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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 2

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-37



From Kadesh Barnea Israel had to virtually retrace their steps, going back toward the Red Sea. Believers today find similar experiences because of lack of faith. Instead of progressing in the path of obedience to God, we must go back to learn afresh what the Red Sea deliverance means, for this speaks of the judgment of sin in the flesh by means of the cross of Christ, and if we do not learn it properly as we begin our wilderness history, we shall have to backtrack in order to more rightly understand it. This is really wandering instead of going steadily forward. Psalms 107:4 speaks of Israel wandering in the wilderness in a desolate way. Too many believers take almost their whole life to learn this lesson.

After some length of time the Lord again instructed Moses to return northward, going by way of the Edomites, descendants of Esau (v.2-4). Yet they were not to meddle with Edom for God had given it as a possession to Esau. They would be permitted to buy food and water from them. The historical record does not say that they bought anything from Edom, however (Numbers 30:14-16), for Edom strongly refused to allow them passage through their land.

Yet the kindness of God was constantly shown to Israel in forty years of their trudging through the wilderness (v.7). Thus they passed by those whom God calls their "Brethren, the descendants of Esau," and came by the way of the wilderness of Moab. As with Edom, however, Israel was not to attack Moab for the Lord had given that land to the descendants of Lot (v.9).

It is noted in verse 10 that the Emims had previously possessed that land. They were giants as great and numerous as the Anakim. Since the Moabites had dispossessed them, could Israel not dispossess the inhabitants of Canaan when they had the Lord with them? Similarly, the Horites had previously dwelt in Seir, but the descendants of Esau had dispossessed them (v.12).

This tells us that because certain people possessed a certain territory first, this does not give them indisputable rights to it. God had decreed that Edom was to have Seir and that the Moabites were to have the present country of Moab, just as He has decreed that Israel is to have the land of Canaan. Whoever fights against this will not prosper.

Israel was now told to proceed further, for it had been 38 years since leaving Kadesh Barnea at the time of their refusal to enter the land and the men of that previous generation had died as the Lord had told them they would (vs.14-15). They crossed the boundary of Moab and came near to Ammon. But they were told not to harass or interfere with Ammon, for God had given it to those descendants of Lot (v.19). As with Moab, it is said that giants had possessed that land, called Zanzummins. But since God had decreed that the Ammonites were to have this, the Lord destroyed the giants before them (vs.20-21).

These three peoples, therefore, Edom, Moab and Ammon, God had settled in their respective lands by His dispossessing the previous inhabitants. Since God had done this, then Israel was not to interfere. God had also determined what Israel's inheritance was to be. They are told therefore to rise and take journey across the River Arnon where they were to take possession of the land of Sihon the Ammorites (v.24). The time had come to begin their conquests, though not having yet crossed the Jordan. God was to put the fear of Israel in the minds of the nations who would hear the report of Israel's conquests (v.25).



Sihon was an Ammorite. This race descended from Ham through Canaan (Genesis 10:15-16). Moses sent messengers to Sihon with a peaceful intention, asking to pass through his land strictly by the highway, offering to pay for food and water (vs.26-27). They had done the same in regard to Edom, but this time the results were different. The Amorite was not their brother as was Esau.

In both cases they were refused permission to pass. In the case of Edom, Israel turned away from them and around that land. But God hardened the spirit of Sihon with the object of delivering him into Israel's hand (v.30). Sihon came out against Israel to battle and Israel soundly defeated him, destroying men, women and children and taking possession of his cities (v.34). They took their livestock and other spoil, but spared none of the people (v.35). But they did not touch the people of Ammon, for they descended from Lot, the nephew of Abraham (v.37).

In later history there was occasion for David to attack and defeat Ammon because of Ammon's insult to David when he showed kindness (2 Samuel 10:1-19 and 2 Samuel 12:26-31). But Israel initiated nothing against them.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 2". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/deuteronomy-2.html. 1897-1910.
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