The previous chapter in Numbers, Chapter 20 was a doozy with much to discuss. It included magic, death, and misogyny. Can Chapter 21 top it? Let’s find out.
“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.” – Numbers 21:1
A dick move by the king, but after Exodus I’ll always be suspicious of God hardening someone’s heart to push His agenda.
“Then Israel made this vow to the Lord: ‘If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities.’ 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.” – Numbers 21:2-3
Interesting. In the previous chapter the Israelites asked for water and as a result, God took the promised land away from Moses and Aaron. In this chapter the people ask for permission to destroy a town and God’s okay with that. Biblical morality at its finest.
“They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 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!’ Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.” – Numbers 21:4-6
Ask the Lord for war and He delivers. Ask for food and water and He punishes. SMH!!!
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” – Numbers 21:8-9
Or, I don’t know, the Lord could simply take the snakes away!!! I’m banging my head against the wall right now! Next the Israelites travel through several lands on their journey until they meet resistance.
“But Sihon would not let Israel pass through his territory. He mustered his entire army and marched out into the wilderness against Israel. When he reached Jahaz, he fought with Israel.” – Numbers 21:23
Was Sihoh’s heart hardened like the Pharoah of Egypt’s heart?
“Israel captured all the cities of the Amorites and occupied them, including Heshbon and all its surrounding settlements.” – Numbers 21:25
And how many innocent children died in the process?
“Woe to you, Moab! You are destroyed, people of Chemosh! He has given up his sons as fugitives and his daughters as captives to Sihon king of the Amorites.” – Numbers 21:29
This is the “love” of the Bible.
“After Moses had sent spies to Jazer, the Israelites captured its surrounding settlements and drove out the Amorites who were there.” – Numbers 21:32
The Israelites are no longer fighting in self-defense. They are actively attacking and taking over occupied lands, all with the guidance of a so-called loving God.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands, along with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.’ So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors. And they took possession of his land.” – Numbers 21:34-35
That concludes Numbers 21. The Israelites are traveling through the land, sometimes attacked unprovoked, although we don’t know if God continues to harden the hearts of the enemies of the Israelites. Later though, the settlements the Israelites destroy were the result of Israel on offense and not defense. Apparently the grace of God includes slaughtering those who are not part of your community.
Coming Soon: Numbers – Chapter 22: Balak Summons Balaam