Deuteronomy 2





OF THE AMORITES  (vs. 1-23)


At this point the language of address is exchanged for that of narrative. The change

of subject from “ye abode” to “we turned,” became necessary when Moses

passed from exhorting and warning the people to narrating what happened

after they resumed their journeyings.   In obedience to the Divine command

(ch. 1:40), the people, after tarrying for a while at Kadesh, took their departure and

marched in the direction of the Yam-suph (Numbers 14:25).


1  Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of

the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many

days.”  These “many days” are the thirty-eight years during which the people

wandered in the wilderness before they camped the second time at Kadesh; their

going round Mount Seir, which was in Edom (Genesis 36:8-9, 20), is

descriptive of their nomadic wanderings in various directions, west, south,

and south-east of that mountain (Numbers 21:4). “Crossing the long,

lofty mountain chain to the eastward of Ezion-geber (Ibid. vs. 4-5 – this time

of murmuring brought about the plague of fiery serpents), the Israelites

issued into the great and elevated plains which are still traversed by the Syrian

pilgrims on their way to Mecca; and appear to have followed northward nearly

the same route which is now taken by the Syrian Hadgi along the western skirts

of this great desert near the mountains of Edom” (Robinson, ‘Bib. Res.,’ 1:253,

559). Mount Seir is now Jebal and esh-Sherah. This mountain range is a

continuation of that which surrounds the eastern side of the Dead Sea. The

details of this protracted wandering are passed over by Moses as not required by

his purpose here.


2  And the LORD spake unto me, saying,  3 Ye have compassed this mountain

long enough: turn you northward.”  When Israel, after their long and disheartening

wandering, were at the southeastern end of the ‘Arabah, God gave them the word to

turn their march northward towards Canaan. The route they pursued was along the

eastern boundary of Edom (compare Numbers 21:10).


4 “And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the

coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir;” -

It would appear that the Edomites made preparations to resist the passage of the

Israelites through their territory (Numbers 20:18-20). As the Israelites, however,

kept on the outskirts of their country, and did not attempt to penetrate into the

interior, the Edomites did not attack them or seek to hinder their progress. The

Israelites, on the other hand, were strictly forbidden to invade that country in a

hostile manner; they were to watch over themselves, so as not to be tempted to

make war on the Edomites, who were their brethren; as God would not give them

any part, not so much as a foot-breadth, of that land, for He had given Esau

(i.e. the race descended from Esau, the Edomites — Septuagint, τοῖς υἱοῖς Ησαῦ -

 tois uious Hsauthe children of Esau) Mount Seir for a possession –

and they shall be afraid of you:” - (see Exodus 15:15) - “take ye good heed

unto yourselves therefore:”


 5 “Meddle not with them;” – literally, Excite not yourself against

them, i.e. so as to strive in battle with them; compare the use of the verb in

Jeremiah 1. 24, “hast striven” (Authorized Version); Daniel 11:25

(where מִלְחָמָה, war, is added), “shall be stirred up to battle” (Authorized

Version). Accordingly, they were enjoined to buy from them for money

food and water as they required. Two different words in the Hebrew are

rendered here by “buy” in the Authorized Version; the former, שָׁבר, a

denominative from שֶׁבֶר, grain, properly means to deal in grain, whether as

buyer or seller, and so to buy food; the latter, שָׁרָה, means primarily to dig

(a well, e.g. Genesis 26:25), and, as used here, probably conveys the

idea that the Israelites were to pay for permission to dig wells in the

country of the Edomites to supply themselves with water as they passed

along; this, however, does not necessarily follow from the use of this word,

for it has also the meaning to buy (compare Hosea 3:2, and the corresponding

Arabic verb, kara, which in certain conjugations has the meaning to borrow or

hire) -  “for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth;

because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.  6 “Ye shall buy

meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them

for money, that ye may drink.”  They were enabled to buy what they required.


7  For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand:” –

their flocks and herds had increased during their wanderings (Numbers 32:1); and

they may have gained wealth by cultivating the soil at places where they had

made a lengthened sojourn, or by traffic with the tribes of the desert with

whom they came in contact - “He knoweth thy walking” – their peregrinations  

Jehovah their God had known — had noted, observed, had regard to, had cared

 for (compare Genesis 39:6; Psalm 1:6; Proverbs 27:23) “through this great

wilderness” - He had been their Leader, had chosen for them places to rest in,

had provided food for them, and had been their Protector and Guardian ALL


for nothing (Deuteronomy 1:33; 8:2-3, 15-16; compare Psalm 23:1-6). “He

sufficiently supplied what was needful for thee when thou walkedst through this

great wilderness; for these forty years the Word of Jah thy God hath sustained thee;

nor hath anything been wanting to thee” (Chaldee Paraphrase) - “these

forty years” -  (Numbers 14:33).  “From the fifteenth day of the first month in

which their fathers came out of Egypt (Numbers 33:3), to the tenth day of the

same month in which they went over Jordan into Canaan (Joshua 4:19), there

were but five days wanting of complete forty years” (Patrick) - “the LORD thy

God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.”


8 “And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which

dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber,

we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.”  Rather, And

we passed by from (away from) our brethren the sons of Esau, who dwelt in Seir,

 from (off from, i.e. alongside, but at some distance from) the way of the Arabah,

from (off from) Elath and from Ezion-geber. And so, in obedience to the Divine

command, the Israelites passed from the territory of the Edomites without

entering it, and went by their border on the east side of the ‘Arabah, and

from beside Elath and Ezion-geber, both ports at the northern extremity of

the Elanitie Gulf of the Red Sea (Numbers 33:35). Thus they came to

where they were then encamped, in the steppes of Moab. “Probably they

followed the still used caravan route to Damascus, between the east side of

the cultivated laud, and the west side of Arabia Deserta” (Schroeder).

Elath or Eloth (אֵילות אֵילַת, palmgrove) — the ΑἰλὰθAilath

Elath of Josephus, ‘Antiq.,’ 9:12; the Αλανα of Ptolemy (v. 17) — was a

city of Idumea, situated on the eastern gulf of the Red Sea. Its ruins are

still traceable near the modern fortress of Akabah, on the northwest.

Ezion-geber (עֶצֶיון גֶבֶר, backbone of a man, so called

probably from the rugged and jagged rocks in its vicinity), a seaport near

to Elath (I Kings 9:26; II Chronicles 20:36).


9  And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither

contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for

a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a

possession.”  The Moabites, being the descendants of Lot, and so allied by

race to the Israelites, the latter were commanded to pass through their

country without offering them any injury or assault. Ar, a border-town of

Moab (Numbers 21:15), here put for the country itself. It is the Areopolis

of the Greeks, and was, as Jerome tells us, destroyed in a single night by

an earthquake. A hill with ruins a short distance southwest from Ara’ir,

is supposed to be its site.


10 “The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall,

as the Anakims;  11 Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but

the Moabites called them Emims.  12 The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime;

but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from

before them, and dwelt in their stead;” -  The mention of the Moabites

gives occasion to the author to introduce some notices of the ancient inhabitants

of Edom and Moab. In Moab dwelt, in the earlier times, the Emim, a giant race,

potent and numerous, like the ‘Anakim. They were also, like the Anakim

reckoned among the Rephaim, but were by the Moabites called Emim. The word

Emimmeans frightful, and was given to these men probably because of

their huge stature and fierce aspect. Anakims(see ch. 1:28).  Rephaim seems

to have been a generic name of these gigantic Canaanitish tribes (see Genesis

14:5; 15:20). “The Horimappear from the name (from חוד, a cave) to have

been a Troglodyte race, inhabiting the caves which abound in the Edomite range,

(I wonder if perhaps they are not associated someway with Neanderthals –

CY – 2012) and with whom, perhaps, originated the conception which was at

a later period carried out in the marvelous rock city of Petra. Of their own origin

nothing is known - “as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the

LORD gave unto them.”  This cannot be regarded as uttered proleptically;

it must either be the insertion of a later age, or it must refer to the conquest

which had actually been made before this by the Israelites of the land to the

east of the Jordan. and which is, in ch. 3:20, described as the possession which

the Lord hadgiven to the two tribes and a half to whom it had been assigned.

The latter is the preferable supposition.


The next verse connects with v. 9, the intermediate verses being a parenthesis,

introduced for the purpose of reminding the Israelites that the Edomites and

Moabites had received their territory by gift from God, the earlier inhabitants

having been cast out by Him that they might take their lands (see vs. 21-23).

There is no need, therefore, for the insertion “I said,” in v. 13; the words are

those of Jehovah, not of Moses.


13 “Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered.” -  either the

stream of the Wady el Ahsy (Robinson, 2:157; Ritter, 3:78), or that of the

Wady Kerab (Keil, Kurz, etc.); see Numbers 21:11, and Smith’s ‘Dictionary.’

3:1842. This brook formed the boundary line between Edom and Moab, and

was the limit of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness. They crossed it thirty-eight

years after the doom had been pronounced upon them at Kadesh, and during

that period the entire generation of those who had rebelled had died out. - “And

we went over the brook Zered.”


14 “And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come

over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of

the men of war” - those of age sufficient to go forth to war, viz. twenty years old

and upwards (Numbers 1:3; 14:29). These, as the responsible transgressors,

all perished; the whole generation passed away, and was consumed (ch.5:15;

Psalm 73:19), as God had sworn (Numbers 14:28-29) - “were wasted out from

among the host, as the LORD swear unto them.”


15 “For indeed” - rather, And also; not by natural causes alone, but by the hand

of God, i.e. by special penal judgments also, were they troubled and destroyed

(Numbers 16:31, 17:12-13; 21:6; 25:1- 9) - “the hand of the LORD was against

them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.”



Dying Out (vs. 14-15)


These thirty-eight years form A MELANCHOLY PARENTHESIS  in the history

of Israel. A death-silence reigns in the narrative in regard to them. The

ninetieth Psalm is apparently a memorial of them — the dirge of Moses

over the fallen. One or two incidents, and a few laws in Numbers may

belong to this period; otherwise we have only these brief epitaph verses. As

here described, they form A FITTING IMAGE OF GODLESS EXISTENCE



  • IN ITS WANT OF HISTORY. History is meant to preserve that which

is of permanent worth. The unessential, the evanescent, are not held

deserving of its record. But from the spiritual standpoint there is no life of

permanent worth but that which is lived in God and for His glory.

Relatively to this world, the godless man may have a history; but relatively

to eternity, he has lived to no end which ensures his being held in

remembrance. He will be forgotten, and his life be a blank in the records

which alone will interest a heavenly society.




Ø      It is without proper purpose. That thirty-eight years was one of


 Men might engage in various pursuits, but their existence as a

whole had lost its value. They were there but to draw out their

profitless days till death came to end the scene. The

GODLESS MAN is in the same position — his existence as a whole

HAS NO PROPER END  and he is made to feel this the more

keenly the longer he lives.


Ø      It is without proper joy. There could be no true joy in men’s hearts

during that wretched time of waiting for the grave. Is there any in the

life of the worldling, or of any ungodly man? Ask Byron, Goethe,

Rousseau, or whoever else has given confessions on the subject, and

we will need no other witness.


Ø      IT IS WITHOUT HOPE. For what is there to give it?


  • IN ITS BEING SPENT UNDER GOD’S WRATH. The feeling that it

is so darkens life, troubles conscience, makes death terrible, and awakens

fearful and well-founded presentiments of future evil.



The generation that sinned having quite died out, the people were now to cross

the border of Moab and advance to the conquest of the Promised Land. To

the east of Moab was the country of the Ammonites; these, also, the

Israelites were to leave unassailed, for the Lord had given to them their land

for a possession (v.. 9).



16 “So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and

dead from among the people,  17  That the LORD spake unto me, saying,

18 Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab,” - the boundary

of Moab, which was the river Arnon, hod. Mujeb (Numbers 21:13-15; 22:36).

 this day: 19 And when thou comest nigh over against the children of

Ammon,” – As the Israelites were passing eastward of Moab; when they

crossed the Arnon, the Ammonites, whose dwelling was in the wilderness

east of the Jordan, would be almost in front of them. The Israelites came

over against them after they conquered Sihon (Numbers 21:24) - “distress

them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of

the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the

children of Lot for a possession.”



The Wasting of the Warriors (vs. 14-18)


There was evidently a considerable knowledge of “the art of war” in the

Israelitish host on leaving Egypt. Moses was versed in it, as in so much

more, and the mixed multitude which accompanied the exodus would also

contain men skilled in arms. And experience of opposition on the part of

Amalek, etc., would elicit a martial spirit throughout the host. Moreover,

the presence of seasoned men, or “veterans,” gives confidence to young

troops in actual conflict. The world would say,” By all means retain the

veterans for the purpose of invasion.” Yet, strange to say, God kept the

host wandering till the warriors were all weeded out, and buried in the

wilderness. The invasion is to be made by the rising generation, which had

never seen the military art or reviews in Egypt. From this we learn:



THOUGHTS OUR THOUGHTS. In fact, His plans are often

constructed so as to baffle worldly wisdom. We see this in this

invasion of Canaan; we see it in His way of salvation by

Jesus Christ; we see it in His providential dealings.



FAITH. The experience of the veterans was as nothing in comparison with

the courageous faith in God. This made heroes of the children who would,

they thought, be a prey. All wisdom of man becomes vain when

unsustained by confidence in God.




sacrifice, the sacrifice of the whole fighting army of Israel, that success

came. There grew out of their graves warning and inspiration. And it has

been over the graves of soldiers that almost every progress of the world

has been made. Multitudes had to be buried on the battle-fields before the

Promised Land of peace could be entered. The buried warriors constituted

the holocaust which was presented before the blessing came.



PREPARATION FOR TRUE ONES. The temptation to trust in the

veterans and their military ideas is taken away by the death of the warriors.

So is it that God removes from us every false refuge. Thus we learn to

trust in the living God, and to fight His battles in His own way. Providence

is oftentimes just the removal of the warriors who were so wise in their

own eyes and so able to take the best course, that the people may follow

the Lord only.


Happy for each soul it is to be deprived of every false support, and to be led to

trust Christ alone! Into real rest the soul enters by faith — the Promised Land lies

open to the trustful soul, while its gates are closed against the self-confident ones.



In vs. 20-23, we have another parenthetical insertion, containing some

ethnographical notices, intended, probably, to confirm the assertion that to

the children of Ammon God had given their land for a possession. There is

no sufficient reason for supposing that this paragraph is an interpolation, or

gloss, inserted by some later writer. It lay as much in the way of Moses to

introduce such ethnographical notices as in that of any writer of a later age.


20  (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time;

and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;”  Before the Ammonites, the land

was occupied by a gigantic race, called by them, Zamzummim (probably noisy

 ones, from זָמַם - to hum, mutter; or, as the verb also signifies, to muse or meditate,

perhaps moody ones; whether the same as the Zuzim of Genesis 14:5 — LXX.,

ἔθνη ἰσχυρά -ethnae ischurapeople strong - as if from זוּז, to overflow, to

abound — is uncertain). The colossal stone monuments, resembling what in

Europe are known by the Celtic names of dolmen, menhir, and cromlech, still

to be found in the land of Moab, are supposed to be the work of these

aboriginal inhabitants of the country, the gigantic Emim and Zamzummim.

This giant tribe the Lord had destroyed before the Ammonites, just as he had

destroyed the Horim before the children of Esau in Seir.


21 “A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD

destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their

stead:  22 As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he

destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them,

and dwelt in their stead even unto this day:  23 And the Avims which

dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth

out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)  So also the

Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor (Genesis 10:14), probably the island of

Crete (Ritter, 3:262), drove out the Avim, a Canaanitish race, who dwelt in

villages (Hazerim, חֲצֵרִים) as far as Gaza (Azzah), and took possession of

their land; though it would appear some of them still remained among the

Philistines (who were Caphtorites, Amos 9:7; Jeremiah 47:4), and were

among the tribes not subdued by the Israelites under Joshua (Joshua 13:3).

These Caphtorim were, like the Israelites, immigrants, who drove out the

original occupants of the country; and on this account, probably, are referred

to by Moses here. “This is so often repeated, to possess the minds of the

Israelites with a sense of God’s providence, which rules everywhere;

displacing one people, and settling another in their stead, and fixing

their bounds, also, which they shall not pass without leave” (Patrick).





Sihon and his people were Amorites, who had settled on the east of the Jordan

in Gilead. But though not included in the original promise to Abraham, God

had assigned this territory to the Israelites; and, therefore, He commanded

the people under Moses to cross the Arnon, and take the first step towards

possessing the Promised Land, by assailing Sihon, King of Heshbon,

assuring them that from that day He would “put the dread and fear of them

upon all nations under the whole heaven,” that is, all nations, wherever

placed, to whom the fame of the Israelites should come (compare Exodus 23:27;

ch. 11:16), so that on hearing thereof, they should tremble and writhe as in pain

(וְחָלוּ,, compare Isaiah 13:8). Moses, however, in the first instance, sent a

message of peace to Sihon, proposing to pass through his territory on the same

terms as he had made with the Moabites and Edomites, traveling by the highway,

and paying for such provisions as his followers required. But this Sihon refused,

and came out against Israel, with all his people, to battle. The issue was that he

was utterly discomfited; all his towns were captured, he and all his people

utterly destroyed, and the cattle and spoil of the whole country taken for

booty. Israel thus became possessed of that entire territory, though it did

not lie within the bounds of the land promised by God to Abraham, which

was the reason, probably, why Moses made overtures of peace to Sihon,

and would have passed through his country amicably, had he been

permitted; but compare ch.20:10.



God’s Knowledge of Our Pilgrimage (vs. 1-23)


(For the historical and geographical details connected with this section, see

the Exposition.) Moses here reviews the career of Israel during the

wanderings, with reference to their treatment of the nations through whose

territory they required to pass on their way. They, though the favored

people of Jehovah, were not allowed to transgress the common laws of

righteousness, by levying any demands on the nations through whose

country they passed, nor to “distress” in any way those peoples whom the

Lord had not delivered into their hands. They were to labor for their own

sustenance, and to purchase, at a fair rate, meat or drink. And so far as this

precept was concerned, they seem to have been (notwithstanding their

waywardness in other respects) loyal to the Lord their God. These

directions against transgressing the rules of right in national intercourse,

were a most important part of the education of a people, where God was

forming a commonwealth with this (then) unique feature, that ITS


reviewing the stages in their experience when they passed through an alien’s

land, he reminds them how faithful God had been to them; that they had had

no need to depart from the Divine injunctions, for their good and gracious

God had taken all their need into account. He knoweth thy walking

through this great wilderness(v. 7).This clause contains a world of meaning in

itself, and opens up a most fruitful theme for the Christian’s meditation and

for pulpit exposition, viz. Gods knowledge of our pilgrimage in life. Three

inquiries invite our notice:



walking.” We understand Moses as here referring to the walking, viewed

objectively, not subjectively. The sentence would be true in both respects;

but, nevertheless, the reference does not seem to be to the manner of

Israel’s walking, but to the pilgrimage itself. What was true of them is also

true of us. He knoweth our walking!


Ø      The meaning of our pilgrimage is known to Him — as being that of

moral and responsible beings, made in the image of God, and as

having for its purpose the education of character for eternity.


Ø      He knows the difficulties of the pilgrimage — the obstructions with

which we are continually meeting, thwarting, perhaps, our fondest

plans and wishes.


Ø      He knows the trials of the way. Not only the trials which are

common to man” (I Corinthians 10:13) in general, but also those

indefinable, felt peculiarities, which are ours and ours only, which

we cannot unfold to a single soul on earth.


Ø      He knows the enemies which beset us: their strength, number,

malice, and craft.


Ø      He knows the appointed goal at the end of the pilgrimage, and

all the glorious possibilities which may be unfolded in the

realization of our destiny.


Ø      He knows the wants of each and of all, temporal and spiritual;

that we are helpless to the attainment of life’s end, without

constant supplies from Him.




Ø      Obviously, His perfect, full, entire acquaintance, not only with the

pilgrimage in general, not only with such particulars of it as those

we have just named, but also with every detail of each particular.

He seeth the whole of everything.


Ø      But it is not a bare seeing; the knowledge is attended with

A FATHERLY INTEREST in all that concerns the welfare of

His children. He taketh pleasure in them that fear him.” (Psalm

147:11); “He careth for” us. (I Peter 5:7).  The training of His

children for a home by means of a pilgrimage thither, is one of

the most kind and loving designs of the heart of infinite love!


Ø      The knowing includes the actually taking into account all the need

of our pilgrimage, in His words, works, and ways.


o       In the promises He makes, all things are taken into account.

These promises are not merely applicable in part, or at times,

but wholly and always.


o       His precepts too are framed according to the same perfect



o       His providential mercies, general and special, meet the wants of

today and prepare for those of tomorrow. He works for our

future, that we may live by the day.


o       In His great redemptive provision for our spiritual training,



o       In His distinctively personal and individual care over each one,

the whole of our pilgrimage is taken into account. No one is

confused with any one else. The Great Father’s family is not

so large as to tax Him. He can care as lovingly for each as if

each one were all!  (In fact, with the billions in the world

today, God wants to and can live in each of us simultaneously!

Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words:  and

my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and

make our abode with him.”  - John 14:23 – CY – 2012)



KNOWLEDGE? The value of it is infinite.



Ø      If life’s pilgrimage is just beginning, this Divine knowledge, so applied,

may yield us guidance in treading the way. For it, God has so mercifully

taken all things into account in promise and precept, then we never need to

depart a hair’s breadth from the right path, for the sake of securing any

apparent advantage whatever. This is specially suggested by the way in

which Moses uses the words.


Ø      If we are just in the mid part of the pilgrimage, we may find

immeasurable comfort under the difficulties of the way. All our

responsibilities are accurately estimated, all wants perfectly considered,

all supplies certainly ensured. What more could we desire?


Ø      If we make use of the Divine knowledge in the ways we have specified,

we shall find that it will also give us a soul of thankfulness when near

the end of the way. At the point of time referred to in the text, Israel was

near the verge of Canaan. And the words are retrospective. They are a

testimony to Divine faithfulness and care; “These forty years the Lord

thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.” So may the

believer say and sing as he closes stage after stage of life; so will he sing

when he closes the last stage of all:“Not one thing hath failed

of all that the Lord hath spoken” (Joshua 21:45; 23:14).  The more life

unfolds to him of his own weakness, the louder and sweeter will be his

song over Divine care; yea, he will go singing to the heavenly rest!


24 “Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon:

behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of

Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in

battle.  25  This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of

thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear

report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.

26  And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth” – (compare

Numbers 21:13); so named from the town of Kedemoth, an old Amorite town,

on the right bank of the Upper Arnon; at a later period, a Levitical city in the

tribe of Reuben (Joshua 13:18; 21:37; I Chronicles 6:79). The name (from

קֶדֶם,  the east), signifying eastern parts, indicates that it was situated on

the eastern boundary of the Amorite region, so that the desert named from

it must have bordered on the great Arabian desert; it may have been on

what is now the Derb cf. Haj, or Pilgrims’ Road, probably, at Kal’at Balua

unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,”


27 “Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way,” –

literally, by the way, by the way, i.e. always, continuously by the way, the public

road, called in Numbers 20:17 and 21:22, “the king’s way,” probably because

 made and kept up by the king -  “I will neither turn unto the right hand

nor to the left.  28 Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and

give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my



29  (As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites

which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) - This refers expressly to the fact that

the Edomites and Moabites did not hinder the Israelites from passing

through their country, though they were far from friendly, and dealt in an

unbrotherly way with them, for which the Moabites were afterwards placed

under a ban (Deuteronomy 23:3) - “until I shall pass over Jordan into

the land which the LORD our God giveth us.”


30 “But Sihon king of Heshbon” - the chief city of the Amorite king, Sihon.

Some ruins on a hill east of the upper end of the Dead Sea, and bearing the name

Chesban, mark the site of this once large and important city – “would not let us

pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart

obstinate,” - literally, had sharpened his heart, had made his determination keen.

It is not to be supposed that any influence was directly exerted on him, to make

him obdurate and persistent in his hostility to the people of God; the expression

he would not” indicates that it was of his own will that Sihon acted; but it was

the will and purpose of God that Sihon should be destroyed, and his country

taken by the Israelites, and so he was placed in circumstances by which,

given over to a reprobate mind,” he was confirmed and strengthened in his

determination to pursue a course which led to his destruction; like Pharaoh,

by the circumstances in which God placed him, he found scope for the display

and for the confirmation of a stubborn, pertinacious pride of spirit, which led

ultimately to his ruin. Nothing so hardens the heart as resistance to God’s

overtures of peace - “that He might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth

this day.”  As appeareth this day; i.e. as present experience shows; in Sihon’s

refusing to let them pass, there was already an actual beginning of the fulfillment

of God’s purpose to deliver him into the hand of the Israelites -


God had determined to give Sihon and his land to the Israelites, and so

certainly should this be done, that Moses is exhorted already to begin to seize,

in order to possess the land. Sihon initiated hostilities by coming out with all

his host to fight against Moses and the Israelites. The battle took place at Jahaz

(or Jahazah, or Jahza), a town between Medeba and Dibon (Euseb.; of. Numbers

33:45), afterwards belonging to the tribe of Reuben (Joshua 13:18), and assigned

to the Levites of the line of Merari (Joshua 21:36; I Chronicles 6:78). The

war was one of extermination, in which all the people of Sihon were

destroyed, from one end of his dominion to the other; all his cities were

devoted irredeemably (compare Leviticus 27:29), and only the cattle and

the material property were preserved as booty by the conquerors

(Numbers 21:23-26).


 31“And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon

and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit

his land.  32 Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight

at Jahaz.”  (יַהַז , downtrodden - compare Numbers 21:23), elsewhere

Jahazah (יַהְצָה), a city of Moab, afterwards assigned to the tribe of Reuben,

and allotted to the priests (Joshua 13:18; 21:36; I Chronicles 6:63; Isaiah 15:4;

Jeremiah 48:34).


33 “And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote

him, and his sons, and all his people.  34  And we took all his cities at

that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little

ones, of every city, we left none to remain:”  As the Amorites came out of

Canaan, they belonged to the race which God had doomed to destruction.

The Israelites, therefore, had a commission to extirpate them. Utterly destroyed;

literally, devoted or placed under a ban, which of course implied utter

destruction. The men, and women and little children. The phrase “city of men”

can hardly mean, as Rosenmüller affirms, “men of a city;” the hypallage here

would be too violent. It rather means “a peopled city,” “a city inhabited by men.”

The word rendered “men” (מְתִים) does not designate males as opposed to

females, but is a designation of human beings in general (compare Job 11:3;

24:12; 31:31; Psalm 26:4, “vain persons,” Authorized Version, literally,

men of emptiness or of falsehood). The passage might be rendered, every

 inhabited city, even the women and the little children.


35 “Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of

the cities which we took.”  (compare Numbers 22:24-25; 32:34-35).


36 “From Aroer,” - one of the Amorite cities, on the right bank of the river

Arnon (compare Joshua 12:2; 13:16). On the Moabite Stone, King Mesha

says, “I built Aroer;” but this can only mean that, after some temporary

condition of decay or ruin, he rebuilt it. On the borders of the northern side

of the Wady Mojeb, there are heaps of ruins bearing the name of Ara’ir,

which probably mark the site of this ancient town. There was another

Aroer, belonging at a later period to the tribe of Gad, and opposite to

Rabba, the chief city of the Ammonites (Joshua 13:25; II Samuel 24:5); and

still another in the south of Judah (I Samuel 30:28), probably in what is now

known as the Wady A’rarah - “which is by the brink of the river of Arnon,

and from the city that is by the river,” – properly, in the river or wady; i.e. Ar,

the capital of Moab, which was in the valley of the Arnon, and which is

mentioned here as marking the exclusive limit of the country that was captured.

The word rendered “river” (נַחַל) is used of the valley or ravine (Arabic, wady)

through which a stream flows, as well as of the stream itself (compare Genesis 26:19;

Numbers 24:6). Ar is elsewhere called Ar of Moab (Isaiah 15:1) - “even unto Gilead,”

 i.e. Mount Gilead, which rises to the north of the Jabbok (hod. Zerka) – “there was

not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us:”


37 “Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor

unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains,

nor unto whatsoever the LORD our God forbad us.”  In obedience to the

Divine injunction, the Israelites left untouched the country of the Ammonites,

situated on the eastern side of the Upper Jabbok. Cities in the mountains; the

towns in the Ammonitish highlands. In Joshua 13:25, half of the land of the

Ammonites is said to be assigned to the tribe of Gad; but that refers to the

part of the land between the Arnon and the Jabbek, which had been taken

from the Ammonites by the Amorites, and was in the possession of the latter

at the time of the Israelitish invasion (Judges 11:13). Whatsoever the

Lord our God forbad us: all that Jehovah our God commanded not to come into.



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