Monday, July 16, 2007

Deuteronomy 3:1–11

Deuteronomy 3:1–11: The Israelites Defeat Og

Synopsis

As Moses continues his recounting of the Israelites’ battles, thus far, he gets to the battle they fought with the king of Bashan, Og.

As the Israelites approached Bashan, Og and his whole army came out to meet them in battle. The LORD, however, reassured them:

The LORD said to [Moses], “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.” (verse 2)

So the Israelites did. Just as they’d defeated Sihon, they defeated Og, capturing all of his cities and leaving no survivors. They captured 60 cities, even though they were “fortified with high walls and with gates and bars” (verse 5).

Moses then recaps the territory that the Israelites had captured from Sihon and Og, which, I admit, I didn’t follow very well, since geography often causes my eyes to glaze over. (Even with the help of BibleMap.org I didn’t really follow it that well.) He also tells us that Og was a very large man; he had slept in an iron bed, which had been 4 metres long and 1.8 metres wide.

Thoughts

With the end of this passage, Moses is finished recounting the peoples that the Israelites have defeated, so far. And, so far, they have done a good job of following the LORD’s instructions; He tells them to completely “destroy” a nation, and they do. (According to the footnotes—which are included any time the Old Testament uses the word “destroy”—“The Hebrew term [‘destroy’] refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the LORD, often by totally destroying them.”)

The Israelites won’t always follow the LORD’s commands, like this; sometimes they won’t remove a people like they should, or sometimes they’ll keep plunder for themselves when they shouldn’t. Maybe that’s why I sense a certain tone from Moses, as he’s recounting these events; on the one hand, he’s warning the Israelites to follow the LORD, and oh the other hand, he’s reassuring them that the LORD has helped them before, He will do it again. He’s not just recounting history to them; he’s trying to get them to obey the LORD, when he’s gone.
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