Numbers 21:1-22:20 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Israel Defeats the Canaanites at Hormah
21 The Canaanite king of Arad lived in the Southern Desert of Canaan, and when he heard that the Israelites were on their way to the village of Atharim, he attacked and took some of them hostage.
2 The Israelites prayed, “Our Lord, if you will help us defeat these Canaanites, we will completely destroy their towns and everything in them, to show that they belong to you.”[a]
3 The Lord answered their prayer and helped them wipe out the Canaanite army and completely destroy their towns. That’s why one of the towns is named Hormah, which means “Destroyed Place.”
Moses Makes a Bronze Snake
4 The Israelites had to go around the territory of Edom, so when they left Mount Hor, they headed south toward the Red Sea.[b] But along the way, the people became so impatient 5 that they complained against God and said to Moses, “Did you bring us out of Egypt, just to let us die in the desert? There’s no water out here, and we can’t stand this awful food!”
6 Then the Lord sent poisonous snakes that bit and killed many of them.
7 Some of the people went to Moses and admitted, “It was wrong of us to insult you and the Lord. Now please ask him to make these snakes go away.”
Moses prayed, 8 and the Lord answered, “Make a snake out of bronze and place it on top of a pole. Anyone who gets bitten can look at the snake and won’t die.”
9 Moses obeyed the Lord. And all of those who looked at the bronze snake lived, even though they had been bitten by the poisonous snakes.
Israel’s Journey to Moab
10 As the Israelites continued their journey to Canaan, they camped at Oboth, 11 then at Iye-Abarim in the desert east of Moab, 12 and then in the Zered Gorge. 13 After that, they crossed the Arnon River gorge and camped in the Moabite desert bordering Amorite territory. The Arnon was the border between the Moabites and the Amorites. 14 A song in The Book of the Lord’s Battles[c] mentions the town of Waheb with its creeks in the territory of Suphah. It also mentions the Arnon River, 15 with its valleys that lie alongside the Moabite border and extend to the town of Ar.
16 From the Arnon, the Israelites went to the well near the town of Beer, where the Lord had said to Moses, “Call the people together, and I will give them water to drink.”
17 That’s also the same well the Israelites sang about in this song:
The Israelites left the desert and camped near the town of Mattanah, 19 then at Nahaliel, and then at Bamoth. 20 Finally, they reached Moabite territory, where they camped near Mount Pisgah[d] in a valley overlooking the desert north of the Dead Sea.
Israel Defeats King Sihon the Amorite
21 The Israelites sent this message to King Sihon of the Amorites:
22 Please let us pass through your territory. We promise to stay away from your fields and vineyards, and we won’t drink any water from your wells. As long as we’re in your land, we won’t get off the main road.[e]
23 But Sihon refused to let Israel travel through his land. Instead, he called together his entire army and marched into the desert to attack Israel near the town of Jahaz. 24 Israel defeated them and took over the Amorite territory from the Arnon River gorge in the south to the Jabbok River gorge in the north. Beyond the Jabbok was the territory of the Ammonites, who were much stronger than Israel.
25 The Israelites settled in the Amorite towns, including the capital city of Heshbon with its surrounding villages. 26 King Sihon had ruled from Heshbon, after defeating the Moabites and taking over their land north of the Arnon River gorge. 27 That’s why the Amorites had written this poem about Heshbon:
Come and rebuild Heshbon,
31 After the Israelites had settled in the Amorite territory, 32 Moses sent some men to explore the town of Jazer. Later, the Israelites captured the villages surrounding it and forced out the Amorites who lived there.
Israel Defeats King Og of Bashan
33 The Israelites headed toward the region of Bashan, where King Og ruled, and he led his entire army to Edrei to meet Israel in battle.
34 The Lord said to Moses, “Don’t be afraid of Og. I will help you defeat him and his army, just as you did King Sihon who ruled in Heshbon. Og’s territory will be yours.”
35 So the Israelites wiped out Og, his family, and his entire army—there were no survivors. Then Israel took over the land of Bashan.
22 Israel moved from there to the hills of Moab, where they camped across the Jordan River from the town of Jericho.
King Balak of Moab Hires Balaam To Curse Israel
2-3 When King Balak[h] of Moab and his people heard how many Israelites there were and what they had done to the Amorites, he and the Moabites were terrified and panicked. 4 They said to the Midianite leaders, “That bunch of Israelites will wipe out everything in sight, like a bull eating grass in a field.”
So King Balak 5 sent a message to Balaam son of Beor who lived among his relatives in the town of Pethor near the Euphrates River. It said:
I need your help. A huge group of people has come here from Egypt and settled near my territory. 6 They are too powerful for us to defeat, so would you come and place a curse on them? Maybe then we can run them off. I know that anyone you bless will be successful, but anyone you curse will fail.
7 The leaders of Moab and Midian left and took along money to pay Balaam for his work. When they got to his house, they gave him Balak’s message.
8 “Spend the night here,” Balaam replied, “and tomorrow I will tell you the Lord’s answer.” So the officials stayed at his house.
9 During the night, God asked Balaam, “Who are these people at your house?”
10 “They are messengers from King Balak of Moab,” Balaam answered. “He sent them 11 to ask me to go to Moab and place a curse on the people who have come there from Egypt. They have settled everywhere around him, and he wants to run them off.”
12 But God replied, “Don’t go with Balak’s messengers. I have blessed those people who have come from Egypt, so don’t curse them.”
13 The next morning, Balaam said to Balak’s officials, “Go on back home. The Lord says I cannot go with you.”
14 The officials left and told Balak that Balaam refused to come.
15 Then Balak sent a larger group of officials, who were even more important than the first ones. 16 They went to Balaam and told him that Balak had said, “Balaam, if you come to Moab, 17 I’ll pay you very well and do whatever you ask. Just come and place a curse on these people.”
18 Balaam answered, “Even if Balak offered me a palace full of silver or gold, I wouldn’t do anything to disobey the Lord my God. 19 You are welcome to spend the night here, just as the others did. I will find out if the Lord has something else to say about this.”
20 That night, God said, “Balaam, I’ll let you go to Moab with Balak’s messengers, but do only what I say.”
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