Bible studies for writers

Bible studies for writers | Numbers 21

The Israelites covered some territory today! Despite some repeated grumbling from the Israelites, God protects His camp through several battles and helps the Israelites move miles toward the Promised Land of Canaan. If your Bible doesn’t have a map, then get out your Google maps and type in Israel. You can see that the Israelites are tromping around the border of present-day Jordan and Israel (Heshbon and the Arnon River). Then God moves them all the way up through Jordan to the Syrian border (Edrei). Incredible! Does this territory look familiar? Well, if you were with us in Genesis, you’ll remember that these are the very lands that Abram and Lot once occupied. The Israelites have come full circle! Many of them probably don’t realize it, but some of them may due to historical documents, some of which are mentioned here.

I got all kinds of giddy with the references to other forms of writing existing outside of Moses’ texts in this chapter. First, he mentions “The Book of the Wars of the Lord” in verse 14. Who wants to read that right this very instant???? Me! Me! Me! Then, the Israelites throw in a song, to which Moses records the lyrics in verses 17 and 18. In verse 22, I imagined this message to be a little note on a scroll. It may have just been an oral message, though. And the gem of all gems comes in verses 27 through 30 – a poem written by the ancient poets. Now, we don’t know who these ancient poets are, but we now know they existed, and we also know they wrote stuff down. Gorgeous.

So, the sum of this chapter is that the Israelites kicked some booty and are now in prime position to cross the River Jordan and take the lands God has promised them.

Writing prompt: my, how time flies

Moses covered a lot of ground in this chapter, but he doesn’t say how long it took the Israelites to travel this far and conquer this many armies. Remember, God has promised to keep them wandering for 40 years, so time is not really of much value here (in the short term), if that makes sense. Time, of course, is valuable, but I think it will have a different meaning once we see God’s promise fulfilled. Write about the timeline of this chapter. How much time did it take the Israelites to cover this much territory?

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