Miriam (sister of Moses and Aaron) is dead. Nobody cares. Surprise.
Once again, the Israelites have no water and are bitching about it. Moses does the old trick of hitting a rock with a staff (this time the magic Levite staff from chapter 17) and makes water come out of it. But apparently this time he fucks it up somehow, because God comes along and says that Moses and Aaron are going to die before they get to the promised land. Clearly, that is totally warranted.
Then the Israelites try to negotiate passage through the land of Edom (as I recall, Edom was Jacob's brother, aka Esau) but they are denied. They don't stop badgering the King of Edom about it until he sends his army out to threaten them.
Then God makes Aaron climb a mountain just to die naked on top of it, as (clearly) fair and just punishment for Moses somehow fucking up the whole 'making water come out of a rock' thing. He's naked because he has to hike up there with his son, and once up there, he has to give his priestly clothes to his son so he can be the next priest. Like they couldn't have done that before. Fantastic.
I like how everything Moses and Aaron do seems to take place on top of a mountain, or shut away inside of a tent...away from the prying eyes of the Israelites, in other words. These 2 sound like a couple of con artists to me. Aaron probably just took his son up there to tell him about the scam and then vanished into comfortable retirement or something.
The King of Arad hears that the Israelites are coming, so he sends out an army to capture some of them. Then the Israelites "completely destroyed them and their towns," with God's eager help of course. Fantastic.
While they are going around Edom, they start bitching once more about the lack of water and how sick they are of manna. So, obviously, God sends a bunch of poisonous snakes to bite them all. "And many Israelites died." Again. God is always killing his chosen people. And, as usual, the people repent and ask Moses to pray to God for them. He does, and God tells him to make a bronze snake, so all the people who were bitten and haven't died yet could look at it and be cured. Oh what a miracle, God saves a few people from the snakebites that he himself caused! God didn't kill quite as many of his own chosen people as he was going to! What. The. Fuck.
Seriously, I am so sick of this lame story. Israelites complain, God kills a bunch of Israelites, Israelites repent, God somehow manages to stop short of killing everybody, and for some stupid reason everybody is grateful. Ugh. How many times is this going to happen? I don't know who I hate more, God or the Israelites.
They hike on through the wilderness of 5 different places for who knows how long, until they come to a place called Beer (seriously). Here, God magnanimously decides he's going to give the Israelites water. Hey, good job God! You finally figured out the #1 reason the Israelites complain about you: you never give them water, even though you clearly have the power to. Then everyone sings a silly little song about a well. It never says whether they actually got their water, or if they were just promised it and then sang about it...I'll just assume they did get it.
Then they walk through 4 more places. After that, they ask the King of the Amorites for passage through his land. I don't get whey they walked through 9 places without talking to anybody, and then all of the sudden they do. Actually, I'm not even sure where they are going, it doesn't say. Are they just wandering around the holy land looking for a fight? It sure seems that way.
Anyway, he says no, and sends his army out to attack. The Israelites fight back, and apparently win, because they take over all the Amorite cities and "settled" there. They also left no survivors. Wonderful.
I guess after all that the Israelites aren't finished with the Amorites, because they also attack the surrounding areas to get the Amorites who managed to get away. Then they go to Bashan, fight their army, win, and again leave no survivors and take over their land. And they do it all with God's help. Hey, God is finally at least helping to kill somebody besides the Israelites.
Let the conquest begin, I guess. I wonder how long this goes on for?