BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 5: Numbers 21:10-35

Summary of passage:  We follow the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land.  They reached the land of the Amorites and their king, Sihon, would not let Israel pass through.  They fought and Israel occupied the land of the Amorites.  Another king, Og, marched out against the Israelites as well but God said to Moses do not be afraid for I have already handed them over to you.  So the Israelites conquered them and took their land as well.


9a)  The Israelites turned away from the Edomites.  Here, Israel chose to fight and they were victorious.

[In Deuteronomy 2:30 we discover another reason for the engagement:  The Lord made Sihon’s spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate.  We also see in Deuteronomy 2 that God told the Israelites to engage Sihon in battle in order for other nations to begin to fear you and tremble before you.  God wanted the Israelites to possess the land and plunder the town.]

b)  It gave them a place to stay and rest on their way to the Promised Land.  The news of the defeat of the Amorites would spread to other nations and they would begin to fear the Israelites.  And it boosted their morale–what the Israelites desperately needed.  It also was a useful distraction that would leave them no time to grumble.

9c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I haven’t had a spiritual victory in my life this week.

10a)  They may not have wanted 2 million people traipsing through their backyards.  They may be warring peoples who saw an opportunity to take riches and slaves from the Israelites.  They may have been afraid of being conquered so they struck first.  And in Deuteronomy 2 we see God’s hand as he hardened the heart of Sihon in order to hand him over to Israel.  Hence, God was the one deciding who Israel would fight and not fight.

b)  In my humble opinion, this is an extrapolation that does not make much sense especially in light of Deuteronomy 2 where we see God’s hand in these wars.  Comparing 2 million refugees if you will to individuals is completely different.  We see stubbornness in Deuteronomy 2 and an unwillingness to be magnanimous in life.  We see selfishness.  We see greed.  We see man’s nature and man’s sin.  Nothing has changed today as much as we tell ourselves it has.  Every war has evil and sin behind it as does every evil deed.  And there is no other way around it.

11a)  “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land.  Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Again, another poor extrapolation.  In Numbers, the Israelites are facing death and so must defend themselves in a life and death situation.  So God says to kill them all.  The only thing I can think of here is to pray first and see what God says.  If you are facing a physical attack, obviously fight back.  If your character is being attacked, I would say the same–with God’s guidance.  Again, too open-ended and vague here to get a proper response.

In response to what we learn in Deuteronomy 2, I’d ask God, “God, what are you trying to teach me here through this person’s attack?  How are you looking to grow me?”  It seems God had a mighty hand in Sihon’s heart as he does in all believers’ and unbelievers’ hearts.  Everything is for a reason–one we normally cannot see.  So ask Him for guidance.  To see.  To learn.  To grow.

Conclusions:  Questions such as 9c make me wonder:  am I supposed to have a spiritual victory in my life?  What if I haven’t?  Is there something wrong with me?  Am I not doing enough for God if I haven’t had a spiritual battle this week?  Again, another open-ended question with no answer for me.  Too big to narrow it down to anything of substance and in this case a question that makes me feel inadequate–which I don’t like nor appreciate.  It’s a small part, but it’s there.

This lesson is driving me nuts and I’m sure you all will comment on how I shouldn’t say anything negative about BSF or their questions.  But that’s not me.  I tell it how I feel and to me this lesson was horrible–the worst in recent memory.  I almost want to skip lecture because of it!  5 out of 21 questions are of a personal nature (that’s 24%!) all of which I thought unnecessary and too broad.  A waste of time, effort, and space.

Yet, at the same time, I feel bad for saying how horrible this lesson was in my opinion because I’m not supposed to say such things and feel like I’m complaining.

For me, I would much rather have spent only a day or two on this chapter and moved on so I can digest the last 10 chapters of Numbers and the 1st 26 chapters of Deuteronomy in a few short weeks.  Furthermore, I wish the parallel chapters in Deuteronomy would have been assigned for us to read instead of re-reading them in the next few weeks.  This added much to my understanding here as more details are recorded.

Maybe I’m just missing the whole point here so enlightenment by you all would be most welcome.

End Notes:  The Book of the Wars is lost to us as are several other books mentioned in the Bible.

We see God strengthening the Israelites here, giving them opponents to bolster their faith and belief.  What a merciful God we have!

Scholars say the poetry quoted here is to show how cultured the peoples were who were conquered, adding to Israel’s victory.

This land conquered later becomes part of Israel, land given to Gad and Manasseh.

We end Chapter 21 on a positive note for once.  However, as we shall see, the Israelites still have an uphill battle in their quest for the Promised Land.

Cute Map of Exodus:

Another Version showing Iye Abarim:

16 thoughts on “BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 5: Numbers 21:10-35

  1. I think you are correct in questioning BSF from the inside perfectly appropriate to question what is that is what the prophets did. On another note I think about these verses as being lessons in having faith in god’s love and guidance and we will receive the gift of our decisions and actions if our faith waivers and we make our own choices.(grumble) we are on our own. What we decide and do matters that is our future.


  2. I think AtoZ is “right on” in making her comments regarding the fact that BSF could have planned the entire lesson 23 more carefully! In Lesson 22 BSF covers one chapter. Also in this lesson 23 only one chapter is covered. I fast forwarded on the BSF web site to future lesson and questions and discovered it looked like this: Lesson 25: Numbers 26-36!! Lesson 26: Deut,: 1-26!! Lesson 27: Deut 27-30. Then the last 3 lessons covers Deut 31-34.

    You can arrive at your own conclusions, but it appears like the second half of the study of Moses is like a whirlwind, and looks weaker in comparison to the strong first semester of the study. Most of us appreciate the hard work BSF does to give us excellent bible studies as the survey done by Atoz in Jan. 23 showed 30 positive comments! But constructive ways to improve BSF on the AtoZ site of Jan. 30 revealed 50 comments on how to improve BSF. It is fairly obvious that this study for the second half was not planned nearly as well, and the number of personal questions that to me also are “filler” questions has jumped to almost 25%. Maybe trying to cover 4 big chapters (Exodus; Leviticus: Numbers; and Deut.) got exhausting!

    We all have bad weeks and maybe AtoZ is having one as she states “this lesson is driving her nuts.” However, I would cut her some slack as my preview of future lessons shows: “It don’t get any better!” On top of that, our class has had some snow days, and we have had to eliminate certain lessons and press on. This obviously is not a fault of BSF. However, in comparison to the many previous excellent studies over the past many years, this study has seemed to plateau since the Christmas break. It appears to me that BSF just wants to wind it down quickly over the next 6 weeks and then maybe get ready for a super Revelation study next year!


  3. Rarely do I leave a comment but this time, I’m moved to. Momm…you owe nothing to anyone. People come to your blog as “guests” and if they disagree with your responses or opinions (positive or negative) they can “X” on out! This is not the platform for judgement.

    I visit your blog sometimes to see your comments of the study matter because I share the same sentiment. I want to see if I’m being too harsh. BSF has gone through a proven method of study and spent a lot of CONTRIBUTED monies to produce the studies. But when they changed the format 2 years ago, the “depth” of study is not there. It has gotten to personal. I understand they want the “personal” aspect to help you grow spiritually but achieve the same effect by forcing us to dig deeper…not about self…but WORD. This is God’s word dictated to Moses and BSF is treating it like a story.

    I saw a comment left on the 1st day that I felt was a personal attack because the visitor wanted you to censor your opinion. Your blog, your opinion! “Driving you nuts” is no different than Israel’s exaggeration of wanting to die. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for you to put yourself out there daily & be attacked. I think you do so much more good because you are honest and not afraid to voice your opinion.

    This year has been disappointing but it may be because they are trying to cover too much material. But I can tell you this…we need to examine, investigate & question otherwise we learn NOTHING.


  4. I appreciate your comments. I came back to BSF this year so that I could get into Revelation in the Fall. I am VERY disappointed in what has happened to this wonderful Bible study, BSF. It has been watered down so much since I was in several years ago. The questions are often meaningless and repetitious with no “meat” at all. You were generous to say that there were only 5 personal questions. I circled the ones that were either personal or ‘what do you think’ and I came up with 12 of the 21 questions falling in that category. That doesn’t seem right to me. So we get a bunch of “opinions” but are missing so much more that could be Bible based and not human based. I have struggled with this study all year. And, yes, I may have a wrong attitude; but I don’t believe we are to follow blindly and I don’t believe we are to continually make our own judgments concerning God’s word. I’m almost fearful for how they are going to handle Revelation. And, yes, again, I will have the option to drop out if I disagree.


    1. You should have kept your lessons from previous years and you would see that the questions are almost identical. Repetition is a great teacher – people learn through repetition. How many times did God have to teach the Israelites to listen to Him, to obey Him, to trust Him. We are no different. How many times does God repeat these truths in the Bible? We are all on different steps of the ladder and the meaningless questions might just be the first time another person has ever pondered these truths.


  5. The point is to study God’s Word and learn to APPLY it to our lives. The personal questions have a purpose and it is to learn to apply what we are learning to our lives today. Yes this can be hard and leaves a lot of people unable to answer. But that is when you have to ask the Holy Spirito help you and remind you of what God has done. Just learning the Word is not enough we have to learn to apply it. That is how spiritual growth takes place.


  6. I totally agree with your frustrations regarding covering huge amounts of material some weeks and only one chapter the next. Imagine being a group leader with a new Christian and being slammed with ten or more chapters in the Old Testament and trying to mentor and encourage her to not give up!

    On another note, my bff and I met as leaders years ago and we’ve privately grumped about the watering down and what have you. Well, y’all will find this funny but she KEPT all her old lessons from Life of Moses. She was NOT going to do it again because she said the entire year was “We’re going to the Promised Land” and then, they never crossed the Jordan River and she couldn’t do that again. Well, I shamed her into doing it again and so one night, we were on the phone and I was whining about homiletics and a billion chapters to left to do and she was commiserating with me and remembered she had the old lessons stashed. She got them and guess what? Other than not calling them challenge questions anymore, there is not a whole lot of difference. Every week I read the new questions and she reads the old and I doubt any of you would even notice other than the missing CHALLENGE word and we have more clues and hints with the addition of suggested Scripture to use on the former challenge questions for which I’m grateful since I’ve got so many people NEW to any kind of Bible study this year. So…as much as some of us like to wallow privately in our own little muddy holes (I am the queen of mud) it really hasn’t changed as much as we imagined. The format is different on the notes but the Scripture references are still there…just at the end. My friend hates them. I like them. Makes my eyes hurt less.

    Oh, and the crazy weeks with huge amounts of reading versus the one chapter weeks…guess what? Even with the going from 32 weeks to 30…we haven’t found any differences since we started comparing the wording and numbering of questions! I think we started in mid January so can’t speak for last semester.

    One more not related thing…I saw Chapter 20 in a positive light and like our entire leaders circle was all doom and gloom and wasn’t it awful. Thank goodness for my glass is overflowing group of women I have this year who were like me…Miriam got to LIVE all those extra years in the wilderness/desert WITH HER FAMILY…everyone already KNEW that they wouldn’t get to cross over into the Promised Land because God had already told Moses…yes, he and Aaron sinned by not giving God the glory for the ABUNDANT WATER…yes, they fussed and scolded the Israelites for their endless complaining about being thirsty (Are we there yet? I’m thirsty! It was SO MUCH BETTER in EGYPT because the food was way better and tasty!)…yes, it implies Moses and Aaron got angry and complained about SERVING GOD’s CHOSEN PEOPLE…Do we HAVE to bring the water TO YOU?….yes, Moses raised his hand, took the staff and struck the rock twice (my husband said…if God didn’t want Moses to hit the rock…why did he instruct him to take it…it’s what he did the last time…and I was like…’cause it was like the Drum Major’s Baton/Mace….to make sure everyone could SEE)…and despite their whining, complaining, delusional sins….GOD STILL POURED OUT THE WATER FROM THE ROCK ABUNDANTLY!!!…and finally, what’s not to LOVE about the picture of ancient Moses helping his big brother Aaron who has faithfully served God’s Chosen People for over 38 years…with only a couple of recorded mess ups (Golden Calf and standing beside Sister Miriam when they were hurt and jealous as their brother’s ascendency to such greatness and favor by God) up the mountain in full priestly vestments with his nephew and Aaron’s son, Eleazor, and yes, Aaron is stripped of the garments of his highest office AND THEY ARE PUT ON HIS ON SON before he dies. Why is that terrible? He’s dying. He’s an OLD OLD MAN. Taking the Promised Land is going to need YOUNG STRONG MEN who have been strengthened on the march in the wilderness and through the deprivation. Hardened strong soldiers focused and ready. Oh, and AARON can SEE the Promised Land from Mt. Hor and he is going to meet those who have gone before him. AGAIN. What a blessing to die in the presence of your loved ones….seeing your beloved child assuming a position before God Almighty of the greatest service to God’s Chosen People. What parent wouldn’t die happy and content?

    We’re going to the Promised Land!

    Thank you for being YOU and REAL and loving the Lord. My homiletics just printed. My BSF suggestions…please someone make all the manuals available online so we can quit lugging all that just to need one page. And I agree about the notes. And I, too, wish for online classes for shut ins and people caregiving. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have some of BSF’s best Teaching Leaders providing the lectures online for them. I keep hearing that the site would crash. Maybe if we went paperless in countries where internet is easily accessible, the money saved could be used to use a better server. Ditto, those expensive retreats. Why can’t we do video conferencing instead? BSF Headquarters staff could speak to us yearly if we watched by video. It is very important for Teaching Leaders to go to Headquarters for training but to require all leaders to attend expensive retreats every three years just seems really, really wasteful to me. That money would have paid for a new printing press and to fly teaching leaders in and pay for their housing. I heard it costs almost $90 a year for lessons per person when you count all the paper, printing, etc. It’s a good thing there are some really generous people in BSF covering those who can’t pay that much. I know I’m stepping up my giving this year. Anyway…I LOVE BIBLE STUDY FELLOWSHIP and I LOVE JESUS CHRIST. And I am learning…if nothing else this year…to catch all those complaints before they exit my mouth! Cucumbers. Melons. Leeks. Onions. Garlic. FREE FISH. What was it last week? No grain. No vines. No pomegranites.

    Anyway, this was totally off topic of this lesson! Sweet dreams.


  7. Thank you for mentioning the poetry. I was sad that no one mentioned the poetry/songs of praise today in leaders meeting. “Spring up, o well!” Thank you, Jesus.


  8. Thanks for keeping it real. I felt the same way. I came on here to read what you had to say also. I am sorry to ready what Grace said. You do a wonderful job.


  9. I really enjoy using your work as a reference to my own study, and I thank you for being yourself and for stating what you’re currently feeling. If it offended or irritated me in any way (which it hasn’t), I’d close this tab on my computer. Very simple solution.

    I truly appreciate you for the work you put into this website, because I know it takes a lot of time and effort on your part, I enjoy reading your conclusions and especially look forward to the End Notes and the links to interesting or explanatory websites that you often include.

    Sweet Mama, your comments really helped me a lot this week to put a positive view on what the Israelites have experienced in these recent chapters. Thank you.


  10. Grace – I would encourage you to consider what you’ve said. You enjoy “using” her but tire of her opinion. That really isn’t an acceptable thing to verbalize. If you enjoy her work than you choose whether to accept the entire person and continue reading, or not. It’s as simple as that. It’s unnecessary to be hateful or leave negative or rude opinions. Simply move on and find references more in line with your way of thinking, if that’s what you’d like. I tell my child all the time that we serve a big God. Too big for a box. Too big to be bothered by questions, uncertainty or criticism. All of those are elements of learning and growing, which is what we’re here for. I would caution you not to make BSF your idol. They are a lovely organization, made wholly of sinful, imperfect people. These questions aren’t God breathed and it isn’t or shouldn’t be offensive to question them.


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