Story Thirty-Two

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 6
HOW THE LONG JOURNEY OF THE ISRAELITES CAME TO AN END
Num. 20:1, to 22:1
SO the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes, after coming to the border of the Promised Land, went back into the wilderness to wait there until all the men who had sinned against the Lord in not trusting his word, should die. Mṓ s̝es̝ knew that the men who had been slaves in Egypt were in their spirits slaves still, and could not fight as brave men to win their land. There was need of men who had been trained up to a free life in the wilderness; men who would teach their children after them to be free and bold.
They stayed for nearly all the forty years of waiting in the wilderness of Pā́ ran, south of Cā́ năan. Very few things happened during those years. The young men as they grew up were trained to be soldiers, and one by one the old men died, until very few of them were left.
When the forty years were almost ended, the people came again to Kā́ desh=bāŕ ne-ȧ. For some reason they found no water there. Perhaps the wells from which they had drawn water before were now dried up. The people complained against Mṓ s̝es̝, as they always complained when trouble came to them, and blamed him for bringing them into such a desert land, where there was neither fruit to eat nor water to drink, only great rocks all around.
Then the Lord said to Mṓ s̝es̝:
"Take the rod, and bring the people together, and stand before the rock, and speak to the rock before them; and then the water will come out of the rock, and the people and their flocks shall drink.”
Then Mṓ s̝es̝ and Aâŕ on brought all the people together before a great rock that stood beside the camp. And Mṓ s̞es̞ stood in front of the rock, with the rod in his, hand; but he did not do exactly what God had told him to do, to speak to the rock. He spoke to the people instead, in an angry manner.
"Hear now, ye rebels," said Mṓ s̝es̝. "Shall we bring you water out of this rock?”
And Mṓ s̝es̝ lifted up the rod, and struck the rock. Then he struck it again, and at the second blow the water came pouring out of the rock, just as it had come many years before from the rock at Rĕph́ i-dĭm, near Mount Sī́ nāi; and again there was a plenty of water for the people and their flocks.
But God was not pleased with Mṓ s̝es̝, because Moses had shown anger, and had not obeyed God's command just as God had given it. And God said to Mṓ s̝es̝ and to Aâŕ on:
"Because you did not show honor to me, by doing as I commanded you, neither of you shall enter into the land that I have promised to the children of Ĭś̝ ra-el.”
One act of disobedience cost Mṓ s̝es̝ and Aâŕ on the privilege of leading the people into their own land of promise! About this time, Mĭŕ ĭ-am, the sister of Mṓ s̝es̝ and Aâŕ on, died at Kā́ desh=bäŕ ne-ȧ. You remember that when she was a little girl she helped to save the baby Mṓ s̝es̝, her brother, from the river. She also led the women in singing the song of Mṓ s̝es̝ after the crossing of the Red Sea. And soon after her death Mṓ s̝es̝ and Aâŕ on, and Ē-le-ā' zar, Aâŕ on's son, walked together up a mountain called Hôr; and on the top of the mountain Mṓ s̝es̝ took off the priest's robes from Aâŕ on, and placed them on his son Ē-le-ā́ zar; and there on the top of Mount Hôr Aâŕ on died, and Mṓ s̝es̝ and E-le-ā́ zar buried him. Then they came down to the camp and E-le-á zar took his father's place as the priest.
While they were at Kā́ desh=bäŕ ne-ȧ, on the south of Cā́ năan, they tried again to enter the land. But they found that the Cā́ năan-ītes and Aḿ ôr-ītes who lived there were too strong for them; so again they turned back to the wilderness, and sought another road to Cā́ năan. On the south of the Dead Sea, and southeast of Cā́ năan, were living the Ḗ dom-ītes, who had sprung from Ḗsa̤u, Jā́ cob's brother, as the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes had sprung from Jā́ cob. Thus you see the Ḗ dom-ītes were closely related to the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes.
And Mṓ s̝es̝ sent to the king of Ḗ dom, to say to him:
"We men of Ĭś̝ ra-el are your brothers. We have come out of the land of Ḗ ġy̆pt, where the people of Egypt dealt harshly with us, and now we are going to our own land, which our God has promised to us, the land of Cā́ năan. We pray you let us pass through your land, on our way. We will do no harm to your land nor your people. We will walk on the road to Cā́ năan, not turning to the right hand nor the left. And we will not rob your vineyards, nor even drink from your wells, unless we pay for the water that we use.”
But the king of Ḗ dom was afraid to have such a great host of people, with all their flocks and cattle, go through his land. He drew out his army, and came against the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes. Mṓ s̝es̝ was not willing to make war on a people who were so close in their race to the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes, so instead of leading the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes through Ḗ dom, he went around it, making a long journey to the south, and then to the east, and then to the north again.
It was a long, hard journey, through a deep valley which was very hot; and for most of the journey they were going away from Cā́ năan, and not toward it; but it was the only way, since Mṓ s̝es̝ would not let them fight the men of Ḗ dom.
While they were on this long journey the people again found fault with Mṓ s̝es̝. They said, "Why have you brought us into this hot and sandy country? There is no water; and there is no bread except this vile manna, of which we are very tired! We wish that we were all back in Ḗ ġy̆pt again!”
Then God was angry with the people; and he let the fierce snakes that grew in the desert crawl among them and bite them. These snakes were called "fiery serpents," perhaps because of their bright color, or perhaps because of their eyes and tongues, which seemed to flash out fire. Their bite was poisonous, so that many of the people died.
Then the people saw that they had acted wickedly in speaking against Mṓ s̝es̝; for when they spoke against Mṓ s̝es̝ they were speaking against God, who was leading them. They said:
"We have sinned against the Lord, and we are sorry. Now pray to the Lord for us, that he may take away the serpents from us.”
So Mṓ s̝es̝ prayed for the people, as he had prayed so many times before. And God heard Mṓ s̝es̝ prayer, and God said to him:
"Make a serpent of brass, like the fiery serpents; and set it up on a pole, where the people can see it. Then every one who is bitten may look on the serpent on the pole, and he shall live.”
And Mṓ s̞es̞ did as God commanded him. He made a serpent of brass, which looked like the fiery snakes; and he lifted it up on a pole where all could see it. And then, whoever had been bitten by a snake looked up at the brazen snake, and the bite did him no harm.
This brazen snake was a teaching about Christ, though it was given so long before Christ came. You remember the text which says, "As Mṓ s̝es̝ lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him may have eternal life."
Northeast of the Dead Sea, above a brook called the brook Äŕ nŏn, lived a people who were called the Ăḿ ôr-ītes. Mṓ s̝es̝ sent to their king, whose name was Sī́ hŏn, the same message as he had sent to the king of Ḗ dom, asking for leave to go through his land.
But he would not allow the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes to pass through. He led his army against Ĭś̝ ra-el, and crossed the brook Äŕ non, and fought against Ĭś̝ ra-el at a place called Jā́ hăz. The Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes here won their first great victory. In the battle they killed many of the Ăḿ ôr-ītes, and with them their king, and they took for their own all their land, as far north as the brook Jăb́ bŏk. Do you remember how Jā́ cob one night prayed by the brook Jăb́ bŏk?
And after this they marched on toward the land of Cā́ năan, coming from the east. And at last they encamped on the east bank of the river Jôŕdan, at the foot of the mountains of Mṓ ab. Their long journey of forty years was now ended, the desert was left behind them, before them rolled the Jôŕ dan river, and beyond the Jôŕ dan they could see the hills of the land which God had promised to them for their own.