Numbers 21:12
From there they removed, and pitched in the valley of Zared.
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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 valley of Zared - Rather, the brook or watercourse of Zared "the willow." It is probably the present Wady Ain Franjy. 12. pitched in the valley—literally, the "woody brook-valley" of Zared (De 2:13; Isa 15:7; Am 6:14). This torrent rises among the mountains to the east of Moab, and flowing west, empties itself into the Dead Sea. Ije-Abarim is supposed to have been its ford [Calmet]. Or rather, by the torrent or brook of Zared, as we render it, Deu 2:13; which ran into the Dead Sea, and from which the valley also might be so called. From thence they removed, and pitched in the valley of Zered. Or the brook Zered, as in Deuteronomy 13:14 that is near it: this seems to be the same station with Dibongad, Numbers 33:45, and which, according to the above writer, was sixteen miles from Ijeabarim. From thence they removed, and pitched in the valley of Zared.
12. From thence they journeyed] The last place mentioned in J E was ‘the way to the Red Sea’ (Numbers 21:4); but it is probable that some stages in the journey have been lost, and that ‘thence’ originally referred to a distinct town or locality.

the wady of Zered] The Heb. naḥal denotes both a small torrent and the depression through which it flows; the German ‘Bachtal’ expresses it well.

The name Zered has not been identified; if, however, the compiler was sufficiently acquainted with the geography of the district to place the names Oboth and Iye-abarim (from P ) in their right position, Zered must lie to the north of the latter town, and may be either the Seil Sa‘îdeh which flows into the Arnon from the S.E., or the Seil Lejjûn a smaller tributary of the Seil Sa‘îdeh or else the Wady-el-Kerak (or the upper course of it named Wady-el-Franji) which runs north-west past Kerak into the Dead Sea.

Numbers 21:12-20. J E

The Israelites arrived at a spot on the S.E. border of Moab, and then, having travelled northwards along its eastern boundary, penetrated westward till they reached the cliffs which fall to the Dead Sea. Notice that the formula used in the itinerary has changed; in Numbers 21:10-11 it is ‘and they journeyed from —— and encamped in ——,’ as throughout ch. 33; but here it is ‘from thence they journeyed, and encamped in ——,’ or some shorter expression.

On the whole of this section see G. A. Smith, Hist. Geogr. 557–66, and his article ‘Moab’ in Enc. Bibl. [Note: nc. Bibl. Encyclopaedia Biblica.]

Verse 12. - Pitched in the valley of Zared. Rather, "in the brook of Zered." בְנַחַל זֶרֶד Perhaps the upper part of the Wady Kerek, which flows westwards into the Salt Sea (see on Deuteronomy 2:13). As they went along this road the people became impatient ("the soul of the people was much discouraged," see Exodus 6:9), and they began once more to murmur against God and Moses, because they had neither bread nor water (cf. Numbers 20:4.), and were tired of the loose, i.e., poor, food of manna (קלקל from קלל). The low-lying plain of the Arabah, which runs between steep mountain walls from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, would be most likely to furnish the Israelites with very little food, except the manna which God gave them; for although it is not altogether destitute of vegetation, especially at the mouths of the wadys and winter torrents from the hills, yet on the whole it is a horrible desert, with a loose sandy soil, and drifts of granite and other stones, where terrible sand-storms sometimes arise from the neighbourhood of the Red Sea (see v. Schubert, R. ii. pp. 396ff., and Ritter, Erdk. xiv. pp. 1013ff.); and the want of food might very frequently be accompanied by the absence of drinkable water. The people rebelled in consequence, and were punished by the Lord with fiery serpents, the bite of which caused many to die. שׂרפים נחשׁים, lit., burning snakes, so called from their burning, i.e., inflammatory bite, which filled with heat and poison, just as many of the snakes were called by the Greeks, e.g., the ́ ͂, and καύσωνες (Dioscor. vii. 13: Aelian. nat. anim. vi. 51), not from the skin of these snakes with fiery red spots, which are frequently found in the Arabah, and are very poisonous.

(Note: This is the account given by v. Schubert, R. ii. p. 406: "In the afternoon they brought us a very mottled snake of a large size, marked with fiery red spots and wavy stripes, which belonged to the most poisonous species, as the formation of its teeth clearly showed. According to the assertion of the Bedouins, these snakes, which they greatly dreaded, were very common in that neighbourhood.")

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