Numbers 21

 

וַיִּשְׁמַע הַכְּנַעֲנִי מֶלֶךְ־עֲרָד יֹשֵׁב הַנֶּגֶב כִּי בָּא יִשְׂרָאֵל דֶּרֶךְ הָאֲתָרִים וַיִּלָּחֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּשְׁבְּ מִמֶּנּוּ   21:1

שֶׁבִי

Numb. 21:1 Now the Canaanite king of Arad, inhabiting the south, heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim, and he made war with Israel and took some of his captive.

וַיִּדַּר יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶדֶר לַיהוָה וַיֹּאמַר אִם־נָתֹן תִּתֵּן אֶת־הָעָם הַזֶּה בְּיָדִי וְהַחֲרַמְתִּי אֶת־עָרֵיהֶם   21:2

Numb. 21:2 And Israel made a vow to the Lord and said, “If You indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I shall utterly destroy their cities.”

וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהוָה בְּקֹול יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּתֵּן אֶת־הַכְּנַעֲנִי וַיַּחֲרֵם אֶתְהֶם וְאֶת־עָרֵיהֶם וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם־הַמָּקֹום חָרְמָה   21:3

Numb. 21:3  And the Lord listened to the cry of Israel and delivered up the Canaanite and utterly destroyed them and their cities, so the name of the place is called Hormah.

The name Hormah means devotion.  It presumably signifies the devotion of the Lord to His people Israel.  Note that nothing is mentioned of those Israelites who were taken captive.  Were they destroyed along with the Canaanite, or were they rescued?  Presumably they would have been freed.                        [Return to Numb. 33:40]

וַיִּסְעוּ מֵהֹר הָהָר דֶּרֶךְ יַם־סוּף לִסְבֹב אֶת־אֶרֶץ אֱדֹום וַתִּקְצַר נֶפֶשׁ־הָעָם בַּדָּרֶךְ   21:4

Numb. 21:4 And they journeyed from the mountain of Hor by way of the Reed Sea to bypass the land of Edom, and the spirit of the people became impatient along the way.

וַיְדַבֵּר הָעָם בֵּאלֹהִים וּבְמֹשֶׁה לָמָה הֶעֱלִיתֻנוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם לָמוּת בַּמִּדְבָּר כִּי אֵין לֶחֶם וְאֵין מַיִם וְנַפְשֵׁנוּ   21:5

קָצָה בַּלֶּחֶם הַקְּלֹקֵל

Numb. 21:5  And the people spoke with God and with Moses:  “Why did you bring us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and there is no water and our soul is grieved with the contemptible bread.”

Two aspects of this verse are somewhat puzzling.  First, the complaint of the people seems to be an echo of earlier events when the Israelites complained.  It’s as if we or the people are experiencing a deja vu.  Perhaps it’s a consequence of their going by the Reed Sea (previous verse).  Secondly, is this taking place before they received the quail?  It sounds from their complaining as if they were receiving only the manna.  Notice once more the reference to the great miracle in the wilderness that was first revealed in Exod. 16:3.  In the midst of their livestock, they complained of no food.

וַיְשַׁלַּח יְהוָה בָּעָם אֵת הַנְּחָשִׁים הַשְּׂרָפִים וַיְנַשְּׁכוּ אֶת־הָעָם וַיָּמָת עַם־רָב מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל   21:6

Numb. 21:6 So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, and many people of Israel died.

וַיָּבֹא הָעָם אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמְרוּ חָטָאנוּ כִּי־דִבַּרְנוּ בַיהוָה וָבָךְ הִתְפַּלֵּל אֶל־יְהוָה וְיָסֵר מֵעָלֵינוּ אֶת־   21:7

הַנָּחָשׁ וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל מֹשֶׁה בְּעַד הָעָם

Numb. 21:7 Then the people came to Moses and they said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken concerning the Lord and concerning you.  Pray to the Lord that He remove the serpent from us.”  And Moses prayed on behalf of the people.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שָׂרָף וְשִׂים אֹתֹו עַל־נֵס וְהָיָה כָּל־הַנָּשׁוּךְ וְרָאָה אֹתֹו וָחָי   21:8

Numb. 21:8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a serpent for yourself and set it on a pole, and it shall be, anyone who is bitten, when he sees it, then he shall live.”

וַיַּעַשׂ מֹשֶׁה נְחַשׁ נְחֹשֶׁת וַיְשִׂמֵהוּ עַל־הַנֵּס וְהָיָה אִם־נָשַׁךְ הַנָּחָשׁ אֶת־אִישׁ וְהִבִּיט אֶל־נְחַשׁ הַנְּחֹשֶׁת   21:9

וָחָי

Numb. 21:9 So Moses made a serpent of brass and set it on the pole.  And it happened, if a serpent had bitten anyone and he gazed at the serpent of brass, then he lived.

וַיִּסְעוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּאֹבֹת   21:10

Numb. 21:10  Then the children of Israel journeyed, and they camped in Oboth.

וַיִּסְעוּ מֵאֹבֹת וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּעִיֵּי הָעֲבָרִים בַּמִּדְבָּר אֲשֶׁר עַל־פְּנֵי מֹואָב מִמִּזְרַח הַשָּׁמֶשׁ   21:11

Numb. 21:11  Then they journeyed from Oboth and camped in Ije-abarim in the wilderness that is on the border of Moab from the rising of the sun.

מִשָּׁם נָסָעוּ וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּנַחַל זָרֶד   21:12

Numb. 21:12  From there they journeyed and camped in the valley of Zered.

מִשָּׁם נָסָעוּ וַיַּחֲנוּ מֵעֵבֶר אַרְנֹון אֲשֶׁר בַּמִּדְבָּר הַיֹּצֵא מִגְּבוּל הָאֱמֹרִי כִּי אַרְנֹון גְּבוּל מֹואָב בֵּין   21:13

מֹואָב וּבֵין הָאֱמֹרִי

Numb. 21:13  From there they journeyed and camped on the side of the Arnon, which is in the wilderness spreading forth from the border of the Amorite, for the Arnon is the border of Moab between Moab and the Amorite.

עַל־כֵּן יֵאָמַר בְּסֵפֶר מִלְחֲמֹת יְהוָה אֶת־וָהֵב בְּסוּפָה וְאֶת־הַנְּחָלִים אַרְנֹון   21:14

Numb. 21:14  Therefore it would be said in the Book of the Wars of the Lord, “... Vaheb in Suphah and the streams of the Arnon,

This book of the Wars of the Lord must have existed in the scribe’s time, but it, like many other possible ancient books, has been lost to us.  The words Vaheb and streams are designated in the Hebrew as direct objects of some previous verb, but which is not present in the quotation.  The quotation, which appears to be an aside to the narrative, seems to continue down at least to the first part of v. 21:18.  At that point the narrative may continue. But because the verses following v. 21:18 describe Israel’s battles, I’m inclined to believe that the quotation from the book of the Wars of the Lord continues to the end of the chapter.  And that’s the way I have translated it.

וְאֶשֶׁד הַנְּחָלִים אֲשֶׁר נָטָה לְשֶׁבֶת עָר וְנִשְׁעַן לִגְבוּל מֹואָב   21:15

Numb. 21:15  and the flow of the streams that stretched forth to the seat of Ar, and would adjoin the border of Moab,

וּמִשָּׁם בְּאֵרָה הִוא הַבְּאֵר אֲשֶׁר אָמַר יְהוָה לְמֹשֶׁה אֱסֹף אֶת־הָעָם וְאֶתְּנָה לָהֶם מָיִם   21:16

Numb. 21:16  and from there to the well.  It is the well where the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather together the people and I will give water to them.’”

אָז יָשִׁיר יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת עֲלִי בְאֵר עֱנוּ־לָהּ   21:17

Numb. 21:17  “Then Israel could sing this song:

                          ‘Spring up, well!  Sing to it!”

The Hebrew word for “Spring up,” being feminine singular, addresses the well (feminine), but “Sing” is masculine plural, so it addresses the children of Israel.  Parts of this verse and the next, reciting a song, are in poetry form.

בְּאֵר חֲפָרוּהָ שָׂרִים כָּרוּהָ נְדִיבֵי הָעָם בִּמְחֹקֵק בְּמִשְׁעֲנֹתָם וּמִמִּדְבָּר מַתָּנָה   21:18

Numb. 21:18   “A well, the chiefs sought it out,

                                 the nobles of the people dug it,

                           according to the lawgivers, with their staves.”

“And from the wilderness, Mattanah,

וּמִמַּתָּנָה נַחֲלִיאֵל וּמִנַּחֲלִיאֵל בָּמֹות   21:19

Numb. 21:19  and from Mattanah, Nahaliel; and from Nahaliel, Bamoth;

וּמִבָּמֹות הַגַּיְא אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׂדֵה מֹואָב רֹאשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה וְנִשְׁקָפָה עַל־פְּנֵי הַיְשִׁימֹן   21:20

Numb. 21:20  and from Bamoth, the gorge that is in the wild of Moab, on top of Pisgah, that looks down on the face of the desert.”

וַיִּשְׁלַח יִשְׂרָאֵל מַלְאָכִים אֶל־סִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ־הָאֱמֹרִי לֵאמֹר   21:21

Numb. 21:21  “And Israel sent messengers to Sihon, the Amorite king, saying,

אֶעְבְּרָה בְאַרְצֶךָ לֹא נִטֶּה בְּשָׂדֶה וּבְכֶרֶם לֹא נִשְׁתֶּה מֵי בְאֵר בְּדֶרֶךְ הַמֶּלֶךְ נֵלֵךְ עַד אֲשֶׁר־נַעֲבֹר   21:22

גְּבֻלֶךָ

Numb. 21:22  ‘Let me pass through your land.  We will not spread out through field or through vineyard.  We will not drink the well water.  We will go by the way of the king until the time we will have crossed over your border.’”

וְלֹא־נָתַן סִיחֹן אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲבֹר בִּגְבֻלֹו וַיֶּאֱסֹף סִיחֹן אֶת־כָּל־עַמֹּו וַיֵּצֵא לִקְרַאת יִשְׂרָאֵל הַמִּדְבָּרָה   21:23

וַיָּבֹא יָהְצָה וַיִּלָּחֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל

Numb. 21:23  “But Sihon would not grant Israel passage through his territory, and Sihon gathered together all his people and went out to the wilderness to meet Israel.   And he came to Jahaz and fought with Israel.”                                                                                          [Return to Deut. 2:27]

וַיַּכֵּהוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְפִי־חָרֶב וַיִּירַשׁ אֶת־אַרְצֹו מֵאַרְןֹן עַד־יַבֹּק עַד־בְּנֵי עַמֹּון כִּי עַז גְּבוּל בְּנֵי עַמֹּון   21:24

Numb. 21:24  “And Israel smote him by the edge of the sword and possessed his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the children of Ammon, for the border of the children of Ammon was strong.”

וַיִּקַּח יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵת כָּל־הֶעָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל־עָרֵי הָאֱמֹרִי בְּחֶשְׁבֹּון וּבְכָל־בְּנֹתֶיהָ   21:25

Numb. 21:25  “And Israel took all those cities and Israel dwelled in all the Amorite cities, in Heshbon and in all of its towns,

כִּי חֶשְׁבֹּון עִיר סִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִי הִוא וְהוּא נִלְחַם בְּמֶלֶךְ מֹואָב הָרִאשֹׁון וַיִּקַּח אֶת־כָּל־אַרְצֹו   21:26

מִיָּדוֹ עַדּ־אַרְנֹן

Numb. 21:26  for Heshbon, it was the city of Sihon, the Amorite king.  And he had fought with the former king of Moab and had taken all his land from his hand as far as the Arnon.”

עַל־כֵּן יֹאמְרוּ הַמֹּשְׁלִים בֹּאוּ חֶשְׁבֹּון תִּבָּנֶה וְתִכֹּוןֵן עִיר סִיחֹון   21:27

Numb. 21:27  “For this reason speakers in parables would say,

                          ‘They come; Heshbon, the city of Sihon,

                                 would be rebuilt and reestablished.’

The final part of this verse and the next three verses, the saying of the parable speakers, are poetry.

כִּיאֵשׁ יָצְאָה מֵחֶשְׁבּוֹן לֶהָבָה מִקִּרְיַת סִיחֹן אָכְלָה עָר מוֹאָב בַּעֲלֵי בָּמוֹת אַרְנֹן   21:28

Numb. 21:28   ‘For a fire goes out from Heshbon,

                                a flame from the city of Sihon. 

                           It devours Ar of Moab,

                                the masters of the high places of Arnon.’

אֹוי־לְךָ מֹואָב אָבַדְתָּ עַם־כְּמֹושׁ נָתַן בָּנָיו פְּלֵיטִם וּבְנֹתָיו בַּשְּׁבִית לְמֶלֶךְ אֱמֹרִי סִיחֹון   21:29

Numb. 21:29  ‘Woe to you, Moab! 

                                You have perished, people of Chemosh. 

                         Sihon gives his sons as fugitives,

                                and his daughters into captivity,

                          regarding the Amorite king.’

וַנִּירָם אָבַד חֶשְׁבֹּון עַד־דִּיבֹון וַנַּשִּׁים עַד־נֹפַח אֲשֶׁר עַד־מֵידְבָא   21:30

Numb. 21:30  ‘And we could shoot them;

                              Heshbon perishes as far as Dibon,

                          and we could ravage as far as Nophah,

                              which is as far as Medeba.’”

The first and sixth words in this verse, translated as and we could shoot them and and we could ravage, respectively, are first-person imperfect verbs with non-inverting vavs.

וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ הָאֱמֹרִי   21:31

Numb. 21:31  “So Israel dwelled in the land of the Amorite.”

יִּשְׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לְרַגֵּל אֶת־יַעְזֵר וַיִּלְכְּדוּ בְּנֹתֶיהָ (וַיִּירֶשׁ) [וַיֹּורֶשׁ] אֶת־הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר־שָׁם   21:32

Numb. 21:32  “Then Moses sent to spy out Jazer, and they captured its towns, and he dispossessed the Amorite who was there.”

The eighth word in the verse, in parentheses, is thought to be in error, spelled with a yad that should be a vav.  The presumably correct spelling is in the brackets.

וַיִּפְנוּ וַיַּעֲלוּ דֶּרֶךְ הַבָּשָׁן וַיֵּצֵא עֹוג מֶלֶךְ־הַבָּשָׁן לִקְרָאתָם הוּא וְכָל־עַמֹּו לַמִּלְחָמָה אֶדְרֶעִי   21:33

Numb. 21:33  “Then they turned and went up by way of Bashan, and Og, king of Bashan, came out to encounter them, he and all his people, to the battle of Edrei.”

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה אַל־תִּירָא אֹתֹו כִּי בְיָדְךָ נָתַתִּי אֹתֹו וְאֶת־כָּל־עַמֹּו וְאֶת־אַרְצֹו וְעָשִׂיתָ לֹּו   21:34

כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ לְסִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר יֹושֵׁב בְּחֶשְׁבֹּון

Numb. 21:34  “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘You need not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand, and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon, the Amorite king, who was dwelling in Heshbon.’”

וַיַּכּוּ אֹתֹו וְאֶת־בָּנָיו וְאֶת־כָּל־עַמֹּו עַד־בִּלְתִּי הִשְׁאִיר־לֹו שָׂרִיד וַיִּירְשׁוּ אֶת־אַרְצֹו   21:35

Numb. 21:35  “And they smote him and his sons and all his people until there was no survivor of his left alive, and they possessed his land.”

 

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