Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 21:27

Therefore those who use proverbs say, "Come to Heshbon! Let it be built! So let the city of Sihon be established.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amorites;   Ar;   Heshbon;   Israel;   Sihon;   Song;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Amorites, the;   Desert, Journey of Israel through the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ammonites;   Amorites;   Poetry of the Hebrews;   Serpents;   Sihon;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Canaan;   Reuben;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Gods and Goddesses, Pagan;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Moabite;   Sihon;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Amorite (the);   Ar;   Jasher;   Jephthah;   Medeba;   Moab;   Numbers, the Book of;   Poetry;   Sihon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Ballad Singers;   Book(s);   Conquest of Canaan;   Dibon;   Heshbon;   Moab and the Moabite Stone;   Pentateuch;   Poetry;   Reba;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Israel;   Jephthah;   Medeba;   Moab, Moabites;   Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Wars of the Lord, Book of the;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Arnon ;   Heshbon ;   Moab, Moabites ;   Sihon ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Mount hor;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ar;   Sihon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Mo'ses;   Si'hon;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   Moses, the Man of God;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ammon;   Amorites;   Dark Sayings;   Moab;   Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Proverb;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Allegorical Interpretation;   Baba Batra;   Chemosh;   Dibon;   Elohist;   Invocation;   Moab;   Poetry;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

They that speak in proverbs - המשלים hammoshelim, from משל mashal, to rule, to exercise authority; hence a weighty proverbial saying, because admitted as an axiom for the government of life. The moshelim of the ancient Asiatics were the same, in all probability, as the Poetae among the Greeks and Latins, the shaara among the Arabs, who were esteemed as Divine persons, and who had their name from shaara, he knew, understood; whose poems celebrated past transactions, and especially those which concerned the military history of their nation. These poets were also termed sahebi deewan, companions or lords of the council of state, because their weighty sayings and universal knowledge were held in the highest repute. Similar to these were the bards among the ancient Druids, and the Sennachies among the ancient Celtic inhabitants of these nations.

The ode from the 27th to the 30th verse is composed of three parts. The first takes in Numbers 21:27; and Numbers 21:28; the second Numbers 21:29; and the third Numbers 21:30.

    The first records with bitter irony the late insults of Sihon and his subjects over the conquered Moabites.

    The second expresses the compassion of the Israelites over the desolations of Moab, with a bitter sarcasm against their god Chemosh, who had abandoned his votaries in their distress, or was not able to rescue them out of the hands of their enemies.

    The third sets forth the revenge taken by Israel upon the whole country of Sihon, from Heshbon to Dibon, and from Nophah even to Medeba. See Isaiah 15:1, Isaiah 15:2.

The whole poem, divided into its proper hemistichs, as it stands in Kennicott's Hebrew Bible, is as follows: -

Verse 27. Part I

Come ye to Heshbon, let it be rebuilt;

The city of Sihon, let it be established.

Verse 28

For from Heshbon the fire went out,

And a flame from the city of Sihon:

It hath consumed the city of Moab,

With the lords of the heights of Arnon.

Verse 29. Part 2

Alas for thee, O Moab!

Thou hast perished, O people of Chemosh!

He hath given up his fugitive sons

And his daughters into captivity,

To the king of the Amorites, Sihon.

Verse 30. Part 3

But on them have We lifted destruction,

From Heshbon even to Dibon;

We have destroyed even to Nophah,

The fire did reach to Medebah.

See Kennicott's Remarks.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/numbers-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

They that speak in proverbs - The original word is almost equivalent to “the poets.” The word supplies the title of the Book of Proverbs itself; and is used of the parable proper in Ezekiel 17:2; of the prophecies of Balsam in Numbers 23:7-10; Numbers 24:3-9; etc.; and of a song of triumph over Babylon in Isaiah 14:4.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/numbers-21.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say,.... The historical writers of those times, among the Amorites, who were usually poets, and wrote the history of the wars between the Moabites and Amorites in verse; as Homer among the Greeks wrote the wars of Troy; and the compositions of those ancient bards were short and compendious, and wrapped up in proverbial sayings, and enigmatical and figurative expressions, that they might be the better retained in memory, and therefore were called proverbialists. Jarchi says, they were Balaam and Beor that took up their parables, and said:

come into Heshbon; which words are the beginning of the song, and in which the Amorites are represented as inviting Sihon, and his nobles, to enter Heshbon, which he had taken, and make it his royal seat; or as encouraging one another to go into it and repair it, having suffered much at the taking of it, which seems to be confirmed by what follows:

let the city of Sihon be built and prepared; that is, let us set about rebuilding of the city, and let us fit it up for Sihon our king, and let it be called his city, and made the place of his residence, his palace, and where his court may be kept.

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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 21:27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-21.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared:

In proverbs — The poets or other ingenious persons, of the Amorites or Canaanites, who made this following song of triumph over the vanquished Moabites: which is here brought in, as a proof that this was now Sihon's land, and as an evidence of the just judgment of God in spoiling the spoilers, and subduing those who insulted over their conquered enemies.

Come into Heshbon — These are the words either of Sihon speaking to his people, or of the people exhorting one another to come and possess the city which they had taken.

Of Sihon — That which once was the royal city of the king of Moab, but now is the city of Sihon.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-21.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 21:27 Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared:

Ver. 27. Wherefore they that speak in proverbs.] Or, Bywords; by way of derision, as Deuteronomy 28:17, Habakkuk 2:5. Ballad makers, petty poets, that penned popular songs, such as this was.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-21.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 21:27. They that speak in proverbs Upon occasion of the conquest of the Amorites over the Moabites, the sacred historian informs us, that a famous poems or song of rejoicing, was composed by the Amorites, which was sung to that day. The word משׁלים moshlim, signifies allegorists, proverbialists; or, in general, those who write or speak in a figurative sense, like that of Balaam, ch. Numbers 23:7; Numbers 23:18, &c. And therefore it fitly denotes poets, who write in a high figurative style, such as this poetical composition of some ancient writer among the Amorites: and this quotation seems to have been inserted in the sacred history, to shew that this country belonged to the Amorites, and not to the Moabites, when Israel subdued it. This fragment of ancient poetry, like some others found in the foregoing parts of Scripture, is delivered in metre, and each second verse corresponds to the preceding; see Bp. Warburton's Divin. Leg. b. 4: sect. 4 and Lowth. Praelect. Poet. p. 45. 8vo.

Come into Heshbon The poet here represents the Amorites calling to each other in such triumphant strains as used to be sung after victories.

Let the city of Sihon be built Rather, be repaired, or rebuilt; "let that Heshbon, which is now become the city of Sihon, be repaired from the ruins of the war, and made fit to be his royal seat."

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/numbers-21.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

That speak in proverbs; the poets, or other ingenious persons, to wit, of the Amorites or Canaanites, who made this following song of triumph over the vanquished Moabites; which is here brought in partly as a proof that this was now Sihon’s land, and partly as an evidence of the just judgment of God in spoiling the spoilers, and subduing these who insulted over their conquered enemies.

Come into Heshbon: these are the words either of Sihon speaking thus to his people, or of the people exhorting one another to come and possess and repair the city which they had taken.

The city of Sihon; that which once was the royal city of the king of Moab, but now is the city of Sihon.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". 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

27.They that speak in proverbs — The ballad-singers. Here we have a scrap of Amorite poetry in three strophes: —

“Come ye to Heshbon,

Let the city of Sihon be built and established!

For fire went forth from Heshbon,

A flame out of the stronghold of Sihon,

Which devoured Ar of Moab,

The lords of the high places of Arnon.


“Woe to thee, Moab!

Thou art undone, O people of Chemosh!

He hath given up his sons as fugitives,

And his daughters into captivity,

To Sihon, king of the Amorites.


“Then we cast them down; Heshbon perished even unto Dibon,

And we laid (it) waste unto Nophah, with fire unto Medeba.”

If this song be of Hebrew origin, then the former part of it is a biting taunt: “Come, ye Amorites, into your city of Heshbon and build it up again. Ye boasted that ye had burnt it and driven out the Moabites; but now we are come in our turn, and have burnt Heshbon and driven you out.”

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/numbers-21.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Numbers 21:27. In proverbs — The poets or other ingenious persons of the Amorites or Canaanites, who made this following song over the vanquished Moabites, which is here brought in as a proof that this was now Sihon’s land, and as an evidence of the just judgment of God in spoiling the spoilers, and subduing those who insulted over their conquered enemies. Come into Heshbon — These are the words either of Sihon speaking to his people, or of the people exhorting one another to come and possess the city which they had taken. Of Sihon — That which once was the royal city of the king of Moab, but now is the city of Sihon.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-21.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Proverb. Hebrew Moshelim: "Those who speak proverbs, or enigmas, say." Those were the ancient poets of the Amorrhites, who composed this canticle on the victory of Sehon. (Calmet) --- Moses inserts it in his work, as an additional proof, that the country was entirely lost to Moab, and as a denunciation of the evils which still hung over the head of that people, and would be inflicted upon them by David, &c., 2 Kings x. i., 4 Kings iii. 16., and Amos i. 13. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

proverbs. Hebrew poems.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/numbers-21.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared:
14; Isaiah 14:4; Habakkuk 2:6
Reciprocal: Numbers 32:37 - Heshbon;  Judges 11:15 - Israel took;  Psalm 44:1 - in the times;  Jeremiah 48:4 - Moab

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-21.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

27.Wherefore, they that speak in proverbs. That is, an old saying, or proverbial sentence remains, and is well known. The song, however, appears to have been composed in the character of those who, when prepared to engage in war, mutually exhorted each other, “Come into Heshbon,” i.e., run to the standard of king Sihon; hasten to his home, and his chief place of abode, in order that we may thence go forth to battle. These expressions, “build and prepare,” I interpret as being used for enlarge, adorn, and enrich; for it is probable that this city was not overthrown, but they foretell that the city would be renovated, when a larger dominion had been gained. And this is more fully confirmed by what immediately follows, when it is said that “a fire had gone forth from Heshbon,” which consumed Ar of Moab, and all its neighborhood. As to the “lords of the high places of Arnon,” some understand the priests who presided in the temples; others extend them to all the inhabitants in general; but, in my opinion, it will not be unsuitable to refer them to the idols themselves, since it appears from the next verse that the conquerors were so insolently elated, as not only to despise the men themselves, but their gods also; for when they say, “Thou art undone, O people of Chemosh,” there is no doubt but that they mockingly reproach them with the fact that they had been badly defended by the gods whom they worshipped. (132) And, in point of fact, ungodly men, when in prosperity, uplift their horns to heaven, as if they would assail the divinity which was opposed to them. They, therefore, deride Chemosh, because he made “his sons” or worshippers to be fugitives or captives.

In the word lantern (133) he makes use of a common metaphor. Some follow the Chaldee interpreter, and render it kingdom; but it has a wider signification; for it includes all the component parts of a happy and prosperous state. (134) The meaning, therefore, is, that their glory and all their wealth was annihilated. The cities of Dibon and Medeba are situated on the extreme borders, near the river Arnon, so that by these he designates all the intermediate plain.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Numbers 21:27". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-21.html. 1840-57.