221 – Numbers 21 – Jazer
When reading the Bible it is always a good idea to slow down and notice the details, especially the seemingly unimportant ones. I feel like I’m always telling you this, and yet I almost ignored my own advice. I just about read right over Numbers 21:31-32. Let’s take a look and you’ll see why it would be so easy to just barrel right through these two verses on our journey to the “good stuff”.
31 Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites.
32 Then Moses sent to spy out Jazer; and they took its villages and drove out the Amorites who were there.
These two verses seem pretty concise. No deep theological truths to be gleaned. Nothing for the various religious factions to argue about. And probably nothing for a liberal theologian to contest. However, that does not mean there is nothing in these two verses for us to observe. I find I must constantly remind myself of my Pastor’s words, “there are no throw-away words (or verses) in the Bible.”
So let’s see what we can see. Of course the first word “thus” is a conjunction connecting verse 31 to the previous verse or verses. I’ll let you look them up yourself.
The next thing I observed has to do with “…dwelt in the land of the Amorites.” portion of verse 31. Let’s consider both the words “dwelt” and “Amorites” together. If you peruse all of chapter twenty-one you’ll notice that the whole chapter is devoted to driving out the different people groups (kings and their subjects) of the Amorites. I found the word “dwelt” particularly interesting because verses 10 through 13 describe that Israel camped in various locations. It’s not until you drop down to verse 25 that you’ll notice that Israel dwelt. Dwelt is repeated in verse 31.
Is there significance in the two different words? Well, the first thing we need to do is determine whether or not the same Hebrew word is being used with the translators just deciding to use different English words.
Every instance of the word camped in chapter twenty-one is from the Hebrew verb חנה ḥnh with the glosses, decline; encamp; lay siege.
Every instance of the word dwelt in chapter twenty-one is from the Hebrew verb ישׁב yšb with the glosses (range of possible meanings), sit, sit down, remain sitting; dwell; be inhabited; marry.
So there is a different Hebrew word being used for the words camped and dwelt. Comparing the glosses, it seems camped is communicating the temporary stopping location of the Israelites while they were at war driving out the various Amorites. Dwelt seems to be communicating a longer duration of occupation, which is directly related to an absence of Israel’s enemies. They still aren’t done moving as a nation led by Yahweh God, but they are getting a taste of occupancy.
In verse 32 we notice that Moses sent spies into a region or territory called Jazer, then conquered it. How do we know that Jazer is not a city? Context of course. Notice that, “…Jazer; and they took its villages…” makes it clear there were multiple cities or villages composing Jazer.
You may be thinking, “ok, big deal, still nothing super interesting about Jazer!”
Maybe not in this passage, but compiling what we learn after a quick search for the word “Jazer” we discover something interesting. In Numbers 32, starting in verse 1 we discover that Jazer and the land of Gilead, was prime real estate for raising cattle. Both the tribes of Reuben and Gad had an abundance of livestock and asked Moses for the land instead of an inheritance in the promised land. In Joshua 21 we learn that Jazer’s cities become Levitical cities.
Jazer is mentioned 13 times in the Bible. That fact alone makes it worthy of consideration.
Yahweh God is certainly a God of detail. His narrative we refer to as the Holy Bible is full of historical, cultural, geographical, and theological specifics used to communicate His message to us.
I know that parts of God’s word are exciting, and other parts not so much, but it is all worthy of consideration and contemplation.
Yahweh inspired His chosen servants to pen His Holy word. He had many, many more servants diligently copy and preserve His written message over multiple millennia. He has raised up scholars, preachers, teachers, evangelists, and others who can correctly interpret and faithfully proclaim His written word.
God loves His word. He not only authored it, but He also watches over it. Consider Isaiah 55:11.
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
If Yahweh’s word is this important to Him, shouldn’t it be important to us as well?
If you don’t read it, begin to read it.
If you don’t study it, start. If you don’t know how to study it, learn.
You can’t claim to spend time with God and know Him while ignoring His Holy word.
I promise you the more time you spend exposed to God’s word the Bible, the more you will fall in love with it!
For too many Christians their default setting is listening to online sermons allowing others to study and present what they learn. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with that but if you never study the word of God for yourself you will never experience the deep joy associated with the experience. There is intimate fellowship with Yahweh Himself over the study of His Holy Book.
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.