Then we turned around and went back into the wilderness following the route to the Red Sea, as God had instructed me. We worked our way in and around the hills of Seir for a long, long time.
Then God said,
"You've been going around in circles in these hills long enough; go north.
Command the people, You're about to cut through the land belonging to your relatives, the People of Esau who settled in Seir. They are terrified of you, but restrain yourselves.
Don't try and start a fight. I am not giving you so much as a square inch of their land. I've already given all the hill country of Seir to Esau - he owns it all.
Pay them up front for any food or water you get from them."
God, your God, has blessed you in everything you have done. He has guarded you in your travels through this immense wilderness. For forty years now, God, your God, has been right here with you. You haven't lacked one thing.
So we detoured around our brothers, the People of Esau who live in Seir, avoiding the Arabah Road that comes up from Elath and Ezion Geber; instead we used the road through the Wilderness of Moab.
God told me, "And don't try to pick a fight with the Moabites. I am not giving you any of their land. I've given ownership of Ar to the People of Lot."
The Emites (Monsters) used to live there - mobs of hulking giants, like Anakites.
Along with the Anakites they were lumped in with the Rephaites (Ghosts) but in Moab they were called Emites.
Horites also used to live in Seir, but the descendants of Esau took over and destroyed them, the same as Israel did in the land God gave them to possess.
God said, "It's time now to cross the Brook Zered." So we crossed the Brook Zered.
It took us thirty-eight years to get from Kadesh Barnea to the Brook Zered. That's how long it took for the entire generation of soldiers from the camp to die off, as God had sworn they would.
God was relentless against them until the last one was gone from the camp.
When the last of these soldiers had died,
God said to me,
"This is the day you cut across the territory of Moab, at Ar.
When you approach the People of Ammon, don't try and pick a fight with them because I'm not giving you any of the land of the People of Ammon for yourselves - I've already given it to the People of Lot."
It is also considered to have once been the land of the Rephaites. Rephaites lived there long ago - the Ammonites called them Zamzummites (Barbarians)
- huge mobs of them, giants like the Anakites. God destroyed them and the Ammonites moved in and took over.
It was the same with the People of Esau who live in Seir - God got rid of the Horites who lived there earlier and they moved in and took over, as you can see.
Regarding the Avvites who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorites who came from Caphtor (Crete) wiped them out and moved in.
"On your feet now. Get started. Cross the Brook Arnon. Look: Here's Sihon the Amorite king of Heshbon and his land. I'm handing it over to you - it's all yours. Go ahead take it. Go to war with him.
Before the day is out, I'll make sure that all the people around here are thoroughly terrified. Rumors of you are going to spread like wildfire; they'll totally panic."
From the Wilderness of Kedemoth, I sent messengers to Sihon, king of Heshbon. They carried a friendly message:
"Let me cross through your land on the highway. I'll stay right on the highway; I won't trespass right or left.
I'll pay you for any food or water we might need. Let me walk through.
"The People of Esau who live in Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did this, helping me on my way until I can cross the Jordan and enter the land that God, our God, is giving us."
But Sihon king of Heshbon wouldn't let us cross his land. God, your God, turned his spirit mean and his heart hard so he could hand him over to you, as you can see that he has done.
Then God said to me, "Look, I've got the ball rolling - Sihon and his land are soon yours. Go ahead. Take it. It's practically yours!"
So Sihon and his entire army confronted us in battle at Jahaz.
God handed him, his sons, and his entire army over to us and we utterly crushed them.
While we were at it we captured all his towns and totally destroyed them, a holy destruction - men, women, and children. No survivors.
We took the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured and carried them off for ourselves.
From Aroer on the edge of the Brook Arnon and the town in the gorge, as far as Gilead, not a single town proved too much for us; God, our God, gave every last one of them to us.
The only land you didn't take, obeying God's command, was the land of the People of Ammon, the land along the Jabbok and around the cities in the hills.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)