Pastoral Commentary for Numbers 20:22-21:35
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Aaron's death outside of the Promised Land was also a result of his own and Moses' disobedience at Meribah. The role of High Priest was entrusted to Aaron's son Eleazar, and Aaron died and was buried on Mt. Hor, where there is still a shrine to his tomb, to this day. Despite a victory over Canaanite raiders, the Israelites grew impatient and grumbled against the Lord. God sent poisonous snakes into the camp so that many were bitten and died. Once again they asked Moses to intercede for them. God commanded Moses to make an image of a snake out of bronze and place it on a pole, so that any who were bitten and looked to the serpent would be healed. Thus, God answered the people's prayer but in a manner that required faith, rather than by simply removing the poisonous snakes. The modern symbol for medicine comes from this account. Jesus predicted his own crucifixion saying, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life" (John 3:14-15). The constant need for a supply of water led the people to sing a song about the well God provided for them at Beer. God continued to fulfill His promise to His people by giving them the lands of the Amorites, whose King Sihon refused to let them pass through the land. This victory was followed quickly by victory over Og the King of Bashan north of the land of the Amorites. Thus Israel came into possession of all of the Transjordan east of the Jordan River.