Numbers 21
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1  When the Canaanite, king of Arad, who dwelt in the Negev, learned that Yisrael was coming by the way of Atharim, he engaged Yisrael in battle and took some of them captive.

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

2  Then Yisrael made a vow to Hashem and said, “If You deliver this people into our hand, we will proscribe their towns.”

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

3  Hashem heeded Yisrael’s plea and delivered up the Canaanites; and they and their cities were proscribed. So that place was named Hormah.

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

4  They set out from Mount Hor by way of the Sea of Reeds to skirt the land of Edom. But the people grew restive on the journey,

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

5  and the people spoke against Hashem and against Moshe, “Why did you make us leave Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread and no water, and we have come to loathe this miserable food.”

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

21:5   We have come to loathe this miserable food

According to the Sages, the manna was a miraculous and wonderful food that tasted like anything a person would wish. If so, why did the Children of Israel complain so bitterly about it, and call it, “this miserable food”? According to the 13th century French scholar Rabbi Hezekiah ben Manoah, and known as Chizkunithe Israelites were not complaining about the quality of the manna. Rather, they were expressing their impatience and eagerness to enter the Land of Israel where they would finally be able to eat the fruit of their own hands from the soil of the Holy Land.Comment

6  Hashem sent seraph serpents against the people. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died.

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

7  The people came to Moshe and said, “We sinned by speaking against Hashem and against you. Intercede with Hashem to take away the serpents from us!” And Moshe interceded 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  Then Hashem said to Moshe, “Make a seraph figure and mount it on a standard. And if anyone who is bitten looks at it, he shall recover.”

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

9  Moshe made a copper serpent and mounted it on a standard; and when anyone was bitten by a serpent, he would look at the copper serpent and recover.

va-YA-as mo-SHEH n’-KHASH n’-KHO-shet va-y’-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׃

10  The Israelites marched on and encamped at Oboth.

י  וַיִּסְעוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּאֹבֹת׃

11  They set out from Oboth and encamped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness bordering on Moab to the east.

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

12  From there they set out and encamped at the wadi Zered.

יב  מִשָּׁם נָסָעוּ וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּנַחַל זָרֶד׃

13  From there they set out and encamped beyond the Arnon, that is, in the wilderness that extends from the territory of the Amorites. For the Arnon is the boundary of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites.

יג  מִשָּׁם נָסָעוּ וַיַּחֲנוּ מֵעֵבֶר אַרְנוֹן אֲשֶׁר בַּמִּדְבָּר הַיֹּצֵא מִגְּבוּל הָאֱמֹרִי כִּי אַרְנוֹן גְּבוּל מוֹאָב בֵּין מוֹאָב וּבֵין הָאֱמֹרִי׃

14  Therefore the Book of the Wars of Hashem speaks of “…Waheb in Suphah, and the wadis: the Arnon

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

15  with its tributary wadis, stretched along the settled country of Ar, hugging the territory of Moab…”

טו  וְאֶשֶׁד הַנְּחָלִים אֲשֶׁר נָטָה לְשֶׁבֶת עָר וְנִשְׁעַן לִגְבוּל מוֹאָב׃

16  And from there to Beer, which is the well where Hashem said to Moshe, “Assemble the people that I may give them water.”

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

17  Then Yisrael sang this song: Spring up, O well—sing to it—

יז  אָז יָשִׁיר יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת עֲלִי בְאֵר עֱנוּ־לָהּ׃

18  The well which the chieftains dug, Which the nobles of the people started With maces, with their own staffs. And from Midbar 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 country of Moab, at the peak of Pisgah, overlooking the wasteland.

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

21  Yisrael now sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying,

כא  וַיִּשְׁלַח יִשְׂרָאֵל מַלְאָכִים אֶל־סִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ־הָאֱמֹרִי לֵאמֹר׃

22  Let me pass through your country. We will not turn off into fields or vineyards, and we will not drink water from wells. We will follow the king’s highway until we have crossed your territory.”

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

23  But Sihon would not let Yisrael pass through his territory. Sihon gathered all his people and went out against Yisrael in the wilderness. He came to Jahaz and engaged Yisrael in battle.

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

24  But Yisrael put them to the sword, and took possession of their land, from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as [Az] of the Amonites, for Az marked the boundary of the Amonites.

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

25  Yisrael took all those towns. And Yisrael settled in all the towns of the Amorites, in Heshbon and all its dependencies.

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

26  Now Heshbon was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who had fought against a former king of Moab and taken all his land from him as far as the Arnon.

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

27  Therefore the bards would recite: “Come to Heshbon; firmly built And well founded is Sihon’s city.

כז  עַל־כֵּן יֹאמְרוּ הַמֹּשְׁלִים בֹּאוּ חֶשְׁבּוֹן תִּבָּנֶה וְתִכּוֹנֵן עִיר סִיחוֹן׃

28  For fire went forth from Heshbon, Flame from Sihon’s city, Consuming Ar of Moab, The lords of Bamoth by the Arnon.

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

29  Woe to you, O Moab! You are undone, O people of Chemosh! His sons are rendered fugitive And his daughters captive By an Amorite king, Sihon.”

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

30  Yet we have cast them down utterly, Heshbon along with Dibon; We have wrought desolation at Nophah, Which is hard by Medeba.

ל  וַנִּירָם אָבַד חֶשְׁבּוֹן עַד־דִּיבוֹן וַנַּשִּׁים עַד־נֹפַח אֲשֶׁר עַד־מֵידְבָא׃

31  So Yisrael occupied the land of the Amorites.

לא  וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ הָאֱמֹרִי׃

32  Then Moshe sent to spy out Jazer, and they captured its dependencies and dispossessed the Amorites who were there.

לב  וַיִּשְׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לְרַגֵּל אֶת־יַעְזֵר וַיִּלְכְּדוּ בְּנֹתֶיהָ ויירש [וַיּוֹרֶשׁ] אֶת־הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר־שָׁם׃

33  They marched on and went up the road to Bashan, and King Og of Bashan, with all his people, came out to Edrei to engage them in battle.

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

34  But Hashem said to Moshe, “Do not fear him, for I give him and all his people and his land into your hand. You shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites who dwelt in 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  They defeated him and his sons and all his people, until no remnant was left him; and they took possession of his country.

va-ya-KU o-TO v’-et ba-NAV v’-et kol a-MO ad bil-TEE hish-eer LO sa-REED va-yee-r’-SHU et ar-TZO

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

21:35   They defeated him

In this section, the Israelites capture the lands of Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan.  Moshe initially asks these two kings for permission to pass peacefully through their lands in order to reach the Land of Israel. Instead of agreeing to the request, however, the Israelites were greeted with swords and spears.  They thus had no choice but to go to war, from which they emerged victorious.  While these lands were not included within the original borders of Eretz Yisrael, the capture of this territory marks the beginning of the successful conquest of the Promised Land.1 comment

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Numbers 21

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