The Bible Slam: Numbers Chapter 21

There's a lot of killing in this chapter, all inspired by God.

First, the LORD hears the cries and Israel and "utterly destroys" the Canaanites and their cities.

Then, despite all kinds of punishments described in previous chapters for complaining, the Israelites complain about having only manna to eat and no water, so God sends "fiery serpents" which bite them and kill them.  Moses pleads for mercy, so God commands him to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a stick.  Anyone who looks at this serpent is healed from the fatal effects of the serpent bites.

Numbers 21 then goes on to recite some songs and poems from "the book of the Wars of the Lord," followed by an account of God helping the Israelites slaughter King Basham and all of his people.  After the murders, they then take over Basham's lands.

(First time visitors — see the quick tips and navigation section below re: swear words and other information).

Discussion Points.

In 2 Kings 18, we're introduced to Hezekiah, the new King of Israel.  One of his first acts, which was "right in the sight of the Lord, was to destroy Moses' graven image of a serpent:

18:4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

The 10 Commandments specifically forbid the creation of graven images:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

The "book of the Wars of the Lord" referenced in Numbers 21 has not been included in the bible and is considered to be a "lost book."

In Steve Wells' estimated tally of God-inspired killings in the bible, this chapter brings the death count up to 31,411,179.

Quick Tips & Navigation.

  • About the Bible Slam – If you are new here, please read the "about" page to understand the choice of the word "slam" and to read the Important Disclaimer about swear words. We have provided a link to biblical reading without swear words or commentary on the about page, just in case swear words are offensive to you.
  • There are people who argue that the King James translation of the bible is the "inerrant word of God."  Yet, they either do not read it or are quite selective in determining what parts of it should literally be followed.  We are attempting to make bible reading interesting.  If you've never read it, consider each chapter presented:  Is this book truly "inerrant" and penned by God?  Should the entire bible and its historical accounts and commands be taken literally?
  • To fully comprehend the Bible philosophy, we suggest you start at the very beginning and work your way through, other than skipping around through it.
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