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Numbers 21Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

War With the Canaanites

21 The Canaanite king of Arad lived in the Negev. He heard that the Israelites were coming on the road to Atharim, so the king went out and attacked the Israelites. Arad captured some of the people and made them prisoners. Then the Israelites made a special promise to the Lord: “Please help us defeat these people. If you do this, we will give their cities to you. We will totally destroy them.”

The Lord listened to the Israelites and helped them defeat the Canaanites. They completely destroyed the Canaanites and their cities. So that place was named Hormah.[a]

The Bronze Snake

The Israelites left Mount Hor and traveled on the road that goes to the Red Sea. They did this to go around the country of Edom. But the people became impatient. They began complaining against God and Moses. The people said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? We will die here in the desert! There is no bread and no water! And we hate this terrible food!”

So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people. The snakes bit the people, and many of the Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We know that we sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord. Ask him to take away these snakes.” So Moses prayed for them.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. If anyone is bitten by a snake, that person should look at the bronze snake on the pole. Then that person will not die.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Then when a snake bit anyone, that person looked at the bronze snake on the pole and lived.

The Trip to Moab

10 The Israelites left that place and camped at Oboth. 11 Then they left Oboth and camped at Iye Abarim in the desert east of Moab. 12 They left that place and camped in Zered Valley. 13 Then they moved and camped across from the Arnon River in the desert. This river started at the Ammonite border. The valley was the border between Moab and the Amorites. 14 That is why these words are written in the Book of the Wars of the Lord:

“… and Waheb in Suphah, and the Valleys of the Arnon, 15 and the hills by the valleys that lead to the town of Ar. These places are at the border of Moab.”

16 The Israelites left that place and traveled to Beer.[b] There is a well in Beer, where the Lord said to Moses, “Bring the people together here, and I will give them water.” 17 Then the Israelites sang this song:

“Well, flow with water!
    Sing about it!
18 Great men dug this well.
    Important leaders dug this well.
They dug this well with their staffs and walking sticks.
    It is a gift in the desert.”[c]

19 The people traveled from Mattanah to Nahaliel. Then they traveled from Nahaliel to Bamoth. 20 They traveled from Bamoth to the Valley of Moab. In this place the top of the Pisgah Mountain looks over the desert.

Sihon and Og

21 The Israelites sent some men to King Sihon of the Amorites. The men said to the king,

22 “Allow us to travel through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard. We will not drink water from any of your wells. We will travel only along King’s Road. We will stay on that road until we have traveled through your country.”

23 But King Sihon would not allow the Israelites to travel through his country. He gathered together his army and marched out to the desert to fight against the Israelites. The king’s army fought against the Israelites at Jahaz.

24 But the Israelites defeated the king and took his land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River. The Israelites took the land as far as the Ammonite border. They stopped at that border because it was strongly defended by the Ammonites. 25 Israel took all the Amorite cities and began living in them. They even defeated the city of Heshbon and all the small towns around it. 26 Heshbon was the city where Sihon, the Amorite king, lived. In the past Sihon had fought with the king of Moab. Sihon had taken the land as far as the Arnon River. 27 That is why the singers sing this song:

“Go in and rebuild Heshbon!
    Make Sihon’s city strong.
28 A fire began in Heshbon.
    That fire began in Sihon’s city.
The fire destroyed Ar in Moab.
    It burned the hills above Arnon River.
29 It is bad for you, Moab.
    You lost Chemosh’s people.
His sons ran away.
    His daughters were taken prisoners by Sihon, king of the Amorites.
30 But we defeated those Amorites.
    We destroyed their towns from Heshbon to Dibon,
    from Nashim to Nophah, near Medeba.”

31 So the Israelites made their camp in the land of the Amorites.

32 Moses sent some men to look at the town of Jazer. Then the Israelites captured that town and the small towns that were around it. They forced the Amorites who were living there to leave.

33 Then the Israelites traveled on the road toward Bashan. King Og of Bashan got his army and marched out to meet the Israelites. He fought against them at Edrei.

34 But the Lord said to Moses, “Don’t be afraid of that king. I will allow you to defeat him. You will take his whole army and all his land. Do the same to him as you did to Sihon, the Amorite king who lived in Heshbon.”

35 So the Israelites defeated Og and his army. They killed him, his sons, and all his army. Then the Israelites took all his land.


  1. Numbers 21:3 Hormah This name means “completely destroyed” or “a gift given totally to God.” See Lev. 27:28-29.
  2. Numbers 21:16 Beer This Hebrew name means “well.”
  3. Numbers 21:18 gift in the desert In Hebrew this is the name “Mattanah.”
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International


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