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Numbers 21:14-15

Context
21:14 This is why it is said in the Book of the Wars of the Lord,

“Waheb in Suphah 1  and the wadis,

the Arnon 21:15 and the slope of the valleys 2 

that extends to the dwelling of Ar, 3 

and falls off at the border of Moab.”

1 tc The ancient versions show a wide variation here: Smr has “Waheb on the Sea of Reeds,” the Greek version has “he has set Zoob on fire and the torrents of Arnon.” Several modern versions treat the first line literally, taking the two main words as place names: Waheb and Suphah. This seems most likely, but then there would then be no subject or verb. One would need something like “the Israelites marched through.” The KJV, following the Vulgate, made the first word a verb and read the second as “Red Sea” – “what he did in the Red Sea.” But subject of the passage is the terrain. D. L. Christensen proposed emending the first part from אֶת וָהֵב (’et vahev) to אַתָּה יְהוָה (’attah yehvah, “the Lord came”). But this is subjective. See his article “Num 21:14-15 and the Book of the Wars of Yahweh,” CBQ 36 (1974): 359-60.

2 tc There are many variations in this text, but the MT reading of something like “the descent of the torrents/valleys” is preferable, since it is describing the topography.

3 sn The place is unknown; it is apparently an important city in the region.



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