Numbers Chapters 21 to 22 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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War with the Canaanites

21 The Canaanite king of Arad lived in the Negev.* He heard that the people of Israel were coming on the road to Atharim. So the king went out and attacked the people of Israel. Arad captured some of the people and made them prisoners. 2Then the people of Israel made a special promise to the Lord: “Lord, please help us defeat these people. If you do this, then we will give their cities to you. We will totally destroy them.” 3The Lord listened to the people of Israel. And the Lord helped the people of Israel to defeat the Canaanite people. The people of Israel completely destroyed the Canaanite people and their cities. So that place was named Hormah.*

The Bronze Snake

4The people of Israel left Mount Hor and traveled on the road that goes to the Red Sea. They did this to go around the country of Edom. But the people became impatient. 5They began complaining against God and Moses. The people said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? We will die here in the desert! There is no bread! There is no water! And we hate this terrible food!” 6So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people. The snakes bit the people, and many of the people of Israel died. 7The people came to Moses and said, “We know that we sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord. Ask him to take away these snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8The Lord said to Moses, “Make a bronze* snake and put it on a pole. If any person is bitten by a snake, then that person should look at the bronze snake on the pole. Then that person will not die.” 9So Moses obeyed the Lord. He made a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Then when a snake bit any person, that person looked at the bronze snake on the pole and lived.

The Trip to Moab

10The people of Israel left that place and camped at Oboth. 11Then they left Oboth and camped at Iye Abarim in the desert east of Moab. 12They left that place and camped in Zered Valley. 13Then they moved and camped across from the Arnon River in the desert. This river started at the Ammonite border. The valley was the border between Moab and the Amorites. 14That is why these words are written in the Book of the Wars of the Lord: “ … and Waheb in Suphah, and the Valleys of the Arnon, 15and the hills by the valleys that lead to the town of Ar. These places are at the border of Moab.” 16The people of Israel left that place and traveled to Beer.* This was the place with the well. This was the place where the Lord said to Moses, “Bring the people together here and I will give them water.” 17Then the people of Israel sang this song: “Well, flow with water! Sing about it! 18Great men dug this well. Important leaders dug this well. They dug this well with their staffs and walking sticks. It is a gift in the desert.*” {So the people called that well “Mattanah.”} 19The people traveled from Mattanah to Nahaliel. Then they traveled from Nahaliel to Bamoth. 20The people traveled from Bamoth to the Valley of Moab. In this place the top of the Pisgah Mountain looks over the desert.

Sihon and Og

21The people of Israel sent some men to Sihon, the king of the Amorite people. The men said to the king, 22“Allow us to travel through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard. We will not drink water from any of your wells. We will travel only along King’s Road. We will stay on that road until we have traveled through your country.” 23But King Sihon would not allow the people of Israel to travel through his country. The king gathered together his army and marched out to the desert. He was marching to fight against the people of Israel. At Jahaz, the king’s army fought against the people of Israel. 24But the people of Israel killed the king. Then they took his land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River. The people of Israel took the land as far as the Ammonite border. They stopped at that border because it was strongly defended by the Ammonite people. 25Israel took all the Amorite cities and began living in them. They even defeated the city of Heshbon and all the small towns around it. 26Heshbon was the city where Sihon, the Amorite king, lived. In the past, Sihon had fought with the king of Moab. Sihon had taken the land as far as the Arnon River. 27That is why the singers sing this song: Go in and build Heshbon again! Make Sihon’s city strong. 28A fire began in Heshbon. That fire began in Sihon’s city. The fire destroyed Ar, Moab. It burned the hills above Arnon River. 29It is bad for you, Moab. You lost Chemosh’s* people. His sons ran away. His daughters were taken prisoners by Sihon, king of the Amorites. 30But we defeated those Amorites. We destroyed their towns from Heshbon to Dibon, from Nashim to Nophah, near Medeba. 31So the people of Israel made their camp in the land of the Amorite people. 32Moses sent some men to look at the town of Jazer. After Moses did this, the people of Israel captured that town. They captured the small towns that were around it. The people of Israel forced the Amorite people who were living there to leave. 33Then the people of Israel traveled on the road toward Bashan. Og, the king of Bashan, got his army and marched out to meet the people of Israel. He fought against them at Edrei. 34But the Lord said to Moses, “Don’t be afraid of that king. I will allow you to defeat him. You will take his whole army and all his land. Do the same to him as you did to Sihon, the Amorite king that lived in Heshbon.” 35So the people of Israel defeated Og and his army. They killed him and his sons and all his army. Then the people of Israel took all his land.

Negev The desert area south of Judah. Hormah This name means “completely destroyed,” or “a gift given totally to God.” See Lev. 27:28-29. bronze A metal. The Hebrew word can mean “copper,” “bronze,” or “brass.” Beer This Hebrew name means “Well.” gift in the desert In Hebrew this is the name “Mattanah.” Chemosh Chemosh was the god of the Moabite people.

Balaam and the King of Moab

22 Then the people of Israel traveled to the Jordan Valley in Moab. They camped near the Jordan River across from Jericho. 2–3Balak son of Zippor saw all the things that the people of Israel had done to the Amorite people. {The king of} Moab was very afraid, because there were so many people of Israel. Moab was really scared of them. 4The {king of} Moab said to the leaders of Midian, “This large group of people will destroy everything around us, the way a cow eats all the grass in a field.” Balak son of Zippor was the king of Moab at this time. 5He sent some men to call Balaam son of Beor. Balaam was at Pethor, near the Euphrates River. This was where Balaam’s people lived.* This was Balak’s message: “A new nation of people has come out of Egypt. There are so many people that they cover all the land. They have camped next to me. 6Come and help me. These people are too powerful for me. I know that you have great power. If you bless a person, then good things happen to him. And if you speak against a person, then bad things happen to him. So come and speak against these people. Maybe then I will be able to defeat them. Then I can force them to leave my country.” 7The leaders of Moab and Midian left. They went to talk to Balaam. They carried with them money to pay him for his service.* Then they told him what Balak had said. 8Balaam said to them, “Stay here for the night. I will talk to the Lord and tell you the answer he gives me.” So the leaders of Moab stayed there with Balaam that night. 9God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?” 10Balaam said to God, “The king of Moab, Balak son of Zippor, sent them to give me a message. 11This is the message: A new nation of people has come out of Egypt. There are so many people that they cover the land. So, come and speak against these people. Then maybe I will be able to fight them and force them to leave my land.” 12But God said to Balaam, “Don’t go with them. You must not speak against those people. They are my people.” 13The next morning Balaam got up and said to leaders from Balak, “Go back to your own country. The Lord will not let me go with you.” 14So the leaders of Moab went back to Balak and told him this. They said, “Balaam refused to come with us.” 15So Balak sent other leaders to Balaam. This time he sent many more than the first time. And these leaders were much more important than the first ones he sent. 16They went to Balaam and said: “Balak son of Zippor says this to you: Please don’t let anything stop you from coming. 17I will pay you very much if you will do what I ask.* Come and speak against these people for me.” 18Balaam gave Balak’s officials his answer. He said, “I must obey the Lord my God. I 19But you can stay here tonight like the other men did. And during the night I will learn what the Lord wants to tell me.” 20That night, God came to Balaam. God said, “These men have come again to ask you to go with them. So you can go with them. But do only the things that I tell you to do.”

Balaam and His Donkey

21The next morning, Balaam got up and put a saddle on his donkey. Then he went with the leaders of Moab. 22Balaam was riding on his donkey. Two of his servants were with him. While Balaam was traveling, God became angry. So the Lord’s angel stood in the road in front of Balaam. The angel was going to stop* Balaam. 23Balaam’s donkey saw the Lord’s angel standing in the road. The angel was holding a sword in his hand. So the donkey turned from the road and went into the field. Balaam could not see the angel. So he was very angry with the donkey. He hit the donkey and forced it to go back on the road. 24Later, the Lord’s angel stood at a place where the road became narrow. This was between two vineyards. There were walls on both sides of the road. 25Again the donkey saw the Lord’s angel. So the donkey walked very close to one wall. This crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam hit his donkey again. 26Later the Lord’s angel stood at another place. This was another place where the road became narrow. There was no place where the donkey could go around him. The donkey could not turn to the left or to the right. 27The donkey saw the Lord’s angel. So the donkey lay down with Balaam sitting on top of it. Balaam was very angry at the donkey. So he hit it with his walking stick. 28Then the Lord caused the donkey to speak. The donkey said to Balaam, “Why are you angry at me? What have I done to you? You have hit me three times!” 29Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made me look foolish. If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now!” 30But the donkey said to Balaam, “Look, I am your own donkey! You have ridden me for many, many years. And you know that I have never done this to you before!” “That is true,” Balaam said. 31Then the Lord allowed Balaam to see the angel. The Lord’s angel was standing in the road, holding a sword in his hand. Balaam bowed low to the ground. 32Then the Lord’s angel asked Balaam, “Why did you hit your donkey three times? I am the one that came to stop* you. But just in time,* 33your donkey saw me and turned away from me. That happened three times. If the donkey had not turned away, I probably would have killed you already. And I would have let your donkey live.” 34Then Balaam said to the Lord’s angel, “I have sinned. I did not know that you were standing in the road. If I am doing wrong, then I will go back home.” 35Then the Lord’s angel said to Balaam, “No! You can go with these men. But be careful. Speak only the words that I will tell you to say.” So Balaam went with the leaders that Balak had sent. 36Balak heard that Balaam was coming. So Balak went out to meet him at the Moabite town* near the Arnon River. This was at the northern border of his country. 37When Balak saw Balaam, he said to him, “I asked you before to come. I told you it was very, very important. Why didn’t you come to me? I might not be able to pay you now.” 38Balaam answered, “But I am here now. I came, but I might not be able to do the thing you asked. I can only say the words that the Lord God tells me to say.” 39Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40Balak killed some cattle and some sheep as his sacrifice. He gave some of the meat to Balaam and some to the leaders that were with him. 41The next morning Balak took Balaam to the town of Bamoth Baal. From there, they could see part of the Israelite camp.

This … lived Or, “This was the land of the Ammonites.” for his service Or, “for the things he needed to make curses.” In ancient times, when people asked bad things to happen to other people, they often wrote the curses on special bowls and used them in ceremonies. They did this to try to force those bad things to happen. See Deut. 18:10. I will pay … I ask Or, “I will honor you very much.” stop Or, “oppose” or “accuse.”  But just in time Literally, “Just as the path in front of me dropped away, …” or, “Because you are not doing right, …” The Hebrew is very hard to understand. Moabite town Or possibly, “Ar Moab.”

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