the Ammonites to the descendants of Lot.

Arad Destroyed

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

The Bronze Snake

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

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

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

The Journey to Moab

10 The Israelites moved on and camped at Oboth.(Z) 11 Then they set out from Oboth and camped in Iye Abarim, in the wilderness that faces Moab(AA) toward the sunrise. 12 From there they moved on and camped in the Zered Valley.(AB) 13 They set out from there and camped alongside the Arnon(AC), which is in the wilderness extending into Amorite territory. The Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites.(AD) 14 That is why the Book of the Wars(AE) 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(AF)
    and lie along the border of Moab.”

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

17 Then Israel sang this song:(AH)

“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(AI) overlooks the wasteland.

Defeat of Sihon and Og

21 Israel sent messengers(AJ) to say to Sihon(AK) king of the Amorites:(AL)

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.(AM)

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

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.(BB)
It consumed(BC) Ar(BD) of Moab,
    the citizens of Arnon’s heights.(BE)
29 Woe to you, Moab!(BF)
    You are destroyed, people of Chemosh!(BG)
He has given up his sons as fugitives(BH)
    and his daughters as captives(BI)
    to Sihon king of the Amorites.

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

31 So Israel settled in the land of the Amorites.(BL)

32 After Moses had sent spies(BM) to Jazer,(BN) 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(BO),(BP) and Og king of Bashan and his whole army marched out to meet them in battle at Edrei.(BQ)

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.(BR)

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


  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