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Numbers 21:4 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to go round the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became impatient on the way;
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Then brake they up from Mount Hor, by way of the Red Sea, to go round the land of Edom,—and the soul of the people became impatient because of the way.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And they journey from mount Hor, the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom, and the soul of the people is short in the way,
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And they marched from mount Hor, by the way that leadeth to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom. And the people began to be weary of their journey and labour:
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— And they iourneyed from mount Hor, by the way of the red sea, to compasse the land of Edom: and the soule of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And having departed from mount Or by the way [leading] to the Red Sea, they compassed the land of Edom, and the people lost courage by the way.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Suf sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
And they journeyed 5265
{5265} Prime
נָסַע
naca`
{naw-sah'}
A primitive root; properly to pull up, especially the tent pins, that is, start on a journey.
z8799
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
from mount 2022
{2022} Prime
הַר
har
{har}
A shortened form of H2042; a mountain or range of hills (sometimes used figuratively).
Hr הֹר 2023
{2023} Prime
הֹר
Hor
{hore}
Another form for H2022; mountain; Hor, the name of a peak in Idumaea and of one in Syria.
x4480
(4480) Complement
מִן
min
{min}
For H4482; properly a part of; hence (prepositionally), from or out of in many senses.
by the way 1870
{1870} Prime
דֶּרֶךְ
derek
{deh'-rek}
From H1869; a road (as trodden); figuratively a course of life or mode of action, often adverbially.
of the Sf סוּף 5488
{5488} Prime
סוּף
cuwph
{soof}
Probably of Egyptian origin; a reed, especially the papyrus.
sea, 3220
{3220} Prime
יָם
yam
{yawm}
From an unused root meaning to roar; a sea (as breaking in noisy surf) or large body of water; specifically (with the article) the Mediterranean; sometimes a large river, or an artificial basin; locally, the west, or (rarely) the south.
to compass 5437
{5437} Prime
סָבַב
cabab
{saw-bab'}
A primitive root; to revolve, surround or border; used in various applications, literally and figuratively.
z8800
<8800> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Infinitive (See H8812)
Count - 4888
x853
(0853) Complement
אֵת
'eth
{ayth}
Apparently contracted from H0226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely).
the land 776
{0776} Prime
אֶרֶץ
'erets
{eh'-rets}
From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land).
of m אֱדוֹם: 123
{0123} Prime
אֱדֹם
'Edom
{ed-ome'}
From H0122; red (see Genesis 25:25); Edom, the elder twin-brother of Jacob; hence the region (Idumaea) occuped by him.
and the soul 5315
{5315} Prime
נֶפֶשׁ
nephesh
{neh'-fesh}
From H5314; properly a breathing creature, that is, animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental).
of the people 5971
{5971} Prime
עַם
`am
{am}
From H6004; a people (as a congregated unit); specifically a tribe (as those of Israel); hence (collectively) troops or attendants; figuratively a flock.
was much discouraged 7114
{7114} Prime
קָצַר
qatsar
{kaw-tsar'}
A primitive root; to dock off, that is, curtail (transitively or intransitively, literally or figuratively); especially to harvest (grass or grain).
z8799
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
because of the way. 1870
{1870} Prime
דֶּרֶךְ
derek
{deh'-rek}
From H1869; a road (as trodden); figuratively a course of life or mode of action, often adverbially.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Numbers 21:4

_ _ they journeyed from mount Hor — On being refused the passage requested, they returned through the Arabah, “the way of the Red Sea,” to Elath, at the head of the eastern gulf of the Red Sea, and thence passed up through the mountains to the eastern desert, so as to make the circuit of the land of Edom (Numbers 33:41, Numbers 33:42).

_ _ the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way — Disappointment on finding themselves so near the confines of the promised land without entering it; vexation at the refusal of a passage through Edom and the absence of any divine interposition in their favor; and above all, the necessity of a retrograde journey by a long and circuitous route through the worst parts of a sandy desert and the dread of being plunged into new and unknown difficulties — all this produced a deep depression of spirits. But it was followed, as usually, by a gross outburst of murmuring at the scarcity of water, and of expressions of disgust at the manna.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Numbers 21:4-9

_ _ Here is, I. The fatigue of Israel by a long march round the land of Edom, because they could not obtain passage through it the nearest way: The soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way, Numbers 21:4. Perhaps the way was rough and uneven, or foul and dirty; or it fretted them to go far about, and that they were not permitted to force their passage through the Edomites' country. Those that are of a fretful discontented spirit will always find something or other to make them uneasy.

_ _ II. Their unbelief and murmuring upon this occasion, Numbers 21:5. Though they had just now obtained a glorious victory over the Canaanites, and were going on conquering and to conquer, yet they speak very discontentedly of what God had done for them and distrustfully of what he would do, vexed that they were brought out of Egypt, that they had not bread and water as other people had by their own care and industry, but by miracle, they knew not how. They have bread enough and to spare; and yet they complain there is no bread, because, though they eat angels' food, yet they are weary of it; manna itself is loathed, and called light bread, fit for children, not for men and soldiers. What will those be pleased with whom manna will not please? Those that are disposed to quarrel will find fault where there is no fault to be found. Thus those who have long enjoyed the means of grace are apt to surfeit even on the heavenly manna, and to call it light bread. But let not the contempt which some cast upon the word of God cause us to value it the less: it is the bread of life, substantial bread, and will nourish those who by faith feed upon it to eternal life, whoever calls it light bread.

_ _ III. The righteous judgment which God brought upon them for their murmuring, Numbers 21:6. He sent fiery serpents among them, which bit or stung many of them to death. The wilderness through which they had passed was all along infested with those fiery serpents, as appears, Deuteronomy 8:15. but hitherto God had wonderfully preserved his people from receiving hurt by them, till now that they murmured, to chastise them for which these animals, which hitherto had shunned their camp, now invade it. Justly are those made to feel God's judgments that are not thankful for his mercies. These serpents are called fiery, from their colour, or from their rage, or from the effects of their bitings, inflaming the body, putting it immediately into a high fever, scorching it with an insatiable thirst. They had unjustly complained for want of water (Numbers 21:5), to chastise them for which God sends upon them this thirst, which no water would quench. Those that cry without cause have justly cause given them to cry out. They distrustfully concluded that they must die in the wilderness, and God took them at their word, chose their delusions, and brought their unbelieving fears upon them; many of them did die. They had impudently flown in the face of God himself, and the poison of asps was under their lips, and now these fiery serpents (which, it should seem, were flying serpents, Isaiah 14:29) flew in their faces and poisoned them. They in their pride had lifted themselves up against God and Moses, and now God humbled and mortified them, by making these despicable animals a plague to them. That artillery is now turned against them which had formerly been made use of in their defence against the Egyptians. He that brought quails to feast them let them know that he could bring serpents to bite them; the whole creation is at war with those that are in arms against God.

_ _ IV. Their repentance and supplication to God under this judgment, Numbers 21:7. They confess their fault: We have sinned. They are particular in their confession: We have spoken against the Lord, and against thee. It is to be feared that they would not have owned the sin if they had not felt the smart; but they relent under the rod; when he slew them, then they sought him. They beg the prayers of Moses for them, as conscious to themselves of their own unworthiness to be heard, and convinced of the great interest which Moses had in heaven. How soon is their tone altered! Those who had just before quarrelled with him as their worst enemy now make their court to him as their best friend, and choose him for their advocate with God. Afflictions often change men's sentiments concerning God's people, and teach them to value those prayers which, at a former period, they had scorned. Moses, to show that he had heartily forgiven them, blesses those who had cursed him, and prays for those who had despitefully used him Herein he was a type of Christ, who interceded for his persecutors, and a pattern to us to go and do likewise, and thus to show that we love our enemies.

_ _ V. The wonderful provision which God made for their relief. He did not employ Moses in summoning the judgment, but, that he might recommend him to the good affection of the people, he made him instrumental in their relief, Numbers 21:8, Numbers 21:9. God ordered Moses to make the representation of a fiery serpent, which he did, in brass, and set it up on a very long pole, so that it might be seen from all parts of the camp, and every one that was stung with a fiery serpent was healed by looking up to this serpent of brass. The people prayed that God would take away the serpents from them (Numbers 21:7), but God saw fit not to do this: for he gives effectual relief in the best way, though not in our way. Thus those who did not die for their murmuring were yet made to smart for it, that they might the more feelingly repent and humble themselves for it; they were likewise made to receive their cure from God, by the hand of Moses, that they might be taught, if possible, never again to speak against God and Moses. This method of cure was altogether miraculous, and the more wonderful if what some naturalists say be true, that looking upon bright and burnished brass is hurtful to those that are stung with fiery serpents. God can bring about his purposes by contrary means. The Jews themselves say that it was not the sight of the brazen serpent that cured them, but, in looking up to it, they looked up to God as the Lord that healed them. But there was much of gospel in this appointment. Our Saviour has told us so (John 3:14, John 3:15), that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so the Son of man must be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish. Observe then a resemblance,

_ _ 1. Between their disease and ours. The devil is the old serpent, a fiery serpent, hence he appears (Revelation 12:3) as a great red dragon. Sin is the biting of this fiery serpent; it is painful to the startled conscience, and poisonous to the seared conscience. Satan's temptations are called his fiery darts, Ephesians 6:16. Lust and passion inflame the soul, so do the terrors of the Almighty, when they set themselves in array. At the last, sin bites like a serpent and stings like an adder; and even its sweets are turned into the gall of asps.

_ _ 2. Between their remedy and ours. (1.) It was God himself that devised and prescribed this antidote against the fiery serpents; so our salvation by Christ was the contrivance of Infinite Wisdom; God himself has found the ransom. (2.) It was a very unlikely method of cure; so our salvation by the death of Christ is to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness. It was Moses that lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and Moses wrote of him, John 3:14-16. Christ was lifted up by the rulers of the Jews, who were the successors of Moses. (3.) That which cured was shaped in the likeness of that which wounded. So Christ, though perfectly free from sin himself, yet was made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3), so like that it was taken for granted that this man was a sinner, John 9:24. (4.) The brazen serpent was lifted up; so was Christ. He was lifted up upon the cross (John 12:33, John 12:34), for his was made a spectacle to the world. He was lifted up by the preaching of the gospel. The word here used for a pole signifies a banner, or ensign, for Christ crucified stands for an ensign of the people, Isaiah 11:10. Some make the lifting up of the serpent to be a figure of Christ's triumphing over Satan, the old serpent, whose head he bruised, when in his cross he made an open show of the principalities and powers which he had spoiled and destroyed, Colossians 2:15.

_ _ 3. Between the application of their remedy and ours. They looked and lived, and we, if we believe, shall not perish; it is by faith that we look unto Jesus, Hebrews 12:2. Look unto me, and be you saved, Isaiah 45:22. We must be sensible of our wound and of our danger by it, receive the record which God has given concerning his Son, and rely upon the assurance he has given us that we shall be healed and saved by him if we resign ourselves to his direction. The brazen serpent's being lifted up would not cure if it was not looked upon. If any pored on their wound, and would not look up to the brazen serpent, they inevitably died. If they slighted this method of cure, and had recourse to natural medicines, and trusted to them, they justly perished; so if sinners either despise Christ's righteousness or despair of benefit by it their wound will, without doubt, be fatal. But whoever looked up to this healing sign, though from the outmost part of the camp, though with a weak and weeping eye, was certainly healed; so whosoever believes in Christ, though as yet but weak in faith, shall not perish. There are weak brethren for whom Christ died. Perhaps for some time after the serpent was set up the camp of Israel was molested by the fiery serpents; and it is the probable conjecture of some that they carried this brazen serpent along with them through the rest of their journey, and set it up wherever they encamped, and, when they settled in Canaan, fixed it somewhere within the borders of the land; for it is not likely that the children of Israel went so far off as this was into the wilderness to burn incense to it, as we find they did, 2 Kings 18:4. Even those that are delivered from the eternal death which is the wages of sin must expect to feel the pain and smart of it as long as they are here in this world; but, if it be not our own fault, we may have the brazen serpent to accompany us, to be still looked up to upon all occasions, by bearing about with us continually the dying of the Lord Jesus.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Numbers 21:4

By way of the Red — sea — Which leadeth to the Red — sea, as they must needs do to compass the land of Edom. Because of the way — By reason of this journey, which was long and troublesome, and unexpected, because the successful entrance and victorious progress which some of them had made in the borders of Canaan, made them think they might have speedily gone in and taken possession of it, and so have saved the tedious travels and farther difficulties, into which Moses had again brought them.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Numbers 21:4

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to (b) compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

(b) For they were forbidden to destroy it, (Deuteronomy 2:5).

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
mount Hor:

Numbers 20:22-23 And the children of Israel, [even] the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto mount Hor. ... And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying,
Numbers 20:27 And Moses did as the LORD commanded: and they went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation.
Numbers 33:41 And they departed from mount Hor, and pitched in Zalmonah.

by the way:

Numbers 14:25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
Deuteronomy 1:40 But [as for] you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

compass:

Numbers 20:18-21 And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. ... Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.
Deuteronomy 2:5-8 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau [for] a possession. ... And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.
Judges 11:18 Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon [was] the border of Moab.

the soul:

Numbers 32:7 And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?
Numbers 32:9 For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them.
Exodus 6:9 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
1 Thessalonians 3:3-4 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. ... For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

discouraged:
or, grieved, Heb. shortened,
Exodus 6:9 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
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Ex 6:9. Nu 14:25; 20:18, 22, 27; 32:7, 9; 33:41. Dt 1:40; 2:5. Jg 11:18. Ac 14:22. 1Th 3:3.

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