Numbers 21

1 And when kynge Arad the cananite which dwelt in the south parties harde tell that Israel came by the waye that the spies had founde out: he came and foughte with Israel and toke some of them presoners.
2 Then Israel vowed a vowe vnto the Lorde and sayed: Yf thou wilt geue this people into oure hades we will destroye their cities.
3 And the Lorde herde ye voyce of Israel ad delyuered them the Cananites. And they destroyed both them and their cities and called the place Horma.
4 Then they departed from mount hor towarde the redd se: to compasse the londe of Edo. And the soules of the people faynted by the waye.
5 And the people spake agenst God and agenst Moses: wherfore hast thou brought us out of Egipte for to dye in the wildernesse for here is nether bred nor water and oure soules lotheth this lyghte bred.
6 Then the Lorde sent fyrie serpentes amoge the people which stonge them: so that moch people dyed in Israel.
7 And the people came to Moses and sayed: we haue synned for we haue spoken agenst the Lorde and agenst the make intercession to the Lorde that he take awaye the serpentes from us And Moses made intercession for the people.
8 And the Lorde sayed vnto Moses: make the a serpent ad hage it vpp for a sygne and lett as many as are bytten loke apon it and they shall lyue.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brasse ad sett it vp for a sygne And when the serpentes had bytten any man he went and behelde the serpent of brasse and recouered.
10 And the childern of Israel remoued and pitched in Oboth.
11 And they departed from Oboth and laye at Egebarim in the wildernesse which is before Moab on the east syde.
12 And they remoued thence and pitched apon the ryuer of zarad.
13 And they departed thence and pitched on the other syde of Arno which ryuer is in the wildernesse and cometh out of the costes of the Amorites: for Arnon is the border of Moab betwene Moab and the Amorites.
14 Wherfore it is spoken in the boke of the warre of the Lorde: goo with a violence both on the ryuer of Arnon
15 and on the ryuers heed whiche shoteth doune to dwell at Ar and leneth vppon the costes of Moab.
16 And from thence they came to Bear whiche is the well whereof the Lorde spake vnto Moses: gather the people together that I maye geue them water.
17 Then Israel sange this songe: Aryse vpp well synge thereto:
18 The well whiche the rulers dygged and the captaynes of the people with the helpe of the lawegeuer and with their staues. And from this wildernesse they went to Matana
19 and from Matana to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth
20 and from Bamoth to the valay that is in the felde of Moab in the toppe of Pisga which boweth towarde the wildernesse.
21 And Israel sent messengers vnto Siho kynge of the Amorites sayenge:
22 let vs goo thorow thy londe. we will not turne in to thy feldes nor in to thy vyneyardes nether drynke of the water of the welles: but we will goo alonge by the comon waye vntill we be past thy contre.
23 And Siho wolde geue Israel no licence to passe thorow his contre but gathered all his people together and went out agest Israel in to the wildernesse. And he came to Iaheza and foughte with Israel.
24 And Israel smote him with the edge of the swerde and conquered his londe from Arnon vnto Iabock: euen vnto the childern of Ammon. For the borders of the childern of Ammon are stronge.
25 And Israel toke all these cities and dwelt in all ye cities of ye Amorites: in Esbon and in all the townes that longe there to.
26 For Esbon was the citie of Sihon the kinge of the Amorites which Sihon had fought before with the kinge of the Moabites ad had taken all his londe out of his hande euen vnto Arnon.
27 Wherfore it is a prouerbe: goo to Hesbo and let the citie of Sihon be bylt ad made
28 redye for there is a fyre gone out of Hesbon and a flame fro the citie of Siho ad hath cosumed Ar of the Moabites and the men of the hylles of Arnon.
29 Wo be to the Moab: o people of Chemos ye are forloren. His sonnes are put to flighte and his doughters brought captyue vnto Sihon kinge of the Amorites.
30 There lighte is out from Hesbon vnto Sihon and we made a wildernesse euen vnto Nopha whiche reacheth vnto Mediba.
31 And thus Israell dwelt in the londe of the Amorites.
32 And Moses sent to serche oute Iaezer and they toke the townes belongynge thereto ad conquered the Amorites that were there.
33 And then they turned and went vppe towarde Bason. And Og the kynge of Bason came out agenst them both he and all his people to warre at Edrei.
34 And the Lorde sayed vnto Moses: feare him not for I haue delyuered him in to thy handes with all his people and his lande. And thou shalt do with him as thou dydest with Sihon the kynge of the Amorites which dwelt at Hesbon.
35 And they smote him and his sonnes and all hys people vntyll there was nothinge left him. And they conquered his lande.

Numbers 21 Commentary

Chapter 21

The Canaanites of Arad destroyed. (1-3) The people murmuring, are plagued with fiery serpents, They repenting, are healed through the brazen serpent. (4-9) Further journeys of the Israelites. (10-20) Sihon and Og overcome, Their land possessed. (21-35)

Verses 1-3 Before the people began their march round the country of Edom, the king of Arad, a Canaanite, who inhabited the southern part of the country, attacked them in the wilderness, and took some prisoners. This was to lead the Israelites to look more thoroughly to the Lord.

Verses 4-9 The children of Israel were wearied by a long march round the land of Edom. They speak discontentedly of what God had done for them, and distrustfully of what he would do. What will they be pleased with, whom manna will not please? Let not the contempt which some cast on the word of God, make us value it less. It is the bread of life, substantial bread, and will nourish those who by faith feed upon it, to eternal life, whoever may call it light bread. We see the righteous judgment God brought upon them for murmuring. He sent fiery serpents among them, which bit or stung many to death. It is to be feared that they would not have owned the sin, if they had not felt the smart; but they relent under the rod. And God made a wonderful provision for their relief. The Jews themselves say it was not the sight of the brazen serpent that cured; but in looking up to it, they looked up to God as the Lord that healed them. There was much gospel in this. Our Saviour declared, ( john 3:14 john 3:15 ) , that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that whatsoever believeth in him, should not perish. Compare their disease and ours. Sin bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Compare the application of their remedy and ours. They looked and lived, and we, if we believe, shall not perish. It is by faith that we look unto Jesus, ( Hebrews 12:2 ) . Whosoever looked, however desperate his case, or feeble his sight, or distant his place, was certainly and perfectly cured. The Lord can relieve us from dangers and distresses, by means which human reason never would have devised. Oh that the venom of the old serpent, inflaming men's passions, and causing them to commit sins which end in their eternal destruction, were as sensibly felt, and the danger as plainly seen, as the Israelites felt pain from the bite of the fiery serpents, and feared the death which followed! Then none would shut their eyes to Christ, or turn from his gospel. Then a crucified Saviour would be so valued, that all things else would be accounted loss for him; then, without delay, and with earnestness and simplicity, all would apply to him in the appointed way, crying, Lord, save us; we perish! Nor would any abuse the freeness of Christ's salvation, while they reckoned the price which it cost him.

Verses 10-20 We have here the removes of the children of Israel, till they came to the plains of Moab, from whence they passed over Jordan into Canaan. The end of their pilgrimage was near. "They set forward." It were well if we did thus; and the nearer we come to heaven, were so much the more active and abundant in the work of the Lord. The wonderful success God granted to his people, is here spoken of, and, among the rest, their actions on the river Arnon, at Vaheb in Suphah, and other places on that river. In every stage of our lives, nay, in every step, we should notice what God has wrought for us; what he did at such a time, and what in such a place, ought to be distinctly remembered. God blessed his people with a supply of water. When we come to heaven, we shall remove to the well of life, the fountain of living waters. They received it with joy and thankfulness, which made the mercy doubly sweet. With joy must we draw water out of the wells of salvation, ( Isaiah 12:3 ) . As the brazen serpent was a figure of Christ, who is lifted up for our cure, so is this well a figure of the Spirit, who is poured forth for our comfort, and from whom flow to us rivers of living waters, ( john 7:38 john 7:39 ) . Does this well spring up in our souls? If so, we should take the comfort to ourselves, and give the glory to God. God promised to give water, but they must open the ground. God's favours must be expected in the use of such means as are within our power, but still the power is only of God.

Verses 21-35 Sihon went with his forces against Israel, out of his own borders, without provocation, and so ran upon his own ruin. The enemies of God's church often perish by the counsels they think most wisely taken. Og, king of Bashan, instead of being warned by the fate of his neighbours, to make peace with Israel, makes war with them, which proves in like manner his destruction. Wicked men do their utmost to secure themselves and their possessions against the judgments of God; but all in vain, when the day comes on which they must fall. God gave Israel success, while Moses was with them, that he might see the beginning of the glorious work, though he must not live to see it finished. This was, in comparison, but as the day of small things, yet it was an earnest of great things. We must prepare for fresh conflicts and enemies. We must make no peace or truce with the powers of darkness, nor even treat with them; nor should we expect any pause in our contest. But, trusting in God, and obeying his commands, we shall be more than conquerors over every enemy.

Chapter Summary


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 Commentaries