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Numbers 21:16-18

Context

21:16 And from there they traveled 1  to Beer; 2  that is the well where the Lord spoke to Moses, “Gather the people and I will give them water.” 21:17 Then Israel sang 3  this song:

“Spring up, O well, sing to it!

21:18 The well which the princes 4  dug,

which the leaders of the people opened

with their scepters and their staffs.”

And from the wilderness they traveled to Mattanah;

1 tn The words “they traveled” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied here because of English style. The same phrase is supplied at the end of v. 18.

2 sn Isa 15:8 mentions a Moabite Beerelim, which Simons suggests is Wadi Ettemed.

3 tn After the adverb “then” the prefixed conjugation has the preterite force. For the archaic constructions, see D. N. Freedman, “Archaic Forms in Early Hebrew Poetry,” ZAW 72 (1960): 101-7. The poem shows all the marks of being ancient.

4 sn The brief song is supposed to be an old workers’ song, and so the mention of leaders and princes is unusual. Some think they are given credit because they directed where the workers were to dig. The scepter and staff might have served some symbolic or divining custom.



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