BIBLE STUDY SERIES #452, 453 and 454

23 July, 2000

DEUTERONOMY'S MESSAGE - PART III

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, which began with the Call by The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, in Genesis 12, has taken us through the sequence of subsequent Biblical passages which relate the family history of the generations of the Patriarchs and tribes of his progeny as they entered Egypt, and later emerged through The Exodus into Sinai, heading eventually towards their Promised Land, under Moses and by the direction of The Almighty God.

Today we continue our approach to the Book of Deuteronomy, which is the fifth book of the five Books of Moses called the Pentateuch. Briefly, the general thrust of the Book of Deuteronomy is given in a quote by Keil and Delitzsch from the words of Luther: "The book of Deuteronomy contains not so much 'a recapitulation of the things commanded and done, as related in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers', ... as 'a compendium and summary of the whole law and wisdom of the people of Israel, wherein those things which related to the priests and Levites are omitted, and only such things included as the people generally required to know'."

In the last study we had scanned the passage of Deuteronomy 1:19-46 and we had been reading portions of those verses with comments inserted as we read, seeking to amplify or explain certain matters mentioned therein. Briefly, we had found that Moses was beginning his great final oration before the massed Israelite tribesmen assembled to listen to his words on the Plain of Moab, prior to their crossing of the Jordan River to invade the portions of the Promised Land in which there still dwelt the Canaanites that were to be removed.

Moses had begun this farewell message, filled with Godly reminders of the past and injunctions and further advice for the present and future by reminding them of the history of the experiences of the former generation in Israel, composed of their parents. Thirty-eight years before, that generation had balked at making any assault upon the Promised Land after hearing the adverse reports of the tribe-princes who had gone, one from each tribe, to spy-out, or reconnoitre the land. As a result of their lack of faith, they had failed, and thus the whole nation had been forced to wander in the wilderness of Sinai until age had removed all members of their people who had been above the age of twenty when this refusal had taken place. They had died out, and now this new generation of their sons and daughters, hardened by the testing of this wilderness experience, was to be granted by The LORD the opportunity, again, as Israel, and under The Almighty's direction, to make that invasion which their elders had refused. The younger generation would indeed accomplish what the older generation had failed to do. We begin today's Scripture passage at Deuteronomy 2:1 which picks up the review of the nation's more recent experiences in that Wilderness of Sinai after they moved on from Mount Sinai (which is also Horeb). Moses is continuing to remind the nation of its collective past:

1. Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days.

Mount Seir, you may remember, was that area which lies generally towards the south of the Dead sea, and which might possibly, in the earlier days, have received a slightly higher amount of rainfall than it does today. Climatic belts might well have shifted a bit to the north since the times of which we are reading. Here, there lived the Edomites, descendants of Jacob's brother, Esau. These were considered, through that connection as fellow descendants of Isaac, to be related folk, and Israel was given certain directions at this time in regard to that area.

Nelson's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts states of "Seir" that the meaning is "tempest". It is "The valley and mountains of Aravah from the Dead Sea south to the Elanitic Gulf (Gen. 14:6; 32:3). Seir was the name of the mountain range in Edom and the name came to include the entire territory... ."

The New Bible Commentary on Deuteronomy 2:1-8 says of Mount Seir: "The mountains of Edom, of which Seir is the typical summit, rise to the south and east of the Dead Sea.", and it adds, concerning the next few verses that "northward" would be along the S.E. border of Edom.

2. And the LORD spake unto me, saying,
3. Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.
4. And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:
5. Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.
6. Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.
7. For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.

Speaking concerning the words "thou hast lacked nothing, The Companion Bible notes here that "nothing" means "not a word" i.e. of what Jehovah had promised.

8. And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.
9. And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.
10. The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;
11. Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.
12. The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them.

The New Bible Commentary notes concerning that passage: "Your brethren the children of Esau (4). The request from Kadesh seeking a passage through the heart of Edom (Nu. xx. 14-21) was refused. Then (Nu. xxi. 4) they were bidden to journey by the 'border' (see RV). From verses 28 and 29 of this chapter it seems that some of the people, kinder than their king, were willing to sell them food and water, the latter a precious commodity. Meddle not with them (5). 'Contend not" (RV). The friendliness shown to Edom, Moab (see verse 9) and Ammon (see verse 19) as 'brethren' is characteristic of the patriarchal and Mosaic ages, and a testimony to the contemporary character of the narrative. In the days of the kingdom it gave place to constant wars, and prophecies of bitter woes." Of verse 9 "I have given" it says "In His sovereignty Jehovah determines the bounds of all nations... ." Also in that verse, mentioning the place called Ar, it says "This was the border-town of the Moabites, the children of Lot." Of the mention of Emims and Horims, it tells us that the same peoples "are mentioned in Genesis xiv. 5, 6, as occupying these same regions. These latter have recently been identified with the Hurrians who at a very early time descended from Armenia and occupied the northern part of Mesopotamia, where they established a powerful kingdom and whence they penetrated farther south."

Keil and Delitzsch give some insights concerning Edom, Moab and Ammon, mentioning in verse 8 that "In accordance with this divine command, they went past the Edomites by the side of their mountains ... ." They continue "God commanded them to behave in the same manner towards the Moabites, when they approached their frontier (ver. 9). They were not to touch their land, because the Lord had given Ar to the descendants of Lot for a possession." In verse 9 the Moabites are mentioned and in verse 19 the Amorites also. The Moabites are designated as "sons of Lot," for the same reason for which the Edomites are called "brethren of Israel" in verse 4. The Israelites were to uphold the bond of blood-relationship with these tribes in the most sacred manner. Ar, the capital of "Moabitis", "is used here for the land itself, which was named after the capital, and governed by it." They go on to show that Moses is making the point that Edom and Moab had not displaced the previous inhabitants of their respective countries by their own power, but by the will and power of Jehovah.

13. Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered.
14. And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them.
15. For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.

In 15, "destroy", the Companion Bible notes as "shake off." Regarding the brook Zered, the same reference states "See Nu. xxi. 12. The word 'brook' (nahal) denotes the course of a mountain stream, which after rain may be a rushing torrent and at other times entirely dry. These nahals are a distinctive feature of Trans-jordan." Mention of "thirty and eight years" in verse 14 draws the additional comment that "The 'forty years in the wilderness' ... include also the first year from the crossing of the Red Sea to the departure from Sinai and the final year spent in the conquest of the eastern territories." In verse 15, "The hand of the Lord" shows that "The judgments of God are strictly impartial."

The Companion Bible notes the "brook Zered, which flows into the Arnon, the frontier between Moab and Ammon."

Perhaps we might leave the remainder of Deuteronomy Chapter 2 for our next study.

30 July, 2000

DEUTERONOMY'S MESSAGE - PART IV

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, which began with the Call by The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, in Genesis 12, has taken us through the sequence of subsequent Biblical passages which relate the family history of the generations of the Patriarchs and tribes of his progeny as they entered Egypt, and later emerged through The Exodus into Sinai, heading eventually towards their Promised Land, under Moses and by the direction of The Almighty God.

Today we continue our approach to the Book of Deuteronomy, which is the fifth book of the five Books of Moses called the Pentateuch. Briefly, in review, the general thrust of the Book of Deuteronomy is given in a quote by Keil and Delitzsch from the words of Luther: "The book of Deuteronomy contains not so much 'a recapitulation of the things commanded and done, as related in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers', ... as 'a compendium and summary of the whole law and wisdom of the people of Israel, wherein those things which related to the priests and Levites are omitted, and only such things included as the people generally required to know'."

We had found that Moses was beginning his great final oration before the massed Israelite tribesmen assembled to listen to his words on the Plain of Moab, prior to their crossing of the Jordan River to invade the portions of the Promised Land in which there still dwelt the Canaanites that were to be removed. In the last study we had scanned the passage of Deuteronomy 2:1-15 and we had been reading portions of those verses with comments inserted as we read, seeking to amplify or explain certain matters mentioned therein.

Moses had begun this farewell message, filled with Godly reminders of the past and injunctions and further advice for the present and future by reminding them of the history of the experiences of the former generation in Israel, composed of their parents. Thirty-eight years before, that generation had arrived at Kadesh-barnea, where they had balked at making any assault upon the Promised Land after hearing the adverse reports of the tribe-princes who had gone, one from each tribe, to spy-out, or reconnoitre the land. (Incidentally, the name Kadesh is simply the Hebrew for "holy.") As a result of their lack of faith, they had failed, and thus the whole nation had been forced to wander in the wilderness of Sinai until age had removed all members of their people who had been above the age of twenty when this refusal had taken place. They had died out, and now this new generation of their sons and daughters, hardened by the testing of this wilderness experience, was to be granted by The LORD the opportunity, again, as Israel, and under The Almighty's direction, to make that invasion which their elders had refused. The younger generation would indeed accomplish what the older generation had failed to do. We begin today's Scripture passage at Deuteronomy 2:16 which picks up the review of the nation's more recent experiences in that Wilderness of Sinai after they moved on from Mount Sinai (which is also Horeb). Moses is continuing to remind the nation of its collective past:

16. So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people,
17. That the LORD spake unto me, saying,
18. Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day:
19. And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.
20. (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;
21. A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead:

Of Zamzummims, The Companion Bible notes that this name, given them by the Ammonites, means "noisy ones." Keil and Delitzsch go further, in stating "Rephaites dwelt therein whom the Ammonites called Zamzummim..." (a word from Hebrew) ...to hum, then to muse, equivalent to the humming or roaring people. These were a giant tribe which The Lord had destroyed before the Ammonites." The Horites (cave-dwellers) had similarly been destroyed before the Edomites. [By way of a lighter moment, I couldn't help but wonder, on reading that Zamzummim note, if some of our youth today had not somehow managed to revive the strain, evidenced by emission of noisy electronic blasts which echo through otherwise quiet neighbourhoods! But I digress!] Verse 22:

22. As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day:
23. And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)
24. Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.

A number of peoples, with what may sound to the average person as rather obscure names, appear in this portion of Scripture. Keil and Delitzsch indicate that the "Avvims" had previously dwelt in farms (villages) at the south west corner of Canaan but had been driven out and exterminated by the Caphtorites, who sprang from Caphtor (see at Gen. x. 14), although, according to Josh. xiii. 3, some remnants of them were to be found among the Philistines even at that time. [The Genesis 10 reference would tie that line in to one of the progeny of Noah's son, Ham.] The Companion Bible notes at verse 23 that Azzah is now Gaza. Of the Amorites, we have a number of references. Perhaps this review will be facilitated if we insert some information from The New Bible Commentary, introducing this Scripture, which is a part of what is termed Moses' First Discourse, which runs from Deuteronomy 1:6 to 4:40. Writing of Canaan, we find "From early times Palestine was known as the land of Canaan, and its inhabitants as Canaanites... The Amorites, or Amurru, are mentioned in monuments dating back to the third millennium B.C. They penetrated into Canaan from the north, and settled in the hilly district on both sides of the Jordan."

The New Bible Commentary on verses 16 to 37 carried notes, some of which reinforce, and others which may elaborate upon, what has been said. It states, under the heading "Victory over the Amorite kings (ii. 16-37)", these words: "It came to pass (16). The account in verses 16-25 is fuller than that of Numbers. Moab...Amon (18, 19). Moabites and Ammonites, the descendants of Lot (Gn. xix. 37, 38), are treated as 'brethren', in contrast with the Amorites, an alien race, sunken in idolatry (see ii. 5n.). Giants (20). 'Rephaim' (RV). This word, like nephilim (Gn. vi. 4), was probably a general term for primitive peoples of great strength and stature. Anakims (21). The Anakim, or 'sons of Anak', evidently inspired terror by their size. ... They are met with chiefly in the highlands. Cf. Jos. xi. 21. Avims ... Azzah ... Caphtorims (23). Azzah is the modern Gaza. Caphtor is supposed to be Crete, and the Caphtorim are the Philistines, who descended upon the southern coasts of Palestine about the time of the exodus. Cf. Jos. xiii. 3; Am. ix. 7. This primitive name for them marks the passage as being of early date."

25. This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.
26. And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,
27. Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.
28. Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet;

The Companion Bible notes that Kedemoth was afterwards a Levitical city mentioned in Joshua 13:18 and elsewhere..

As we are approaching the end of our time for today's Bible Study, perhaps I ought to make some remarks concerning the lesson which we might consider drawing from what we have examined. Moses is giving the people of a younger generation an account of the manner whereby The LORD has been guiding and protecting, but also instructing His Israel people through the years, and preparatory to their taking control of a land which they must occupy in forming a national entity to serve Himself. We, today, may look at our present circumstances and weigh the possibility that the general approach which Moses is using still applies even now, in our generation, for there is at large a general sense that events are rapidly unfolding a time of ebb and flow of things which were at one time thought immovable, and we might benefit by taking a review of what God has been doing in the lifetime of our own people. Where are we going? Check direction against where we have been. Deuteronomy will yet provide guidance for ourselves.

6 August, 2000

DEUTERONOMY'S MESSAGE, PART V

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, which began with the Call by The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, in Genesis 12, has taken us through the sequence of subsequent Biblical passages which relate the family history of the generations of the Patriarchs and tribes of his progeny as they entered Egypt, and later emerged through The Exodus into Sinai, heading eventually towards their Promised Land, under Moses and by the direction of The Almighty God.

Presently, we are studying Scripture passages in The Book of Deuteronomy, wherein Moses is giving the people of a younger generation an account of the manner whereby The LORD has been guiding and protecting, but also instructing His Israel people through the years. This is preparatory to their taking control of a Promised Land which they must occupy in order to form an established national entity to serve Yahweh, Himself.

We, today, may look at our present circumstances with some trepidation, much as a people might who are conscious that things of value are being surreptitiously filched from them, and we might be weighing the possibility that the general approach which Moses is using still applies even now, in our generation. There is, today, I believe, in the minds of many people, a general sense that events are rapidly unfolding a time of ebb and flow, of things which were at one time thought immovable; things upon which they and their forefathers had come to depend, and so it is that we might benefit by making a similar review of what God has been doing in the lifetime of our own peoples. Some major questions are often asked, such as, "Where are we going?", "How can these things be happening to us?", "Why are things so rapidly beginning to shift, so that none of the old standards seems, any more, to apply in Society? Such questions arise because of a generally uneasy sense that things are getting out of control, and we are powerless to steady our situation while this is happening.

Here, at this point, the message of The Bible, and particularly some of the National aspects in God's Word, form guidelines or position lines of boundaries and standards which were agreed upon, and used, by our ancestors in forming the cultural norms of our people. If we take time to check our present social and cultural and national direction against the backdrop of where we have been, we may gain an heightened appreciation of our situation. Deuteronomy will yet provide guidance for ourselves.

We had learned that Moses was, in Deuteronomy 2, in the midst of an introduction to his great final oration before the massed Israelite tribesmen assembled to listen to his words on the Plains of Moab, (which lie north of the Moabite territory which was then occupied by racial Moabites). The oration is being delivered prior to the Israelites' crossing of the Jordan River to invade the portions of the Promised Land in which the Canaanites still dwelt, and from which those peoples were to be removed.

Moses had chosen to bring their understanding forward to the future by basing this on a review of their recent history, so that they might keep certain lessons, learned therein, in view as they contemplated what he was yet to establish in the present oration.

In the last study we had scanned the passage of Deuteronomy 2:16-28 and we had been reading portions of those verses with comments inserted as we read, seeking to amplify or explain certain matters mentioned therein.

At verse 16, the review had picked up the historic account at the point at which the older generation of the Israelites had finally died out in the Wilderness of Sinai, a necessary wait for two reasons. First, that generation had hesitated and balked at entry to The Promised Land of Canaan with their trust firmly in God's hand, which would have granted them a victory. They had failed to go forward in God's strength, and on being told the sentence that this failure had drawn from God, they had immediately, sought to reverse it by initiating the same invasion in their own strength, with disastrous result. If a transgression receives a sentence of irreversible punishment, it is then too late, without agreement of the sentencing judge, to initiate a compensating attempt to "earn reprieve."

Condemned to wander for the remaining thirty-eight years in the Sinai wilderness until their generation each met his or her death, at least God thus permitted the people to escaped immediate execution at God's hand; a fate which had befallen ten of the twelve spies whose reports had so thoroughly dismayed and disheartened the people.

The second reason for the thirty-eight year delay was that it set the time limit at which the sins of the Amorites would finally fill their cup to overflow, and demand their execution by Israel's descendants. At that time, which was just prior to the present moment of Moses' speech, Israel had travelled along the boundary of Moab without transgressing it, and they had not meddled with the Ammonites, because both these peoples, although their forefathers had been generated in an incestuous manner during their flight from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, were children of Lot, Abraham's brother's son, by Lot's own daughters. Likewise, they were not to assail the Edomites. As a note in Keil and Delitzsch put it, "Whereas the Israelites were not to make war upon the kindred tribes of Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites, or drive them out of the possessions given to them by God; the Lord had given the Amorites, who had forced a way into Gilead and Bashan, into their hands."

God had arranged that a message be sent to Sihon, the Amorite king, with a relatively peaceable and more or less reasonable request, that had been refused. This set the stage for a brief war which had shown all of Canaan unmistakably, what would happen to the rest, should they adopt the attitude displayed by Sihon.

As Keil and Delitzsch word the situation: "If Moses, notwithstanding this (that is, the promise by God to place fear in God's enemies through Israel) sent messengers to king Sihon with words of peace ..., this was done to show the king of the Amorites that it was through his own fault that his kingdom and lands and life were lost. The wish to pass through his land in a peaceable manner was quite seriously expressed; although Moses foresaw, in consequence of the divine communication, that he would reject his proposal, and meet Israel with hostilities. For Sihon's kingdom did not form part of the land of Canaan, which God had promised to the patriarchs for their descendants; and the divine foreknowledge of the hardness of Sihon no more destroyed the freedom of his will to resolve, or the freedom of his actions, than the circumstance that in ver. 30 the unwillingness of Sihon is described as the effect of his being hardened by God Himself. The hardening was quite as much the production of human freedom and guilt, as the consequence of the divine decree; just as in the case of Pharaoh."

In regard to the attitude of the Moabites, by way of contrast, we are informed that when Israel made their request, the Moabites did sell food and water to them. This, however was not given freely, as a donation to assist Israel, in an hospitable way, and thus, as pointed out by Keil and Delitzsch, the reference in chapter 23:4 regarding the statement that "they met you not with bread and water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt..." is a valid statement which does not conflict with what we have learned here. Selling for money (the cost might have been quite high), would not be the same as giving them bread and water both for themselves, and for their stock. Verses 25 to 28 read:

25. This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.
26. And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,
27. Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.
28. Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet;

The Companion Bible notes that Kedemoth (verse 26) was afterwards a Levitical city mentioned in Joshua 13:18 and elsewhere. The New Bible Commentary notes, of the expression "words of peace" that "Whether to Edomite or Amorite, the first message is one of peace." We continue at verse 29:

29. (As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the LORD our God giveth us.
30. But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
31. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land.
32. Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.
33. And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.

Next week we will take up our study of the last of that passage, and continue with the oration by Moses which constitutes this, the fifth Book of the Pentateuch.

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