Notes: Numbers 20-22

Numbers 20-22

Bible Narrative Project

There is a lot going on in these chapters. Miriam dies, more rebellion due to lack of water (“if only we had died!”–how quickly we forget), Moses disobeys God when he strikes the rock rather than speaking to it and so will not enter the Promised Land with the people, Edom makes them go around instead of passing through, Aaron dies (it’s so weird how both Aaron and Moses go up to a mountain and die…like they can just check out at will), they are victorious over Arad but turn around and complain again, which results in a plague of serpents and Moses lifting up the bronze serpent so that whoever looked at it survived, which is typological of Jesus being lifted up on the cross. How cool would it be to find a copy of the Book of the Wars of the Lord? They go on to defeat Sihon and Og. When they come upon Balak, he sends for the pagan prophet Balaam (an animal diviner) to curse Israel, since he is afraid he cannot defeat them militarily. (NASB note: One of Balaam’s non-Biblical prophecies is preserved in an Aramaic text from Deir Alla in the Jordan Valley dating to c.700 B.C.) At first God does not let him go w/ Balak’s messengers because he doesn’t want Balaam to curse Israel, but when they come a second time God lets him go, but only if he speaks the words God gives him. God knows his true intentions and so blocks his way, he has a disagreement with his talking donkey, who sees the angel that the animal diviner cannot see until God opens his eyes (God is poking fun at his animal divination, the way he mocked the gods of Egypt). The angel reminds him not to curse Israel as Barak wants him to, but to say only the words God gives him.

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