Setting the scene.
Moses addresses Israel just before they invade the promised land. He speaks to a new generation born in the wilderness.
Israel will soon cross the Jordan westward into Canaan from Moab.
Horeb is Deuteronomy's name for Mount Sinai.
The promised land is envisioned as extending north to the river Euphrates, although Israel actually occupied a much smaller area.
Moses' overwork has been caused by Israel's population growth, a fulfillment of the LORD's promise to Abraham (Gen 15.5
This justice system is comprehensive, reaching down to the level of commanders of tens. It is to be fair, even when a disdained resident alien
Fair decisions are ensured by impartiality and appeals to Moses' special expertise.
A failed attempt at conquest.
Amorites is a general term for the inhabitants of the land, but especially for those in the hills. Kadesh-barnea is a southern oasis in the Negeb.
Sending out advance scouts was standard practice (Josh 2; Judg 18.1–10
Eshcol means “cluster of grapes,” underscoring the land's fruitfulness. At first, only the positive aspects of the scouts' report
are mentioned (contrast v. 28
), which adds to the surprise when Israel proves unwilling to attack.
Anakim were reputed to be of gigantic size.
Moses gives three reasons why they should have no dread or fear (v. 29
): The LORD has already fought for them (v. 30
), carried them like a child (v. 31
), and guided them on their journey (v. 33
All the adults of that generation were to die outside the land except for Caleb (v. 36
) and Joshua (v. 38
). According to Num 13–14
, these two were the only spies who urged Israel to attack. The exclusion of Moses from the land is seen here as the people's
These little ones are the new generation to whom Moses is now speaking the words of Deuteronomy.
Whenever it fought as the LORD's army, Israel prevailed, but in this case it defiantly fought on its own.
Through Edom and Moab.
Numbers 20.14–21 and 21.10–20
report another version of this story. Many days covers thirty-eight years and the death of the first generation (
Mount Seir refers to Edom's territory.
Elath and Ezion-geber were located on the shore of the Red Sea, south of Edom.
Here Ar indicates the territory of Moab in general, while in v. 18
it refers to a specific city.
Details about fabled
and extinct peoples (compare vv. 20–23
) were of interest to ancient readers.
Zered marked the boundary between Edom and Moab.
The death of the last of the previous generation means that conquest can begin.
To move north out of Moab means that war with King Sihon is inevitable.
Ammonite territory lay just to the east of Israel's line of advance.
Wadi Arnon was the border between Moab and the territory of King Sihon. The language of divine warrior
theology indicates certain victory: I have handed over. The LORD as divine warrior uses the weapons of dread and fear.
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