Conquest of Og, King of Bashan.
1. we turned, and went up the way to
Bashan—Bashan ("fruitful" or "flat"), now El-Bottein, lay
situated to the north of Gilead and extended as far as Hermon. It was a
rugged mountainous country, valuable however for its rich and luxuriant
Og the king of Bashan came out against
us—Without provocation, he rushed to attack the Israelites,
either disliking the presence of such dangerous neighbors, or burning
to avenge the overthrow of his friends and allies.
2. The Lord said unto me, Fear him not: for I will
deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy
hand—Og's gigantic appearance and the formidable array of
forces he will bring to the field, need not discourage you; for,
belonging to a doomed race, he is destined to share the fate of Sihon
3-8. Argob was the capital of a district in
Bashan of the same name, which, together with other fifty-nine cities
in the same province, were conspicuous for their lofty and fortified
walls. It was a war of extermination. Houses and cities were razed to
the ground; all classes of people were put to the sword; and nothing
was saved but the cattle, of which an immense amount fell as spoil into
the hands of the conquerors. Thus, the two Amorite kings and the entire
population of their dominions were extirpated. The whole country east
of the Jordan—first upland downs from the torrent of the Arnon on
the south to that of the Jabbok on the north; next the high mountain
tract of Gilead and Bashan from the deep ravine of Jabbok—became
the possession of the Israelites.
9. Hermon—now Jebel-Es-Sheick—the
majestic hill on which the long and elevated range of Anti-Lebanon
terminates. Its summit and the ridges on its sides are almost
constantly covered with snow. It is not so much one high mountain as a
whole cluster of mountain peaks, the highest in Palestine. According to
the survey taken by the English Government Engineers in 1840, they were
about 9376 feet above the sea. Being a mountain chain, it is no wonder
that it should have received different names at different points from
the different tribes which lay along the base—all of them
designating extraordinary height: Hermon, the lofty peak; "Sirion," or
in an abbreviated form "Sion" (De 4:48), the upraised, glittering; "Shenir,"
the glittering breastplate of ice.
11. only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant
of giants—literally, "of Rephaim." He was not the last giant,
but the only living remnant in the trans-jordanic country (Jos 15:14), of a certain gigantic race, supposed
to be the most ancient inhabitants of Palestine.
behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of
iron—Although beds in the East are with the common people
nothing more than a simple mattress, bedsteads are not unknown. They
are in use among the great, who prefer them of iron or other metals,
not only for strength and durability, but for the prevention of the
troublesome insects which in warm climates commonly infest wood. Taking
the cubit at half a yard, the bedstead of Og would measure thirteen and
a half feet, so that as beds are usually a little larger than the
persons who occupy them, the stature of the Amorite king may be
estimated at about eleven or twelve feet; or he might have caused his
bed to be made much larger than was necessary, as Alexander the Great
did for each of his foot soldiers, to impress the Indians with an idea
of the extraordinary strength and stature of his men [Le Clerc]. But how did Og's bedstead come to be in
Rabbath, of the children of Ammon? In answer to this question, it has
been said, that Og had, on the eve of engagement, conveyed it to
Rabbath for safety. Or it may be that Moses, after capturing it, may
have sold it to the Ammonites, who had kept it as an antiquarian
curiosity till their capital was sacked in the time of David. This is a
most unlikely supposition, and besides renders it necessary to consider
the latter clause of this verse as an interpolation inserted long after
the time of Moses. To avoid this, some eminent critics take the
Hebrew word rendered "bedstead" to mean "coffin." They think
that the king of Bashan having been wounded in battle, fled to Rabbath,
where he died and was buried; hence the dimensions of his "coffin" are
given [Dathe, Roos].
12, 13. this land, which we possessed at that
time, from Aroer … gave I unto the Reubenites and to the
Gadites—The whole territory occupied by Sihon was parcelled
out among the pastoral tribes of Reuben and Gad. It extended from the
north bank of the Arnon to the south half of mount Gilead—a small
mountain ridge, now called Djelaad, about six or seven miles south of
the Jabbok, and eight miles in length. The northern portion of Gilead
and the rich pasture lands of Bashan—a large province,
consisting, with the exception of a few bleak and rocky spots, of
strong and fertile soil—was assigned to the half-tribe of
14. Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country
of Argob—The original inhabitants of the province north of
Bashan, comprising sixty cities (De 3:4), not having been extirpated along with
Og, this people were afterwards brought into subjection by the energy
of Jair. This chief, of the tribe of Manasseh, in accordance with the
pastoral habits of his people, called these newly acquired towns by a
name which signifies "Jair's Bedouin Villages of Tents."
unto this day—This remark must
evidently have been introduced by Ezra, or some of the pious men who
arranged and collected the books of Moses.
15. I gave Gilead unto Machir—It was
only the half of Gilead (De 3:12, 13) which was given to the descendants of
Machir, who was now dead.
16. from Gilead—that is, not the
mountainous region, but the town Ramoth-gilead,
even unto the river Arnon half the
valley—The word "valley" signifies a wady, either filled with
water or dry, as the Arnon is in summer, and thus the proper rendering
of the passage will be—"even to the half or middle of the river
Arnon" (compare Jos 12:2).
This prudent arrangement of the boundaries was evidently made to
prevent all disputes between the adjacent tribes about the exclusive
right to the water.
25. I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good
land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and
Lebanon—The natural and very earnest wish of Moses to be
allowed to cross the Jordan was founded on the idea that the divine
threatening might be conditional and revertible. "That goodly mountain"
is supposed by Jewish writers to have pointed to the hill on which the
temple was to be built (De 12:5; Ex 15:2). But biblical scholars now, generally,
render the words—"that goodly mountain, even Lebanon," and
consider it to be mentioned as typifying the beauty of Palestine, of
which hills and mountains were so prominent a feature.
26. speak no more unto me of this
matter—that is, My decree is unalterable.