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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 3

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 4

Threescore cities - Probably the cities of Jair in Bashan described in Deuteronomy 3:14 as Bashan-havoth-jair.

All the region of Argob - The Hebrew word here rendered “region,” means literally “rope” or “cable”; and though undoubtedly used elsewhere in a general topographical sense for portion or district (e. g. Joshua 17:5), has a special propriety in reference to Argob (mod. Lejah). The name Argob means “stone-heap,” and is paraphrased by the Targums, Trachonitis Luke 3:1, or “the rough country;” titles designating the more striking features of the district. Its borders are compared to a rugged shore-line; hence, its description in the text as “the girdle of the stony country,” would seem especially appropriate. (Others identify Argob with the east quarter of the Hauran.)

Verse 5

Gates, and bars - literally, “Double gates and a bar.” The stone doors of Bashan, their height pointing to a race of great stature, and the numerous cities (deserted) exist to illustrate the statements of these verses.

Verse 9

Hermon, the southern and culminating point of the range of Lebanon, was also the religious center of primaeval Syria. Its Baal sanctuaries not only existed but gave it a name before the Exodus. Hence, the careful specification of the various names by which the mountain was known. The Sidonian name of it might easily have become known to Moses through the constant traffic which had gone on from the most ancient times between Sidon and Egypt.

Verse 10

Salchah - Compare Joshua 12:5; 1 Chronicles 5:11, where it is named as belonging to the tribe of Gad. It lies seven hours’ journey to the southeast of Bostra or Bozrah of Moab. As the eastern border city of the kingdom of Bashan it was no doubt strongly fortified.

Edrei - Compare Numbers 21:33 note.

Verse 11

Giants - Or Rephaim: see the marginal reference note.

A bedstead of iron - The “iron” was probably the black basalt of the country, which not only contains a large proportion, about 20 percent, of iron, but was actually called “iron,” and is still so regarded by the Arabians. Iron was indeed both known and used, principally for tools (see e. g. Deuteronomy 19:5 and compare Genesis 4:22 note), at the date in question by the Semitic people of Palestine and the adjoining countries; but bronze was the ordinary metal of which weapons, articles of furniture, etc., were made.

The word translated “bedstead” is derived from a root signifying “to unite” or “bind together,” and so “to arch” or “cover with a vault.” The word may then certainly mean “bier,” and perhaps does so in this passage. Modern travelers have discovered in the territories of Og sarcophagi as well as many other articles made of the black basalt of the country.

Is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? - Probably after the defeat and death of Og at Edrei the remnant of his army fled into the territory of the friendly Ammonites, and carried with them the corpse of the giant king.

After the cubit of a man - i. e. after the usual and ordinary cubit, counted as people are accustomed to count. Taking 18 inches to the cubit, the bedstead or sarcophagus would thus be from thirteen to fourteen feet long.

Verse 14

These Geshurites held territory adjoining, if not included within, Bashan. They are not to be confounded with those mentioned in Joshua 13:2, who were neighbors of the Philistines 1 Samuel 17:8.

The exact position of Maachah like that of Geshur cannot be ascertained; but it was no doubt among the fastnesses which lay between Bashan and the kingdom of Damascus, and on the skirts of Mount Hermon.

Unto this day - This expression, like our “until now,” does not, as used in the Bible, necessarily imply that the time spoken of as elapsed is long. It may here denote the duration to the time then present of that which had been already some months accomplished.

Verse 16

The sense is that the Reubenites and Gadites were to possess the district from the Jabbok on the north to the Arnon on the south, including the middle part of the valley of the Arnon, and the territory (“coast” or “border”) thereto pertaining.

Verse 25

That goodly mountain - i. e., that mountainous district. The fiat districts of the East are generally scorched, destitute of water, and therefore sterile: the hilly ones, on the contrary, are of more tempered climate, and fertilized by the streams from the high grounds. Compare Deuteronomy 11:11.

The whole of this prayer of Moses is very characteristic. The longing to witness further manifestations of God’s goodness and glory, and the reluctance to leave unfinished an undertaking which he had been permitted to commence, are striking traits in his character: compare Exodus 32:32 ff; Exodus 33:12, Exodus 33:18 ff; Numbers 14:12 ff.

Verse 26

The Lord was wroth with me for your sakes - Here, as in Deuteronomy 1:37; Deuteronomy 4:21; the sin of the people is stated to be the ground on which Moses’ prayer is denied. In Deuteronomy 32:51; and in Numbers 27:14; the transgression of Moses and Aaron themselves is assigned as the cause of their punishment. The reason why one side of the transaction is put forward in this place, and the other elsewhere, is evident. Here Moses is addressing the people, and mentions the punishment of their leaders as a most impressive warning to them, whose principal fault it was. In Deuteronomy 32:0 and Numbers 27:0, God is addressing Moses, and visits on him, as is fitting, not the sin of the people hut his own.

Verse 29

Beth-peor, i. e., the house of Peor, no doubt derived its name from a temple of the Moabite god Peor which was there situated. It was no doubt near to Mount Peor Numbers 23:28, and also to the valley of the Jordan perhaps in the Wady Heshban.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/deuteronomy-3.html. 1870.
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