Friday, July 31, 2009

Sihon and Og

My mom read me lots and lots of Arch books when I was little, and because of that I tend to know my Bible stories pretty well. But Sihon and Og? That's one I either didn't hear, or it's one I forgot.

So many of the psalms work their way through salvation history, telling the wonders God had done for the Israelites. Our psalm for this week is 136, and we run across it every day: "Sihon, king of the Amorites" and "Og, king of Bashan." And I don't know what's what.

So I dug through the Torah until I found the references. After the forty years of wilderness wanderings following the Passover and the exodus from slavery in Egypt, it was time for the Israelites to go into the Promised Land. The high priest Aaron had just died. The Israelites defeated their first Canaanite foe. Then they headed the long way around Edom. The people started sassing Moses. Again! God sent the fiery serpents, and we hear the story of how those who were bitten were saved when they looked at the bronze serpent on the pole. After they worked their way through a few more campsites, God gave them water.

Then Israel asked permission to pass through Sihon's land, promising not to touch anything. Sihon said "no way" and came out to fight, and the Amorites lost their territory. Then Israel again set out on the path toward Canaan. Og wasn't any more pleased about these millions of people traipsing through his land than Sihon had been. So Og and his armies came out to fight. They fared no better than Sihon's armies. And then we get back to familiar stories again, with the Israelites hanging out in Moab, on the east side of the river, across from Jericho, and the Moabite king in a panic and calling for Balaam to curse the interlopers.

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