Fragments of Poetry

Numbers 21:27‑30  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 11
As regards Num. 211 one of the alleged fragments of poetry is a song of Israel at the well. Nothing very extraordinary historically: a very interesting figure of the refreshing springs found when the wilderness is passed and Jordan approached. The other two are perfectly apposite and important. They are well known records, cited to prove that the country in question was in the hands of the Amorites, and not of Moab, when Israel took possession. This was of the utmost importance, because Israel was forbidden to touch Moab, whereas the country of the Amorites was given up to them. Now Israel's statements, of whatever authority for themselves, would have been no record against their enemies. Hence, to maintain the title of Israel to these lands, well known popular memorials of the previous conquest of Moab by the Amorites, and the acquisition of this territory by the latter, are given, and of the border as it then was. And this is so truly the case, that the children of Ammon claimed precisely this territory in the time of Jephthah (Judg. 9), and Jephthah goes over all this very ground as that which justified Israel in maintaining possession of the country. It was not Ammon's nor Moab's either. Nor did Balak, king of Moab, pretend to it then. The Amorites, he says, were in possession, and Israel dispossessed them. The common records of the country preserved in their popular songs, and the well known account of the books of the wars of the Lord, were the important point here, and these are preserved in Numbers.