Numbers 21:1

Arad Destroyed

1 When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming along the road to Atharim, he attacked the Israelites and captured some of them.

Read Numbers 21:1 Using Other Translations

And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners.
When the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negeb, heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim, he fought against Israel, and took some of them captive.
The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were approaching on the road through Atharim. So he attacked the Israelites and took some of them as prisoners.

What does Numbers 21:1 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Numbers 21:1

And [when] King Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the
south
Arad seems rather to be the name of a place, city, or country, of which the Canaanite was king, than the name of a man, since we read of the king of Arad, ( Joshua 12:14 ) see also ( Judges 1:16 ) and so the Targums of Onkelos and Jerusalem here render it, the king of Arad; and the Targum of Jonathan says, he changed his seat and reigned in Arad, which might have its name from Arvad, a son of Canaan, ( Genesis 10:18 ) and Jerom says F14, that Arath, the same with Arad, is a city of the Amorites, near the wilderness of Kadesh, and that to this day it is shown, a village four miles from Malatis and twenty from Hebron, in the tribe of Judah; and so Aben Ezra observes, that the ancients say, this is Sihon (the king of the Amorites), and he is called a Canaanite, because all the Amorites are Canaanites; but, according to Jarchi, the Amalekites are meant, as it is said, "the Amalekites dwell in the land of the south": ( Numbers 13:29 ) and so the Targum of Jonathan here,

``and when Amalek heard, that dwelt in the land of the south;''

what he heard is particularly expressed in the following clause:

heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies:
either after the manner of spies, or rather by the way in which the spies went thirty eight years ago, which was the way of the south, where this Canaanitish king dwelt, see ( Numbers 13:17 Numbers 13:22 Numbers 13:29 ) , the Septuagint version leaves the word untranslated, taking it for the name of a place, and reads, "by the way of Atharim", so the Samaritan Pentateuch and Arabic version; and did such a place appear to have been hereabout, it would be the most likely sense of the passage; for as the spies were never discovered by the Canaanites, the way they went could not be known by them; nor is it very probable that, if it had been known, it should be so called, since nothing of any consequence to them as yet followed upon it:

then he fought against Israel;
raised his forces and marched out against them, to oppose their passage, and engaged in a battle with them:

and took some of them prisoners;
according to the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, great numbers of them; but Jarchi says, only one single maidservant.


FOOTNOTES:

F14 De locis Heb. fol. 87. K.
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