Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 21:21

Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, saying,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ambassadors;   Amorites;   Canaan;   Israel;   Sihon;   Thompson Chain Reference - Ambassadors;   Nation, the;   Sihon;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Amorites, the;   Desert, Journey of Israel through the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ammonites;   Amorites;   Serpents;   Sihon;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Canaan;   Edom;   Jabbok;   Moab;   Palestine;   Reuben;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Gods and Goddesses, Pagan;   Easton Bible Dictionary - City;   Sihon;   Wars of the Lord, the Book of the;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ambassador;   Ar;   Jephthah;   Sihon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Conquest of Canaan;   Dibon;   Heshbon;   Reba;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ambassador, Ambassage;   Israel;   Jephthah;   Moab, Moabites;   Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Sihon;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Amorites ;   Arnon ;   Moab, Moabites ;   Sihon ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Sihon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ambassador,;   Si'hon;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Division of the Earth;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   Moses, the Man of God;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ammon;   Amorites;   Moab;   Moses;   Sihon;   Wanderings of Israel;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Moab;   Sihon;  

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn aside into field, or into vineyard; we will not drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king's highway, until we have passed thy border. And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness, and came to Jahaz; and he fought against Israel. And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from the Arnon unto the Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon; for the border of the children of Ammon was strong. And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the towns thereof. 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, even unto the Arnon. Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say,

Come ye to Heshbon;

Let the city of Sihon be built and established:

For a fire is gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: It hath devoured Ar of Moab, The lords of the high places of the Arnon.

Woe to thee, Moab! Thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: He hath given his sons as fugitives, And his daughters into captivity, Unto Sihon king of the Amorites.

We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon,

And we have laid waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites. And Moses sent to spy out Jazer; and they took the towns thereof, and drove out the Amorites that were there."

Here the formal conquest of the land of Canaan began in earnest. Israel conquered the powerful kingdom of the Amorites and possessed their land as far north as the Jabbok (Numbers 21:24). Moses was still in charge of Israel for this campaign and also for that against Jazer, another satellite kingdom of the Amorites (Numbers 21:31,32).

Again, Moses mentioned the song (or proverbs) sung by the people in celebration of the victory. These amazing lines (fourteen) have somewhat the nature of a sonnet, the first eleven lines (Numbers 21:27-29) extolling the power and might of Heshbon and Sihon, and the last three (Numbers 21:30) extolling the utter destruction of Heshbon.

"Thou art undone, O people of Chemosh ..." (Numbers 21:29). "Chemosh was the national god of the Moabites (1 Kings 11:7; Jeremiah 48:7), and to some extent the god of the Ammonites (Judges 11:24)."[19] He is the same as Milcom, or Molech, and was worshipped with the sacrifice of children. Solomon built a shrine to this deity (1 Kings 11:7). "Jerome stated that Chemosh was only another name for Baal-Peor (see Numbers 26), a sun-god worshipped as a god of war."[20]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Numbers 21:21". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/numbers-21.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites,.... Who were one of the nations of the Canaanites, and a principal and powerful one, and who were devoted to destruction, and their land designed for the people of Israel; see Genesis 15:16, at this time Sihon was their king, to whom Moses, in the name of Israel, sent a very peaceable message from the wilderness of Kedemoth, which lay near his country, Deuteronomy 2:26,

saying; as follows.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Numbers 21:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-21.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying,

Sent messengers — By God's allowance, that so Sihon's malice might be the more evident and inexcusable, and their title to his country more clear in the judgment of all men, as being gotten by a just war, into which they were forced for their own defence.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 21:21". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-21.html. 1765.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

By God’s allowance, that so Sihon’s malice might be the more evident and inexcusable, and that their title to his country more clear in the judgments of all men, as being gotten by a just war, into which they were forced for their own defence.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 21:21". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/numbers-21.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

21.Sihon — “The Destroyer,” literally, “He who swept all before him.” This formidable chieftain was evidently a man of great courage and daring. He did not hesitate or temporize like Balak, but at once gathered all his people, and attacked Israel as soon as he appeared on his borders.

Amorites — See Joshua 2:10; Joshua 3:10, notes.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 21:21". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/numbers-21.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Messengers, not from the city of Cademoth, which was in the midst of Phasga, but from a desert of the same name, situated out of the dominions of Sehon, Deuteronomy ii. 24. (Eusebius) --- God had already promised this country to Abraham, and though Moses did not intend to attack the king at present, being eager to fall upon the Chanaanites on the other side of the Jordan, God punishes the refusal of Sehon to let his people pass, by a swifter destruction. (Calmet) --- The measure of his crimes was full, though the mere denial of a passage to such a vast multitude might even by justified by sound policy. (Haydock)

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 21:21". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-21.html. 1859.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying,
20:14-19; Deuteronomy 2:26-28; Judges 11:19-21
Reciprocal: Genesis 14:13 - Amorite;  Deuteronomy 1:4 - GeneralDeuteronomy 2:12 - as Israel did;  Deuteronomy 2:27 - GeneralDeuteronomy 4:46 - Moses;  Deuteronomy 29:7 - GeneralJoshua 2:10 - what ye did;  Joshua 24:8 - GeneralJudges 10:11 - Amorites;  Judges 11:12 - sent messengers;  1 Kings 4:19 - the country of Sihon;  1 Chronicles 1:14 - Amorite;  Nehemiah 9:22 - Sihon;  Psalm 68:14 - When;  Psalm 135:11 - Sihon;  Psalm 136:19 - General

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 21:21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-21.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 21:21.And Israel sent messengers. The second narration, which I have subjoined from Deuteronomy, is the fuller; nevertheless, a question arises from it, for what reason this embassy was sent to king Sihon, whose kingdom was already devoted to the Israelites: for it seems to be altogether inconsistent to offer conditions of peace when war is decreed. God commands His people to take up arms: He declares that they shall be victorious, so as to occupy the land of Sihon by right of war; what, then, can be more absurd than to request of him that they might pass through his land in peace? If this attempt were made by Moses without the command of God, such an excess of kindness was not devoid of guilt, inasmuch as it was an act of much temerity to promise what God had appointed otherwise. But, if we should say that the messengers went with the authority, and at the command of God, under what pretext shall the deceptiveness of the act be excused? for it is very improper to flatter with soothing words and promises those whom you have destined to destruction. The conclusion I come to is, that although the event was not unknown to God, still the embassy was sent, nevertheless, by his command and decree, in order to lay open the obstinate ferocity of the nation. But, since the secret judgments of God far surmount our senses, let us learn to reverence their height; and let this sober view restrain our boldness like a rein, viz., that although the reason for the works of God be unknown to us, still it always exists with Him. God knew that the messengers would speak to the deaf, and yet it is not in vain that He bids them go; for, since the kingdom of Sihon was not properly included in the promised land, it was not lawful for the children of Israel to make war upon it until they had been provoked by an unjust refusal. Thus, then, I connect the history. Before they had been assured at God’s command of the event, and the victory, they sent the messengers, who demanded that a pacific passage should be accorded to them; and that then the permission to have recourse to arms was granted. If any prefer to think that, before Moses attempted to preserve peace, he had been made acquainted with all that would occur, I will not contend the point; but I deem it more probable that he had expectations of the peace which he sought, because the judgment of God had not yet been declared. If, therefore, Sihon had allowed himself to be propitiated, Moses would never have dared to deal with him as an enemy; but, he rather simply and honestly promised peace, which he intended to preserve; God, however, had otherwise appointed, as the event presently shewed. Still He was not inconsistent with Himself, or variable, in sending the messengers to an irreclaimable and obstinately perverse man; for thus was all excuse taken away when he had voluntarily provoked to war a people who were ready and willing to maintain peace and equity. But rather may we see in this history, as in a glass, that, whilst God earnestly invites the reprobate to repentance and the hope of salvation, He has no other object than that they may be rendered inexcusable by the detection of their impiety. Hence is their ignorance refuted, who gather from this that it is free for all promiscuously to embrace God’s grace, because its promulgation (doctrina) is common, and directed to all without exception; as if God was not aware of what Sihon would answer when He would have him attracted to equity by friendly and peaceful words; or as if, on his free will, the purpose of God was suspended as to the war, which was soon after carried forward by His decree.

But inasmuch as what is here briefly recorded, would be obscure in itself, we must explain it by the other narrative, where it is thus written, —

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Numbers 21:21". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-21.html. 1840-57.