221 – Numbers 21 – Bashan

Moses and the Israelites are fast approaching the end of their forty years of wandering through the wilderness. There are a few more significant battles to be won before they cross over. The next passage for us to consider is Numbers 21:33-35.

33 And they turned and went up by the way to Bashan. So Og king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. 

34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have delivered him into your hand, with all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.” 

35 So they defeated him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left him; and they took possession of his land.


Because the Bible is no mere story, but rather an actual historical record, we are provided a plethora of geographical data that helps establish the setting. We need to remind ourselves the details are not only important in the verse being considered, but oftentimes becomes important in later scriptural passages. This will become clear in a few moments. 

You’ll notice I’ve bolded a single word in the above three verses. Let’s consider the word “Bashan” and see how far we get in the text. A search for the word in the New King James Version yields 60 times in 53 verses. The Lexham Bible Dictionary informs us that, “Bashan was one of King Solomon’s 12 administrative districts (1 Kgs 4:13, 19). Under the divided kingdom, Bashan was part of the northern kingdom of Israel.

Interestingly, Amos prophesies against “cows of Bashan”.

Amos 4:1

1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria,

Who oppress the poor,

Who crush the needy,

Who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink!”


We talked about this when I went through the book of Amos, but “cows of Bashan” is referring to the affluent, abusive women of the Northern Kingdom. You can read the sobering prophecy against these women in Amos chapter 4.

Later in Numbers, we discover Moses gave Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe of Manasseh the land of Bashan, which was fertile land tailor-made for raising cattle (cows, bulls, and more).

Numbers 32:33

33 So Moses gave to the children of Gad, to the children of Reuben, and to half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land with its cities within the borders, the cities of the surrounding country. 


Are you thinking, “too much detail about Bashan! Who cares”? Let me give you just one more detail to consider before you reach that conclusion.

Are you aware that Psalm 22 is a very detailed prophecy about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ about seven hundred years before He was even born? Look at the very first verse.

Psalm 22:1

1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

Why are You so far from helping Me,

And from the words of My groaning?


Sounds familiar right?


Matthew 27:46

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”


We could go through all of Psalm 22 and point out all of its prophetic fulfillment in the New Testament, but then we’d be studying Psalm 22, and not Numbers 21. I think Psalm 22:1 establishes the undeniable truth that it’s talking about Jesus on the cross, told in the first person.

But look at this interesting, and most often overlooked detail in this chilling prophecy. 

Psalm 22:12-13

12 Many bulls have surrounded Me;

Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.

13 They gape at Me with their mouths,

Like a raging and roaring lion.


Look at that! Bulls of Bashan, not the cows of Amos chapter four. But to what is Jesus referring in this first-person prophetic account when He mentions the Bulls of Bashan?

To answer the question we once again consult the Lexham Bible Dictionary:

Graeco-Roman Period

Bashan was divided into four districts during the Graeco-Roman period: Gaolonitis or Jaulon (modern-day Golan Heights); Auranitis, the Hauran; Argob or Trachonitis (modern-day el-Leja); and Batanaea (modern-day Ard-el-Bathanyeh). The region was referred to as Batanaea in the Roman world, which preserves the ancient name Bashan. The region of Batanaea is sandwiched between Gaolonitis in the west and Jeb el-Druze in the east. The Roman emperor Augustus gave this entire region to Herod, and it remained under the rule of Herod’s heirs until about ad 100.


Do you see what I meant when I said above, “We need to remind ourselves the details are not only important in the verse being considered but oftentimes becomes important in later scriptural passages”?

I am constantly amazed at the incredible detail woven all throughout the fabric of the Word of God. You simply can’t make this stuff up!

Simply put, God’s word as recorded in the Holy Bible is true! It is reliable and dependable.  Do you believe it? Do you actively put your trust in it?

God is a God of incredible detail and is worthy of all praise, worship, and adoration!

All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

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