the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
Wars of the Lord, Book of the
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(מַלְחֲמוֹת יְהוֹה סֵפֶר ), a document cited Numbers 21:14. It was probably a collection of poems or songs celebrating the victories which had been achieved by the Israelites by the help of God. That it was an Amoritish work, as Michaelis suggested, is disproved by the use of the term יהוה, which Michaelis vainly attempts to show is to be taken as a verb, and the passage translated: "As it is said in the book of the wars, it shall be." There is no reason to doubt that there were minstrels enough in Israel at all times of their history 'to record the events of that history in song, and those composed before the date of this notice might have been written in a book. What confirms this are the undoubted fragments of ancient songs in Numbers 21:17-18; Numbers 21:27-30.
It is not clear what the passage cited means; but it seems to give a geographical notice, and probably was of some importance as indicating the ancient boundaries of the Moabitish territory (Rosenmuller, ad loc.; Havernick, Einleit. I, 2:504, Eng. transl. page 321; Bleek, Einleil. page 199). Hengstenberg has a peculiar view (Beitrage, 2:223), which Baumgarten (Theolog. Commentar, 2:344) follows. He translates: "And Vaheb (he took i.e., Jehovah) in the storm, and the brooks, the Arnon and the valley of the brooks which goes down to the dwelling of Ar, and leans on the borders of Moab." This is not very different from the Sept. version: διὰ τοῦτο λέγεται ἐν βιβλίῳ· πόλεμος τοῦ Κυρίου τῆν Ζωὸβ (they probably read זהב for והב ). ἐφλόγισε, καὶ τοῦς χειμάῤῥους Ἀρνῶν . - Kitto. It was evidently one of the documents used by Moses in the composition of the Pentateuch. It may have contained, among other matters, the history of the expeditions occasionally made by the Hebrews, while in Egypt, among the surrounding tribes. At any rate, some such document seems to have been used by the writer of Chronicles, and its contents are characterized as "ancient things" (1 Chronicles 4:21-23; 1 Chronicles 7:21-22). See New-Englander, January 1862. (See PENTATEUCH).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Wars of the Lord, Book of the'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​w/wars-of-the-lord-book-of-the.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.