SynopsisIn this chapter, Moses recounts some of the Israelites’ travels in the desert.
The first 23 verses don’t have much “action,” they just recount some of the Israelites’ travels.
- They traveled around the “hill country of Seir” (verse 1)
- They came to the territory of the descendants of Esau, but the LORD commanded the Israelites not to provoke them to war, for He had given the descendants of Esau that land. In fact, the Israelites were commanded to pay the descendants of Esau for any food they ate, or water they drank.
- So the Israelites passed by the descendants of Esau, and came to Moab. Again, the LORD commanded them not to harass the Moabites, or provoke them to war, since He was not going to give the Israelites any of the Moabites’ land. (According to verse 9, the Moabites were descendants of Lot.)
- Finally, when a generation of Israelites had died, the Israelites came to the land of the Moabites again, and again were told not to provoke the Moabites to war.
After this, the “action” begins:
“Set out now and cross the Arnon Gorge. See, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his country. Begin to take possession of it and engage him in battle. This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.” (verses 24–25; this is the LORD speaking)
So Moses sent messengers to Sihon with a peace offering, asking for permission to travel through his land:
“Let us pass through your country. We will stay on the main road; we will not turn aside to the right or to the left. Sell us food to eat and water to drink for their price in silver. Only let us pass through on foot—as the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir, and the Moabites, who live in Ar, did for us—until we cross the Jordan into the land the LORD our God is giving us.” (verses 27–29)
But Sihon wouldn’t let them pass through, for “the LORD … had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into [the Israelites’] hands, as he has now done” (verse 30b) The LORD then reassured the Israelites that He had begun to deliver Sihon into their hands; all they had to do was conquer him, and take the land over.
And they did. They utterly destroyed Sihon, killing all of the men, women and children, and took the livestock and plunder as their own. But, in accordance with the LORD’s command, the Israelites did not approach the Ammonites, or try to take any of their land.
ThoughtsI don’t really have any thoughts on this, especially since it’s mostly review (except that Moses is giving this recap of the history a more personal feeling).
The one thing that confuses me is “Moabites” vs. “Ammonites.” Sometimes it seems as if both of those terms might apply to the same people; I really don’t have a good enough knowledge of all of the peoples of that day and age, to know the difference between a “Moabite” and an “Ammonite.”