Old Testament

Numbers 21
Arad Destroyed
211The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming on the road to Atharim. He fought against Israel and captured some of them. 2Israel made this vow to the Lord: “If you will indeed give these people into our hands, then we will totally destroy their cities.” 3The Lord listened to Israel's voice and gave the Canaanites into their hands. The Israelites totally destroyed them and their cities. They named the place Hormah.[]
The Bronze Snake
4They set out from Mount Hor along the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom, but the people became very impatient along the way. 5The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? Look, there is no food! There is no water! And we are disgusted by this worthless food!”[]
6The Lord sent venomous[] snakes among the people, and the snakes bit the people. As a result many people from Israel died. 7The people went to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord to take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed on behalf of the people.
8The Lord said to Moses, “Make a venomous snake and put it on a pole. If anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will live.” 9Moses made a bronze snake and put it on the pole. If a snake had bitten anyone, if that person looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
The Journey to Moab
10The Israelites set out and camped at Oboth. 11They set out from Oboth and camped at Iye Abarim, in the wilderness that faces Moab, toward the sunrise. 12From there they set out and camped at the Zered Canyon. 13From there they set out and camped on the other side of the Arnon, in the wilderness that extends from the Amorite border. (The Arnon is the border between Moab and the Amorites.) 14For this reason it says in the Book of the Wars of the Lord:
Waheb[] in Suphah, the ravines of the Arnon, 15the sloping ravines that bend toward the settlement of Ar and lie on the border of Moab.
16From there they continued to Be'er.[] That is the well which the Lord spoke about to Moses: “Gather the people together, and I will give them water.” 17Then Israel sang this song:
Spring up, O well! Sing about it.
18Sing about the well which the officials dug,
which the nobles of the people hollowed out
with their scepters and their staffs.
From the wilderness they continued to Mattanah, 19from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20from Bamoth to the valley in the region of Moab by the top of Pisgah that overlooks the wasteland.[]
The Defeat of Sihon and Og
21Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites to say, 22“Permit us to pass through your land. We will not turn aside into any field or vineyard. We will not drink the water from any well. We will stay on the King's Highway until we have passed through your territory.”
23Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. Instead Sihon gathered all his people together and went out into the wilderness to confront Israel. When he came to Jahaz, he fought against Israel. 24Israel struck him with the sword and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, but only as far as the Ammonites, because the Ammonite border was strong. 25Israel took all these cities. Israel began living in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon and in all its villages. 26Because Heshbon had been the city of Sihon, the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and taken from him all his land as far as the Arnon, 27therefore the poets[] say,
Come to Heshbon.
Let the city of Sihon be built and established,
28for a fire has gone out of Heshbon,
a flame from the town of Sihon.
It has consumed Ar of Moab
and engulfed the heights of the Arnon.
29Woe to you, Moab!
You are destroyed, people of Chemosh!
He has given up his sons as refugees,
and his daughters go into captivity
to Sihon king of the Amorites.
30We overthrew them.
Heshbon is destroyed as far as Dibon.
We have laid waste as far as Nophah.
Fire reaches as far as Medeba.
31So Israel lived in the land of the Amorites. 32Moses sent spies to Jazer. They took its towns and drove out the Amorites who were there. 33They turned and went up on the road to Bashan. Og king of Bashan came out with all his people to confront Israel in battle at Edrei.
34The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hand along with all his people and his land. You will do to him just as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.”
35So they struck him down along with his sons and all his people until there were no survivors. Then they took possession of his land.


  • 21:3 Hormah means destruction.
  • 21:5 The word twice translated food is the same as the word for bread.
  • 21:6 Literally burning
  • 21:14 Or, following the Greek Old Testament, Zaha. This may be the name of the headwaters of the Arnon. The quotation seems to be a geographic description of the border.
  • 21:16 Be'er means well.
  • 21:20 Or Jeshimon
  • 21:27 Literally the ones who speak in proverbs or verses