Chapter twenty-one opens with a sad account revealing that the Canaanites were not interested in helping Israel any more than Edom was. As Israel tried another route into the land, they were attacked and some of them were taken prisoner (Numbers 21:1-3). Crying out to God, they asked for complete revenge, which God allowed. Choosing yet another route, they attempted to go around Edom, but it was much longer than they anticipated, and they began complaining again (Numbers 21:4-9). This time, God sent “poisonous snakes” to attack them. When the people cried out to God, he had Moses fashion a replica of one of those serpents out of bronze and hung it in the middle of the camp. Anyone who looked to the serpent in faith was healed. Almost 1,500 years later Jesus used this as an example of the requirement to look at him in faith for eternal life, because he hung on a cross as well (John 3:14-15).
Numbers 21:10-20 lists some of the places they stopped along the way to the east side of the Jordan, where they would eventually enter the land. Once again, when they tried to be good neighbors, asking permission to travel through the Amorites’ land, they were refused (Numbers 21:21-35). Like the other Canaanites, King Sihon attacked Israel and lost. Israel took over the entire Amorite land and stayed there for a while. When it was time to move again, King Og of Bashan attacked them and was annihilated.