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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Deuteronomy 3



Moses relates the victory of Israel over Og king of Bashan, and the division of his kingdom between the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh; and how he himself wished to enter into the land of Canaan.

Before Christ 1451.

Verse 4

Ver. 4. All the region of Argob In the Hebrew, all the line, or cord, such as lands were measured by: an allusion frequent in the Holy Scriptures, Amos 7:17. Micah 2:5.Psalms 16:6; Psalms 16:6. Argob was a small province, lying between Jordan and the mountains of Gilead, a little above the sea of Tiberias; which region was afterwards called Trachonitis. See ver. 13, 14, 15.

Verse 8

Ver. 8. That was on this side Jordan That is, &c.

Verse 9

Ver. 9. Which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion Sirion signifies a mountain. Now as Hermon, one of the mountains of Gilead, where it joins to Lebanon, rises in the territories of the Sidonians, they term it the mountain, by way of eminence: it is called by this name, Psalms 29:6. The Amorites call it Shenir, it is added; from the wild cats which abounded in this mountain, Bochart conjectures, for Sinar, in Arabic, is the name of that animal: or, perhaps, it might come from Seir or Sera; which, says Le Clerc, signifies a mountain, in Arabic; from whence the Spaniards have borrowed the name Sierra. See Bochart's Canaan, lib. 2: cap. 11.

Verse 11

Ver. 11. Only Og—remained of the remnant of the giants רפאים Rephaim, who were the ancient inhabitants of the country, and of a gigantic size, descended from Rapha; as the Anakims were descended from Anak, of the race of the giants also. Og was the last of the Rephaim of the country of Bashan: His bedstead was a bedstead of iron, to support his gigantic body: bedsteads of iron, brass, and other metals, as Scheuchzer remarks, are not unusual in the warm countries, as a defence against the multitude of insects. In heathen writers, we have frequent mention of beds of silver and gold; as also in Scripture, Esther 1:6. Proverbs 25:11. See Calmet. This bed of Og's was nine cubits in length, and four in breadth, after the cubit of a man; i.e. not according to the exact geometrical cubit, but somewhat less, such as the cubits of men commonly are. This is mentioned to shew of what an enormous size Og was, whom Maimonides computes to have been six cubits high, reckoning the bedstead to have been made, according to common custom, a third part longer than the person who lay in it. Now six cubits answer to ten feet and a half of our measure. So Goliath is said to have been six cubits and a span in height. 1 Samuel 17:4. Le Clerc, however, conjectures, that Og might order his bed to be made longer than was sufficient, to give posterity a higher idea of the gigantic personage who lay in it. The same is said to have been done by Alexander the Great, before his return from India. "He ordered each of his foot-soldiers," says Diodorus, "to erect two beds of the length of five cubits;" the reason whereof he subjoins, "in order to leave with the inhabitants signs of the enormous size and strength of his men." Agreeable hereto, Sir John Chardin tells us, in his "Travels," that the people of the East are extremely fond of corporeal greatness; and always consider it as a sign of the greatness of the soul, of courage, strength, and virtue: "We found in Bactriana mummies of eight feet; but it is most likely that the people of this country bound up their dead at the greatest length possible, that posterity, discovering their bodies, might conceive a very high opinion of their persons and actions." See Chardin's Travels, vol. 9: p. 162. Concerning the giants, see the learned Huet,

Demonstr. Evang. prop. 4: cap. 8 and Theod. Ryckii, Dissert. de Gigantibus.

Is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon Rabbath was the capital city of the Ammonites, and, according to Eusebius, was afterwards called Philadelphia, being repaired and very much embellished by Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt. But how came this bedstead into the hands of the children of Ammon? The very learned Bishop Huet answers, that Og, fearing the worst, might send his bed and the best of his effects to the Ammonites; or Moses might sell this and other parts of the spoil to the children of Ammon; or, which is full as probable, Og might be one of those giants whom the Ammonites dispossessed, chap. Deu 2:21 and whose palace they had plundered, preserving this bedstead as a monument of their victories. See Masius upon Joshua 12:0. An anonymous author pretends, that Virgil, AEneid, 9: ver. 715 alludes to this bed of Og, when speaking of that of Typhaeus, the famous Inarime, that is to say, Inaramea or Syria; and he thinks that the passage of the Latin poet is taken from the Iliad 2: ver. 783 which, according to Dickenson, has an undoubted reference to this extraordinary bed. See Delphi Phoenis. cap. 2: p. 14 and Bibliotheque Britannique, tom. 15: p. 187.

REFLECTIONS.—Moses continues a relation of their conquest. Og and his people fell like Sihon before them. Though his own stature and strength were wonderful, as may be judged by his bedstead of iron, and his courage equal to it, (for he came out to meet Israel,) yet he himself fell by their sword, and all his subjects perished with him; whilst his country and goods became a prey, according to God's promise and power, who delivered them into Israel's hand. Note; (1.) There is no might nor wisdom against the Lord. (2.) They who refuse to be warned by the fall of others and continue to provoke their judgments, will perish with them.

Verse 12

Ver. 12. We possessed Or, we took possession of.

Verse 14

Ver. 14. Unto the coasts of Geshuri, and Maachathi A people of Assyria, to the north of the tribe of Manasseh, near the source of the river Jordan. Unto this day has been thought by some to have been inserted by Ezra, who added these words to certify the original of this name: but there seems little reason for this, the phrase being frequently used in Scripture to denote a very short time. We cannot have a stronger instance of it, than the manner in which the apostle speaks, Acts 1:19. If Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy some months after the event whereof he here speaks, he might with great propriety use this expression.

Verse 16

Ver. 16. Half the valley, and the border, even unto the river Jabbok Or, What is between the river and its border, as far as to the river Jabbok. Wat. Regionem intermediam. Houb. See Joshua 12:2.

Verse 17

Ver. 17. Under Ashdoth-pisgah Under the declivities of Pisgah, Hiller. Hierophut. pars II. p. 70. Subter clivum Phasga. Houb. "From the mountain of Quarantania," says Dr. Shaw, "the very same, perhaps, where the two spies concealed themselves, Jos 2:16 we have a distinct view of the land of the Amorites, of Gilead, and of Bashan, the inheritance of the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and of the half tribe of Manasseh. This tract, in the neighbourhood particularly of the river Jordan, is, in many places, low, and, for want of culture, shaded and overgrown with tamarisks and willows: but at the distance of two or three leagues from the stream, it appears to be made up of a succession of hills and vallies, somewhat larger, and seemingly more fertile, than those in the tribe of Benjamin." Travels, p. 276.

Verses 21-22

See commentary on Deu 3:29

Verses 21-29

Ver. 21-29. As Joshua was ordained to succeed Moses in the government, he repeats the encouragement that he gave him to be brave and confident in so good a cause. Joshua had seen already some of God's mighty acts, and he was assured that such would be the success which should ever attend him, since it was the Lord who fought their battles. If God be for us, wherefore should we fear or doubt? Moses mentions his own desire and prayer, and the refusal he met with. 1. He adores God for the mercies he had already tasted, admiring the power and greatness of the works which he had shown to Israel; and intimates his wish that he might behold still greater displays of God's glory, in the perfection of his people's settlement. Note; (1.) We ought never to entertain a desire in our hearts which we may not offer in prayer to God. (2.) A glimpse of God's glory quickens the soul's longing after brighter discoveries of it. (3.) Thankfulness for any measure of God's mercy that we have tasted, is the surest means to obtain the blessing which we need. 2. He puts up his petition for permission to go over Jordan, enamoured, as it were, with the love of the goodly land. Note; They who have had a believing view of heaven, cannot but count it a goodly land, and long for an abode in it. 3. His request is denied; yet in such a way as sufficiently assures him of God's favour towards him. Our prayers may often succeed, though we receive not according to our particular requests. God was wroth with him formerly, and had determined concerning the matter: yet kindly bids him desist (as if he wished not to be asked for what he could not grant) and be content. Note; If God give us contentment under disappointments, we have one blessed token that our prayer is heard with favour. Yet he shall see the land, though he may not enter it, and from the top of Pisgah be comforted in the prospect of what his dear flock would possess after his decease. Finally, he bids him charge Joshua, and strengthen him in his work, with the assurance of completing the conquests he had begun. Note; (1.) Aged and experienced Christians are bound to encourage the hearts of their younger brethren. (2.) It is a great comfort to a dying minister, to leave the flock of God in a prosperous state, and provided with every means for their edification, when he is sleeping in the dust.

Verse 23

Ver. 23. And I besought the Lord at that time The Samaritan text introduces this petition, &c. in Num 20:13 where, probably, it has been omitted in the Hebrew text for brevity sake, And I implored grace, says Moses; according to the original, I prayed God to pardon me. The chastisements which God denounces against sinners are sometimes no other than threatenings, whose execution repentance prevents, 2 Kings 1:6; Jonah 3:4; Jon 3:10 and God had granted to the Israelites such amazing success by the ministry of Moses, that this holy man might well presume the Lord would vouchsafe to prolong his days, and give him the consolation of seeing the people happily established in the land of Canaan.

See commentary on Deu 3:29

Verse 24

Ver. 24. What god is there in heaven, &c.— Moses here speaks in reference to the popular notion of the times concerning particular and tutelary gods; yet, at the same time, with a full confession of his belief in the omnipotence of Jehovah. St. Paul, 1Co 8:5 seems plainly to refer to this passage.

See commentary on Deu 3:29

Verse 25

Ver. 25. That goodly mountain, and Lebanon The French renders this, that goodly mountain, that is to say, Lebanon; c'est a savoir, le Liban. Some commentators suppose mount Moriah, on which the temple was built, to be meant. But there seems no ground for this supposition. A similar mode of expression is found ver. 17 where the plain also, and Jordan, signifies only the plain of Jordan.

See commentary on Deu 3:29

Verses 26-27

See commentary on Deu 3:29

Verse 28

Ver. 28. But charge Joshua, and encourage him This, as Grotius judiciously observes, is what every good prince ought to do to his successor.

He ought to instruct him, to animate him to glory. If he does otherwise, through the fear of effacing or diminishing his own reputation, he dishonours himself.

See commentary on Deu 3:29

Verse 29

Ver. 29. So we abode in the valley over against Beth-peor Beth-peor was one of those cities in the plains of Moab, which were given to the tribe of Reuben. The Israelites continued encamped in this valley from their conquest of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og, till their passage over Jordan, under the conduct of Joshua, after the death of Moses, who was buried in this valley, see chap. Deuteronomy 34:6.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 3". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.