Numbers 21:27
Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared:
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(27-30) Come into Heshbon.—These verses appear to commemorate first the victory of the Amorites over the Moabites, and then that of the Israelites over the Amorites. They may be rendered thus:—

Come ye to Heshbon!

Let the city of Sihon be built up and restored!

For a fire went out from Heshbon—

A flame from the city of Sihon:

It devoured Ar (or, the city) of Moab—

The lords of the high places of Arnon.

Woe to thee, Moab!

Thou art perished, O people of Chemosh:

He (i.e., Chemosh) gave up his sons as fugitives,

And his daughters into captivity,

Unto Sihon, the King of the Amorites.

We cast them down;

Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon:

Yea, we laid them waste even unto Nophah,

Which (reacheth) even unto Medcba.”

Or, if we read esh (fire) instead of asher (which), a reading which derives some support from the Masoretic point over the last letter and from the context (Numbers 21:28), as well as from the LXX., the last words may be rendered, “With fire, even unto Medeba.”

The Targum understands by “the lords of the high places of Arnon” the priests and worshippers in the temples and at the altars of the idols in Moab. Medeba, now Medaba, was situated at the south of Heshbon. The position of Nophah is unknown. It has been supposed that it may be the same as Nebo, which is mentioned in connection with Dibon and Medeba in Isaiah 15:2, or with Arneibah, which lies to the east of Medeba.

Numbers 21:27. In proverbs — The poets or other ingenious persons of the Amorites or Canaanites, who made this following song over the vanquished Moabites, which is here brought in as a proof that this was now Sihon’s land, and as an evidence of the just judgment of God in spoiling the spoilers, and subduing those who insulted over their conquered enemies. Come into Heshbon — These are the words either of Sihon speaking to his people, or of the people exhorting one another to come and possess the city which they had taken. Of Sihon — That which once was the royal city of the king of Moab, but now is the city of Sihon.

21:21-35 Sihon went with his forces against Israel, out of his own borders, without provocation, and so ran upon his own ruin. The enemies of God's church often perish by the counsels they think most wisely taken. Og, king of Bashan, instead of being warned by the fate of his neighbours, to make peace with Israel, makes war with them, which proves in like manner his destruction. Wicked men do their utmost to secure themselves and their possessions against the judgments of God; but all in vain, when the day comes on which they must fall. God gave Israel success, while Moses was with them, that he might see the beginning of the glorious work, though he must not live to see it finished. This was, in comparison, but as the day of small things, yet it was an earnest of great things. We must prepare for fresh conflicts and enemies. We must make no peace or truce with the powers of darkness, nor even treat with them; nor should we expect any pause in our contest. But, trusting in God, and obeying his commands, we shall be more than conquerors over every enemy.They that speak in proverbs - The original word is almost equivalent to "the poets." The word supplies the title of the Book of Proverbs itself; and is used of the parable proper in Ezekiel 17:2; of the prophecies of Balsam in Numbers 23:7-10; Numbers 24:3-9; etc.; and of a song of triumph over Babylon in Isaiah 14:4. 27-30. Wherefore they that speak in proverbs—Here is given an extract from an Amorite song exultingly anticipating an extension of their conquests to Arnon. The quotation from the poem of the Amorite bard ends at Nu 21:28. The two following verses appear to be the strains in which the Israelites expose the impotence of the usurpers. That speak in proverbs; the poets, or other ingenious persons, to wit, of the Amorites or Canaanites, who made this following song of triumph over the vanquished Moabites; which is here brought in partly as a proof that this was now Sihon’s land, and partly as an evidence of the just judgment of God in spoiling the spoilers, and subduing these who insulted over their conquered enemies.

Come into Heshbon: these are the words either of Sihon speaking thus to his people, or of the people exhorting one another to come and possess and repair the city which they had taken.

The city of Sihon; that which once was the royal city of the king of Moab, but now is the city of Sihon.

Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say,.... The historical writers of those times, among the Amorites, who were usually poets, and wrote the history of the wars between the Moabites and Amorites in verse; as Homer among the Greeks wrote the wars of Troy; and the compositions of those ancient bards were short and compendious, and wrapped up in proverbial sayings, and enigmatical and figurative expressions, that they might be the better retained in memory, and therefore were called proverbialists. Jarchi says, they were Balaam and Beor that took up their parables, and said:

come into Heshbon; which words are the beginning of the song, and in which the Amorites are represented as inviting Sihon, and his nobles, to enter Heshbon, which he had taken, and make it his royal seat; or as encouraging one another to go into it and repair it, having suffered much at the taking of it, which seems to be confirmed by what follows:

let the city of Sihon be built and prepared; that is, let us set about rebuilding of the city, and let us fit it up for Sihon our king, and let it be called his city, and made the place of his residence, his palace, and where his court may be kept.

Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared:
27. they that speak in proverbs say] they that recite ballads say. The Heb. mâshâl was ‘any suggestive saying that implied more than it actually said.’ This might be a ‘proverb,’ i.e. a sententious or pithy remark containing a proposition which was widely applicable in human life, or a didactic or authoritative utterance, as those of Balaam (chs. 23 f.), or a short song or ode with some special characteristic either in its contents or in its artistic construction, such as a dirge, a taunt-song over a fallen foe, or more generally a ballad. The present song is a ballad, which, if the above interpretation is correct, contains a taunt.

The tense of the verb ‘say’ has a frequentative force, implying that the poem was frequently recited by the ballad-singers, and that the writer knew it not from any book but by hearing it from their lips.

Let the city of Sihon] Poetical parallelism; Heshbon is the city of Sihon.

Verse 27. - They that speak in proverbs. הַמָּשְׁלִים. Septuagint, οἰ αἰνιγματισταί. A class of persons well marked among the Hebrews, as perhaps in all ancient countries. It was their gift, and almost their profession, to express in the sententious, antistrophic poetry of the age such thoughts or such facts as took hold of men's minds. At a time when there was little difference between poetry and rhetoric, and when the distinction was hardly drawn between the inventive faculty of man and the Divine afflatus, it is not surprising to find the word mashal applied to the rhapsody of Balsam (Numbers 23:7), to the "taunting song" of Isaiah (Isaiah 14:4), to the "riddle" of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:2), as well as to the collection of earthly and heavenly wisdom in the Book of Proverbs. That which follows is a taunting song, most like to the one cited from Isaiah, the archaic character of which is marked by its strongly antithetic form and abrupt transitions, as well as by the peculiarity of some of the words. Come to Heshbon. This may be ironically addressed to the Amorites, lately so victorious, now so overthrown; or, possibly, it may be intended to express the jubilation of the Amorites themselves in the day of their pride. Numbers 21:27The glorious conquest and destruction of the capital of the powerful king of the Amorites, in the might of the Lord their God, inspired certain composers of proverbs (משׁלים denom. from משׁל) to write songs in commemoration of the victory. Three strophes are given from a song of this kind, and introduced with the words "therefore,' sc., because Heshbon had fallen in this manner, "the composers of proverbs say." The first strophe (Numbers 21:27 and Numbers 21:28) runs thus: "Come to Heshbon: Built and restored be the city of Sihon! For fire went out of Heshbon; flames from the city of Sihon. It devoured Ar Moab, the lords of the heights of Arnon." The summons to come to Heshbon and build this ruined city up again, was not addressed to the Israelites, but to the conquered Amorites, and is to be interpreted as ironical (F. v. Meyer; Ewald, Gesch. ii. pp. 267, 268): "Come to Heshbon, ye victorious Amorites, and build your royal city up again, which we have laid in ruins! A fire has gone out of it, and burned up Ar Moab, and the lords of the heights of the Arnon." The reference is to the war-fire, which the victorious Amorites kindled from Heshbon in the land of Moab under the former king of Moab; that is to say, the war in which they subjugated Ar Moab and the possessors of the heights of Arnon. Ar Moab (see at Numbers 21:15) appears to have been formerly the capital of all Moabitis, or at least of that portion of it which was situated upon the northern side of the Arnon; and the prominence given to it in Deuteronomy 2:9, Deuteronomy 2:18, Deuteronomy 2:29, is in harmony with this. The heights of Arnon are mentioned as the limits to which Sihon had carried his victorious supremacy over Moab. The "lords" of these heights are the Moabites.
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