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Oxford Bible Atlas Contextualizes the stories and lands of the Bible through user-friendly maps and illustrations.

From Kadesh to Nebo

According to the biblical traditions, the Israelites journeyed from Kadesh to Mount Hor (whose location is unknown), where Aaron died, and they then defeated the king of Arad at Hormah (Num. 20: 22–21: 3 ). Thereafter, it is difficult to be clear what route is envisaged by those who recounted the traditions. A summary account of the route (Num. 33: 41–9 ) describes them as heading relatively directly for Moab, via Zalmonah, Punon, and Oboth. However, Numbers 21: 4 suggests a detour via the Re(e)d Sea, that is, probably Ezion‐geber and the Gulf of Aqaba (see Deut. 2: 8 ), and an avoidance of the land of Edom. They subsequently encamped in the Wadi Zered, and then crossed the River Arnon and continued on to the vicinity of Mount Pisgah (Num. 21: 10–20 ).

The biblical account suggests that, in their travels, the Israelites encountered hostility, in particular from two kings who seem to have become almost archetypal opponents—King Sihon of the Amorites, and King Og of Bashan (see, for example, Deut. 1: 4; Josh. 12: 2, 4; Ps. 135: 11; 136: 19–20 ). Sihon refused the Israelites permission to pass through his territory via the King's Highway (see ‘Main Roads’), but he was defeated in a battle at Jahaz and Israel captured his territory from the River Arnon to the River Jabbok, including Sihon's capital Heshbon (Num. 21: 21–6 ). Then the Israelites headed north towards Bashan, the kingdom of Og (who was defeated at Edrei, Num. 21: 33–5 ). They then returned to camp in the Plains of Moab, and it is in this context that the biblical account tells how Balak, the king of Moab, called upon Balaam to curse Israel but how Balaam uttered oracles on behalf of Israel's God (Num. 22–4 ).

From Kadesh to Nebo

Grapes on a vine. (See on ‘Main Crops’.)

view larger image

Sonia Halliday Photographs (Jane Taylor)

The tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half‐tribe of Manasseh are recorded as having chosen to remain to the east of the Jordan and to have been given the former territories of Sihon and Og (Num. 32: 33 ). The Gadites rebuilt Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, Atroth‐ shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, Beth‐nimrah, and Beth‐haran (Num. 32: 34–6 ). The Reubenites rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, Nebo, Baal‐meon, and Sibmah (Num. 32: 37–8 ). Deuteronomy 3: 16–17 suggests that Reuben and Gad occupied part of Gilead as well as territory further south between the Jabbok and the Arnon, with the Dead Sea and the Jordan valley as the western boundary. The remainder of Gilead, along with all Bashan including the region of Argob and the villages of Havvoth‐jair, became the possession of the half‐tribe of Manasseh (Num. 32: 39–41; Deut. 3: 13–14 ). Bezer in Reuben, Ramoth‐gilead in Gad, and Golan in Manasseh were designated cities of refuge (Deut. 4: 43 ).

Moses is credited with establishing the boundaries of the land of Canaan which the remainder of the Israelites were to occupy (Num. 34: 1–12 ). But the biblical account suggests that Moses did not enter that land. He is depicted as having climbed up from the Plains of Moab to ‘Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah’ from where he was able to view the whole of the land, summarized as including Gilead and as far as Dan, Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, Judah as far as the Mediterranean (the ‘Western Sea’), the Negeb, and the Valley of Jericho (that is, the Jordan valley) as far as Zoar (Deut. 34: 1–3 ).

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