Deuteronomy 3
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Defeat of ‘Ôg, King of Bashan

Israel advancing N. towards Bashan encountered ‘Ôg at Edre‘î (1). Jehovah delivered him into their hands (2 f.); they took all his cities, 60 in Argob, his kingdom within Bashan, fenced cities, with also many unwalled towns (4 f.); and devoted them to Jehovah, reserving the cattle and spoil for themselves (6 f.).

Parallel are Numbers 21:33-35, attached to the JE narrative. Of these Numbers 21:33 f. agree verbally (except that the 3rd sing. is used for the 1st plur.) with Deuteronomy 3:1 f. of this section, while Numbers 21:35 summarises Deuteronomy 3:3-7. But while, as we have seen, D is usually based on JE (more particularly on E), the prevalence of deuteronomic phrases not used in JE supports the opinion (from Dillm. onwards) that Numbers 21:33-35 is an edirial addition to JE, borrowed from D. The campaign against ‘Ôg is found elsewhere in Hex. only in Deuteronomy 1:4; Deuteronomy 4:47; Deuteronomy 29:7, the deuteronomic Joshua 12:4, and Numbers 32:33; Joshua 9:10; Joshua 13:30 f., all of late date. Thus the campaign against ‘Ôg has not the same documentary evidence as that against Sîḥôn, and is questioned by many who accept the latter. Proof one way or the other is impossible. On the one hand ‘Ôg is associated with the mythical Repha‘îm; a campaign in Bashan carries Israel away from their objective, the crossing of Jordan; and nothing is said of the conquest of the intervening Gile‘ad at this time; though the phrase in Deuteronomy 2:36, unto Gile‘ad, may be intended to cover all Gile‘ad to the Yarmûk, this is not probable; and there are indications that Israel’s conquest of Gile‘ad took place from W. Palestine at a later date (see on Deuteronomy 3:14). On the other hand, ‘Ôg’s defeat is bound up in Heb. tradition with that of Sîḥôn; it is hard to see how or why it can have been invented by the deuteronomists (‘the tradition of the defeat of ‘Ôg at Edre‘i is probably, predeuteronomic’: Cheyne, E.B.). It is possible to argue that ‘Ôg’s kingdom included Gile‘ad N. of the Jabboḳ; there are no geographical or historical obstacles to a campaign by Israel in Bashan, but on the contrary it is as credible that Israel should have aimed at the conquest of all E. Palestine before crossing the Jordan as it is certain that Pompey so aimed, and that the first Moslem invaders so succeeded.

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.
1. turned, and went up] See on Deuteronomy 1:7.

Bashan] Heb. the Bashan, so in all historical statements and sometimes in poetry in which however the article is oftener omitted (HGHL, 549 n. 7). In its wider sense the name covered all the land from the. Yarmûk to Ḥermon, Deuteronomy 4:43, Deuteronomy 33:22. But its proper application was confined to the land immediately N. of the Yarmûk and E. of Geshur and Ma‘akah, the present Jaulan (see below Deuteronomy 3:14, Deuteronomy 4:43): the S. end of Ḥauran, including ‘Ashtaroth (perhaps Tell el ‘Ashari) on the W., Edre‘i on the S. and Salkah on the S.E. (Deuteronomy 1:4, Deuteronomy 3:10, Joshua 9:10; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:11 f., 31), the district known in Greek times as Batanea, and in the 10th century still called ‘Ard-el-Bathaniyeh, containing Edre‘i (Idrisi); but to-day the name has drifted N.E. to the E. of the Lejá. Ar. Bathnah means level, loamy land (Freytag) and suits the region. See HGHL, 549, 553, 570 f.

Og] The name ‘Og, LXX Ιώγ and Ὤγ, does not occur except as that of the king of Bashan; the root meaning ‘curved’ or ‘round’ supplies some Ar. geographical names. W. R. Smith (Rel. of the Sem. 83) arguing that in Heb. a king’s name is usually joined with that of his people or of his capital (e.g. Sîḥôn, king of the Amorites, or of Ḥeshbon) and that ‘Ôg’s is the only exception, takes ‘Ôg ‘who is a mythical figure’ as presumably ‘an old god of the region.’

Edrei] Edre‘i on the S. frontier of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:10), the Otara‘a of Egyptian inscriptions, Adra of Ptolemy, Adraa of Euseb., now Edhra‘at, Dera‘at or on Bedawee lips ’Azra‘at, a strong site on the S. edge of the gorge that forms the S. limit of Ḥauran, and further entrenched by a tributary ravine. In the rock beneath the walled city, a labyrinth of streets with houses and shops was excavated. That this marvel is not mentioned in the O.T. proves it of later date, and indeed its architecture and inscriptions point to the Greek period: HGHL, 576, ZDPV, xx. 118 ff. On the only possible remains in Bashan of ‘Ôg’s time see Driver, Deut., in loco.

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.
2. delivered … into thy hand] See Deuteronomy 1:27. As thou didst unto Sîḥôn, Deuteronomy 2:33 f.

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.
3. none … remaining] Deuteronomy 2:34.

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.
4. all the region of Argob] So Deuteronomy 13 f.; 1 Kings 4:13 and nowhere else. The Heb. for region means a definitely measured or outlined piece of land, and ’Argob seems connected with regeb, clod, and analogous to our ‘glebe.’ The Targums take it as Trachonitis or the Trachon of the Greek period, now the Lejá, the mass of lava, 24 miles by 10 to 20, which lies on Ḥauran like an ebony glacier with irregular crevasses. Sharply marked off by its abrupt edge from the surrounding plain it holds considerable means of subsistence, with the ruins of many villages and towns, and might well have been, at this as at other periods, the centre or distinctive feature of a province or kingdom. The identification with ’Argob, accepted by many, is thus not unnatural; nor if we take ’Argob as meaning ‘clumpy’ is this an unsuitable name for the cleft masses of lava, like frozen mud, of which it is composed. But other parts of Ḥauran are also distinct from the rest, e.g. the fertile en-Ṇukra or ‘Hollow Hearth’ of the Arabs; or the almost as fertile W. slope of the Jebel Ḥauran. Both of these bear ruins of ancient towns, while some may be of immemorial antiquity. Nothing however has been discovered either there or throughout Bashan which is recognisable as older than the Greek period.—Euseb. and Jer. give Ragaba as a village near Geresa, in Gile‘ad, cp. Jos. XIII. Ant. xv. 5; and to-day Rajeb or Rujeb is the name of a Wâdy and village also in Gile‘ad. This is noteworthy in view of the fact that one O.T. tradition appears to connect Argob with Gile‘ad; see below.

All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many.
5. the unwalled towns] Heb. towns of the Perazi, or country-folk; perazôth, Ezekiel 38:11, are open, rural places in contrast to fenced cities.

And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.
6. and we utterly destroyed them, etc.] See Deuteronomy 2:34 f.

But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities, we took for a prey to ourselves.
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;
8. the two kings of the Amorites] Deuteronomy 2:26 to Deuteronomy 3:7. ‘Ôg‘s people have not previously been called Amorites: cp. Deuteronomy 4:47, Deuteronomy 31:4, and the editorial Joshua 2:10; Joshua 9:10; Joshua 24:8; Joshua 12 b. Amorite apparently in the same general sense as in E, e.g. Joshua 5:1; Joshua 10:5. ‘Ôg himself was of the pre-Amorite Repha‘im, Deuteronomy 3:11.

beyond Jordan] As in Deuteronomy 1:5 the writer betrays his standpoint in W. Palestine. On the other hand the standpoint of Moses E. of Jordan is properly observed in Deuteronomy 3:20; Deuteronomy 3:25. Dillm. therefore takes Deuteronomy 3:8 as a later insertion. But must we assume a rigorous consistency in the writer of the discourse?

valley of Arnon] Deuteronomy 2:24.

unto mount Ḥermon] This carries Israel’s conquest further N. than previously described; another sign of a later hand? Ḥermôn, from the root ḥrm, sacred (see on Deuteronomy 2:34); either from a sanctuary on the mount or because the whole mount was held sacred: cp. Jdg 3:3, Mt Ba‘al Ḥermôn. The name covered the long S. end of Anti-Lebanon, above the sources of Jordan, and occurs also in the plur. Ḥermônîm, Psalm 42:6, probably because of its triple summit. From its height of 9200 ft H. dominates all Ḥauran or Bashan, is visible as far S. as the heights above Jericho, and forms the natural N. boundary of all E. Palestine. One of its modern names, Jebel esh-Sheikh, means, not ‘old-man mountain,’ from its snowy hoary appearance, but ‘Mount of the Elder’ or ‘Holy Man,’ some famous saint; according to Conder (Hastings’ D. B. ii. 352) the Sheikh ed-Derâzi, the founder of the Druzes. Another name is Jebel, or Towîl, eth-Thalj, ‘Mount,’ or ‘Height of Snow.’

8–17. Allotment of the Conquered Lands

Thus Israel had taken the two Amorite kingdoms, from the ’Arnon to Ḥermon (Deuteronomy 3:8)—on which a note is given (Deuteronomy 3:9)—that is, from S. to N., the towns of the Mo‘ab Plateau, all Gile‘ad and Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:10); then a note on ‘Ôg (Deuteronomy 3:11). N. from ‘Arô‘er to half Mt Gile‘ad Moses gave to Re’uben and Gad, the rest of Gile‘ad and Bashan to the half-tribe of Manasseh (Deuteronomy 3:12-13 a). Follows a third note Deuteronomy 3:13-14 with additions from a later hand Deuteronomy 3:15-17 unless Deuteronomy 3:16 be regarded as original to the discourse.—The parallels are cited in the notes.

(Which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion; and the Amorites call it Shenir;)
9. Archaeological Note. As a natural boundary, separating several nations, Ḥermôn has a name in the language of each. The Phoenicians, Heb. Ṣidonians, on the W. called it Siriôn (cp. Psalm 29:6), the Amorites Senîr, its name in an inscription of Salmanassar II, Sanîru, when he crossed from the coast towards Damascus (Winckler, KAT(3)[114], 44, 190). These names may have been applied to different parts of the long Mt; in 1 Chronicles 5:23, Senîr is joined with, but apparently distinct from, Ḥermôn, cp. Ezekiel 27:5, Song of Solomon 4:8; and Arab, geographers gave the name Jebel Sanîr to the part between Ba‘albeḳ and Ḥoms.

[114] 3) Die Keilinschriften und das AIte Testament, 3rd edition (1903), by H. Zimmern and H. Winckler.

All the cities of the plain, and all Gilead, and all Bashan, unto Salchah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.
10. all the cities of, etc.] This follows immediately on Deuteronomy 3:8, showing that Deuteronomy 3:9 is an inserted gloss, and details the land summarised in 8, from S. to N.

the plain] Rather, Plateau (Heb. ham-Mishôr), i.e. of Mo‘ab; E, Numbers 21:10 : field of M.

all Gilead] From the N. end of the Plateau (exact frontier uncertain) up to the Yarmûk; divided into halves by the Jabboḳ.

all Bashan] All N. of the Yarmûk; see on Deuteronomy 3:1.

unto Salecah and Edrei] Salekah (with soft k) is the Arab. Ṣalkhad, the Ṣarkhad of the Arab. geographers, the present Ṣalkhad (Merrill, E. of Jordan, 50 ff.; Burckhardt, 100 f.), some 40 miles E.S.E. of Edre‘i on the S.W. slope of the Jebel Ḥauran or ed-Drûz. Cp. Joshua 12:5; Joshua 13:11. It would represent, therefore, the S.E. limit of ‘Ôg’s kingdom, while Edre‘i lay near the W. end of the same frontier. Why have two sites on the S. of Bashan been selected to define a conquest already described as extending N. to Ḥermôn? We should expect: from Edre‘i even to Salekah, or to some site further N. The text is confirmed, however, by Sam. and LXX. Some therefore take Edre‘i here, not as the mod. Dera‘at (Deuteronomy 3:1) but as Edhra‘ or Zor‘a near the S.W. corner of the Lejá. This, however, helps little.

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.
11. Archaeological Note. ‘Ôg was the last survivor of the Repha‘îm (see on Deuteronomy 1:28). Bedstead, rather sarcophagus, for though the Heb. ‘eres elsewhere means couch, its synonyms miṭah (2 Samuel 3:31) and mishkab (Isaiah 57:2; Ezekiel 32:25) are used for bier and tomb (the latter too in Phoen.), and the monumental character of this ‘eres proves it to have been the same. Iron, rather basalt; I have often heard basalt called iron in Ḥauran. The cubit of a man: the ordinary cubit, originally the length of the lower arm; later there was also a longer cubit (Ezekiel 40:5; Ezekiel 43:13). Taking it as about 18 in., ‘Ôg’s coffin was 13½ ft by 6. Some sites in E. Palestine are strewn with stone-coffins, e.g. Umm Keis, usually 7 to 8 ft by 2½ to 4. That of Eshmunazar, the Sidonian, Isaiah 7 by 4; ‘Hiram’s Tomb’ Isaiah 12 by 6. Cp. Doughty, Ar. Des. i. 18, on marble sarcophagi near Es-Salt, ‘little less than the bed of Og,’ and Cl. Ganneau, Arch. Res. ii. 233.

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.
12. And this land we took] The discourse resumed from Deuteronomy 3:10; a more exact definition of the same lands.

from Aroer … by the valley of Arnon] 13 MSS and some Versions read on the lip of A., as in Deuteronomy 2:36.

half … Gilead] As far as the Jabboḳ; to Re’uben and Gad. P, Numbers 32:1 ff.: land of Ya‘zer and Gile‘ad.

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.
13. the rest of Gilead] From the Jabboḳ to the Yarmûḳ. This, with all Bashan, the kingdom of ‘Ôg, fell to the half-tribe of Manasseh, and is further defined as all the region of Argob (see Deuteronomy 3:4). R.V. following the Heb. punctuation adds even all Bashan, but as Rev. Marg. suggests, this phrase is part of the next note: all that Bashan is called a land of Repha‘îm. In Numbers 32:1-32; Numbers 32:34-38 (a section with obvious marks of P but containing earlier elements) only Re’uben and Gad are assigned land E. of Jordan. Moses’ allotment there to the half-tribe of Manasseh is recorded in deuteronomic passages, as here and Numbers 33:33 (editorial); while Deborah’s song, Jdg 5:14, takes Machir as a W. clan, but J, Numbers 33:39; Numbers 33:41, assigns the conquest of Gile‘ad to Machir, son of Manasseh, and the capture of its towns to Ya’îr, son of Manasseh; Numbers 33:40, adding that Moses gave Gile‘ad; to Manasseh, is regarded as a later insertion both because of the statement just cited from Deborah and because Judges 10 assigns the Ḥawwôth-Ya’îr to Ya’îr, a Gileadite in the days of the Judges. There thus appear to have been two traditions of the occupation of Gile‘ad by part of Manasseh, one as early as J (Numbers 33:39; Numbers 33:41) followed by D, which dates it under Moses; and one, which records the conquering clan as settled first in W. Palestine, and thence invading Gile‘ad under the Judges. This second tradition is preferred by many, e.g. Wellh. Gesch. (2) 33, and Budde, who points out that the Bnê Yoseph could not have complained to Joshua, Joshua 17:14-18, that they had only one lot if, besides this western territory which he gave them, part of them had already received from Moses land E. of Jordan. He proposes to insert Gile‘ad in Joshua 17:18, so as to make it the new lot granted by Joshua. But in that case some allusion to the crossing of Jordan would have been natural, nor would the occupation of Gile‘ad have helped the Joseph tribe against the Canaanites of W. Palestine. Moreover, Gile‘ad is said to have been the father of Abi‘ezer and Shechem (JE, Joshua 17:2; P, Numbers 26:29 ff.) and therefore older in Manasseh’s line than these W. septs of the tribe. So there is something to be said for the occupation of Gile‘ad by Manasseh under Moses. But the whole matter is obscure. See further Hastings, D.B. iii. 230 f., HGHL, 577. Cp. the next notes.

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.
14. Archaeological Note. It begins with the last clause of Deuteronomy 3:13; see above. This reference of the conquest of Argob to Ya’îr contrasts with Deuteronomy 3:4-6, which assign it to Israel under Moses, and differs from Numbers 32:41, which places the Ḥawwôth-Ya’îr in Gilead; cp. 1 Kings 4:13, and 1 Chronicles 2:22, and as we have seen, on Deuteronomy 3:13, Ya’îr is assigned by Jdg 10:3 ff. to the time of the Judges. The phrase unto this day also implies a date for this note later than that of Moses, which is assumed through the rest of the discourse. The opinion, therefore, is reasonable, that the note is a harmonising insertion altered from Numbers 32:41. Note the awkward construction. The word them in called them Ḥawwôth Ya’îr, confirmed by Sam. and LXX., has no proper antecedent (it cannot of course be explained by the preceding border), while in Numbers 32:41 it correctly refers to the preceding tent-villages. Note, too, the awkwardness of all Bashan as it stands. Moreover, the characteristic of Argob was not tent-villages but fenced cities (Deuteronomy 3:4).—The Geshuri and Ma‘akathi are placed by Joshua 12:5; Joshua 13:11 between Gile‘ad and Ḥermon to the W. of Bashan; that is the mod. Jaulan (Gaulanitis), but the Ma‘akathi spread across Jordan N.W. to Abel-beth-Ma‘akah in Naphtali, 2 Samuel 20:14 f., etc. These two were Aramean (Genesis 22:24; 2 Samuel 15:8; 1 Chronicles 19:6); Israel failed to expel them (Joshua 13:3); David fought the king of Ma‘akah (2 Samuel 10:6, where the LXX Ἀμαλήκ is probably an error; the Geshur of 2 Samuel 3:3; 2 Samuel 13:37 f. may be another tribe of that name S. of Judah, Joshua 13:2; 1 Samuel 27:8); 1 Chronicles 2:33, where Geshur is said to have taken the Ḥ. Ja’ir, and Deuteronomy 19:6, are corrupt.—Ḥawwoth, cp. Ar. ḥiwa‘at “a collection of tents.”

And I gave Gilead unto Machir.
15. And I gave Gilead unto Machir] Not irreconcilable with Deuteronomy 3:12 where the N. half of Gile‘ad is assigned to half-Manasseh, for Machir was held to have been the first and only son of Manasseh, and, apparently, is even taken for all Manasseh (Jdg 5:14; Numbers 26:29?). Yet there is force in Dillm.’s contention that the author who had just written 12 f. could hardly have immediately added the variant Deuteronomy 3:15; hence the latter is reasonably taken as, like Deuteronomy 3:14, a later insertion derived from Numbers 32:40.

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;
16. And unto the Reubenites, etc.] Since this verse repeats what is already stated, it also is regarded as secondary. ‘The language of 16, however, is harmonious with that of Deuteronomy 2:36, and it is possible that this sequence represents the older form of the narrative, before the incorporation of the account of Og, for there seems no reason why an editorial expounder should thus imperfectly reproduce statements already made.’ (Oxf. Hex., ii. 252.)

the middle of the valley for a border] That is, the exact border was not the edge, but the stream-bed of the wâdy.

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.
17. the Arabah also, and Jordan for a border] The territory included the E. strip of the ‘Arabah—hence eastwards at the end of the verse—with the Jordan as its W. limit, and this between Chinnereth on the N. and the Sea of the ‘Arabah on the S. On the ‘Arabah see Deuteronomy 1:1. Kinnéreth was a town (Joshua 11:2; Joshua 19:35; the plur. Kinneroth a district, 1 Kings 15:20) either giving its name to, or taking its name from, the Sea of Kinnéreth (Numbers 34:11, P); probably the latter, if K. be from kinnôr, harp, as this suits the shape of the Lake; in later times called the L. of Gennesaret, a name frequently but not plausibly derived from Kinnereth (HGHL, 443). The Sea of the ‘Arabah (so Deuteronomy 4:49; 2 Kings 14:25), the Salt Sea (so Genesis 14:3; Numbers 34:3; Numbers 34:12; Joshua 15:2; Joshua 15:5; Joshua 18:19); both names as here in Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:23; called also front or E. Sea (Ezekiel 47:18; Joel 2:20; Zechariah 14:8) in contrast to the Mediterranean the back or W. Sea, Deuteronomy 11:24. The Greeks gave the name Asphaltitis. ‘The Dead Sea’ first occurs under Augustus. Ar. Baḥr Lût, ‘Lot’s Sea.’

the slopes of Pisgah] So Deuteronomy 4:49; Joshua 12:3; Joshua 13:20. The Heb. ’ashedôth is slopes rather than springs (A.V.) as appears from the masc. form of the word, Numbers 21:15 (the eshed of the wâdies, which stretches to ‘Ar’s site and leans on the border of Moab); slopes, too, is most suitable in Joshua 10:40; Joshua 12:8, and with the use of the prepos. under in this verse. The Pisgah (always so) is the name attached by E (Numbers 21:20; Numbers 23:14) and by deuteronomic writers to ‘the western edge’ (G. B. Gray), or the headlands, of the Moabite Plateau at the N.E. corner of the Dead Sea. The headland of the Pisgah, which Moses ascended, Deuteronomy 3:27, is in Deuteronomy 32:49 (P) Mt Nebo (cp. their identification in Deuteronomy 34:1), that headland S. of the W. ‘Uyûn Musa which bears the names en-Neba’ and Râs en-Neba’, just opposite the N. end of the sea (HGHL, 562 ff.). One of its lower steps, called Wat en-Na‘am, is identified by Musil (Moab, 272, 274) with the slopes of the Pisgah. The deep W. es-Seyâle which cleaves this he takes as Abel Shittim (Numbers 33:49); but the latter is probably part of the Jordan valley. See further on Beth-Pe‘or, Deuteronomy 3:29. The name Pisgah has disappeared, unless we are to recognise it in the almost equivalent Râs Feshkhah, a headland on the opposite coast of the sea.

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.
18. And I commanded you] Them would be more natural, which some read; retain you, a symptom of the want of absolute preciseness in the writer’s style.

armed] It is doubtful whether that is the original meaning of the Heb. word or with loins girt, or stripped of superfluous clothing, expeditus; the same word in Numbers 32:21 ff. (JE?): P also uses it but with a following noun id. 27, 29 and Joshua 4:13.

children of Israel] Not deuteronomic. See on Deuteronomy 4:44.

all the men of valour] Heb. sons of strength or valour. Like our force the Heb. ḥail is also used for army, but with the article (e.g. 2 Samuel 24:2), which does not occur in this phrase. The meaning is all capable of bearing arms.

18–22. Directions to the Two-and-a-Half Tribes and to Joshua

At that time Moses charged the two-and-a-half tribes to send their warriors over Jordan till the conquest there was completed, leaving their families and cattle in the cities already given them (18–20). At that time, too, he charged Joshua (21 f.).—To the charge to the two-and-a-half tribes the parallel is Numbers 32:16-32, which says that Reuben and Gad (these alone) offered to send their warriors to the W. campaign after building or fortifying cities for their children, and folds for their cattle E. of Jordan; and that Moses enforced this plan with threats of disaster if it was not carried out. Of this composite passage various analyses have been made; all that is clear is that JE narrated some such episode.—To the charge to Joshua, at that time, the Pent has no parallel. On the ground that it anticipates 28 f. and Deuteronomy 31:7 ff. it is removed by some after Deuteronomy 3:28, where indeed it is suitable, but by others has been taken to be no original part of the First Discourse by Moses. Yet the Discourse is not so compact and free of repetition that we need deny to its author such an anticipation of his own words; nor would it be surprising that in the traditions with which he worked there were recorded more than one charge to Joshua or at least several emphases of the fact that Joshua was exhorted by Moses; cp. Deuteronomy 1:38. On the mixed forms of address, thou and you, see notes below.

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;
19. much cattle] Cp. Numbers 32:1. In the O.T. Mo‘ab, Gile‘ad and Bashan, the seats of the two and a half tribes, are celebrated for their cattle, imported thence to W. Palestine, which has inferior pastures. See the writer’s Jerusalem, i. 307, 321 ff. and HGHL, 523 f.

which I have given you] Deuteronomy 3:12 f.; so Numbers 32:29; Numbers 32:33; Numbers 32:40.

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.
20. until the Lord give rest] So Deuteronomy 12:10; Deuteronomy 25:19, the deuteronomic Joshua 1:13; Joshua 1:15; Joshua 21:44; Joshua 22:4; Joshua 23:1, and not elsewhere in the Hex. in this sense, though the verb occurs in other meanings.

beyond Jordan] The standpoint of the speaker correctly observed as in Deuteronomy 3:25.

unto his possession] See Deuteronomy 2:5.

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.
21. Thine eyes have seen] Rather, Thine own eyes are they that saw. The appeal to personal experience is characteristic of Deuteronomy: cp. Deuteronomy 4:3, Deuteronomy 11:7. LXX reads your eyes; but thine is confirmed by Sam.

your God] LXX B our God. Omit with Sam. The formula has been added by a copyist.

Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you.
22. Ye shall not fear them] We may either take this Pl. as intended to comprise all the people with Joshua; or read, with Sam., some codd. of the LXX, and the Syriac, thou shall not fear them. Which was the original it is impossible to say. All the versions have the Pl. in the last clause (LXX, B our God), but to take it as therefore a late addition borrowed from Deuteronomy 1:30 (Steuern.) is somewhat pedantic; the change from Sg. to Pl. is here very natural.

And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,
23. And I besought the Lord] In the Pent. the Heb. verb is used with the Deity only here; but to beseech man in E, Genesis 42:21.

23–29. Moses’ Prayer and its Rejection

At that time Moses besought God to finish what He had begun and show him all His greatness (Deuteronomy 3:23 f.), by letting him cross Jordan and view the whole land (Deuteronomy 3:25). Wroth with him on Israel’s account God refused (Deuteronomy 3:26) and bade him ascend the Pisgah and thence view the land (Deuteronomy 3:27); also he must charge Joshua as his successor in leading Israel to their heritage (Deuteronomy 3:28). They abode in the ravine opposite Beth-Pe‘or (Deuteronomy 3:29).—To this prayer there is no parallel in JE; for the JE account of the ascent of the Pisgah see Deuteronomy 34:1 b ff. Nor does P record the prayer; it ascribes the exclusion of Moses to his own sin at Ḳadesh, and differently names the Mt he ascended; with Deuteronomy 3:27 f. cp. Deuteronomy 32:48-52, Numbers 20:12; Numbers 27:12-21. See further the notes immediately after this, that on Deuteronomy 1:37, and those on Deuteronomy 32:48 ff.

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?
24. O Lord God] Heb. my Lord Jehovah.

thou hast begun] But not fulfilled in my sight! A pathetic emphasis. Moses prayed to see with his own eyes the completion of the great Providence carried so far at his hands. This temper is characteristic of all Deuteronomy: the passion to experience the full-rounded Providence of God in this life, absolutely no hope of another! As time went on a nobler trust was born. The servant of Jehovah cut off from the land of the living, yet sees of the travail of his soul and is satisfied (Isaiah 53:11); and Jesus becoming obedient even unto death (Php 2:8), for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2). Let this cup pass from me … nevertheless … thy will be done.

thy greatness] Deuteronomy 5:24, Deuteronomy 9:26, Deuteronomy 11:2; and thy strong hand, see Deuteronomy 4:34.

what god is there, etc.] Exodus 15:11.

I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.
25. the good land] Deuteronomy 1:35.

that goodly mountain] To this day in Syria a whole range is called in the sing. mountain; and in fact from Nebo and the Ghôr below it all W. Palestine appears one compact mountain-mass.

and Lebanon] In clear weather Ḥermon, the summit of what is now particularised as Anti-Lebanon, is distinct from above Jericho and the opposite hills, as one looks up the Ghôr.

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.
26. But the Lord was wroth with me] Heb. hith‘abber (lit. to exceed bounds) was enraged, a stronger term than that in Deuteronomy 1:37, the note on which see for the whole of this verse.

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.
27. the top of Pisgah] Rather, the headland of the Pisgah. See on Deuteronomy 3:17, and cp. Deuteronomy 32:48 ff., Deuteronomy 34:1, and small print on Deuteronomy 12:2.

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.
28. But charge Joshua] See notes introd. to this and the previous section. In P (Numbers 27:15-21) the charge to Joshua precedes the arrangement with the two and a half tribes (Numbers 32), while in D it follows. No stress can be laid on this difference as D’s term at that time is vague. But see Dri. in loco. Cp. also Deuteronomy 31:1-8.

So we abode in the valley over against Bethpeor.
29. the valley over against Beth-peor] Heb. the gai = hollow, glen, ravine, inapplicable to the Jordan plain; rather one of the glens descending to this from the Moab-plateau. That suits the probable meaning of Pe‘or, gap or cleft (Ar. fughrah, ‘a river-mouth’; cp. the ‘other Phogor’ of Euseb. and Jer. near Bethlehem, the modern Kh. Fâghûr, PEF Map Sh. xvii.). Beth-Pe‘or abbrev. from Beth-Ba‘al-Pe‘or, shrine of the B. of P. (cp. Deuteronomy 4:3). This gai of Israel’s encampment, where also Moses was buried (Deuteronomy 34:6), unnamed, but defined as over against Beth-pe‘or (so too Deuteronomy 4:46), is also nameless in E, Numbers 21:20, defined as in the region of Moab, and these words are added, headland of the Pisgah that looks upon the Yeshîmon; and Numbers 23:28 gives a headland of Pe‘or that looks out upon the Yeshîmon; while Beth-Pe‘or is placed by P, Joshua 13:20, with the slopes of the Pisgah and Beth-Yeshimôth. Again Euseb. and Jer. describe Beth-phogor as near Mt Phogor opposite Jericho 6 Roman miles above Livias, the mod. Tell er-Rameh, on the Jordan plain. These data suit the identification of the gai with the W. ‘Uyûn Musa, on the N. of the Nebo or Pisgah headland (see on Deuteronomy 3:17). So Dillm., G. A. Smith (HGHL, 564) and G. B. Gray (Numbers 21:20). Further, Musil (Moab, 344 f., 348) suggests for the headland of Pe‘or the headland to the N. of W. ‘Uyûn Musa, and for Beth-Pe‘or the ruins and shrine esh-Sheikh Jâyel on one of the steps of that headland, ‘thence one gets the best view of the lower slopes and of the Jordan valley.’ The stream of the wady between these two headlands, before it reaches the Dead Sea, passes the ruins es-Sueimeh, in which there is a possible echo of Yeshimon, and Yeshimôth; and the bare district about this lies in full view of both headlands. There is, therefore, no need to read Pisgah for Pe‘or in Numbers 23:28 on the basis of Numbers 21:20. On the whole the above identification of the Gai with the W. ‘Uyun Musa is preferable to that with the next wâdy to the N., the W. Hesbân (Driver). Conder’s proposal for Beth-Pe‘or (Heth and Moab, 146), the headland by ‘Ain el Minyeh, would remove the Gai too far south.

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