Numbers 21
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  And the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who dwelt in the South, heard tell that Yisrael came by the way of Atharim; and he fought against Yisrael, and took some of them captive.

א  וַיִּשְׁמַע הַכְּנַעֲנִי מֶלֶךְ עֲרָד יֹשֵׁב הַנֶּגֶב כִּי בָּא יִשְׂרָאֵל דֶּרֶךְ הָאֲתָרִים וַיִּלָּחֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּשְׁבְּ מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁבִי.

2  And Yisrael vowed a vow unto Hashem, and said: ‘If Thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.’

ב  וַיִּדַּר יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶדֶר לַיהוָה וַיֹּאמַר אִם נָתֹן תִּתֵּן אֶת הָעָם הַזֶּה בְּיָדִי וְהַחֲרַמְתִּי אֶת עָרֵיהֶם.

3  And Hashem hearkened to the voice of Yisrael, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities; and the name of the place was called Hormah.

ג  וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהוָה בְּקוֹל יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּתֵּן אֶת הַכְּנַעֲנִי וַיַּחֲרֵם אֶתְהֶם וְאֶת עָרֵיהֶם וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם חָרְמָה.

4  And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became impatient because of the way.

ד  וַיִּסְעוּ מֵהֹר הָהָר דֶּרֶךְ יַם סוּף לִסְבֹב אֶת אֶרֶץ אֱדוֹם וַתִּקְצַר נֶפֶשׁ הָעָם בַּדָּרֶךְ.

5  And the people spoke against God, and against Moshe: ‘Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, and there is no water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.’

ה  וַיְדַבֵּר הָעָם בֵּאלֹהִים וּבְמֹשֶׁה לָמָה הֶעֱלִיתֻנוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם לָמוּת בַּמִּדְבָּר כִּי אֵין לֶחֶם וְאֵין מַיִם וְנַפְשֵׁנוּ קָצָה בַּלֶּחֶם הַקְּלֹקֵל.

6  And Hashem sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Yisrael died.

ו  וַיְשַׁלַּח יְהוָה בָּעָם אֵת הַנְּחָשִׁים הַשְּׂרָפִים וַיְנַשְּׁכוּ אֶת הָעָם וַיָּמָת עַם רָב מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל.

7  And the people came to Moshe, and said: ‘We have sinned, because we have spoken against Hashem, and against thee; pray unto Hashem, that He take away the serpents from us.’ And Moshe prayed for the people.

ז  וַיָּבֹא הָעָם אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמְרוּ חָטָאנוּ כִּי דִבַּרְנוּ בַיהוָה וָבָךְ הִתְפַּלֵּל אֶל יְהוָה וְיָסֵר מֵעָלֵינוּ אֶת הַנָּחָשׁ וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל מֹשֶׁה בְּעַד הָעָם.

8  And Hashem said unto Moshe: ‘Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he seeth it, shall live.’

ח  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שָׂרָף וְשִׂים אֹתוֹ עַל נֵס וְהָיָה כָּל הַנָּשׁוּךְ וְרָאָה אֹתוֹ וָחָי.

9  And Moshe made a serpent of brass, and set it upon the pole; and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived.

va-YA-as mo-SHEH n’-KHASH n’-KHO-shet vai-si-MAY-hu al ha-NAYS v’-ha-YAH im na-SHAKH ha-na-KHASH et eesh v’-hi-BEET el n’-KHASH ha-n’-KHO-shet va-KHAI 

ט  וַיַּעַשׂ מֹשֶׁה נְחַשׁ נְחֹשֶׁת וַיְשִׂמֵהוּ עַל הַנֵּס וְהָיָה אִם נָשַׁךְ הַנָּחָשׁ אֶת אִישׁ וְהִבִּיט אֶל נְחַשׁ הַנְּחֹשֶׁת וָחָי.

21:9   When he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived 

As they near their final destination, the Land of Israel, the Jewish people are detoured around the land of Edom, taking them out of the way.  The move away from the Land was frighteningly similar to the detour their ancestors had
taken 38 years earlier after the sin of the spies, and, fearing that they were again not going to reach their destination, the people became short tempered and complained.  In response, God sent fiery serpents to bite the people, leading to many deaths.  In order to stop the plague, God charged Moshe to create a copper serpent which he placed on a pole. When someone sustained a bite, he would look upward towards the copper serpent, and, remembering his Father in Heaven, he would be healed. The modern medical symbol of a serpent wrapped around a staff is often attributed to Greek mythology, but commentaries speculate that the original source is this story in the Bible, which predated the Greek origins by hundreds of years. Medicine has advanced in astonishing ways but is God who is behind every medical success.

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10  And B’nei Yisrael journeyed, and pitched in Oboth.

י  וַיִּסְעוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּאֹבֹת.

11  And they journeyed from Oboth, and pitched at Ije-abarim, in the wilderness which is in front of Moab, toward the sun-rising.

יא  וַיִּסְעוּ מֵאֹבֹת וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּעִיֵּי הָעֲבָרִים בַּמִּדְבָּר אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי מוֹאָב מִמִּזְרַח הַשָּׁמֶשׁ.

12  From thence they journeyed, and pitched in the valley of Zered.

יב  מִשָּׁם נָסָעוּ וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּנַחַל זָרֶד.

13  From thence they journeyed, and pitched on the other side of the Arnon, which is in the wilderness, that cometh out of the border of the Amorites. For Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites;

יג  מִשָּׁם נָסָעוּ וַיַּחֲנוּ מֵעֵבֶר אַרְנוֹן אֲשֶׁר בַּמִּדְבָּר הַיֹּצֵא מִגְּבֻל הָאֱמֹרִי כִּי אַרְנוֹן גְּבוּל מוֹאָב בֵּין מוֹאָב וּבֵין הָאֱמֹרִי.

14  wherefore it is said in the book of the Wars of Hashem: Vaheb in Suphah, and the valleys of Arnon,

יד  עַל כֵּן יֵאָמַר בְּסֵפֶר מִלְחֲמֹת יְהוָה אֶת וָהֵב בְּסוּפָה וְאֶת הַנְּחָלִים אַרְנוֹן.

15  And the slope of the valleys that inclineth toward the seat of Ar, and leaneth upon the border of Moab.

טו  וְאֶשֶׁד הַנְּחָלִים אֲשֶׁר נָטָה לְשֶׁבֶת עָר וְנִשְׁעַן לִגְבוּל מוֹאָב.

16  And from thence to Beer; that is the well whereof Hashem said unto Moshe: ‘Gather the people together, and I will give them water.’

טז  וּמִשָּׁם בְּאֵרָה הִוא הַבְּאֵר אֲשֶׁר אָמַר יְהוָה לְמֹשֶׁה אֱסֹף אֶת הָעָם וְאֶתְּנָה לָהֶם מָיִם.

17  Then sang Yisrael this song: Spring up, O well sing ye unto it

יז  אָז יָשִׁיר יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת עֲלִי בְאֵר עֱנוּ לָהּ.

18  The well, which the princes digged, which the nobles of the people delved, with the sceptre, and with their staves. And from the wilderness to Mattanah;

יח  בְּאֵר חֲפָרוּהָ שָׂרִים כָּרוּהָ נְדִיבֵי הָעָם בִּמְחֹקֵק בְּמִשְׁעֲנֹתָם וּמִמִּדְבָּר מַתָּנָה.

19  and from Mattanah to Nahaliel; and from Nahaliel to Bamoth;

יט  וּמִמַּתָּנָה נַחֲלִיאֵל וּמִנַּחֲלִיאֵל בָּמוֹת.

20  and from Bamoth to the valley that is in the field of Moab, by the top of Pisgah, which looketh down upon the desert.

כ  וּמִבָּמוֹת הַגַּיְא אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׂדֵה מוֹאָב רֹאשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה וְנִשְׁקָפָה עַל פְּנֵי הַיְשִׁימֹן.

21  And Yisrael sent messengers unto Sikhon king of the Amorites, saying:

כא  וַיִּשְׁלַח יִשְׂרָאֵל מַלְאָכִים אֶל סִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִי לֵאמֹר.

22  ‘Let me pass through thy land; we will not turn aside into field, or into vineyard; we will not drink of the water of the wells; we will go by the king’s highway, until we have passed thy border.’

כב  אֶעְבְּרָה בְאַרְצֶךָ לֹא נִטֶּה בְּשָׂדֶה וּבְכֶרֶם לֹא נִשְׁתֶּה מֵי בְאֵר בְּדֶרֶךְ הַמֶּלֶךְ נֵלֵךְ עַד אֲשֶׁר נַעֲבֹר גְּבֻלֶךָ.

23  And Sikhon would not suffer Yisrael to pass through his border; but Sikhon gathered all his people together, and went out against Yisrael into the wilderness, and came to Jahaz; and he fought against Yisrael.

כג  וְלֹא נָתַן סִיחֹן אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲבֹר בִּגְבֻלוֹ וַיֶּאֱסֹף סִיחֹן אֶת כָּל עַמּוֹ וַיֵּצֵא לִקְרַאת יִשְׂרָאֵל הַמִּדְבָּרָה וַיָּבֹא יָהְצָה וַיִּלָּחֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל.

24  And Yisrael smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from the Arnon unto the Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon; for the border of the children of Ammon was strong.

כד  וַיַּכֵּהוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְפִי חָרֶב וַיִּירַשׁ אֶת אַרְצוֹ מֵאַרְנֹן עַד יַבֹּק עַד בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן כִּי עַז גְּבוּל בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן.

25  And Yisrael took all these cities; and Yisrael dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the towns thereof.

כה  וַיִּקַּח יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵת כָּל הֶעָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל עָרֵי הָאֱמֹרִי בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹן וּבְכָל בְּנֹתֶיהָ.

26  For Heshbon was the city of Sikhon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even unto the Arnon.

כו  כִּי חֶשְׁבּוֹן עִיר סִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִי הִוא וְהוּא נִלְחַם בְּמֶלֶךְ מוֹאָב הָרִאשׁוֹן וַיִּקַּח אֶת כָּל אַרְצוֹ מִיָּדוֹ עַד אַרְנֹן.

27  Wherefore they that speak in parables say: Come ye to Heshbon! let the city of Sikhon be built and established!

כז  עַל כֵּן יֹאמְרוּ הַמֹּשְׁלִים בֹּאוּ חֶשְׁבּוֹן תִּבָּנֶה וְתִכּוֹנֵן עִיר סִיחוֹן.

28  For a fire is gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sikhon; it hath devoured Ar of Moab, the lords of the high places of Arnon.

כח  כִּי אֵשׁ יָצְאָה מֵחֶשְׁבּוֹן לֶהָבָה מִקִּרְיַת סִיחֹן אָכְלָה עָר מוֹאָב בַּעֲלֵי בָּמוֹת אַרְנֹן.

29  Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh; he hath given his sons as fugitives, and his daughters into captivity, unto Sikhon king of the Amorites.

כט  אוֹי לְךָ מוֹאָב אָבַדְתָּ עַם כְּמוֹשׁ נָתַן בָּנָיו פְּלֵיטִם וּבְנֹתָיו בַּשְּׁבִית לְמֶלֶךְ אֱמֹרִי סִיחוֹן.

30  We have shot at them Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba.

ל  וַנִּירָם אָבַד חֶשְׁבּוֹן עַד דִּיבֹן וַנַּשִּׁים עַד נֹפַח אֲשֶׁר עַד מֵידְבָא.

31  Thus Yisrael dwelt in the land of the Amorites.

לא  וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ הָאֱמֹרִי.

32  And Moshe sent to spy out Jazer, and they took the towns thereof, and drove out the Amorites that were there.

לב  וַיִּשְׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לְרַגֵּל אֶת יַעְזֵר וַיִּלְכְּדוּ בְּנֹתֶיהָ ויירש (וַיּוֹרֶשׁ) אֶת הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר שָׁם.

33  And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan; and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei.

לג  וַיִּפְנוּ וַיַּעֲלוּ דֶּרֶךְ הַבָּשָׁן וַיֵּצֵא עוֹג מֶלֶךְ הַבָּשָׁן לִקְרָאתָם הוּא וְכָל עַמּוֹ לַמִּלְחָמָה אֶדְרֶעִי.

34  And Hashem said unto Moshe: ‘Fear him not; for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sikhon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.’

לד  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה אַל תִּירָא אֹתוֹ כִּי בְיָדְךָ נָתַתִּי אֹתוֹ וְאֶת כָּל עַמּוֹ וְאֶת אַרְצוֹ וְעָשִׂיתָ לּוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ לְסִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר יוֹשֵׁב בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹן.

35  So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him remaining; and they possessed his land.

va-ya-KU o-TO v’-ET ba-NAV v’-ET kol a-MO ad bil-TEE hish-EER lo sa-REED va-yeer-SHU et ar-TZO

לה  וַיַּכּוּ אֹתוֹ וְאֶת בָּנָיו וְאֶת כָּל עַמּוֹ עַד בִּלְתִּי הִשְׁאִיר לוֹ שָׂרִיד וַיִּירְשׁוּ אֶת אַרְצוֹ.

21:35   They smote him… and they possessed his land

In this section, the Jews capture the lands of Sikhon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan.  Moshe initially asks that the Israelites be allowed to pass peacefully through these lands in order to reach the Land of Israel, but were instead greeted with swords and spears.  The Jewish people had no choice but to go to battle in which they emerged victorious.  While not in the original borders of the Land of Israel, capture of these ands marks the beginning of the successful conquest of the Promised Land.

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Numbers 21