Deuteronomy 2

Wanderings in the Wilderness

1 Then we turned back and set out toward the wilderness along the route to the Red Sea,[a] as the LORD had directed me. For a long time we made our way around the hill country of Seir.
2 Then the LORD said to me,
3 “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.
4 Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful.
5 Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own.
6 You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.’ ”
7 The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.
8 So we went on past our relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. We turned from the Arabah road, which comes up from Elath and Ezion Geber, and traveled along the desert road of Moab.
9 Then the LORD said to me, “Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.”
10 (The Emites used to live there—a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites.
11 Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites.
12 Horites used to live in Seir, but the descendants of Esau drove them out. They destroyed the Horites from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did in the land the LORD gave them as their possession.)
13 And the LORD said, “Now get up and cross the Zered Valley.” So we crossed the valley.
14 Thirty-eight years passed from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley. By then, that entire generation of fighting men had perished from the camp, as the LORD had sworn to them.
15 The LORD’s hand was against them until he had completely eliminated them from the camp.
16 Now when the last of these fighting men among the people had died,
17 the LORD said to me,
18 “Today you are to pass by the region of Moab at Ar.
19 When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.”
20 (That too was considered a land of the Rephaites, who used to live there; but the Ammonites called them Zamzummites.
21 They were a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. The LORD destroyed them from before the Ammonites, who drove them out and settled in their place.
22 The LORD had done the same for the descendants of Esau, who lived in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites from before them. They drove them out and have lived in their place to this day.
23 And as for the Avvites who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorites coming out from Caphtor[b] destroyed them and settled in their place.)

Defeat of Sihon King of Heshbon

24 “Set out now and cross the Arnon Gorge. See, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his country. Begin to take possession of it and engage him in battle.
25 This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.”
26 From the Desert of Kedemoth I sent messengers to Sihon king of Heshbon offering peace and saying,
27 “Let us pass through your country. We will stay on the main road; we will not turn aside to the right or to the left.
28 Sell us food to eat and water to drink for their price in silver. Only let us pass through on foot—
29 as the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir, and the Moabites, who live in Ar, did for us—until we cross the Jordan into the land the LORD our God is giving us.”
30 But Sihon king of Heshbon refused to let us pass through. For the LORD your God had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done.
31 The LORD said to me, “See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his country over to you. Now begin to conquer and possess his land.”
32 When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz,
33 the LORD our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army.
34 At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed[c] them—men, women and children. We left no survivors.
35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves.
36 From Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the gorge, even as far as Gilead, not one town was too strong for us. The LORD our God gave us all of them.
37 But in accordance with the command of the LORD our God, you did not encroach on any of the land of the Ammonites, neither the land along the course of the Jabbok nor that around the towns in the hills.

Deuteronomy 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

The Edomites to be spared. (1-7) The Moabites and Ammonites to be spared. (8-23) The Amorites to be destroyed. (24-37)

Verses 1-7 Only a short account of the long stay of Israel in the wilderness is given. God not only chastised them for their murmuring and unbelief, but prepared them for Canaan; by humbling them for sin, teaching them to mortify their lusts, to follow God, and to comfort themselves in him. Though Israel may be long kept waiting for deliverance and enlargement, it will come at last. Before God brought Israel to destroy their enemies in Canaan, he taught them to forgive their enemies in Edom. They must not, under pretence of God's covenant and conduct, think to seize all they could lay hands on. Dominion is not founded in grace. God's Israel shall be well placed, but must not expect to be placed alone in the midst of the earth. Religion must never be made a cloak for injustice. Scorn to be beholden to Edomites, when thou hast an all-sufficient God to depend upon. Use what thou hast, use it cheerfully. Thou hast experienced the care of the Divine providence, never use any crooked methods for thy supply. All this is equally to be applied to the experience of the believer.

Verses 8-23 We have the origin of the Moabites, Edomites, and Ammonites. Moses also gives an instance older than any of these; the Caphtorims drove the Avims out of their country. These revolutions show what uncertain things wordly possessions are. It was so of old, and ever will be so. Families decline, and from them estates are transferred to families that increase; so little continuance is there in these things. This is recorded to encourage the children of Israel. If the providence of God has done this for Moabites and Ammonites, much more would his promise do it for Israel, his peculiar people. Cautions are given not to meddle with Moabites and Ammonites. Even wicked men must not be wronged. God gives and preserves outward blessings to wicked men; these are not the best things, he has better in store for his own children.

Verses 24-37 God tried his people, by forbidding them to meddle with the rich countries of Moab and Ammon. He gives them possession of the country of the Amorites. If we keep from what God forbids, we shall not lose by our obedience. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; and he gives it to whom he pleases; but when there is no express direction, none can plead his grant for such proceedings. Though God assured the Israelites that the land should be their own, yet they must contend with the enemy. What God gives we must endeavour to get. What a new world did Israel now come into! Much more joyful will the change be, which holy souls will experience, when they remove out of the wilderness of this world to the better country, that is, the heavenly, to the city that has foundations. Let us, by reflecting upon God's dealings with his people Israel, be led to meditate upon our years spent in vanity, through our transgressions. But happy are those whom Jesus has delivered from the wrath to come. To whom he hath given the earnest of his Spirit in their hearts. Their inheritance cannot be affected by revolutions of kingdoms, or changes in earthly possessions.

Cross References 69

  • 1. S Exodus 14:27; S Numbers 21:4
  • 2. S Numbers 24:18
  • 3. Deuteronomy 1:6
  • 4. Numbers 20:14-21
  • 5. Genesis 36:8
  • 6. ver 1
  • 7. Exodus 15:16
  • 8. Genesis 36:8; Joshua 24:4
  • 9. Deuteronomy 8:2-4
  • 10. S Exodus 13:21; S Deuteronomy 1:19
  • 11. ver 14; S Numbers 14:33; Numbers 32:13; Joshua 5:6
  • 12. Nehemiah 9:21; Amos 2:10
  • 13. S Numbers 20:21
  • 14. S Deuteronomy 1:1
  • 15. Numbers 33:35; 1 Kings 9:26
  • 16. S Numbers 21:4; Judges 11:18
  • 17. S Numbers 21:15
  • 18. Genesis 19:38; Psalms 83:8; Genesis 19:36-38
  • 19. Genesis 14:5
  • 20. S Numbers 13:22,33
  • 21. S Genesis 14:5
  • 22. S Genesis 14:6
  • 23. Numbers 21:25,35; ver 22
  • 24. S Numbers 21:12
  • 25. S ver 7
  • 26. S Deuteronomy 1:2; Numbers 13:26
  • 27. Numbers 14:29-35
  • 28. Deuteronomy 1:34-35; Joshua 5:6
  • 29. Psalms 106:26; Jude 1:5
  • 30. S Numbers 21:15
  • 31. S Genesis 19:38
  • 32. 2 Chronicles 20:10
  • 33. S ver 9
  • 34. S Genesis 14:5
  • 35. ver 10
  • 36. S Genesis 14:6; Genesis 36:8
  • 37. Joshua 13:3; Joshua 18:23; 2 Kings 17:31
  • 38. S Genesis 10:19
  • 39. S Genesis 10:14
  • 40. Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:7
  • 41. Numbers 21:13-14; Judges 11:13,18
  • 42. S Deuteronomy 1:7
  • 43. Deuteronomy 3:6
  • 44. S Genesis 35:5; Deuteronomy 11:25
  • 45. Joshua 2:9,11; 1 Chronicles 14:17; 2 Chronicles 14:14; 2 Chronicles 17:10; 2 Chronicles 20:29; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 13:13; Isaiah 19:16
  • 46. Exodus 15:14-16
  • 47. Joshua 13:18; 1 Chronicles 6:79
  • 48. Deuteronomy 1:4; Judges 11:21-22
  • 49. Deuteronomy 20:10; Judges 21:13; 2 Samuel 20:19
  • 50. Numbers 21:21-22
  • 51. Deuteronomy 23:4
  • 52. S Numbers 20:19
  • 53. Judges 14:4; 1 Kings 12:15; Joshua 11:20
  • 54. S Exodus 4:21; Numbers 21:23; Romans 9:18
  • 55. S Exodus 14:17
  • 56. Lamentations 3:65
  • 57. S Genesis 12:7; Deuteronomy 1:8
  • 58. S Numbers 21:23
  • 59. Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 7:2; Deuteronomy 31:5
  • 60. S Numbers 21:24; Deuteronomy 29:7
  • 61. S Numbers 21:2; Deuteronomy 3:6; Deuteronomy 7:2; Psalms 106:34
  • 62. Deuteronomy 3:7
  • 63. S Genesis 34:29; S Genesis 49:27
  • 64. S Numbers 32:34; Deuteronomy 3:12; Deuteronomy 4:48; Joshua 13:9
  • 65. S Numbers 32:39
  • 66. Psalms 44:3
  • 67. ver 18-19
  • 68. S Numbers 21:24
  • 69. S Genesis 32:22; Deuteronomy 3:16

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or "the Sea of Reeds"
  • [b]. That is, Crete
  • [c]. The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

Chapter Summary


In this chapter Moses goes on with his account of the affairs of the people of Israel, and what befell them, how they turned into the wilderness again; but passes over in silence their travels there, till they came to Mount Self, where having been some time they were bid to depart, De 2:1-3, and were directed not to meddle with the Edomites, or take anything from them, but pay them for what they should have of them, since they lacked not, De 2:4-8, nor to distress the Moabites, of whose country, as formerly inhabited, and also of Edom, some account is given, De 2:9-12, when they were bid to go over the brook Zered, to which from their coming from Kadeshbarnea was the space of thirty eight years, in which time the former generation was consumed, De 2:13-16 and now passing along the borders of Moab, they were ordered not to meddle with nor distress the children of Ammon, of whose land also, and the former inhabitants of it, an account is given, De 2:17-23, then passing over the river Arnon, they are bid to fight with Sihon king of the Amorites, and possess his land, De 2:24,25 to whom they sent messengers, desiring leave to pass through his land, and to furnish them with provisions for their money, as the Edomites and Moabites had done, De 2:26-29 but he refusing, this gave them an opportunity to attack him, in which they succeeded, slew him and his people, and took possession of his country, De 2:30-37.

Deuteronomy 2 Commentaries