Introduction. 1These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan [* in the desert, in the Arabah, opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab; 2it is a journey of eleven days from Horeb to Kadesh‐barnea by way of the highlands of Seir].
3In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the Israelites all the commands that the LORD had given him in their regard. 4After he had defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, a Dt 3, 2; Nm 21, 21–35 . and Og, king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, 5Moses began to explain the law in the land of Moab beyond the Jordan, as follows:
Departure from Horeb. 6“The LORD, our God, said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7 *Leave here and go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all the surrounding regions, b Nm 13, 29 . the land of the Canaanites in the Arabah, the mountains, the foothills, the Negeb and the seacoast; to Lebanon, and as far as the Great River [the Euphrates]. 8I have given that land over to you. c Gn 12, 7; 15, 18; 17, 7f; 28, 13f . Go now and occupy the land I swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I would give to them and to their descendants.’
Appointment of Elders. 9“At that time I said to you, ‘Alone, I am unable to carry you.* 10The LORD, your God, has so multiplied you that you are now as numerous as the stars in the sky. d Dt 10, 22; Gn 15, 5 . 11May the LORD, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times over, and bless you as he promised! 12But how can I alone bear the crushing burden that you are, along with your bickering? 13 e 13ff: Ex 18, 21–25 . Choose wise, intelligent and experienced men from each of your tribes, that I may appoint them as your leaders.’ 14You answered me, ‘We agree to do as you have proposed.’ 15So I took outstanding men of your tribes, wise and experienced, and made them your leaders as officials over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties and over tens, and other tribal officers. 16I charged your judges at that time, ‘Listen to complaints among your kinsmen, and administer true justice to both parties even if one of them is an alien. f 16f: Ex 18, 26; 2 Chr 19, 6f; Prv 24, 23; Jn 7, 24; Jas 2, 9 . 17In rendering judgment, do not consider who a person is; give ear to the lowly and to the great alike, fearing no man, for judgment is God's. Refer to me any case that is too hard for you and I will hear it.’ 18Thereupon I gave you all the commands you were to fulfill.
The Twelve Scouts. 19“Then, in obedience to the command of the LORD, our God, we set out from Horeb and journeyed through the whole desert, vast and fearful as you have seen, g Dt 8, 15; 32, 10 . in the direction of the hill country of the Amorites. We had reached Kadesh‐barnea 20when I said to you, ‘You have come to the hill country of the Amorites, which the LORD, our God, is giving us. 21The LORD, your God, has given this land over to you. Go up and occupy it, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, commands you. Do not fear or lose heart.’ 22 h 22–28: Nm 13, 2–34 . Then all of you came up to me and said, ‘Let us send men ahead to reconnoiter the land for us and report to us on the road we must follow and the cities we must take.’ 23Agreeing with the proposal, I chose twelve men from your number, one from each tribe. 24They set out into the hill country as far as the Wadi Eshcol, and explored it. 25Then, taking along some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, ‘The land which the LORD, our God, gives us is good.’
Threats of Revolt. 26“But you refused to go up, i Dt 9, 23 . and after defying the command of the LORD, your God, 27you set to murmuring in your tents,* ‘Out of hatred for us the LORD has brought us up out of the land of Egypt, j Dt 9, 28; Nm 14, 1–4; Ps 106, 25 . to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites and destroy us. 28What shall we meet with up there? Our kinsmen have made us fainthearted by reporting that the people are stronger and taller than we, and their cities are large and fortified to the sky; besides, they saw the Anakim there.’ k Dt 9, 1f .
29“But I said to you, ‘Have no dread or fear of them. 30The LORD, your God, who goes before you, will himself fight for you, just as he took your part before your very eyes in Egypt, 31as well as in the desert, where you saw how the LORD, your God, carried you, as a man carries his child, all along your journey until you arrived at this place.’ 32Despite this, you would not trust the LORD, your God, 33who journeys before you to find you a resting place—by day in the cloud, and by night in the fire, to show the way you must go. l Ex 13, 21; Nm 10, 33f; 14, 14 . 34When the LORD heard your words, he was angry; 35and he swore, ‘Not one man of this evil generation shall look upon the good land I swore to give to your fathers, m 34ff: Nm 14, 22f. 28–38; Jos 14, 9 . 36except Caleb,* son of Jephunneh; he shall see it. For to him and to his sons I will give the land he trod upon, because he has followed the LORD unreservedly.’
37“The LORD was angered against me also on your account, and said, ‘Not even you shall enter there, n Dt 4, 21; 34, 4; Nm 20, 12 . 38but your aide Joshua, o Dt 31, 3. 7; Nm 27, 18ff; 34, 17 . son of Nun, shall enter. Encourage him, for he is to give Israel its heritage. 39Your little ones, who you said would become booty, and your children, who as yet do not know good from bad—they shall enter; to them I will give it, and they shall occupy it. p 39f: Nm 14, 31 . 40But as for yourselves: turn about and proceed into the desert on the Red Sea road.’
Unsuccessful Invasion. 41 q 41–45: Nm 14, 40. 42–45 . “In reply you said to me, ‘We have sinned against the LORD. We will go up ourselves and fight, just as the LORD, our God, commanded us.’ And each of you girded on his weapons, making light of going up into the hill country. 42But the LORD said to me, ‘Warn them: Do not go up and fight, lest you be beaten down before your enemies, for I will not be in your midst.’ 43I gave you this warning but you would not listen. In defiance of the LORD's command you arrogantly marched off into the hill country. 44Then the Amorites living there came out against you and, like bees, chased you, cutting you down in Seir as far as Hormah. 45On your return you wept before the LORD, but he did not listen to your cry or give ear to you. 46That is why you had to stay as long as you did at Kadesh.