Numbers 21:1-9 (The Message)

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1 The Canaanite king of Arad, ruling in the Negev, heard that Israel was advancing up the road to Atharim. He attacked Israel and took prisoners of war. 2 Israel vowed a vow to God: "If you will give this people into our power, we'll destroy their towns and present the ruins to you as a holy destruction." 3 God listened to Israel's prayer and gave them the Canaanites. They destroyed both them and their towns, a holy destruction. They named the place Hormah (Holy Destruction). 4 They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. 5 They spoke out against God and Moses: "Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water - we can't stomach this stuff any longer." 6 So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us." Moses prayed for the people. 8 God said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live." 9 So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.
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