Numbers 21:10
And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth.
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(10) And pitched in Oboth.—The intermediate stations between Mount Hor and Oboth were Zalmonah and Punon (Numbers 33:41-43). The former of these places is thought by some to have derived its name from the Hebrew word zelem (image, or likeness), and to have been the place at which the likeness of the serpents which bit the Israelites was set up.

Numbers 21:10-13. In Oboth — Not immediately, but after two other stations, mentioned chap. 33. The valley of Zared — Or rather, by the brook of Zared, which ran into the Dead sea. On the other side — Or rather, on this side of Arnon, for so it now was to the Israelites, who had not yet passed over it. Between Moab and the Amorites — Though formerly it and the land beyond it belonged to Moab, yet afterward it had been taken from them by Sihon. This is added to reconcile two seemingly contrary commands of God; the one, that of not meddling with the land of the Moabites, (Deuteronomy 2:9,) the other, that of going over Arnon and taking possession of the land beyond it, (Deuteronomy 2:24,) because, saith he, it is not now the land of the Moabites, but of the Amorites.

21:10-20 We have here the removes of the children of Israel, till they came to the plains of Moab, from whence they passed over Jordan into Canaan. The end of their pilgrimage was near. They set forward. It were well if we did thus; and the nearer we come to heaven, were so much the more active and abundant in the work of the Lord. The wonderful success God granted to his people, is here spoken of, and, among the rest, their actions on the river Arnon, at Vaheb in Suphah, and other places on that river. In every stage of our lives, nay, in every step, we should notice what God has wrought for us; what he did at such a time, and what in such a place, ought to be distinctly remembered. God blessed his people with a supply of water. When we come to heaven, we shall remove to the well of life, the fountain of living waters. They received it with joy and thankfulness, which made the mercy doubly sweet. With joy must we draw water out of the wells of salvation, Isa 12:3. As the brazen serpent was a figure of Christ, who is lifted up for our cure, so is this well a figure of the Spirit, who is poured forth for our comfort, and from whom flow to us rivers of living waters, Joh 7:38,39. Does this well spring up in our souls? If so, we should take the comfort to ourselves, and give the glory to God. God promised to give water, but they must open the ground. God's favours must be expected in the use of such means as are within our power, but still the power is only of God.The earlier stations in this part of their journey were Zalmonah and Punon Numbers 33:41-42. Oboth was north of Punon, east of the northern part of Edom, and is pretty certainly the same as the present pilgrim halting-place el-Ahsa. Ije ("ruinous heaps") of Abarim, or Iim of Abarim, was so called to distinguish it from another Iim in southwestern Canaan Joshua 15:29. Abarim denotes generally the whole upland country on the east of the Jordan. The Greek equivalent of the name is Peraea. 10. the children of Israel set forward—along the eastern frontier of the Edomites, encamping in various stations. Not immediately, but after two other stations, mentioned Num 33.

And the children of Israel set forward,.... From Zalmonah, and came to Punon, which, according to the above writer, was twenty miles from it; though here indeed, some think, the brazen serpent was set up, here being, as before observed, brass mines to furnish with that metal:

and pitched in Oboth; which was twenty four miles from Punon, as says the same writer: the word signifies bottles; perhaps here the Israelites got water and filled their bottles, or, as others think, they filled them with the wine of Moab, and called the name of the place from thence; it is perhaps the same with the Eboda of Ptolemy (h), which he places in Arabia Petraea; and of which Pliny (i) also makes mention.

(h) Geograph. l. 5. c. 17. (i) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28.

And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth.
Verse 10. - The children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth. In the list of chapter 33, there occur two other stations, Zahnonah and Phunon, between Mount Hor and Oboth. Phunon may be the Pinou of Genesis 36:41, but it is a mere conjecture. All we can conclude with any certainty is that the Israelites passed round the southern end of the mountains of Edom by the Wady el Ithm, and then marched northwards along the eastern border of Edom by the route now followed between Mekba and Damascus. On this side the mountains are far less precipitous and defensible than on the other, and this circumstance must have abated the insolence of the Edomites. Moreover, they must now have seen enough of Israel to know that, while immensely formidable in number and discipline, he had no hostile designs against them. It is therefore not surprising to find from Deuteronomy 2:6 that on this side the mountaineers supplied Israel with bread and water, just as they supply the pilgrim caravans at the present day. That they exacted payment for what they supplied was perfectly reasonable: no one could expect a poor people to feed a nation of two million souls, however nearly related, for nothing. Oboth has been identified with the modern halting-place of el-Ahsa, on the pilgrim route above mentioned, on the ground of supposed similarity in the meaning of the names; but the true rendering of Oboth is doubtful (see on Leviticus 19:31), and, apart from that, any such similarity of meaning is too vague and slight a ground for any argument to be built upon. Numbers 21:10March of Israel round Edom and Moab, to the Heights of Pisgah in the Field of Moab (cf. Numbers 33:41-47). - Numbers 21:10. From the camp in the Arabah, which is not more particularly described, where the murmuring people were punished by fiery serpents, Israel removed to Oboth. According to the list of stations in Numbers 33:41., they went from Hor to Zalmonah, the situation of which has not been determined; for C. v. Raumer's conjecture (der Zug der Israeliten, p. 45), that it was the same place as the modern Maan, has no firm basis in the fact that Maan is a station of the Syrian pilgrim caravans. From Zalmonah they went to Phunon, and only then to Oboth. The name Phunon is no doubt the same as Phinon, a tribe-seat of the Edomitish Phylarch (Genesis 36:41); and according to Jerome (Onom. s. v. Fenon), it was "a little village in the desert, where copper was dug up by condemned criminals (see at Genesis 36:41), between Petra and Zoar." This statement suits very well, provided we imagine the situation of Phunon to have been not in a straight line between Petra and Zoar, but more to the east, between the mountains on the edge of the desert. For the Israelites unquestionably went from the southern end of the Arabah to the eastern side of Idumaea, through the Wady el Ithm (Getum), which opens into the Arabah from the east, a few hours to the north of Akaba and the ancient Ezion-geber. They had then gone round the mountains of Edom, and begun to "turn to the north" (Deuteronomy 2:3), so that they now proceeded farther northwards, on the eastern side of the mountains of Edom, "through the territory of the sons of Esau," no doubt by the same road which is taken in the present day by the caravans which go from Gaza to Maan, through the Ghor. "This runs upon a grassy ridge, forming the western border of the coast of Arabia, and the eastern border of the cultivated land, which stretches from the land of Edom to the sources of the Jordan, on the eastern side of the Ghor" (v. Raumer, Zug, p. 45). On the western side of their mountains the Edomites had refused permission to the Israelites to pass through their land (Numbers 20:18.), as the mountains of Seir terminate towards the Ghor (the Arabah) in steep and lofty precipices, and there are only two or three narrow wadys which intersect them from west to east; and of these the Wady Ghuweir is the only one which is practicable for an army, and even this could be held so securely by a moderate army, that no enemy could force its way into the heart of the country (see Leake in Burckhardt, pp. 21, 22; and Robinson, ii. p. 583). It was different on the eastern side, where the mountains slope off into a wide extent of table-land, which is only slightly elevated above the desert of Arabia. Here, on the weaker side of their frontier, the Edomites lost the heart to make any attack upon the Israelites, who would now have been able to requite their hostilities. But the Lord had commanded Israel not to make war upon the sons of Esau; but when passing through their territory, to purchase food and water from them for money (Deuteronomy 2:4-6). The Edomites submitted to the necessity, and endeavoured to take advantage of it, by selling provisions, "in the same way in which, at the present day, the caravan from Mecca is supplied with provisions by the inhabitants of the mountains along the pilgrim road" (Leake in Burckhardt, p. 24). The situation of Oboth cannot be determined.
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