Numbers 21:14
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD, “Waheb in Suphah, and the valleys of the Arnon,

King James Bible
Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon,

American Standard Version
Wherefore it is said in the book of the Wars of Jehovah, Vaheb in Suphah, And the valleys of the Arnon,

Douay-Rheims Bible
Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord: As he did in the Red Sea, so will he do in the streams of Amen.

English Revised Version
Wherefore it is said in the book of the Wars of the LORD, Vaheb in Suphah, And the valleys of Arnon,

Webster's Bible Translation
Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon,

Numbers 21:14 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

At the command of God, Moses made a brazen serpent, and put it upon a standard.

(Note: For the different views held by early writers concerning the brazen serpent, see Buxtorf, historia serp. aen., in his Exercitt. pp. 458ff.; Deyling, observatt. ss. ii. obs. 15, pp. 156ff.; Vitringa, observ. Songs 1, pp. 403ff.; Jo. Marck, Scripturariae Exercitt. exerc. 8, pp. 465ff.; Iluth, Serpens exaltatus non contritoris sed conterendi imago, Erl. 1758; Gottfr. Menken on the brazen serpent; Sack, Apologetick, 2 Ausg. pp. 355ff. Hoffmann, Weissagung u. Erfllung, ii. pp. 142, 143; Kurtz, History of the Old Covenant, iii. 345ff.; and the commentators on John 3:14 and John 3:15.)

Whoever then of the persons bitten by the poisonous serpents looked at the brazen serpent with faith in the promise of God, lived, i.e., recovered from the serpent's bite. The serpent was to be made of brass or copper, because the colour of this metal, when the sun was shining upon it, was most like the appearance of the fiery serpents; and thus the symbol would be more like the thing itself.

Even in the book of Wis. (Numbers 16:6-7), the brazen serpent is called "a symbol of salvation; for he that turned himself toward it was not saved by the thing that he saw, but by Thee, that art the Saviour of all." It was not merely intended, however, as Ewald supposes (Gesch. ii. p. 228), as a "sign that just as this serpent hung suspended in the air, bound and rendered harmless by the command of Jehovah, so every one who looked at this with faith in the redeeming power of Jehovah, was secured against the evil, - a figurative sign, therefore, like that of St. George and the Dragon among ourselves;" for, according to this, there would be no internal causal link between the fiery serpents and the brazen image of a serpent. It was rather intended as a figurative representation of the poisonous serpents, rendered harmless by the mercy of God. For God did not cause a real serpent to be taken, but the image of a serpent, in which the fiery serpent was stiffened, as it were, into dead brass, as a sign that the deadly poison of the fiery serpents was overcome in this brazen serpent. This is not to be regarded as a symbol of the divine healing power; nor is the selection of such a symbol to be deduced and explained, as it is by Winer, Kurtz, Knobel, and others, from the symbolical view that was common to all the heathen religions of antiquity, that the serpent was a beneficent and health-bringing power, which led to its being exalted into a symbol of the healing power, and a representation of the gods of healing. This heathen view is not only foreign to the Old Testament, and without any foundation in the fact that, in the time of Hezekiah, the people paid a superstitious worship to the brazen serpent erected by Moses (2 Kings 18:4); but it is irreconcilably opposed to the biblical view of the serpent, as the representative of evil, which was founded upon Genesis 3:15, and is only traceable to the magical art of serpent-charming, which the Old Testament abhorred as an idolatrous abomination. To this we may add, that the thought which lies at the foundation of this explanation, viz., that poison is to be cured by poison, has no support in Hosea 13:4, but is altogether foreign to the Scriptures. God punishes sin, it is true, by sin; but He neither cures sin by sin, nor death by death. On the contrary, to conquer sin it was necessary that the Redeemer should be without sin; and to take away its power from death, it was requisite that Christ, the Prince of life, who had life in Himself, should rise again from death and the grave (John 5:26; John 11:25; Acts 3:15; 2 Timothy 1:10).

The brazen serpent became a symbol of salvation on the three grounds which Luther pointed out. In the first place, the serpent which Moses was to make by the command of God was to be of brass or copper, that is to say, of a reddish colour, and (although without poison) altogether like the persons who were red and burning with heat because of the bite of the fiery serpents. In the second place, the brazen serpent was to be set up upon a pole for a sign. And in the third place, those who desired to recover from the fiery serpent's bite and live, were to look at the brazen serpent upon the pole, otherwise they could not recover or live (Luther's Sermon on John 3:1-15). It was in these three points, as Luther has also clearly shown, that the typical character of this symbol lay, to which Christ referred in His conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:14). The brazen serpent had the form of a real serpent, but was "without poison, and altogether harmless." So God sent His Son in the form of sinful flesh, and yet without sin (Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22-24). - 2. In the lifting up of the serpent as a standard. This was a δειγματίζειν ἐν παρρησίᾳ, a ́ (a "showing openly," or "triumphing"), a triumphal exhibition of the poisonous serpents as put to death in the brazen image, just as the lifting up of Christ upon the cross was a public triumph over the evil principalities and powers below the sky (Colossians 2:14-15). - 3. In the cure effected through looking at the image of the serpent. Just as the Israelites had to turn their eyes to the brazen serpent in believing obedience to the word of the Lord, in order to be cured of the bite of the poisonous serpents, so much we look with faith at the Son of man lifted up upon the cross, if we would be delivered from the bite of the old serpent, from sin, death, the devil, and hell. "Christ is the antitype of the serpent, inasmuch as He took upon Himself the most pernicious of all pernicious potencies, viz., sin, and made a vicarious atonement for it" (Hengstenberg on John 3:14). The brazen image of the serpent was taken by the Israelites to Canaan, and preserved till the time of Hezekiah, who had it broken in pieces, because the idolatrous people had presented incense-offerings to this holy relic (2 Kings 18:4).

Numbers 21:14 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

in the book

Joshua 10:13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves on their enemies...

2 Samuel 1:18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)

What he did. or, Vaheb in Suphah. The following seems to be the sense of this passage; 'From Vaheb in Suphah, and the torrents of Arnon, even the effusion of the torrents, which goeth down to the dwelling of Ar, and lieth for the boundary of Moab; even from thence to the well; (which is the well of which Jehovah spake unto Moses, Gather the people, and I will give them water. Then sang Israel this song; Spring up, O Well! Answer ye to it. The well, princes digged it; even nobles of the people digged it, by a decree, upon their border;) and from the wilderness (or the well, as in LXX) to Mattanah; and from Mattanah,' The whole of this, from ver.

Numbers 21:14-20 Why it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon...

, is a fragment from 'the book of the wars of Jehovah,' probably a book of remembrances or directions written by Moses for the use of Joshua, and describes the several boundaries of the land of Moab. This rendering removes every obscurity, and obviates every difficulty.

Cross References
Luke 24:27
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Numbers 21:13
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.

Numbers 21:15
and the slope of the valleys that extends to the seat of Ar, and leans to the border of Moab."

Deuteronomy 2:24
Rise up, set out on your journey and go over the Valley of the Arnon. Behold, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to take possession, and contend with him in battle.

1 Samuel 18:17
Then Saul said to David, "Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the LORD's battles." For Saul thought, "Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him."

Isaiah 16:2
Like fleeing birds, like a scattered nest, so are the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon.

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