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Defeat of King Og


When we headed up the road to Bashan, King Og of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, for battle at Edrei. 2The Lord said to me, “Do not fear him, for I have handed him over to you, along with his people and his land. Do to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.” 3So the Lord our God also handed over to us King Og of Bashan and all his people. We struck him down until not a single survivor was left. 4At that time we captured all his towns; there was no citadel that we did not take from them—sixty towns, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5All these were fortress towns with high walls, double gates, and bars, besides a great many villages. 6And we utterly destroyed them, as we had done to King Sihon of Heshbon, in each city utterly destroying men, women, and children. 7But all the livestock and the plunder of the towns we kept as spoil for ourselves.

8 So at that time we took from the two kings of the Amorites the land beyond the Jordan, from the Wadi Arnon to Mount Hermon 9(the Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, while the Amorites call it Senir), 10all the towns of the tableland, the whole of Gilead, and all of Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, towns of Og’s kingdom in Bashan. 11(Now only King Og of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. In fact his bed, an iron bed, can still be seen in Rabbah of the Ammonites. By the common cubit it is nine cubits long and four cubits wide.) 12As for the land that we took possession of at that time, I gave to the Reubenites and Gadites the territory north of Aroer, that is on the edge of the Wadi Arnon, as well as half the hill country of Gilead with its towns, 13and I gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh the rest of Gilead and all of Bashan, Og’s kingdom. (The whole region of Argob: all that portion of Bashan used to be called a land of Rephaim; 14Jair the Manassite acquired the whole region of Argob as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and he named them—that is, Bashan—after himself, Havvoth-jair, as it is to this day.) 15To Machir I gave Gilead. 16And to the Reubenites and the Gadites I gave the territory from Gilead as far as the Wadi Arnon, with the middle of the wadi as a boundary, and up to the Jabbok, the wadi being boundary of the Ammonites; 17the Arabah also, with the Jordan and its banks, from Chinnereth down to the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, with the lower slopes of Pisgah on the east.

18 At that time, I charged you as follows: “Although the Lord your God has given you this land to occupy, all your troops shall cross over armed as the vanguard of your Israelite kin. 19Only your wives, your children, and your livestock—I know that you have much livestock—shall stay behind in the towns that I have given to you. 20When the Lord gives rest to your kindred, as to you, and they too have occupied the land that the Lord your God is giving them beyond the Jordan, then each of you may return to the property that I have given to you.” 21And I charged Joshua as well at that time, saying: “Your own eyes have seen everything that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so the Lord will do to all the kingdoms into which you are about to cross. 22Do not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.”

Moses Views Canaan from Pisgah

23 At that time, too, I entreated the Lord, saying: 24“O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your might; what god in heaven or on earth can perform deeds and mighty acts like yours! 25Let me cross over to see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and the Lebanon.” 26But the Lord was angry with me on your account and would not heed me. The Lord said to me, “Enough from you! Never speak to me of this matter again! 27Go up to the top of Pisgah and look around you to the west, to the north, to the south, and to the east. Look well, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. 28But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, because it is he who shall cross over at the head of this people and who shall secure their possession of the land that you will see.” 29So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor.

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Deuteronomy 2:24. Rise ye up, take your journey. I have lately said that the order is here inverted, for what soon after follows, “And I sent messengers out of the wilderness,” etc., ver. 26, Moses, in my opinion, has inserted by way of parenthesis: it will, therefore, be suitably rendered in the pluperfect tense, “But I had sent,” etc. Thus there will be no ambiguity in the sense that, when the messengers had returned without effecting their purpose, God sustained the weariness of the people by this consolation, as though he had said, Sihon has not, with impunity, repudiated the peace offered to him, since it will now be permitted you to assail him in lawful war. And assuredly this signal for the expedition to advance depends on the declaration which is subjoined in ver. 30, as we may readily gather from the context; for Moses there repeats what we here read respecting their passage in somewhat different words; and again does God testify that He has given Sihon into the hands of the people, and exhorts Moses to go down boldly to the battle. Moreover, the cause is there specified why (Sihon) had been so arrogant and contemptuous in his rejection of the embassy, viz., because God had “hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate.” From whence again it appears how poor is the sophistry of those who imagine that God idly regards from heaven what men are about to do. 128128     Addition in Fr., “sans disposer de leur volonte;” without disposing their will. They dare not, indeed, despoil Him of foreknowledge; but what can be more absurd than that He foreknows nothing except what men please? But Scripture, as we see, has not placed God in a watch-tower, from which He may behold at a distance what things are about to be; but teaches that He is the director (moderatorem) of all things; and that He subjects to His will, not only the events of things, but the designs and affections of men also. As, therefore, we have before seen how the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, so now Moses ascribes to God the obstinacy of king Sihon. How base a subterfuge is the exception which some make as to His permission, sufficiently appears from the end which Moses points out. 129129     “Or il appert par la fin que Moyse specifie combien ceste tergiversation est frivole, de dire que Dieu permet sans rien ordonner;” now, it appears by the end which Moses specifies, how frivolous is that subterfuge, to say that God permits without ordaining anything. — Fr. For why did God harden the heart of Sihon? thalt “He might deliver him into the hand” of His people to be slain; because He willed that he should perish, and had destined his land for the Israelites. If God only permitted Sihon to grow hardened, this decree was either nought, or mutable, and evanescent, since it depended on the changeable will of man. Putting aside, then, all childish trifling, we must conclude that God by His secret inspiration moves, forms, governs, and draws men’s hearts, so that even by the wicked He executes whatever He has decreed. At the same time it is to be observed that the wicked are not impelled to hardness of heart by extrinsic force, but that they voluntarily harden themselves; so that in this same hardness of heart God may be seen to be a just judge, however incomprehensible His counsel may be, and however the impiety of men may betray itself, who are their own instigators, and the authors of their own sin. Emphatically does Moses inculcate the same thing twice over, viz., that the spirt of Sihon was hardened by God, and his heart made obstinate, in order that God’s paternal favor towards His chosen people might be more conspicuous; because from the obstinacy of the blinded king He afforded them a just cause for war, and an opportunity for victory.

4. And we took all the cities. He here more fully relates what He had brieflytouched upon in Numbers. He says that sixty, well-fortified cities were taken, besides the villages. Hence we infer both the extent of the country, and also the special power of God in the aid He afforded them, in that they took, in so short a time, so many cities well closed in, and begirt with high walls; as if they were merely travelling, through a peaceful land in security, and with nothing to do.

After the eighth verse, lie repeats connectedly what he had separately related respecting the two kingdoms; and in order that the places might be more certainly identified, he mentions two other names for mount Hermon, stating that it was called Sirion by the Sidonians, and Shenir by the Amorites. Finally, he adds that Og, king of Bashan, was a giant, and the only survivorof that race. As a memorialof his lofty stature, he alleges his iron bedstead, the length of which was as much as nine cubits, according to the common measure of that period. By this circumstance he again magnifies the marvellous help of God, in that he was overcome by the children of Israel, who might, by his stature, have singly terrified a whole army.

The enormous stature of the giants is apparent from this passage. Herodotus records, 136136     Herod, Clio, Section 68. that the body of Orestes, disinterred by command of the oracle, was seven cubits in length. Pliny, 137137     Pliny, 7:16. although he does not cite his authority, subscribes to this testimony. Gellius 138138     Gellius, lib. 3:10. thinks that this was fabulous, as also what Homer 139139     Homer, I1. lib. 12:381-3, 446-9; lib. 20:286, 7. writes with respect to the diminution of men’s height in process of time; but his erroneous view is confuted by almost universal consent. What Pliny 140140     Pliny, lib. 7:16. himself relates is indeed incredible, that in Crete a body was discovered, by an opening of the earth, forty-six cubits long, which some thought to be the body of Orion, and others of Etion. But if we believe that there were giants, (which is not only affirmd by the sacred Scriptures, but also recorded by almost all ancient writers,) we need not be surprised if they were more than eight cubits in height. Although, however, the race of giants began to disappear in the time of Moses, still, in after ages, there existed persons who approached to this ancient stature, 141141     Fr. “Comme sous l’empire d’Auguste il y avoit un homme haut de dix pieds, et sous l’empire de Claude un un peu moindre;” as under the empire of Augustus there was a man ten feet high, and, under that of Claudius, one somewhat shorter. Pliny, loc. cit., records the exhibition at Rome, by the Emperor Claudius, of an Arab named Gabbara, whose height was nine feet nine inches; and adds, that in the reign of Augustus, there lived two persons, Posio and Secundilla, who were half a foot higher than Gabbara, and who, on account of their wonderful size, were buried in the cemetery of the Sallustian gardens. as in the time of Augustus and Claudius there was one man about ten feet in height, and another nine feet nine inches. Moses, therefore, intimates nothing more than that this monstrous race of men gradually died out, so that the enormous height of Og, king of Bashan, was an unusual sight.

12. And this land, which we possessed at that time. In this passage Moses confirms his decision, that the possession of the country beyond Jordan should be insured to the Reubenites and Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh. For, since it had fallen to them exceptionally, the matter might be brought into controversy with posterity. Lest, then, any should disturb them, he again declares that they were the rightful possessors of that district. Moreover, inasmuch as the very gift of it might be called in question, since it was situated outside the bounds of the inheritance promised by God, Moses anticipates this objection also, asserting that God had not in vain given it to be possessed by His people. Hence it follows that the right of inhabiting it was conferred upon them. Lest, then, so unequal a partition should be made a subject of contention, he marks out their boundaries on every side, as though he set up the authority of God as a wall and rampart against any who should presume to invade it.

With reference to the names of the places, the Dead Sea is called the Sea of Salt, and the Lake of Genesera or Gennesareth, Chinnereth. As to the “outpourings of the hill,” translators are not agreed; for some consider Ashdoth-Pisgah to be the proper name of a city. 220220     אשדת הפסגה A.V. “Ashdoth-Pisgah;” marg., “The springs of Pisgah, or, of the hill.” The LXX. in like manner only substitutes Greek letters for the Hebrew, treating both words as proper names. But when the same words occur at the close of the next chapter, our translators have placed their previous marginal translation in their text, and the LXX. instead of Φασγὰ have τὴν λαξευτήν, as though פסגה were an appellative, from פסג to cut. In construing אשדת as a noun, from אשד and rendering it effusions, C. followed S.M., as also in putting the hill for Pisgah. Our translators and Luther have agreed in rendering the former word springs, when it occurs in Joshua 10:40, and 12:8; whilst the LXX. and Diodati have treated it as a proper name in both those texts. — W I prefer, however, to take the word “outpourings” (effusionum) appellatively, not for fountains and streams, but for the root (of the hill) where the ground by a gentle descent seems in a manner to pour itself forth. We shall presently see that Pisgah was one of the summits of Mount Abarim.

18. And I commanded you at that time. This address is directed only to those to whom an inheritance was given on the other side of Jordan; but Moses declares that he had introduced an agreement that the two tribes and a half should not enjoy their possession until they had accommpanied their brethren in the subjugation of the land of Canaan. He says, therefore, that he had given them a place, not where they were at once to settle themselves, but where they might deposit their wives and cattle, until the whole people were peaceably established in their land.

21. And I commanded Joshua at that time. He repeats what we have already seen, that he exhorted Joshua together with the whole people to prepare themselves to occupy the land with alacrity, relying as well upon God’s promise, as upon the numerous proofs of His assistance, which were so many pledges of the future continuance of His grace.

23 And I besought the Lord. 239239     “I had besought, etc.” — Lat. Others have, “I besought;” but I have preferred using the pluperfect tense, because, in my opinion, Moses interrupts himself to show why he had resigned his office to another, and did not rather declare that he would be their leader, as heretofore, and at the same time an example to the people of courage. He says, therefore, that when he had prayed that he might be permitted to enter the land, he received a refusal. For it is not probable that, after he had substituted Joshua for himself, he straightway conceived a desire, which was in direct opposition to it.

The drift of the prayer is that God, by granting him permission to enter the land, should thus fill up to the full the measure of His grace towards him: for he enumerates the blessings already vouchsafed to him, as the ground of his confidence in asking, and that God, who is not wont to forsake the work of His own hands, might carry on to the end the mercies He had begun. For this reason he says that the might of God had been shown him; modestly hinting that it was natural to expect that he should be a partaker of the crowning blessing, in order that the end might correspond with the beginning. He also magnifies the power of God as proclaimed by the miracles; that so magnificent a work might not be interrupted. On the other hand, he speaks in commendation of the goodness of the land, and expressly shows that his desire to see it springs from earnest piety; for I willingly subscribe to the opinion of those who understand Sion by the “goodly mountain;” for, with the exception of Lebanon, there was no other mountain so delectable in the land; whereas Lebanon, as if next to it in rank, is mentioned in the second place.

26. But the Lord was wroth with me. Some imagine that God was offended by such a longing as this; but Moses is rather giving the reason why he did not obtain what he sought, viz., because he had been already excluded from it. For, although he by no means enters into debate with God, as if he had been unjustly condemned for the faults of others, still he indirectly reflects upon the people, since it was well that they should be all reminded that the punishment which had been inflicted upon God’s distinguished servant was incurred by the guilt of them all. We have elsewhere seen 240240     See ante, on Deuteronomy 1:37. p. 137. how it was that the penalty of their common transgression was with justice imposed upon Moses.

Its mitigation then follows, when God commands him to get up into the top of Mount Abarim, which is here called Pisgah, and elsewhere Nebo, that he might nevertheless enjoy a sight of the promised land.

In conclusion, he more clearly explains why he exhorted Joshua, viz., because he was about to go over before the people; and in the last verse he assigns the reason of their delay, and why they remained so long in the valley near Mount Abarim; for it is precisely as if he had said that they were retained by the extension of God’s hand, in order that they should not proceed any further until Joshua had been installed as his successor.