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Deuteronomy 1-2 Listen
An introduction to Deuteronomy
The wandering is over, and 40 years have passed since the Hebrews left Egypt. Here they sit on the east side of the Jordan River ready to go into Canaan to possess it. But first, let's get a second giving of the Law of Moses. That's what "Deuteronomy" means; it's not a Semitic word at all, but rather a compound Greek word - "Deutero" (second) and "nomy" (law), a name adopted for it as a result of the Old Testament translation into the Greek Septuagint. Hang on for a repeat of the giving of the Law to the Hebrews before they go possess their new land. Interestingly, the Hebrew Bible calls this book "Devarim," derived from the opening phrase in the Hebrew text of verse 1:1, "These [are or be] the words..." Therefore, the Hebrew Bible just calls this fifth book of the bible "Words." Deuteronomy was written by Moses, as was Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. Since Joshua was Moses' right-hand man, he undoubtedly had a hand in helping Moses with these writings. He certainly must have been the one who completed Moses' work after his death.
While the very name assigned to this book indicates a second giving of the Law of Moses, in actuality, there are some variations to the Law of Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy. Now that they are prepared to enter into Canaan, some lifestyle issues will be little different now that they will no longer be touring the Sinai Peninsula. We'll point out some of those variations along the way.
1 These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.
2 (There are eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadeshbarnea.)
3 And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;
4 After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei:
5 On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying,
6 The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:
7 Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
8 Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
Hey! Haven't we been in this situation before? This time they're actually going to do what God says without murmuring. But before going into Canaan, the Hebrews have some history to go over and some laws to reiterate. How long since the Hebrews left Egypt? There's your answer in verse 3, "...in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month..."
How long did the wilderness journey last...exactly?
|Numbers 10:11 And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.||They broke camp to head for Canaan in year 2, month 2, day 20.|
|Deuteronomy 1:3 And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;||They are prepared to go into Canaan in year 40, month 11, day 1.|
The lapsed time was 38 years, 8 months, 11 days
Here's the question: How long should it have taken to travel from Mount Sinai (aka Mount Horeb) where they camped after leaving Egypt to Kadeshbarnea? Answer: 11 days (verse 2). Now, keep in mind: That's not the travel time from Egypt to Canaan; that's the travel time from Mount Sinai to Kadeshbarnea. Kadeshbarnea was located in the southern part of Judah, and Mount Horeb was on the Sinai Peninsula just over from Midian. It's the place where Moses kept his Midianite father-in-law's cattle previous to the Exodus. The 15+ months at Mount Horeb was necessary to get Israel organized as a nation before they embarked upon their quest to possess Canaan.
Now, hang on while Moses gives us a recap of the highlights of their journey from Egypt. He begins to recap the battles that got them there (positioned on the east side of the Jordan River) in verse 4 when he mentions King Sihon and King Og (Numbers 21, see notes). We see in verses 7-8 the declaration that it is time to cross the Jordan River and "go in and possess the land." You will notice a boundary reference to Lebanon and the Euphrates River in verse 7. To see a map of the promised land, click here.
We see in verse 8 a reference to the Abrahamic Covenant, "...go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them." The provisions of that covenant can be seen by clicking here to read, "The Abrahamic Covenant."
9 And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:
10 The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.
11 (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)
12 How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?
13 Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.
14 And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.
15 So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.
16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
18 And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.
Moses recalls the reorganization he had done back in Exodus 18:13-27 (see notes). Up until that time, Moses did all the ruling and all the judging. You will recall that his father-in-law felt that was too much for one man. In this passage we get a little additional insight regarding the appointment of the men to help judge at that time. Keep in mind; this was 40 years ago - instructions given to their fathers.
Moses recap: Their refusal to enter Canaan (Deuteronomy 1:19-33)
19 And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea.
20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.
21 Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
23 And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:
24 And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
25 And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us.
26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:
27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
30 The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,
33 Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
Here's a sad time in Israel's history. We first saw the incident in Numbers 13 (see notes) upon the return of the spies. The subsequent rebellion in Numbers 14 (see notes) sealed their fate for the next 38+ years. They sent the spies into Canaan, but upon their return with land specimens and stories of their forty days away from home, the people were afraid to go into Canaan. What's worse, they murmured and threatened the lives of Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb on that occasion. One new item that we see in this passage of scripture that we did not get from Numbers is the fact that it was the peoples' idea to send the spies into Canaan rather than just go on in and possess it (verse 22). But Moses points out in verse 26, "Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God." That gives us an idea of God's longsuffering; he tolerated their negotiations with Moses, but did not tolerate their ultimate refusal to go into Canaan at that time.
34 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,
36 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.
37 Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.
38 But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.
39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.
40 But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
41 Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill.
42 And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.
43 So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill.
44 And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.
45 And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.
46 So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there.
This story is being told by Moses to the children of those rebels back in Numbers 14:20-45 (see notes). It's important that history does not repeat itself. Some additional insight is given in this passage indicating that the penalty for their rebellion did not extend to the premature deaths of the women in Israel - just "men of war." Furthermore, we deduct that the Levites were exempt as well. See the discussion in the information frame on the right side of this page. Moses points out in verse 39 why the children of these rebels were not held responsible, "Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it." Moses recalls in verses 41-46 that, in their remorse regarding their rebellion against Moses, they decided to try to go into Canaan without God's leading hand (Numbers 14:39-45 - see notes) - FAILED! You will recall that there is a gap of 38+ years between the events of Numbers 14 (see notes) and Numbers 20 (see notes). Actually, the gap almost certainly occurs between chapters 19-20, but that's not absolutely verifiable. The only information we have regarding Israel's activities during that time is found in Numbers 33 (see notes) which lists the locations of their encampments over that period.
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.
2 And the LORD spake unto me, saying,
3 Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.
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:
5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.
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.
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.
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 Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.
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.
10 The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;
11 Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.
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.
13 Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered.
14 And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, 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.
15 For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.
16 So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people,
17 That the LORD spake unto me, saying,
18 Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day:
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.
20 (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;
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:
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:
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.)
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.
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.
Verse 1 recaps Numbers 14:25 (see notes) when God led them back into the wilderness. Beginning with verse 2 Moses' history lesson takes up with contemporary history. He gives a recap of what happened as they emerged from their 38 years of journeying in the wilderness. This recent history we saw as we read through Numbers. Highlights in this passage include God's decree that Israel not attack the Edomites (verses 1-8). These are Esau's descendants, but history reveals to us that the Edomites, for the centuries following, would be a thorn in Israel's side (see notes on Numbers 20:14-21 regarding the Edomites). Moses then recounts how the Lord had told them to try to work with the Moabites, Lot's descendants, and the Ammonites (also Lot's descendants). However, Moses goes into some detail to show us that the Moabites and Ammonites had been somewhat displaced by the Amorites. Moses is not instructed to avoid the Amorites - they're not related. That takes us up to Israel's engagement with them, specifically, King Sihon in verse 26.
Moses recap: The defeat of King Sihon (Deuteronomy 2:26-37)
26 And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,
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.
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;
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.
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.
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.
32 Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.
33 And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.
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:
35 Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.
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:
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.
And then there's King Sihon in Numbers 21:21-32 (see notes). When asked for free passage, this Amorite King should have said to Israel, "My pleasure!" His mistake was fatal. Moses recalls the aftermath and haul of the spoils after this great defeat of King Sihon.