So the Children of Israel have started complaining again: “There’s no water!” And Moses and Aaron get really annoyed. God tells them to speak to a big boulder to get water from it. Instead, they give it a whack.
Now it’s God’s turn to be angry. “Since both of you rebelled against my orders at the Bitter Waters (Meriba), take Aaron, strip him of his fancy garments and bring him up on the top of the hill.”
So they do. Aaron gives his clothes to his son Eliezer, and then Aaron dies.
Everyone mourns for Aaron for thirty days.
The people march some more. By now, they’re east of Israel, around where Jordan is now.
Guess what. They start complaining again. “There is no food and no water and our throats loathe the miserable food.” OK, says God, and sends burning snakes that bite people and cause a lot of deaths.
“We have sinned!” cry the people.
So God tells Moses to make a snake of copper and put it on a pole. Sure enough, anyone who has been bitten and who looks at this copper snake lives.
The people go back to marching. They wander from Ovot to Arnon, from Vahev to Arnon, from Mattana to Haliel and from Nahliel to Bamot.
Then they get near Amor. They send messengers to Sihon, the king of Amor, to let them pass. “We’ll stick to the road. We won’t drink any of your well water.” But Sihon says no and gathers all his fighting people.
Long story short, the Israelites beat Sihon in battle and take all the Amorite lands and settle there.
Next up is Og, king of Bashan, also with all his fighting people with him. God tells Moses: “Don’t be afraid of him for into your hand I give him and all his people and his land.” So the people of Israel kill all the fighting people of Bashan and move in.
Food for Thought:
The people of Israel complained of poor food and water. Is killing them with poisonous snakes a fair punishment?