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Numbers Chapter 21
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Deuteronomy

Confrontation with Canaan
21:1 When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were traveling along the Atharim Highway, he attacked them and took some captives.
21:2 The Israelites made a vow to God, and said, 'If You give this nation into our hand, we will render their cities taboo.'
21:3 God heard Israel's voice, and He allowed them to defeat the Canaanites. [The Israelites] declared them and their cities taboo. The place was therefore named Taboo (Charmah).

The Snakes' Further Journeys
21:4 [The Israelites] moved on from Hor Mountain, going by way of the South Sea so as to skirt the territory of Edom. The people began to become discouraged along the way.
21:5 The people spoke out against God and Moses, 'Why did you take us out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread and no water! We are getting disgusted with this insubstantial food.'
21:6 God sent poisonous snakes against the people, and when they began biting the people, a number of Israelites died.
21:7 The people came to Moses and said, 'We have sinned by speaking against God and you. Pray to God, and have Him take the snakes away from us.'

When Moses prayed for the people,

21:8 God said to Moses, 'Make yourself [the image of] a venomous snake, and place it on a banner. Everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.'
21:9 Moses made a copper snake and placed it on a high pole. Whenever a snake bit a man, he would gaze at the copper snake and live.
21:10 The Israelites then moved on and camped in Ovoth.
21:11 From Ovoth they moved on and camped in the desolate passes along Moab's eastern border.
21:12 They then continued and camped along the Zered Brook.
21:13 They traveled further and camped in the desert extending from the Amorite border, on the opposite side of the Arnon [River]. The Arnon is the Moabite border, separating Moab from the Amorites.
21:14 It is therefore told in the Book of God's Wars, 'As an outermost boundary, I have given [you] the streams of Arnon,
21:15 as well as the valley's rapids that hug Moab's borders, turning aside at the fortress settlement.'
21:16 From there [the Israelites traveled] to the well. This is the well regarding which God said to Moses, 'Gather the people, and I will give them water.'

Song of the Well
21:17 It was then that Israel sang this song:

Rise, O well, respond to [this song].

21:18 A well was dug by princes

Sunk by the people's leaders

Carved out with their staffs.

From the desert, [the Israelites went to] Matanah,

21:19 from Matanah to Nachaliel, and from Nachaliel to Bamoth.
21:20 From Bamoth [they went] to Hagai in the field of Moab. It is on the top of the cliff that overlooks the Wastelands.

Confrontations with Sichon and Og
21:21 Israel sent emissaries to Sichon king of the Amorites with the following message,
21:22 'Let us pass through your land. We will not turn aside to the fields and vineyards, and we will not drink any well water. We will follow the King's Highway until we have passed through your territories.'
21:23 Sichon, however, did not let Israel pass through his territories. Instead, Sichon mustered up all his people, and went out to confront Israel in the desert. When he came to Yahatz, he attacked Israel.
21:24 Israel struck him down with the sword, and occupied his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the [borders of] the Ammonites. The borders of the Ammonites, however, remained firm.
21:25 Israel thus took all these cities. They [later] settled in Cheshbon and all its tributary towns, all the Amorite cities.
21:26 Cheshbon was the capital of Sichon king of the Amorites. He had fought against the first king of Moab and taken all his land as far as the Arnon.
21:27 The minstrels therefore say:

Come to Cheshbon!
Let Sichon's city be built and established!

21:28 For a fire has come out of Cheshbon;
a flame from Sichon's capital,
And it has consumed Ar of Moab,
the masters of the Arnon's altars
21:29 Woe is to you, Moab;
you are destroyed, nation of Kemosh.
Your sons have become refugees,
your daughters are captives
To Sichon, king of the Amorites.
21:30 [Moab's] kingdom was obliterated [from] Cheshbon as far as Divon, and was laid waste as far as Nofech near Medeva.
21:31 Israel thus settled in the Amorite territory.
21:32 Moses sent out men to reconnoiter Ya'azer, and they captured its surrounding villages, driving out the Amorites who lived there.
21:33 [The Israelites] then went on and headed north toward the Bashan. At Edrei, Og king of the Bashan came out with all his people to engage [the Israelites] in battle.
21:34 God said to Moses, 'Do not be afraid of him. I have given him, along with all his people and territory, into your hand. I will do the same to him as I did to Sichon, king of the Amorites who lived in Cheshbon.'
21:35 [The Israelites] killed [Og] along with his sons and all his people, leaving no survivors, and they occupied his land.



Commentary:

Canaanite
  Some say that he was an Amalekite (BeMidbar Rabbah 19:20; Rashi).

Arad
  This is identified with Tel Arad, 13 miles west of the Dead Sea, about half way between the Dead Sea and Beer Sheba. See Numbers 33:40, Joshua 12:4. Also see Judges 1:16, and some say that the war described there occurred in Moses' time.

Negev
  Southern part of Holy Land.

Atharim
  A proper noun (Saadia; Septuagint). Probably the main highway leading through the Negev toward Beer Sheba. Or, 'the route of the spies' (Targum; Rashi; Rashbam), or, 'a round-about route' (Chizzkuni).

The Israelites
  Literally, 'Israel.'

our
  Literally, 'my.' Entire sentence is in the singular.

taboo
  Cherem. See Leviticus 27:21,29.

Charmah
  Or Chormah. See Numbers 14:45. This was some 27 miles directly west of Arad. Some say that Chormah here is not the same as the one in Numbers 14:45 (Chizzkuni).

South Sea
  Yam Suf in Hebrew, usually denoting the 'Red Sea,' but here most probably the Gulf of Aqaba.

to skirt
  According to tradition, after Aaron's death, the Israelites went back seven stages, finally going from Beney Yaakan to Moserah (comparing Deuteronomy 10:6 and Numbers 33:31; Seder Olam 9; Yerushalmi, Yoma 1:1, 2 a,b; BeMidbar Rabbah 19:20; Rashi on Numbers 26:13). It was therefore in Moserah that Aaron was mourned (Bachya). The Israelites then came back, and stopped in Tzalmona and Ponan (33:42; Baaley Tosafoth; Lekach Tov; Chizzkuni, on Numbers 21:10).

discouraged
  Katzar nefesh in Hebrew; see Exodus 6:9. The discouragement began in Tzalmonah, and the snakes began biting them in Punon Targum Yonathan on Numbers 33:41,42; cf. Lekach Tov on Numbers 21:10).

insubstantial
  (Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Septuagint). Or, 'weightless' (Saadia; Ibn Janach); or 'wasteless' (Rashi). Speaking of the Manna.

God sent
  Some say that the people left the camp to get other food and they were bitten (Yehudah HaChasid).

The people came...
  Some say that Moses went out to find out what was wrong (Lekach Tov).

shall look at it and live
  They would then think of God and repent (Targum Yonathan; Rosh HaShanah 29a; Rashi). Some say that they would meditate on the copper serpent (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). According to others, the snake would be a reminder for the people not to leave the camp (Yehudah HaChasid), or not to speak against God (Ralbag).

copper snake
  Snake is nachash and copper is nechosheth.The Israelites later called it Nechushtan and served it, so it was destroyed by Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4).

Ovoth
  See Numbers 33:43. Ovoth is identified with el-Weiba, 30 miles due south of the Dead Sea, or Ein Hosob, 15 miles south of the Dead Sea.

desolate passes
  (Saadia; Rashi; Rashbam). Or, 'travelers' passes' (Targum). Or, 'ruins of Avarim,' speaking of the area of Mount Nebo (see Numbers 27:12, 33:47, Deuteronomy 32:49; Rashi; Chizzkuni). The Septuagint has Achal Ai.

along Moab's eastern border
  They did not enter Moab's land, because God had told them not to fight against Moab (Deuteronomy 2:9). See Judges 11:17.

Zered Brook
  This is the river that flows into the south-east end of the Dead Sea. It forms the southern border of Moab. The area of the Zered was most probably conquered earlier by Edom and taken from Moab (see Genesis 36:35). From the context, it appears that the Israelites were at the eastern extreme of the Zered. Some say that the crossing of the Zered is not recorded in Numbers 33 (Lekach Tov), but others identify the place of crossing with Divon Gad in Numbers 33:45 (Baaley Tosafoth; Chizzkuni). This may have been Divon (Numbers 21:30), which later became a city of Gad (Numbers 32:34). Some say that this stop along the Zered is also to be identified with Vahabh and Matanah (Numbers 21:14,18; Adereth Eliahu).

It was while the Israelites were on the Zered that the last of the generation of the Exodus died, as we see in Deuteronomy 2:14 (Adereth Eliahu). According to tradition, this was on 15 Av, just 15 days after Aaron's death (Numbers 33:38,39; Taanith 30b). According to some, none of these people died during the last year, but it was not until 15 Av that they realized that the decree had come to an end (Eikhah Rabbah, Introduction 33; Rashi, Taanith 30b; Tosafoth ibid., s.v. Yom). See Numbers 20:1.

in the desert extending...
  (Septuagint). Or 'extending beyond the Amorite border' (Saadia). This may have been a strip of land along the eastern end of the Arnon, on the north shore, to the south of the Ammonite territory (Rashi; Chizzkuni).

opposite side
  That is, to the north, so as not to enter Moabite territory, which had been forbidden in Deuteronomy 2:9.

Arnon River
  (Baaley Tosafoth). The Arnon is an enormous trench across the plateau of Moab, some 1700 feet deep and two miles broad. Some say that Arnon here is a city (Ramban), possibly identified with Almon Divlathaymah in Numbers 33:46 (Chizzkuni ad loc.; Adereth Eliahu). See Numbers 24:18. Some say that Arnon is the same as Nachaliel in Numbers 21:19 (Adereth Eliahu).

Book of God's Wars
  An ancient lost book (Baaley Tosafoth; Ramban; Chizzkuni). Some say that it existed among the gentiles (Abarbanel), while others say that it was a book of records kept from Abraham's time (Ibn Ezra; Bachya). Others, however, identify this book with the Torah as a whole (Targum Yonathan), or, in particular, the book of Exodus (Midrash Aggadah) or Deuteronomy (Yehudah HaChasid). To some degree, this depends upon the meaning of the quotation, as we shall see below.

According to others, it is not actually a book, but 'the telling of God's wars' (Rashi; Rashbam; Lekach Tov; Bachya). Or, 'It is therefore written in this book, 'God's wars...' (Targum; Lekach Tov; Septuagint).

As an outermost boundary
  (Chizzkuni; Malbim). Be-Sufah in Hebrew. Others say that sufah denotes 'whirlwind' (Baaley Tosafoth; Abarbanel; cf. Isaiah 29:6, Amos 1:14), and hence, 'quickly' (Baal HaTurim). Or, 'in the reeds' (Ralbag; Adereth Eliahu; cf. Exodus 2:3), and thus, possibly denoted the Red Sea, Yam Suf in Hebrew (Targum; Saadia; Rashi). Others say that Sufah is a place name, denoting a location on the Arnon river (Midrash HaGadol; Ibn Janach; cf. Septuagint). See Deuteronomy 1:1. In the Hebrew, be-sufah comes after the word vahev.

I have given...
  Following the authorities that have eth-vahev as a single word (Radak, Sherashim; Chizzkuni). Some indicate that as a reflexive form it means 'I have given Myself' (Baaley Tosafoth). Others take vahev as a separate word related to the root yahav, and hence denoting a gift (Rashi; Lekach Tov) or a 'burden' to be cast upon God (Rashbam, cf. Psalms 55:23). Others see vahev as denoting a whirlpool (Saadia), or, on the basis of Semitic cognates, a pool in the desert. According to other ancient sources, vahev is related to the word lahav, and denotes a fire (Septuagint).

According to a number of sources, however, Vahev is a place name, denoting a town along the Moabite border (Midrash HaGadol; Ibn Janach; Abarbanel). Since it means 'gift,' some identify it with Matanah in Numbers 21:18 (Adereth Eliahu; Malbim). This in turn is identified with Divon Gad (see Numbers 21:12).

Others see the word eth here as a separate word rather than a preposition. Hence, it can also be translated as 'come' (Lekach Tov). A Talmudic source states that Eth and Hav are the names of two lepers (Berakhoth 54 a,b; cf. Baaley Tosafoth on Numbers 26:59).

Therefore, the very difficult expression eth vahev be-sufah can be translated as we have it, 'As an outermost boundary, I have given you...' (Chizzkuni on Numbers 21:17); 'I have given Myself in the whirlwind' (Baaley Tosafoth); 'a gift in the whirlwind' (Lekach Tov; Baal HaTurim); 'a gift at the Red Sea' (Rashi; Hirsch); 'a whirlpool was in the Red Sea' (Saadia); 'God's wars were a fire in Sufah' (Septuagint).

If Vahev is taken as a place name, the verse can be translated, 'Vahev is on [Moab's] border' (Chizzkuni; Malbim); 'God's wars were against Vahev in a whirlwind' (Tur); 'Vahev is in the reeds' (Ralbag) 'Vahev in Sufah... hugs the border of Moab' (Ibn Janach; cf. Midrash HaGadol); '[The Israelites traveled through] Vahev in Sufah' (Rashbam; Adereth Eliahu); 'God's wars were fought against Vahev in Sufah' (Ibn Ezra); '[The Amorites conquered] until Vahev in Sufah' (Abarbanel).

If eth is taken as a separate word, the verse is, '[God] came and gave [miracles] at the Red Sea' (Lekach Tov); or, 'written by Eth and Hav who were at the edge [of the camp]' (Berakhoth 54 a,b).

We have chosen the first translation cited, since it flows from the context of the verse. The Torah states that the Arnon was Moab's border (Numbers 21:13; 22:36). God, however, had told the Israelites not to attack Moab (Deuteronomy 2:9). However, since the Amorites had conquered the Moabite territory as far as the Arnon (Numbers 21:26), this was permitted to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 2:24). The Israelites therefore conquered as far as the Arnon (Numbers 21:24, Deuteronomy 3:8,12), and their borders extended from Arnon to Mount Hermon (Deuteronomy 3:8, Joshua 12:1).

the streams of Arnon
  The streams in the Arnon valley. Some identify this with Almon Divlathaymah in Numbers 33:46 (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). See Numbers 21:13.

rapids
  Or 'waterfall'; eshed in Hebrew (Targum; Rashi; Saadia). See Deuteronomy 3:17, Joshua 10:40, 12:3. Or 'spilling,' alluding to the blood of the Amorites who were miraculously killed on the cliffs of the Arnon (Rashi; Berakhoth 54b). Other sources translate eshed as projections (Tanchuma 20) or 'appointed' (Septuagint). Some identify this with Mount Abarim (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah; see Numbers 21:11).

hug
  Literally, 'lean on.' Or, 'They relied [on God] at Moab's borders (Baal HaTurim).

fortress
  (Targum). Ar in Hebrew. Other sources have Ar as a place name (Saadia; Chizzkuni), and indeed some have Shebheth Ar as a place name (Ralbag). As we see here, it was on the Arnon, most probably on the southern branch. It was attacked by the Amorites (Numbers 21:28), but apparently retained by Moab or inhabited by them (Deuteronomy 2:9,29, Isaiah 15:1). Therefore, although the Israelites passed through Ar, they did not conquer it (Deuteronomy 2:18; Midrash HaGadol). Some say that Ammon's borders extended as far south as Ar (Lekach Tov).

The Septuagint translates this verse, '[God] has appointed brooks to cause Ar to dwell there.'

From there
  According to many commentaries, this is not part of the quotation, but merely a continuation of the description of the Israelites' travels, interrupted with Numbers 21:14,15 (Ibn Ezra; Ramban; Adereth Eliahu). According to this, the Israelites came to the well after Aaron's death (Numbers 20:28), and the well was dug by Moses and Eleazar (Lekach Tov). Indeed, according to some, the well was dug at the Israelites' final stop in the Western Plains of Moab (Numbers 22:1; Adereth Eliahu; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). On the basis of this, some say that the well was dug after the wars with Sichon and Og (Yehudah HaChasid). However, the main Israelite camp may have arrived at the well in the Western Plains of Moab before the battles, and only the fighting men may have left the area to fight.

According to other sources, the sentence, 'and from there to the well' is still part of the quotation. The song may thus be saying, 'the valley's rapids... turning aside at the fortress settlement, and from there [providing water] for the well' (Rashi; Lekach Tov; Chizzkuni). According to this, the well may have been dug before Aaron's death, and indeed, according to some, it was dug by Moses and Aaron (Rashi; Rashbam on Numbers 21:18). Some say that this 'well' thus refers to the rock that Moses struck (Numbers 20:11; Baaley Tosafoth; Chizzkuni; Abarbanel).

According to others, the Torah is saying that there on the banks of the Arnon, they were given a well (Targum).

to the well
  B'erah in Hebrew. Possibly a place name (cf. Isaiah 15:8).

this song
  (see Rosh HaShanah 31a). Or, 'a song,' and some say that it was Psalm 136 (Yehudah HaChasid). See next notes. Some say that the entire song is not written (Ibn Ezra).

Rise, O well
  (Rashi). Or, 'Israel sang this song at the well,' (Septuagint), or, 'about the well' (Ralbag).

respond to this song
  (Lekach Tov). Or, 'sing of the well' (Ralbag; Septuagint); 'responding to one another' (Saadia).

princes
  And not slaves (Baaley Tosafoth; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). Some say that the 'princes' were Moses and Aaron (Rashi; Rashbam), while others say that they were Moses and Eleazar (Lekach Tov); see Numbers 21:16. According to others, the 'princes' were the Patriarchs (Targum Yonathan).

leaders
  Nadiv in Hebrew. Or, 'volunteers.'

Carved out
  (Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Septuagint). Mechokek in Hebrew. Some say that this indicates that they dug a trench bringing the well's water from the desert to Matanah, etc. (Baaley Tosafoth; Chizzkuni). Some see mechokek as a noun, indicating a lawgiver, namely Moses (Rashi), a scribe (Targum), or God (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). See Genesis 49:10.

From the desert
  Some say that this is not part of the song (Rashbam; Abarbanel). According to others, however, it is part of the song. See note this verse, 'Matanah.'

Matanah
  A place name (Saadia; Rashbam; Midrash HaGadol). Some identify it with Vahev (see Numbers 21:14), Almon Divlathaymah in Numbers 33:47 (Ibn Ezra) or the Avarim Mountains in Numbers 33:48 (Chizzkuni; see note on Numbers 21:11). It may also be the Bashan, which the Targum translates as Mathnan (on Numbers 21:33). The Septuagint renders Mathan as Mantanaim. See Deuteronomy 2:26.

Some say that Matanah was a place from which the Israelites retreated after the encounter with Edom (Abarbanel), while others say that it represents the next stage on their journey (Chizzkuni). Others say that the Israelites carved a trench or canal, causing the well's water to flow to Matanah (Yehudah HaChasid; Chizzkuni). Some identify Matanah with Khirbet el-Medeiyineh.

The word matanah, however, also denotes a 'gift,' and some render the verse, '[The well] was a gift from the desert'(Targum; Baaley Tosafoth).

Nachaliel
  Some commentators take this as a proper name (Ibn Ezra; Rashbam; Septuagint). Indeed, some say that it is the stream Arnon (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). Some sources identify it with Divon Gad and Almon Devlathaymah (Lekach Tov; see note on Numbers 21:12,14). According to others, it is the area filled with streams and wadis on the east bank of the Jordan (Midrash Aggadah).

Others take nachaliel to be a common noun, meaning 'mighty stream' (Saadia). Some say that the well increased from a mere 'gift' to a 'mighty stream' (Baaley Tosafoth). Others translate nachaliel as 'God's inheritance' (Targum; Rashi).

Geographically, Nachaliel appears to be the large stream some 11 miles north of the Arnon. This would indicate that the Israelites were proceeding along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.

Bamoth
  Also a place name. Some identify it with the Avarim mountains in Numbers 33:47, which are the mountains to the east of the Dead Sea (Lekach Tov; see notes on Numbers 21:11,15). Some say that Nachaliel was a stream that flowed from Bamoth (Chizzkuni).

According to others, bamoth simply means 'high places' or 'high altars' (Targum; Rashi). Thus, those who maintain that the verses are speaking about the well (rather than the Israelites' travels) say that the stream flowing from the well eventually covered 'high places' (Baaley Tosafoth). Others translate bamoth as 'idolatrous altars' (Saadia).

Some identify Bamoth with Bamoth Baal (Numbers 22:41, Joshua 13:17), which may be identical with Bamoth Moab (Isaiah 16:2). Also see Numbers 21:28. Looking at a detailed map of the area, it appears that the Israelites passed by the edge of the Aravah range that juts out to within 3 miles of the Dead Sea, some 10 miles from its northern end.

Hagai
  Also a place name (cf. Septuagint). See Deuteronomy 34:6, Ezekiel 39:11. Some sources identify this with Avel HaShittim in Numbers 33:49 (Chizzkuni); cf. Numbers 25:1, Joshua 2:1, 3:1. The Targum translates it as 'the plain,' and some say that it is the same as the Western Plains of Moab (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah), west of the Pisgah cliff in Deuteronomy 3:17 (Lekach Tov). Others say that it was the top of the Pisgah cliff, where Moses died (Ibn Ezra; cf. Deuteronomy 34:6).

Geographically, it appears to be the depression in the heights just to the south of Mount Nebo. This is the source of the present Ujami stream, which flows into the northern end of the Dead Sea, about 3 miles east of the Jordan. See Deuteronomy 3:29.

cliff
  (Targum; Rashi). Pisgah in Hebrew. Some have it as a proper name (cf. Psalms 48:14). Others translate pisgah as 'quarry' (Septuagint).

Pisgah may be a generic term for the cliffs overlooking the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. However, it is usually thought to denote the cliff that juts out some 8 miles directly east of the Dead Sea's northern shore, 2 miles due west of Mount Nebo (cf. Deuteronomy 3:27).

Wastelands
  (Rashi; Ibn Ezra). Some take Yeshimon here to be a proper name (Targum); see Deuteronomy 32:10. Some identify it with Beth HaYeshemoth in Numbers 33:48 (see Chizzkuni ad loc.). Cf. Joshua 12:3, 13:20, Ezekiel 25:9. Also see Numbers 23:28, 1 Samuel 23:19,24, 26:1,3.

Geographically, it appears that the Yeshimon is the desolate area to the northeast of the Dead Sea.

Israel
  See Judges 11:19. Some say that Moses sent them; see Deuteronomy 2:26 (BeMidbar Rabbah 19:28; Rashi). According to tradition, the encounter with Sichon occurred in Elul, about one month after Aaron's death (BeMidbar Rabbah 19:32).

Sichon
  According to ancient tradition, Sichon and Og were brothers, and were both over 800 years old at the time. They were both giants, but Og was the greater (Niddah 61a; Bachya).

Amorites
  See Genesis 10:16, 14:7.

us
  Literally, 'me' (cf. HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

Yahatz
  (Targum) or Yahatzah (Septuagint). Yahatz is found in Isaiah 15:4, Jeremiah 48:34, while Yahatzah is in Deuteronomy 2:32, Judges 11:20, Jeremiah 48:21. It was assigned to Reuben (Joshua 13:18), and was a Levitical city (1 Chronicles 6:63). It can be identified with Jalul of Khirbet el-Teim, some 15 miles east of the Dead Sea's northern end, and 7 miles south of Cheshbon.

attacked
  Some say that Moses provoked the battle at God's command (Josephus, Antiquities 4:5:2; cf. Deuteronomy 2:24).

Israel struck...
  Josephus states that Sichon did not have the courage to battle the Israelites, and when the Amorites tried to stop for water, they were killed (Antiquities 4:5:2).

Jabbok
  See Genesis 32:23. The Jabbok runs parallel to the Arnon, some 50 miles to the north of it.

Ammonites
  See Genesis 19:38. Their territory was to the east of Sichon's land, beginning some 20 miles east of the Jordan. Ammon and Moab were cousins (Genesis 19:37,38), and hence their lands were originally next to each other. Some say that the Ammonites also had lands to the north of the Jabbok (Chizzkuni). The modern city of Aman, Jordan derives its name from Ammon.

remained firm
  (Targum). This was because God told the Israelites not to attack Ammon (Deuteronomy 2:19; Sefer HaYashar; Lekach Tov; Bachya). Others see Az here as a proper noun, which the Septuagint renders as Y'azer, see Numbers 21:32. The Torah is thus saying, 'Az was the border of Ammon.' Other sources apparently identify Az with Ar (Numbers 21:15, Lekach Tov ad loc.).

later
  See Numbers 32:2, Joshua 13:17.

Cheshbon
  The Amorite capital. It was some 15 miles to the east of the Dead Sea's northern tip.

He had fought...
  Some say that this war had occurred four years earlier (Sefer HaYashar). Because Sichon had conquered Moab, it was permissible for the Israelites to occupy it (Chullin 60b).

minstrels
  Poets, or makers of parables (Targum Yonathan; Rashbam; Bachya), possibly denoting prophets (Rashbam), women who make up parables (Lekach Tov), or people who speak in parables (Septuagint). Mosh'lim in Hebrew. Or, 'rulers' (Radak, Sherashim; Tur), possibly the governors under Sichon mentioned in Joshua 13:21 (Yehudah HaChasid). Some say that they were Balaam and his father Beor (22:5; BeMidbar Rabbah19:30; Rashi; Sefer HaYashar). See Jeremiah 48:45.

Come to Cheshbon
  'Come and conquer Cheshbon' (Ralbag), 'Come and defend Cheshbon' (Sforno), or, 'Come and see Cheshbon' (Adereth Eliahu).

Let...
  Or, 'Sichon's city has been built...'

Ar
  Or, 'the fortress of...' See Numbers 21:16.

masters
  Or, 'plains' (Chizzkuni). See Numbers 21:19.

Kemosh
  Moabite deity, possibly a war god; see Judges 11:24; 1 Kings 11:7, 2 Kings 23;13; Jeremiah 48:7,13. It is said to be a natural formation of black rock in the form of a woman (Paneach Razah, quoting Sekhel Tov). Its worship included shaving the head (Midrash HaGadol on Exodus 20:5; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative Commandment 6; cf. Jeremiah 9:25).

Your
  Literally, 'his.'

kingdom
  (Targum). Niram in Hebrew, from the root nir. Or, 'power' (Saadia), or, 'heir' (Baaley Tosafoth; Chizzkuni; Septuagint). Others see the word ve-niram here as coming from the root yarah, and meaning, 'and we cast them down, destroying Cheshbon,' and said by Moses (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra).

Divon
  A city some 3 miles north of the Arnon, and 12 miles east of the Jordan. This was later occupied by Gad (Numbers 32:34, 33:45); see note on Numbers 21:12. Also see Joshua 13:9,17, 48:18,22, Isaiah 15:2. Cheshbon was to the north of Sichon's kingdom, while Divon was to the south of his conquered territory.

Nofech
  A place name (Targum; Saadia). Or, 'It was laid waste until bodies rotted as far as Medebha' (Targum Yonathan); or, 'Their women have further kindled a fire as far as Medebha' (Septuagint). Here, nofech is seen as meaning 'blown up' or 'swollen,' or, 'blown upon' to kindle a fire.

Medeva
  A city 4 miles south of Cheshbon, on the King's Highway. See Joshua 13:9,16, Isaiah 15:2, 1 Chronicles 19:7. It appears that Sichon destroyed Moab's power as far south as Divon, but in the area immediately around Cheshbon, he killed all the inhabitants.

Ya'azer
  A city just west of Rabbath Ammon, later on the eastern border of Gad (Joshua 13:25). It was built up by Gad (Numbers 31:35), and later became a Levitical city (Joshua 21:37, 1 Chronicles 6:66). See Numbers 21:24. It was apparently on the eastern boundary of Og's kingdom, near the Ammonite border (cf. 1 Maccabees 5:8).

they
  The spies (Rashi; Sforno; Sefer HaYashar). Some say that these were led by Caleb and Pinchas (Targum Yonathan). This occurred after the festival of Sukkoth, that is, around 23 Tishrei, some six weeks after the defeat of Sichon (BeMidbar Rabbah 19:33). According to some sources, it occurred somewhat after the defeat of Og (Sefer HaYashar).

The Israelites
  (Sefer HaYashar). Some say that only the fighting men went to Bashan, while the rest of the camp remained in Aravoth Moab (Chizzkuni on Numbers 22:1).

went on
  (Ibn Ezra here and on Exodus 10:6). Literally, 'turned around.' It might mean, however, that the expeditionary force turned back from Ya'azer and headed toward Og's kingdom.

Bashan
  This is the area to the east of the Sea of Kinnereth. Josephus identifies it with Gilead and Golan (Antiquities 4:5:3), the present Golan Heights.

Edrei
  The capital of Og, some 32 miles southeast of the Kinnereth Sea. Cf. Deuteronomy 3:1,10. It was some 14 miles southeast of Ashteroth, and was later given to Manasseh (Joshua 13;31). This was the land of the Raphaim who had been decimated by Chedorlaomer and his allies (Genesis 14:5). See next note.

Og
  A giant, who is described as among the survivors of the Raphaim, a race of giants (Joshua 12:4, 13:12). He is described as having a bed that was over 13 feet long (Deuteronomy 3:11). According to tradition, he was over 800 years old, and survived the flood in the time of Noah. He was either a brother of Sichon (see Numbers 21:21), or his close friend (Josephus, Antiquities 4:5:3). Other sources, however, indicate that Og was just over 500 years old (BeMidbar Rabbah 19:32).





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