Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.CHAPTER 3
1. The conquest of Og (Deuteronomy 3:1-11)
2. The land possessed (Deuteronomy 3:12-20)
3. Joshua in the place of Moses (Deuteronomy 3:21-29)
In obedience to the word of the Lord, they went to battle against Og, the king of Bashan. Obedience to the Lord and its results and blessing are the marks of the second and third chapters of Deuteronomy, while the first chapter shows disobedience and its fruit.
The kingdom of Og in Bashan was a powerful kingdom. The cities had high walls with gates and bars. Their number was sixty. Archaeological research has proven the existence of strong and fortified cities in that territory, the ruins of which may still be seen. The oldest dwellings and ruined towers of Hauran (Bashan) are described by C. Von Raumer in the following words: “Simple, built of heavy blocks of basalt, roughly hewn, and as hard as iron, with very thick walls, very strong stone gates and doors, many of which were about eighteen inches thick, and were formerly fastened with immense bolts, of which traces still remain; such houses as these may have been the work of the old giant tribe of Rephaim, whose king, Og, was defeated by the Israelites 3,000 years ago.” King Og was a giant, belonging to the remnant of the giant tribe of Rephaim. His iron bedstead is mentioned by Moses. There is nothing exaggerated about it. The bed was about twelve feet long and six feet broad, which does not mean that Og was as tall as that. Moses must have mentioned the bedstead of the slain giant, to remind the people of the great victory which the Lord had given them and to inspire them with confidence in the possession of the land. The Lord, who overthrew Og would certainly not fail them when they entered the land and met the enemies there.
They utterly destroyed men, women and children of every city. Many an infidel has sneered at this statement and blasphemed God, charging Him with cruelty and injustice for allowing such an extermination of human beings. God is righteous. These people were steeped in all kinds of vices and wickedness, similar to the depravity and vilest corruption of the Canaanites. God had to deal in judgment with them. He could not permit them to exist, and as the sovereign God He dealt with them in His righteous government.
“Now, the question is, Are we competent to understand these ways of God in government? Is it any part of our business to sit in judgment upon them? Are we capable of unraveling the profound and awful mysteries of divine providences? Can we--are we called upon to--account for the tremendous fact of helpless babes involved in the judgment of their guilty parents? Impious infidelity may sneer at these things; morbid sentimentality may stumble over them; but the true believer, the pious Christian, the reverent student of holy Scripture, will meet them all with this one simple but safe and solid question, ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?’
“This, we may rest assured, is the only true way in which to meet such questions. If man is to sit in judgment upon the actings of God in government--if he can take upon himself to decide as to what is and what is not worthy of God to do, then, verily, we have lost the true sense of God altogether. And this is just what the devil is aiming at. He wants to lead the heart away from God; and to this end, he leads men to reason and question and speculate in a region which lies as far beyond their ken as heaven is above the earth. Can we comprehend God? If we could, we should ourselves be God” (C.H. Mackintosh).
This is a good answer to the infidel scoffer and should satisfy every Christian as well. The time is coming when the Lord will deal again in righteousness with this earth and then the slain of the Lord will be many.
The goodness and faithfulness of the Lord is thus unfolded by Moses in his address; it was meant for an encouragement to their faith and obedience. Next he speaks to them of the land, which the tribe of Reuben, Gad and half Manasseh received. We learned in our study of the book of Numbers that it was in self-will that they made the request. They were disobedient. Their failure is here completely overlooked by Moses. How beautifully this illustrates the grace of God!
He also reminded them of Joshua’s call to be his successor; it took place at that time, after the conquest of the land on the east of the Jordan. He had seen what the Lord had done and that was an assurance of what the Lord would do in the future. All is worded so as to encourage confidence in the Lord and obedience to His command. And is it not even so throughout His entire Word? Everything in His Word urges us on to trust in Him with fullest confidence. Happy are we if we do so and manifest that confidence by a loving obedience.
Then we find a prayer of Moses, which is unmentioned in Numbers. It is a beautiful prayer. He pleaded with the Lord to let him go over to see the good land. It could not be, on account of his sin at the waters of Meribah. Meekly he tells out the story of failure in the presence of the people and gives the Lord’s answer to him. Divine government had to shut him out from the land, but grace took him to the top of Pisgah to see, in company with the Lord, the land of promise.