Numbers 21:1-3

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.
2 Then Israel made this vow to the LORD: “If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy[a] their cities.”
3 The LORD listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns; so the place was named Hormah.[b]

Numbers 21:1-3 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO NUMBERS 21

This chapter gives an account of the defeat of King Arad, the Canaanite, Nu 21:1-3 of the murmurings of the children of Israel, because of difficulties in travelling round, the land of Edom, for which they were punished with fiery serpents, Nu 21:4-6 and how that upon their repentance a brazen serpent was ordered to be made, and to be erected on a pole, that whoever looked to it might live, Nu 21:7-9 and of the several journeys and stations of the children of Israel, until they came to the land of the Amorites, Nu 21:10-20, when they sent a message to Sihon their king, to desire him to grant them a passage through his country; but he refusing, they fought with him, smote him, and possessed his land, concerning which many proverbial sayings were used, Nu 21:21-32 and the chapter is concluded with the defeat of Og, king of Bashan, Nu 21:33-35.

Numbers 21:1-3 In-Context

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.
2 Then Israel made this vow to the LORD: “If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities.”
3 The LORD listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns; so the place was named Hormah.
4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way;
5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Cross References 7

  • 1. Numbers 33:40; Joshua 12:14
  • 2. S Genesis 12:9; Numbers 13:17; Deuteronomy 1:7; Judges 1:9,16
  • 3. Leviticus 7:16
  • 4. ver 3; Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 2:34; Joshua 2:10; Joshua 8:26; Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 50:21
  • 5. S Genesis 10:18
  • 6. S ver 2
  • 7. S Numbers 14:45

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also in verse 3.
  • [b]. "Hormah" means "destruction" .