THE NEW BEGINNING AND REVIEW OF THE JOURNEYINGS OF
ISRAEL FROM KADESH TO THE RIVER ARNON, THE FRONTIER
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
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
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
the same route which is now taken by the Syrian Hadgi along the western skirts
this great desert near the mountains of
559). Mount Seir is now Jebal and esh-Sherah. This mountain range is a
continuation of that which surrounds the eastern side of 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
eastern boundary of
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 -
uious Hsau – the
children of Esau)
“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
THROUGH THE YEARS OF THEIR PILGIMAGE so that they had wanted
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
same month in which they went over
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
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
where they were then encamped, in the steppes of
followed the still used caravan route to
the cultivated laud, and the west side of Arabia Deserta” (Schroeder).
Elath or Eloth (אֵילות אֵילַת, palmgrove) — the Αἰλὰθ – Ailath –
Elath of Josephus, ‘Antiq.,’ 9:12; the Αλανα of Ptolemy (v. 17) — was a
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
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
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
“Emim” means 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 Horim” appear 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
later period carried out in the marvelous rock city of
nothing is known - “as
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
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
the limit of
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
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
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
PURPOSELESS EXISTENCE. IT HAD NO RIGHT END!
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?
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
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
“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
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
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
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
THOUGHTS OUR THOUGHTS. In fact, His plans are often
constructed so as to baffle worldly wisdom. We see this in this
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.
MELANCHOLY CONDITION OF SUCCESS. It was really after
sacrifice, the sacrifice of the whole fighting army of
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 ischura – people strong - as if from זוּז, to overflow, to
abound — is uncertain). The colossal stone monuments, resembling what in
be found in the
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
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).
CONQUEST OF THE KINGDOM OF SIHON (vs. 24-37
Sihon and his people were Amorites, who had settled on the east of the Jordan
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,
came out against
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
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
CORNERSTONE WAS RIGHTEOUSNESS! And as Moses is now
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. God’s 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,
there is THE SAME FORETHOUGHTFULNESS!
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,
near the verge of
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,
the right bank of 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
must have bordered on the great
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
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
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
and allotted to the priests (Joshua 13:18; 21:36; I Chronicles 6:63; Isaiah 15:4;
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
and from the city that is by the river,” – properly, in the river or wady; i.e. Ar,
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,”
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
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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