Deuteronomy Chapter 2 The Journey to Canaan

Sep 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Deuteronomy, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Deuteronomy Chapter 2 The Journey to Canaan

Deut. 2:1 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.

Deut. 2:2 And the LORD spake unto me, saying,

Deut. 2:3 Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.

Deut. 2:4 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:

Deut. 2:5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a footbreadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.

Deut. 2:6 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.

Deut. 2:7 For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.

Deut. 2:8 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 Ezion-geber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.

Verses 1-8 are a recap of the instructions that were given to the Israelites when they eventually went far northward toward the entry into the Promised Land. At that time, they had to pass through Edom and the land of Moab, which were directly before them. The first obstacle was entry into the land of Mount Seir, the possession of Edom, the land of Esau.

The Edomites were afraid in spite of the assurances that the Israelites would not meddle in any of their affairs but would pass through the land peacefully, buying enough food and water to sustain them in the journey. Because of the Edomites’ fear, the Israelites had to circle around in the plain of Edom down below. They were left in a dilemma, but as in the past, the Lord provided for them. In fact, the Lord had always provided for them, even though there were times when they hungered and thirsted temporarily. Following temporary testing periods, the Israelites were abundantly refreshed, even though they usually did not pass the test too successfully. As Christians, we are provided for spiritually.

Q: Are Elath and Ezion-geber at the north end of the Red Sea where Eilat is today?

A: Yes. In other words, after staying a long time in Kadesh-barnea, the Israelites started to move, but instead of going in the direction of the Promised Land, they went in the opposite direction down the Arabah to what is called the Gulf of Eilat today. Then they had to retrace their steps in a long, trying journey on foot. In addition, they had to circuit the wadis and Mount Seir, which is no small mountain, several times. Thus the Israelites went around in circles, hither and yon, and the Lord’s people are sometimes tested with similar experiences; that is, they seem to be getting nowhere in their spiritual development. All of the Israelites’ experiences are meant to be instructive and helpful to the Lord’s people as new creatures.

Deut. 2:9 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.

Deut. 2:10 The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;

Deut. 2:11 Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.

Deut. 2:12 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; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them.

Deut. 2:13 Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered.

Deut. 2:14 And the space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them.

Deut. 2:15 For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.

The Israelites dwelled at Mount Sinai for approximately one year, and then, instead of going an 11-day journey to the Promised Land, they abode in one place for seven days, searched the land for 40 days, and were defeated by the Amorites as a punishment for not entering the land.

In all, two years elapsed of the journey of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai. Since God had now purposed that they would remain in the wilderness for a total of 40 years, there remained 38 years to be consumed before they could enter the Promised Land. At the time Moses was giving this sermon in the Book of Deuteronomy, the time setting was the fortieth year. In fact, it was a month and a half before the actual entry into the land under the leadership of Joshua.

Verses 9-15 review certain points. The Israelites were to enter the land of Moab, but the Moabites refused to give them free access along the King’s Highway, which was the shorter, more desirable route from Egypt to Damascus, Syria. This higher road was better than the lower road because one did not suffer the scorching heat of the sun, normally speaking. In addition, the higher road afforded pasturage, water, and other conveniences on the journey.

Therefore, the popular route to Damascus was the King’s Highway. Originally, the Israelites wanted to pursue this route, but because the Edomites and the Moabites were reluctant to let them do so, the people had to journey on the lower, dryer plain.

Verse 9 contains interesting detail about the Moabites. God instructed the Israelites that they were not to have any possessions in Moab and Ammon because He had promised the lands to Lot’s two children of those names. Nor were the Israelites to occupy any land that had been promised to Esau.

The land the Israelites bypassed was a land of giants in olden times, in the days of Noah. In the Book of Deuteronomy, we are reading about conditions at the time of the Exodus and the Israelites’ entry into the Promised Land in the days of Moses, which was a much later time. The children of Anak multiplied in times past, and now the progeny of the sons of Anak were dwelling in the lands of Moab, Seir, and Ammon. The same progeny—all giants—had various names: Zamzummims, Emims, Anakims, Zuzims, and Avims. A more geographical name was the Horims, who dwelled in Seir. Incidentally, Aaron died in Mount Hor, which was in the vicinity of Mount Seir (Deut. 32:50). The point is that all five names refer to the same progeny, who were of gigantic stature. These giants and their background will be discussed when we come to chapter 3, which provides a further dimension that should accompany the explanation.

Comment: It is ironic that the children of Israel did not go in to possess the Promised Land because of the unfavorable reports of the ten spies about giants in the land, yet at the end of the 40-year wanderings, the Israelites ended up in the lands where giants dwelled.

Reply: Giants were on both sides—in the land of Canaan as well as east of the Jordan River.

When the 12 spies went into the Promised Land, they reported that there were three particular sons of Anak, the parent giant (Num. 13:22). Those three sons have a spiritual significance for the Christian, namely, the world, the flesh, and the devil. In the experiences of Christian life, one or more of these sons, in one or another shape or form, are involved with the spiritual testing of each of us. The test with the world, the flesh, and the devil comes in a variety of forms—Zamzummims, Emims, Anakims, Zuzims, Avims, and Horims—but when studied, the variety narrows down to one of these three particular giants as the backbone of the trial that besets us in our Christian journey. To state the matter again, the Zamzummims, Emims, Anakims, Zuzims, Avims, and Horims were all the same progeny, which boiled down to the three sons of the one father, Anak.

Q: Weren’t there Rephaims too (Gen. 14:5; 15:20)?

A: Yes, but we are intentionally avoiding them for now. The Rephaims are hard to understand unless we have the background just explained. The connection with that expression, which pertains to “darkness,” then becomes more readily apparent. The thought of “darkness” helps with the explanation to a considerable extent.

The Israelites were to “touch not” the lands of Moab and Ammon but were to turn northward and go on their journey as the Lord would lead them before passing over the river Jordan. Our current approach in studying Deuteronomy is a hop, a skip, and a jump because the book is so little studied and understood. It is better to get a brief explanation first, before going into some of the nitty-gritty details.

Another interesting point is that three rivers were east of the Jordan in the lands of Ammon, Moab, and Edom. The rivers were Zered, Arnon, and Jabbok (Deut. 2:13; Num. 21:24). The Israelites had to cross the Jabbok because eventually they were to possess land north of that river, but at this time, they were not to interfere or dillydally because the river coursed through the territory of Ammon. By being able to understand a sufficient number of names, we are guided through the land. The considerable number of names we do not understand at present will be thoroughly understood in the Kingdom Age. Those names will be particularly
beneficial and instructional for the world of mankind, and they will probably be accompanied with pictures of the actual locations. The people in the Kingdom will receive plenty of constructive cinematic lessons based on events, history, and places that are recorded in the Scriptures. The Bible is a lamp to our feet now, but it will be illuminated sevenfold when it is thoroughly understood in the future. The wisdom and foresight of God will thus be shown. To God, the future is the past—it is done, finished, accomplished!

“And the space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them. For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed. So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people….” (Deut. 2:14-16). An inheritance east of the Jordan River was given to 2 1/2 tribes of Israel. Edom was given to Esau, and half the land of Moab was given to the Moabites. The northern part of Moab was a possession of one of the 2 1/2 tribes. It was said only of Edom that the Israelites would not get a foot in it.

Deut. 2:16 So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people,

Deut. 2:17 That the LORD spake unto me, saying,

Deut. 2:18 Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day:

Deut. 2:19 And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, 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.

Deut. 2:20 (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;

Deut. 2:21 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:

Deut. 2:22 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:

Deut. 2:23 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.)

Deut. 2:24 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.

Verse 24 ends this part of the account with the Israelites passing over the river Arnon. The Caphtorims are a big subject that is highly conjectural. Also, these verses tell that the Israelites had a battle with the Amorite king, Sihon.

From a spiritual standpoint, this land of the giants can also be given a generalized application along the lines of what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6:12. We fight not against flesh and blood only but against principalities, powers, the rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places. There is not a lot of information about these occult powers, who are the “giants,” the fallen angels. Just as on this side of the veil, we are given some insight that Jesus was the Logos and that Gabriel is a faithful angel, so in the occult world, we know that Satan exists along with his compatriots in demonism. And there are other powers for whom we are not given any instruction in the present life. The various accounts of the giants in Deuteronomy will be revealed to the world in the Kingdom from the natural standpoint, and they will be revealed to the Church beyond the veil from the spiritual standpoint.

Q: Is verse 16 a proof that the only Israelites under condemnation to death in the wilderness were the men of war?

A: Although we do not want to get into semantics, the women were also included in the condemnation. The parameters have to be narrowed down to an extent where, inferentially, we are left with no other alternative. The men of war picture the consecrated. Figuratively speaking, Christians are in danger of extinction in the present age, as shown by the wandering of the children of Israel through the Wilderness of Sinai. This subject is complex.

Deuteronomy is a deep book that is packed with information. Intended as a long-lasting lesson, it is particularly concentrated for that purpose. In the future, the book will be thoroughly understood from both the natural and the spiritual standpoints.

Deut. 2:25 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.

Now the Israelites were near the Jordan River in the territory of Ammon. Verse 25 reminds us of Rahab the harlot’s confession to the spies, for all of Jericho’s inhabitants were aware of what God had done for Israel in the Exodus and in the Wilderness of Sinai in their earlier conquest of the Amalekites. The Israelites prospered in that battle when Moses’ hands were held up in the shape of a cross (Exod. 17:10-12). It is interesting that the Amalekites occupied the south, that is, from Beer-sheba southward, all the way down through the Wilderness of Zin and almost to Mount Sinai. The Canaanites dwelled in the shore land, and the Hittites occupied the mountain range that coursed through the land of Israel north and south, going all the way up to Mount Hermon. On the west side of the Jordan River, the Hittites occupied the northern third of Israel, the Jebusites lived in the middle, and Amorites dwelled in the bottom third.

The report of the Israelites caused fear, and of course the city of Jericho would eventually fear the most, for that is where they entered the land. The people of Jericho and Rahab heard the report and greatly feared, even though they had natural protection with their fortress and wall.

Comment: The Israelites were promised that if they obeyed, others would fear them, but if they disobeyed, the opposite would occur; namely, they would fear and run, even when others were not chasing them (Lev. 26:6-8,17,36-38).

Reply: Earlier, when the spies brought back the report, the people of the land, especially the giants, looked on the Israelites as if they were grasshoppers, and the Israelites felt like grasshoppers, whereas God had told them that their viewpoint should be the opposite. With His help and through His power, they would be successful if obedient, but they disobeyed.

Deut. 2:26 And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,

King Sihon of Heshbon was an Amorite. The Amorites occupied both sides of the Jordan, or the Aqaba wadi, which led down to the Red Sea. That whole ravine divides Israel from what is now Jordan. The Israelites were originally instructed to invade the Promised Land from the south on the west side of Jordan, but in the final analysis, they entered the land on the east side.

Moab occupied a large area up to the Jordan River. The northern half of Moab extended from the middle of the Dead Sea on the east side, up to the river Jordan in the Jericho vicinity. That upper half of Moab was controlled by an alien force, not the Moabites. The Israelites were now confronting King Sihon.

Heshbon, the capital and main city of the Amorites, was on the east side of the Jordan River.

The Israelites were originally asked to go up into the mountain of the Amorites, which was on the other (west) side of the Jordan. Generally speaking, the Amorites more or less controlled both the east and the west sides of the Jordan River. For that reason, the Israelites could not enter the Promised Land until the iniquity of the Amorites was full (Gen. 15:16). Now their iniquity had come to a fullness, so it was time for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land.

Deut. 2:27 Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.

Deut. 2:28 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 feet;

Deut. 2:29 (As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the LORD our God giveth us.

Verses 27 and 28 tell what Moses said to King Sihon through messengers. He was saying that the king need not fear. The “highway” did not go through the middle of Heshbon but skirted the border of the city. Nevertheless, the Amorites were nervous as to the intent of the Israelites. This northern desert road, which went from Egypt to Damascus, was designed to facilitate speedy travel, so it did not go through the middle of cities and had a minimum of obstruction. Moses was saying that he would stay on the road and not enter the cities, but he would appreciate being able to purchase supplies to feed the multitude en route. In other words, Moses wanted to negotiate with the Amorites in a peaceful manner.

“Only I will pass through on my feet.” Moses was saying that the Israelites would pass through in an orderly fashion and not allow any stragglers to do mischief. By being on foot, as opposed to having horses and chariots, they would not be a threat. Their intentions were peaceful.

The Israelites were equipped for hand-to-hand combat had they wanted to use swords, for they had acquired weapons from the Egyptian soldiers at the time of the Exodus. When the sea covered the Egyptians, the armor washed up on the shore on the Sinai side of the Red Sea.

Viewing the destruction of Pharaoh and his host, the Israelites could see the sea cover them. The scene was very climactic, for Pharaoh was almost through the sea to the other side when the waves engulfed him.

Deut. 2:30 But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.

King Sihon’s spirit was hardened like that of Pharaoh with the ten plagues. God knows that when one speaks peaceably to some people, they look upon the peaceable words as a spirit of weakness and an invitation to plunder. And so King Sihon did not see as a good quality the graciousness and peaceable spirit that God had instructed Moses to use. Much of how we view matters and the Lord’s promises depends on the condition of our heart and the spirit within us.

Certainly King Sihon felt he had a golden opportunity to exploit the Israelites and take all of their goods. To him, the Israelites appeared to be an easy prey, even though they were great in number. By inference because he was singled out by name, Sihon was a giant, so he regarded the Israelites as hapless victims. Og, the king of Bashan, was also a giant (Deut. 3:1,11).

To the unconsecrated, to worldly people with the wrong heart condition, the spirit of peace is viewed in a completely different manner than is intended. Moses was saying, “We respect you and your rights, and we hope you will respect our rights,” but King Sihon’s heart became obstinate because of a wrong spirit. “God hardened his [Sihon’s] spirit, and made his heart obstinate, [so] that he [God] might deliver him into thy [the Israelites’] hand.” When King Sihon did not accept the Israelites peaceably, the Lord gave them a justified go-ahead to fight the Amorites. Of course in the Christian age, we are to suffer abuse and not render evil for evil under any circumstance, but back there was another matter where justice was concerned.

Q: What is the timing of the phrase “as appeareth this day”?

A: The Book of Deuteronomy has many similar interruptions that are properly attributed to Ezra. In trying to make the book an orderly, sequential composition, he also inserted, at a much later time, “modern” names that were not in existence in Moses’ day so that the reader of a later generation could identify where an event took place. Some attribute the insertions to Joshua, and that is probably true in a few cases, but Ezra was responsible for most of them.

Comment: Verse 30 gives Moses’ observation that the obstinacy of King Sihon’s heart was providential, that it would work for good to the Israelites.

Reply: Yes, it gave them justification. Moses was a most unusual person. In studying his life, we see that he was next to Jesus and probably one of the greatest men in history, even superior to the Apostle Paul. The Pastor came to the same conclusion, as stated in one sentence in a Reprint article. Moses’ thinking, reasoning, and capabilities were extraordinary, but he lived too early to be of the Little Flock. Similarly, John the Baptist was greater than any other of his generation, but he was not given the opportunity of the high calling. Had they lived later, certainly they would have made wondrous progress in the Gospel Age and received crowns.

Deut. 2:31 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.

Deut. 2:32 Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.

Deut. 2:33 And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.

Deut. 2:34 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:

In all of these Amorite cities, not one person was left alive. In reading about the bloodletting of the Old Testament, we have been greatly blessed with Harvest truth to know that all in their graves will come forth in the Kingdom Age and have an opportunity for life under the most favorable conditions. This knowledge of the opportunity for salvation for the world puts an entirely different slant on many of the things God did in former times. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to understand the goodness and the love of God—unless we viewed the bloodletting from another perspective, which we will do at a later time, God willing.

We also see that the killing was typical. The Pastor justified the killing from the standpoint of the future coming forth from the grave and also from the standpoint of its being typical of how the Christian has to treat sin. We cannot reason with the old man because the old man would get the victory and win the discussion. Satan is right there with counsel if the old man is wanting in any of his reasoning.

Deut. 2:35 Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.

The Israelites were given the liberty of taking a spoil, which is different from the instruction to King Saul, who was told to destroy everything, even the animals. The Prophet Samuel asked Saul, “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” (1 Sam. 15:14). The lesson was obedience, for in regard to God’s Word, “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). Thus God has a good reason—even if we do not know it—for doing one thing on one occasion and something a little different on another occasion. The very fact there are differences is an incitement for us to want to know, if possible, why God makes distinctions, so that we can reason as much as possible like He does. As His children, we want to imitate our Father. A factor that may prevent us from understanding God’s reasons is lack of maturity or worthiness.

Q: Were the Israelites allowed to take the cattle for food? When the Israelites entered Canaan, they were told to destroy all the trees of their enemies except the fruit-bearing trees.

A: Yes, the cattle were for food. Moses’ request to purchase food was denied by Sihon, but God supplied the food in this other manner. With regard to the fruit-bearing trees, kindness to the trees was a factor. As the Israelites conquered the land of Canaan, every foot they took was by faith. In many instances, they met strong opposition from the inhabitants of the land, but if faith was exercised, God would do the rest. We do not usually think of kindness to trees, but a special consideration was to be given. The other trees were used for building and for battering rams in warfare. Mercy to the poor of the land was another factor.

Deut. 2:36 From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us:

The river Arnon was the southern border of the land King Sihon controlled at this time, but it formerly belonged to Moab. While God promised that Moab and Ammon would not lose their inheritance because they were the children of Lot, the promise did not preclude the fact that Moab could lose half of the land. Moab was assured of a permanent possession, but a portion will be given to Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh as part of Israel’s inheritance in the Kingdom Age. These tribes were also given the land in the days of Joshua after they helped their Israelite compatriots fight on the west side of the Jordan River. After winning the battles, they could return to this land on the far side of Jordan, but meanwhile, they left their little ones and their wives behind and went to conquer the Promised Land. The 2 1/2 tribes reasoned with God that they liked the land, and they asked to have it as their inheritance. The Lord graciously granted their request after they did the required fighting in Israel proper. Notice the name Aroer. The many “ar” derivatives in the Old Testament are associated with the land of Ar—similar to the land of Oz.

Deut. 2:37 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.

With regard to the stipulation not to trifle with “the cities of the mountains,” Edom and Moab were very mountainous, and there was also mountainous terrain on the right side of Ammon.

The four rivers Zered, Arnon, Jabbok, and Jordan are helpful in learning the proper geography when considering the fate, or outcome, of Edom, Moab, and Ammon.

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