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Deuteronomy 3-4 Listen
1 Then we turned, and went up the way to Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei.
2 And the LORD said unto me, Fear him not: for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.
3 So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining.
4 And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan.
5 All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many.
6 And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.
7 But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities, we took for a prey to ourselves.
8 And we took at that time out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorites the land that was on this side Jordan, from the river of Arnon unto mount Hermon;
9 (Which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion; and the Amorites call it Shenir;)
10 All the cities of the plain, and all Gilead, and all Bashan, unto Salchah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.
11 For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.
12 And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I unto the Reubenites and to the Gadites.
13 And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants.
14 Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashanhavothjair, unto this day.
15 And I gave Gilead unto Machir.
16 And unto the Reubenites and unto the Gadites I gave from Gilead even unto the river Arnon half the valley, and the border even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon;
17 The plain also, and Jordan, and the coast thereof, from Chinnereth even unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, under Ashdothpisgah eastward.
18 And I commanded you at that time, saying, The LORD your God hath given you this land to possess it: ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all that are meet for the war.
19 But your wives, and your little ones, and your cattle, (for I know that ye have much cattle,) shall abide in your cities which I have given you;
20 Until the LORD have given rest unto your brethren, as well as unto you, and until they also possess the land which the LORD your God hath given them beyond Jordan: and then shall ye return every man unto his possession, which I have given you.
21 And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, Thine eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings: so shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest.
22 Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you.
Still encamped along the east side of the Jordan River, ready to go into Canaan, Moses recalls for the Hebrews the recent battle against King Og in the near vicinity of their current location. Remember? He's the big man with the little name (Numbers 21:33-35, see notes). They captured the big man's bed (he was finished with it) and put it on display. HOW HUGE WAS OG? Don't know, but the bed he slept in was 13.5 feet by 6 feet...and it was made of iron. The conquered territory was subsequently given to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (verses 12-13) at their request. This transaction was negotiated with Moses in Numbers 32 (see notes). The other half of Manasseh settled on the west side of the Jordan River with the remaining tribes. Other references to Og are Deuteronomy 1:4; 4:47; 31:4; Joshua 2:10; 9:10; 13:12,30). The memory of this great conquest was a monumental victory all through the national history of Israel, as is the case hundreds of years later in Psalms 135:11 and 136:20. When times were tough for the Jews, they would look back to God's miraculous provision on that day.
Please allow me to interrupt this history lesson by Moses (which began in Deuteronomy 1, see notes) to make an observation and an application for New Testament Believers. As the Hebrews are poised on the east side of the Jordan River ready to go into Canaan and realize the victory God had promised them all the way back to Abraham, Moses is intent on recalling, for the sake of a memorial, how they got where they are. His record serves to show them what it was like when they rebelled against God, followed by how glorious it is to obey God. These milestones in Israel's history were memorials of God's provisions - reflecting both good times and bad times. New Testament Believers would do well to remember the milestones in their Christian lives, beginning with their very salvation experience, accompanied by the victories God has provided since that time. When circumstances are discouraging and it seems that Satan has you on the run, reflect back on God's grace and those milestone provisions. When you're discouraged and your negative emotions begin to get the best of you, go to Philippians 4:1-9 (see notes) for a refresher course on God's provisions. When it seems hopeless, THINK GOD!
23 And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,
24 O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?
25 I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.
26 But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.
27 Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
28 But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.
29 So we abode in the valley over against Bethpeor.
While Moses is reflecting, may as well remind them of this: Moses won't be making the final leg of the journey. As he tells the Hebrews why, he does remind them that it was THEIR FAULT he would not be accompanying them (verse 26). Now keep in mind, this incident about which Moses is reflecting did not happen because of their fathers 38 years ago; this is a recent occurrence (Numbers 20:1-13, see notes). He's not finished bringing that point up - says it again in 4:21 (see below). However, Moses does get to SEE the new real estate from the top of Mount Pisgah (aka Nebo) in the mountain range of Abarim. It's going to be Joshua to lead them in.
Here's the answer to a Bible trivia question in verse 29, "Where was Moses buried?" Answer: Bethpeor, on the east side of the Jordan River.
1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
3 Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you.
4 But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.
5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;
10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
11 And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.
12 And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
14 And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.
Chapter 4 still finds Moses addressing the Hebrews, but he begins this section with a solemn reminder in verse 1, "Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you." Incentive (verse 3): If you don't keep it, you will die - even makes reference to the Baalpeor incident in Numbers 25 (see notes) and the deaths as a result of their idolatry to make his point. That leads to the comment in verse 4 where he points out that they are alive today because they kept the law. We see in verses 7-8 that Israel is distinguished both by its God and by its law. These two realities are inseparable. Here's the deal: No other nation was ever given the Law of God as Israel was; it's the key to their success.
This is a whole new generation than those who left Egypt with Moses 38+ years ago. In verses 9-14, Moses recounts the revelation from God at Mount Horeb (Sinai) in order to instruct the present generation, who did not experience it. Look at the principle Moses drives home to these Hebrews: The Law God has given the Hebrews, the covenant represented by the Ten Commandments (verse 13), makes the Israelites unique among all the nations of the world. God never blessed another nation in such a manner.
The reference there to Horeb is significant. That's the mountain range where Israel set up camp for the first year out of Egypt - where they received the tablets containing the Ten Commandments of God (verse 13). One of its summits was called Sinai. That's also where Moses had kept sheep for his father-in-law previous to the whole Exodus experience - the location of the burning bush (Exodus 3, see notes). Moses reminds them that Israel stood at the foot of the mountain as God gave the Law to Moses (Exodus 19-21, see notes). Remember the smoke and fire on the mountain as Israel stood at the bottom (Exodus 19:18)?
15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
20 But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
21 Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance:
22 But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land.
23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.
24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
Moses again issues the prohibition against making any image that might be used as an idol. Egypt had been filled with such images, and the Egyptians worshipped them. Such was also the case with the heathen nations Israel would be displacing in Canaan. The temptation was so great to make these images the object of worship, they were just banned...period! Incidentally, Israel was infested with idol worship for much of their history until their final demise in 586 B.C. Because the other nations around them were into idol worship, Israel just kept going back to it themselves - so much for the advantages of being part of a global community!
Now Moses isn't bitter, but here it is again - a reminder in verses 21-22 that he was not getting the big payoff (entry into Canaan, see above) BECAUSE OF THEM! Do the right thing and God will bless you. God gives them a formula for success as they enter the new land: Serving God will bring success; turning from God will bring failure.
25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:
26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
27 And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you.
28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
31 (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
It's almost as though Moses is certain that future generations of Hebrews will fall into idolatry and subsequently fall as a nation. It's difficult to know whether Moses is speaking from prophetic knowledge or whether he is just giving a warning here, but he accurately conveys what will happen to Israel in their future. When the day comes that Israel will become idolaters, "the LORD shall scatter you among the nations." In fact, that did happen, and the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell for just that reason in 721 B.C. (II Kings 17, see notes) and the Southern Kingdom in 586 B.C. (II Kings 24, see notes). But wait! There's a promise of restoration in verse 30, "When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;" And why will Israel be restored? There it is in verse 31, "(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them." That return is recorded in the Book of Ezra (see notes).
Do you want to live longer? (Deuteronomy 4:32-40)
32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?
33 Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.
36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;
38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.
Learn a lesson from your ancestors; keep the law! Here's the guarantee for the future ventures in Deuteronomy 4:40, "Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever."
In making his point, Moses recalls the miracles which Israel had witnessed unlike any other nation on earth in verses 33-35, "Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him." And...why did God do all of this? It's back to verse 31 (see above), because of the "covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them."
41 Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
42 That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:
43 Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.
We are told that if a man were slain, eastern culture considered the duty of avenging him was the obligation of his nearest relative. Genesis 9:6 (see notes) specifies the reality of capital punishment where it states, "Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." The regulations concerning the Cities of Refuge are found in Numbers 35:9-34 (see notes); Deuteronomy 19:1-13 (see notes); Joshua 20 (see notes). We see here the designation of the three cities that were established on the east side of the Jordan. These were only safe havens if your killing was accidental. You still had to have a trial, and if you were found guilty, the Cities of Refuge were no longer safe havens for you. These three are named (on the east side of the Jordan River) in verse 43, "Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites." A table listing all six cities of refuge may be viewed in the notes accompanying Joshua 20 (see notes).
Moses introduces the law...again! (Deuteronomy 4:44-49)
44 And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:
45 These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt,
46 On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Bethpeor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt:
47 And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
48 From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon,
49 And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.
Must be important - we're getting ready to cover the Law all again. Moses wants to be clear about the provisions of God's Law with these Israelites before they head over the Jordan into Canaan. Since their success in battle rests upon keeping the law, we're going to make sure they understand the whole thing...thoroughly. In these verses we see the big introduction of the restating of the whole law to follow in the subsequent chapters. We should remember, however, that the first giving of the law was done in the presence of their parents 39 years ago. The Ten Commandments are restated in Deuteronomy 5 (see notes).