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2014-03-19

Numbers 21:10-15 has the Israelites wandering through several more regions in the desert and even names nearby regions to help us properly place their location, which would be useful if all of these locations weren’t likewise lost to the ages, oh well. The stops include Oboth, Iye Abarim (which is near Moab), Zared, and then the Arnon gorge (near Amorite territory on the border of Moab).

Then, there is a quotation from “The Book of Wars of the Lord” which explains that the Arnon gorge has a stream related to the Waheb and Suphah. These are probably names of the banks of the stream, but the KJV translators converted these two words into, “What he did in the Red sea.” If you’re wondering how the translators could have possibly come to that translation, it’s probably because the word they translated into “Red Sea” is cuwph, which is very similar to the word used here cuwphah. The KJV translators most likely thought it was merely a spelling variation, but modern translators leave the words untranslated, a practice they reserve for words with unknown meanings.

Now, what’s the deal with “The Book of Wars of the Lord”? Out of all antiquity, it is only ever mentioned once in this single verse in Numbers. It joins the ranks of the Book of Jasher, and many other biblical citations that have been lost, probably forever, if they even existed at all.

Anything we can hope to learn about the Wars of the Lord must be extrapolated from this single passage of Biblical Hebrew. It’s only 12 words, two of which don’t exist anywhere else in the history of the language, and a couple of the others are ambiguous. So, while historians have speculated on the contents of the Wars of the Lord, they recognize that it is just that, speculation.

I won’t bother to venture a guess, but I will comment on the title. The phrase, “Wars of the Lord,” is utterly nonsensical because an all-powerful entity cannot go to war. There can’t be a battle or struggle or even the possibility of victory against it; an all-powerful entity just wins. In fact, it’s hard to say that it “wins” when there can’t even be a competition in the first place. The only way “Wars of the Lord” could make sense is if you called it “Wars Humans Claimed Were Fought By God,” but since when was the truth found in scripture? Also, if it is actually a book of God, and therefore divine in nature, why would God allow it to become lost?

 

Comments

Ladyofthemasque writes:

 

*washes her mouth out with Listerpheme! Now with more Blasphemy Power!*

Maybe God allowed it to be lost, because his followers got too honest and included records of when the Israelites got their butts kicked a few times?

Baughbe writes:

 

Plannned fictional account of history, lost due to lazy writer never getting around to making it up.

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

Where can one buy a bottle of this Listerpheme (tm)? It sounds amazing!

HiroOdan writes:

 

Speculation only, but what if "The Book of Wars of the Lord" could mean that the lord fought wars against other gods of that time. How the bible sort of claims of other gods, but doesn't actually go too much into detail.

 

Oh the irony!