Deuteronomy 3

The Word Made Fresh

1“After that, we headed up toward Bashan. King Og came with his whole army to do battle with us at Edrei. 2The LORD told me, ‘Don’t be afraid of him. I will hand him over to you along with all his people and his territory. Do to him what you did to Sihon of Heshbon, king of the Amorites.’ 3The LORD handed king Og over to us and all his people as well. We didn’t leave a single survivor. 4We captured all his towns and took his fortresses – sixty towns, including the whole region of Argob. 5The forts had high walls with double gates that were barred, and there were a number of settlements as well. 6We wiped them out. They suffered the same fate as king Og. In every city, town and settlement we killed every man, woman, and child, 7and took all their livestock and plundered every place and kept the spoils for ourselves.

8“We took all the land east of the Jordan from the two Amorite kings, from the Arnon valley to Mount Hermon, 9(which is known to the Sidonians as Sirion and to the Amorites as Senir). 10We took all the towns on the plateau, all of Gilead and Bashan, all the way to Salecah and Edrei in Bashan. 11Og was the only one left of the Rephaim. You can still see his iron bed in Rabbah in Ammon. It is thirteen and a half feet long and six feet wide. 12Of all the territory we captured then, I gave the tribes of Reuben and Gad the land north of Aroer on the edge of the Arnon valley, along with half the hill country of Gilead, including the towns there. 13I gave Manasseh the rest of Gilead and all of Og’s kingdom of Bashan. That whole area of Argob in Bashan used to belong to the Rephaim; 14Jair of the tribe of Manasseh took over the whole area of Argob all the way to the border of the Geshurites and Maacathites. He renamed Bashan Havvoth-Jair (house of Jair). 15I gave Gilead to Machir. 16I gave the tribes of Reuben and Gad the region from the Arnon valley with the middle of the creek bed serving as the boundary and up to the Jabbok valley, the creek bed there forming the boundary with the Ammonites. 17They get the Arabah also, including the Jordan, from Chinnereth down to the sea in the Arabah – the Dead Sea – over to the lower eastern slopes of Pisgah.

18“I told you then that although the LORD has given you this land, all your men who can take up arms must arm themselves and cross over the river ahead of your kinsmen. 19Only your wives and children and animals (and, yes, I know you have many animals) can stay over here in the towns I have given you. 20When the LORD has settled your cousins in the land beyond the Jordan, you may return to the land I have given you.

21“At the same time I said to Joshua, ‘You have seen with your own eyes everything the LORD your God has done to these other kings. The LORD will do the same for you in all the lands you are going to settle. 22Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God will fight for you.

23“At the same time I approached the LORD and said, 24‘Lord God, you have only begun to show me how great and mighty you are. There is no other god who can do the mighty deeds you have done. 25Please let me cross over to see the land beyond the Jordan, from the hill country to the Lebanon.’ 26But the LORD was angry with me because of you and wouldn’t hear of it. The LORD said to me, ‘That’s enough from you. Don’t say anything about this to me again. 27But go up to the top of Pisgah and look all around in every direction. Take it all in, but you will not go across the Jordan. 28Put Joshua in charge. Encourage him and make him strong because he is the one who will lead the people over there to take possession of the land you see.’

29“After that we stayed in the valley across from Beth-Peor.”

Commentary

1-7: The defeat of King Og was recorded in Numbers 21:33-35. Here, verses 1-3 are very nearly the same as the Numbers account. But verses 4-8 add more detailed information that was not included in Numbers. Again it is said that all the inhabitants – men, women, children – were put to the sword, but that tactic is not attributed to God’s commands (and I don’t believe God would have ordered such a thing).

8-17: Moses details again the territories given to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh.

18-20: He reminds those three tribes of the agreement that, though they have settled on the eastern side of the Jordan, they will cross the Jordan and take part in the conquest of the territory to be given the other tribes.

21-29: This is a condensed version of the most recent events having to do with the passing of the torch to Joshua and God’s denying Moses the privilege of crossing the Jordan. Remember, this is Moses telling the people – the second generation of those who left Egypt – what has led them to this point on the east bank of the Jordan, preparing them for entering the land. It is interesting to me that he doesn’t tell them why God won’t let him cross the river. The omission has to be deliberate, and for me that gives the whole episode a ring of authenticity.

Deuteronomy 1-3 thus condenses the entire book of Numbers. Deuteronomy 4 and following will recast much of the information contained in Leviticus; the laws by which the community will maintain its covenant with God.

Takeaway

There is no doubt that God enabled Israel to settle the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Without God, they could not have done it; they would still be in slavery in Egypt without God. You and I should look at our own journey in life in the same light.