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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 3

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 6-29

A. God’s past dealings with Israel 1:6-3:29

Moses began this first "sermon" by reviewing God’s faithfulness to Israel. God had been faithful in bringing the nation from Sinai to her present location, and by giving her victory over her Transjordanian enemies. He also reminded the people of the future blessings that she could anticipate.

Verses 1-11

4. The conquest of the kingdom of Og 3:1-11

This record is also very similar to the previous account of this conquest in Numbers 21:33-35, though Moses provided more information here. Moses interpreted Israel’s history to emphasize God’s faithfulness. The land of Bashan was a fertile, heavily forested plateau famous for its oaks (Isaiah 2:13) and livestock (Deuteronomy 32:14; Amos 4:1). The region of Argob (Deuteronomy 3:4) may be another name for Bashan or a part of Bashan. The Rephaites lived there (Deuteronomy 3:13). The spies had feared the giants and walled cities of Canaan. Nevertheless in this campaign God delivered to His people 60 heavily fortified cities besides many other rural towns plus at least one real giant, Og. Moses probably recorded the size of his king size bed (Deuteronomy 3:11) to document the fact that God gave the Israelites victory over the giants they had so greatly feared. Some writers have argued that the Hebrew word ’eres means sarcophagus rather than bed. [Note: Craigie, The Book . . ., p. 120; Timothy R. Ashley, The Book of Numbers, p. 430; and Jack S. Deere, "Deuteronomy," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 267.] Most translators disagree. His bed probably contained iron decorations since at this time iron was a precious metal. [Note: See Alan R. Millard, "King Og’s Iron Bed: Fact or Fancy?" Bible Review 6:2 (April 1990):20.]

Verses 12-20

5. A review of the distribution of the conquered land 3:12-20

The division of the land of these two Amorite kings among two and one-half Israelite tribes (cf. Numbers 32) further fulfilled God’s promise to give the land to His people. This extensive portion of real estate was part of the land God promised to Abraham. Moses’ earlier description of this conquest stressed Israel’s role in taking this land (Numbers 32), but in this one he stressed that it was God who gave it to them (Deuteronomy 3:20).

Verses 21-29

6. Moses’ anticipation of future blessing 3:21-29

Moses encouraged Joshua, his successor, to take courage on the basis of all that God had done for Israel thus far, especially in defeating Sihon and Og (Deuteronomy 3:21-22). A better translation of Deuteronomy 3:22 is ". . . for Yahweh [the covenant-keeping God] your Elohim [strong One], He [emphatic] is the one fighting for you." Israel’s future success was certain because of Israel’s God, not because of Israel’s strength or wisdom.

Moses was so eager to see the Promised Land that he requested permission to enter it even for just a brief visit (Deuteronomy 3:23-25). Because of his sin, which the people provoked by their incessant complaining but which Moses did not shirk responsibility for, God did not permit this (Deuteronomy 3:26). God did, however, allow Moses to view the land from a good vantage point (Deuteronomy 3:27; cf. Deuteronomy 34:1-3).

"In this section we also have one of Moses’ prayers (Deuteronomy 3:23-29). These prayers contribute to a profile of Moses as a type or model figure that is anticipatory of later figures in the biblical tradition. The primary components of this profile show Moses as a suffering servant [here], teacher (see discussion of Deuteronomy 5:22-33), intercessor (see ch. 9), and prophet (see Deuteronomy 18:9-22)." [Note: Miller, pp. 42-43.]

God charged Moses with encouraging Joshua further (Deuteronomy 3:28). It is much easier to live by sight than by faith in God’s promises.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 3". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/deuteronomy-3.html. 2012.
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