The Israelites have been refused passage through the Edomite lands, so they’re taking an alternative route. This route takes them in the direction of Canaanite lands, specifically those of the king of Arad. He starts a war against the Israelites, and takes a captive. The Israelites promise God that if He gives them a victory, they will consecrate the Canaanite cities. I’m not entirely sure what consecrating the cities means, but God does as He has been asked, and gives the Israelites the necessary victory. The people continue on their way once again, and go from Mount Hor towards the Red Sea so as to circumvent the Edomite land. The people become weary due to the long journey. “The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in this desert, for there is no bread and no water, and we are disgusted with this rotten bread (Numbers 21:5).'” While I’m sure that had I been part of the people at that time, I would have been complaining right along with them, from the perspective of a reader, it seems so pathetic that they keep crying and not learning their lesson, time after time. This time, as punishment for their complaining, God sends snakes against the people to bite them, and some die. As is their pattern, the people repent in the face of their punishment, so they cry to Moses, and he intervenes with God. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make yourself a serpent and put it on a pole, and let whoever is bitten look at it and live (Numbers 21:8).”
The journey continues, and the people arrive at the border of Moab, and then they send a message to Sihon, king of the Amorites. “Let me pass through your land. We will not turn into fields or vineyards, nor drink well water. We shall walk along the king’s road, until we have passed through your territory (Numbers 21:22).” But like Edom, Sihon refuses to allow the people into his land, and instead he fights them. This time, Israel wins, and takes possession of the cities of the Amorites, including Heshbon, Siihon’s city. The people settle in the land of the Amorites, and then they move north towards the land of Bashan. There, Og, the king of Bashan, tries to fight them, but he is defeated as well. Now, the Israelites have land in their possession, which will surely upset the balance of power in the region.