From Mount Hor to Moab.

There are no victories at discount prices. - (General Dwight Eisenhower)


Israel next met resistance from the king of Arad, but soundly defeated him. The next stop was Mount Hor where Aaron died. Then they traveled south and east around Oboth. As the Israelites marched toward the promised land, “What shall we eat?” and “What shall we drink?” seemed to be the major concerns of the people (Matt. 6:24-34), just as they are also the major concerns of people today. But on this occasion, the people didn’t complain. Instead they sang a song! As far as the record is concerned, this is the first time we find Israel singing since God delivered them from Egypt 40 years earlier (v. 16). The people rejoiced that God gave them the necessities of life, and they found joy in praising Him for His goodness.

Before they arrived at the plains of Moab, the Israelites fought and won two major battles. At first it was victory over the Amorites (vv. 21-35). The Amorites were located on the western shore of the Dead Sea. At one time they had ruled vast areas in Mesopotamia and Syria, but in Moses’ day, their territory was much smaller. In God’s eyes, they were a wicked people, ready to be judged (15:16) and Moses knew that the Lord had promised Israel victory over this evil nation (Ex. 23:23). However, Moses first asked permission to go through their land but was refused passage by Sihon (vv 22-23) who attacked Israel at Jahaz. After a “mop up” operation, over the Amorites, Israel turned its attention to Bashan, a very fertile region east of the Sea of Galilee and south of Mount Hermon. The Lord assured Moses that Israel would win this victory and they did (v. 34).

In their conquest of Canaan, Israel followed the pattern described in verses 32-35. Joshua would send out spies to get the lay of land. Then he would seek God’s special instructions for each attack, obey God’s orders by faith, and win the victory. The only two times he was defeated was when he didn’t follow this pattern (Joshua 7 and 9). The news of this victory spread to Jericho and brought great fear to the hearts of the inhabitants (Josh. 2:10).


God wants to give me victory over my enemies (which usually involves sin rather than an outside foe) but first I must believe that He can help me. Then I must trust Him to help me and thirdly I must take the steps He shows me from His Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Numbers 21:10-35 (English Standard Version)

And the people of Israel set out and camped in Oboth. And they set out from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness that is opposite Moab, toward the sunrise. From there they set out and camped in the Valley of Zered. From there they set out and camped on the other side of the Arnon, which is in the wilderness that extends from the border of the Amorites, for the Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD, "Waheb in Suphah, and the valleys of the Arnon, and the slope of the valleys that extends to the seat of Ar, and leans to the border of Moab." And from there they continued to Beer; that is the well of which the LORD said to Moses, "Gather the people together, so that I may give them water." Then Israel sang this song: "Spring up, O well!--Sing to it!-- the well that the princes made, that the nobles of the people dug, with the scepter and with their staffs." And from the wilderness they went on to Mattanah, and from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth, and from Bamoth to the valley lying in the region of Moab by the top of Pisgah that looks down on the desert. Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, "Let me pass through your land. We will not turn aside into field or vineyard. We will not drink the water of a well. We will go by the King's Highway until we have passed through your territory." But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. He gathered all his people together and went out against Israel to the wilderness and came to Jahaz and fought against Israel. And Israel defeated him with the edge of the sword and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as to the Ammonites, for the border of the Ammonites was strong. And Israel took all these cities, and Israel settled in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all its villages. For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon. Therefore the ballad singers say, "Come to Heshbon, let it be built; let the city of Sihon be established. For fire came out from Heshbon, flame from the city of Sihon. It devoured Ar of Moab, and swallowed the heights of the Arnon. Woe to you, O Moab! You are undone, O people of Chemosh! He has made his sons fugitives, and his daughters captives, to an Amorite king, Sihon. So we overthrew them; Heshbon, as far as Dibon, perished; and we laid waste as far as Nophah; fire spread as far as Medeba." Thus Israel lived in the land of the Amorites. And Moses sent to spy out Jazer, and they captured its villages and dispossessed the Amorites who were there. Then they turned and went up by the way to Bashan. And Og the king of Bashan came out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. But the LORD said to Moses, "Do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand, and all his people, and his land. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon." So they defeated him and his sons and all his people, until he had no survivor left. And they possessed his land.

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »