An Amorite king at the time Israel approached the Promised Land. Sihon’s kingdom at one time extended from the torrent valley of Jabbok, where it bordered King Og’s domain, down at least to the torrent valley of Arnon, and from the Jordan River eastward toward the desert. His capital city was Heshbon, E of the northern end of the Dead Sea. (Num. 21:23, 24; Josh. 12:2, 3) Sihon had seized the land of Moab N of the Arnon, and apparently dominated Midian, for the chieftains of Midian are called “the dukes of Sihon.” (Num. 21:26-30; Josh. 13:21) When Israel sent messengers asking Sihon’s permission to pass through his kingdom on the king’s road, and promising not to steal anything from the Amorites, Sihon denied permission and gathered his army to block Israel. At Jahaz he was defeated and killed.—Num. 21:21-24; Deut. 1:3, 4; 2:24-35; 3:2, 6.
The significance of Israel’s victory over Sihon can be seen from the fact that it is mentioned many times in Israelite history, alongside the defeat of the Egyptians at the Red Sea. Moses, Jephthah, a psalmist and the postexilic Levites, sometimes used it as an encouraging example of Jehovah’s victories in behalf of his faithful people. (Num. 21:34; Deut. 31:4; Judg. 11:19-22; Neh. 9:5, 22; Ps. 135:9-12; 136:18, 19) Reports of it prompted Rahab and the Gibeonites to make peace with Israel. (Josh. 2:10; 9:9, 10) Sihon’s land was divided among the tribes of Reuben and Gad.—Num. 21:25, 31, 32; Deut. 29:7, 8; Josh. 13:8-10, 15-28.