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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
Deuteronomy 3



Verses 1-9

The Help of God in the Conquest of the Kingdom of Og of Bashan. - Deuteronomy 3:1. After the defeat of king Sihon and the conquest of his land, the Israelites were able to advance to the Jordan. But as the powerful Amoritish king Og still held the northern half of Gilead and all Bashan, they proceeded northwards at once and took the road to Bashan, that they might also defeat this king, whom the Lord had likewise given into their hand, and conquer his country (cf. Numbers 21:33-34). They smote him at Edrei, the modern Draא , without leaving him even a remnant; and took all his towns, i.e., as is here more fully stated in Deuteronomy 3:4., “sixty towns, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan .” These three definitions refer to one and the same country. The whole region of Argob included the sixty towns which formed the kingdom of Og in Bashan, i.e., all the towns of the land of Bashan, viz., (according to Deuteronomy 3:5) all the fortified towns, besides the unfortified and open country towns of Bashan. חבל , the chain for measuring, then the land or country measured with the chain. The name “ region of Argob ,” which is given to the country of Bashan here, and in Deuteronomy 3:4, Deuteronomy 3:13, Deuteronomy 3:14, and also in 1 Kings 4:13, is probably derived from רגוב , stone-heaps, related to רגב , a clump or clod of earth (Job 21:33; Job 38:38). The Targumists have rendered it correctly טרכונא ( Trachona ), from τραθών , a rough, uneven, stony district, so called from the basaltic hills of Hauran; just as the plain to the east of Jebel Hauran, which resembles Hauran itself, is sometimes called Tellul , from its tells or hills ( Burckhardt , Syr. p. 173).

(Note: The derivation is a much more improbable one, “from the town of Argob , πρὸς Γέρασαν πόλιν Ἀραβίας , according to the Onomast ., fifteen Roman miles to the west of Gerasa , which is called Ῥαγαβᾶ by Josephus (Ant. xiii. 15, 5).”)

This district has also received the name of Bashan , from the character of its soil; for בּשׁן signifies a soft and level soil. From the name given to it by the Arabic translators, the Greek name Βαταναία , Batanaea , and possibly also the modern name of the country on the north-eastern slope of Hauran at the back of Mount Hauran, viz., Bethenije , are derived.

The name Argob probably originated in the north-eastern part of the country of Bashan, viz., the modern Leja , with its stony soil covered with heaps of large blocks of stone ( Burckhardt , p. 196), or rather in the extensive volcanic region to the east of Hauran, which was first of all brought to distinct notice in Wetzstein's travels, and of which he says that the “southern portion, bearing the name Harra , is thickly covered with loose volcanic stones, with a few conical hills among them, that have been evidently caused by eruptions” ( Wetzstein , p. 6). The central point of the whole is Safa , “a mountain nearly seven hours' journey in length and about the same in breadth,” in which “the black mass streaming from the craters piled itself up wave upon wave, so that the centre attained to the height of a mountain, without acquiring the smoothness of form observable in mountains generally,” - “the black flood of lava being full of innumerable streams of stony waves, often of a bright red colour, bridged over with thin arches, which rolled down the slopes out of the craters and across the high plateau” ( Wetzstein , pp. 6 and 7). At a later period this name was transferred to the whole of the district of Hauran (= Bashan), because not only is the Jebel Hauran entirely of volcanic formation, but the plain consists throughout of a reddish brown soil produced by the action of the weather upon volcanic stones, and even “ the Leja plain has been poured out from the craters of the Hauran mountains” ( Wetzstein , p. 23). Through this volcanic character of the soil, Hauran differs essentially from Balka, Jebel Ajlun , and the plain of Jaulan , which is situated between the Sea of Galilee and the upper Jordan on the one side, and the plain of Hauran on the other, and reaches up to the southern slope of the Hermon. In these districts the limestone and chalk formations prevail, which present the same contrast to the basaltic formation of the Hauran as white does to black (cf. v. Raumer , Pal. pp. 75ff.). - The land of the limestone and chalk formation abounds in caves, which are not altogether wanting indeed in Hauran (as v. Raumer supposes), though they are only found in eastern and south-eastern Hauran, where most of the volcanic elevations have been perforated by troglodytes (see Wetzstein, pp. 92 and 44ff.). But the true land of caves on the east of the Jordan is northern Gilead, viz., Erbed and Suêt ( Wetzst . p. 92). Here the troglodyte dwellings predominate, whereas in Hauran you find for the most part towns and villages with houses of one or more stories built above the surface of the ground, although even on the eastern slope of the Hauran mountains there are hamlets to be seen, in which the style of building forms a transition from actual caves to dwellings built upon the ground. An excavation is first of all made in the rocky plateau, of the breadth and depth of a room, and this is afterwards arched over with a solid stone roof. The dwellings made in this manner have all the appearance of cellars or tunnels. This style of building, such as Wetzstein found in Hibbike for example, belongs to the most remote antiquity. In some cases, hamlets of this kind were even surrounded by a wall. Those villages of Hauran which are built above the surface of the ground, attract the eye and stimulate the imagination, when seen from a distance, in various ways. “In the first place, the black colour of the building materials present the greatest contrast to the green around them, and to the transparent atmosphere also. In the second place, the height of the walls and the compactness of the houses, which always form a connected whole, are very imposing. In the third place, they are surmounted by strong towers. And in the fourth place, they are in such a good state of preservation, that you involuntarily yield to the delusion that they must of necessity be inhabited, and expect to see people going out and in” ( Wetzstein , p. 49). The larger towns are surrounded by walls; but the smaller ones as a rule have none: “the backs of the houses might serve as walls.” The material of which the houses are built is a grey dolerite, impregnated with glittering particles of olivine. “The stones are rarely cemented, but the fine and for the most part large squares lie one upon another as if they were fused together.” “Most of the doors of the houses which lead into the streets or open fields are so low, that it is impossible to enter them without stooping; but the large buildings and the ends of the streets have lofty gateways, which are always tastefully constructed, and often decorated with sculptures and Greek inscriptions.” The “larger gates have either simple or (what are most common) double doors. They consist of a slab of dolerite. There are certainly no doors of any other kind.” These stone doors turn upon pegs, deeply inserted into the threshold and lintel. “Even a man can only shut and open doors of this kind, by pressing with the back or feet against the wall, and pushing the door with both hands” ( Wetzstein , pp. 50ff.; compare with this the testimony of Buckingham, Burckhardt, Seetzen , and others, in v. Raumer's Palestine, pp. 78ff.).

Now, even if the existing ruins of Hauran date for the most part from a later period, and are probably of a Nabataean origin belonging to the times of Trajan and the Antonines, yet considering the stability of the East, and the peculiar nature of the soil of Hauran, they give a tolerably correct idea of the sixty towns of the kingdom of Og of Bashan, all of which were fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, or, as it is stated in 1 Kings 4:13, “ with walls and brazen bars.”

(Note: It is also by no means impossible, that many of the oldest dwellings in the ruined towers of Hauran date from a time anterior to the conquest of the land by the Israelites. “Simple, built of heavy blocks of basalt roughly hewn, and as hard as iron, with very thick walls, very strong stone gates and doors, many of which were about eighteen inches thick, and were formerly fastened with immense bolts, and of which traces still remain; such houses as these may have been the work of the old giant tribe of Rephaim, whose king, Og, was defeated by the Israelites 3000 years ago” ( C. v. Raumer , Pal. p. 80, after Porter's Five Years in Damascus).)

The brazen bars were no doubt, like the gates themselves, of basalt or dolerite, which might easily be mistaken for brass. Besides the sixty fortified towns, the Israelites took a very large number of הפּרזי ערי , “ towns of the inhabitants of the flat country ,” i.e., unfortified open hamlets and villages in Bashan, and put them under the ban, like the towns of king Sihon (Deuteronomy 3:6, Deuteronomy 3:7; cf. Deuteronomy 2:34-35). The infinitive, החרם , is to be construed as a gerund (cf. Ges. §131, 2; Ewald , §280, a .). The expression, “kingdom of Og in Bashan,” implies that the kingdom of Og was not limited to the land of Bashan, but included the northern half of Gilead as well. In Deuteronomy 3:8-11, Moses takes a retrospective view of the whole of the land that had been taken on the other side of the Jordan; first of all (Deuteronomy 3:9) in its whole extent from the Arnon to Hermon, then (Deuteronomy 3:10) in its separate parts, to bring out in all its grandeur what the Lord had done for Israel. The notices of the different names of Hermon (Deuteronomy 3:9), and of the bed of king Og (Deuteronomy 3:11), are also subservient to this end. Hermon is the southernmost spur of Antilibanus, the present Jebel es Sheikh , or Jebel et Telj . The Hebrew name is not connected with חרם , anathema , as Hengstenberg supposes (Diss. pp. 197-8); nor was it first given by the Israelites to this mountain, which formed part of the northern boundary of the land which they had taken; but it is to be traced to an Arabic word signifying prominens montis vertex , and was a name which had long been current at that time, for which the Israelites used the Hebrew name שׂיאן ( Sion = נשׂיאן , the high, eminent: Deuteronomy 4:48), though this name did not supplant the traditional name of Hermon . The Sidonians called it Siron , a modified form of שׁריון ( 1 Samuel 17:5), or נשׂיון (Jeremiah 46:4), a “coat of mail;” the Amorites called it Senir , probably a word with the same meaning. In Psalms 29:6, Sirion is used poetically for Hermon ; and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:4) uses Senir , in a mournful dirge over Tyre, as synonymous with Lebanon ; whilst Senir is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 5:23, and Shenir in Song of Solomon 4:8, in connection with Hermon, as a part of Antilibanus, as it might very naturally happen that the Amoritish name continued attached to one or other of the peaks of the mountain, just as we find that even Arabian geographers, such as Abulfeda and Maraszid , call that portion of Antilibanus which stretches from Baalbek to Emesa (Homs, Heliopolis) by the name of Sanir .

Verse 10

The different portions of the conquered land were the following: המּישׁר , the plain , i.e., the Amoritish table-land, stretching from the Arnon to Heshbon, and in a north-easterly direction nearly as far as Rabbath-Ammon, with the towns of Heshbon, Bezer, Medeba, Jahza, and Dibon (Deuteronomy 4:43; Joshua 13:9, Joshua 13:16-17, Joshua 13:21; Joshua 20:8; Jeremiah 48:21.), which originally belonged to the Moabites, and is therefore called “the field of Moab” in Numbers 21:20. “ The whole of Gilead ,” i.e., the mountainous region on the southern and northern sides of the Jabbok, which was divided into two halves by this river. The southern half, which reached to Heshbon, belonged to the kingdom of Sihon (Joshua 12:2), and was assigned by Moses to the Reubenites and Gadites (Deuteronomy 3:12); whilst the northern half, which is called “the rest of Gilead” in Deuteronomy 3:13, the modern Jebel Ajlun , extending as far as the land of Bashan (Hauran and Jaulan), belonged to the kingdom of Og (Joshua 12:5), and was assigned to the Manassite family of Machir (Deuteronomy 3:15, and Joshua 13:31; cf. v. Raumer , Pal. pp. 229, 230). “ And all Bashan unto Salcah and Edrei .” All Bashan included not only the country of Hauran (the plan and mountain), but unquestionably also the district of Jedur and Jaulan , to the west of the sea of Galilee and the upper Jordan, or the ancient Gaulonitis (Jos. Ant. xviii. 4, 6, etc.), as the kingdom of Og extended to the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi (see at Deuteronomy 3:14). Og had not conquered the whole of the land of Hauran, however, but only the greater part of it. His territory extended eastwards to Salcah , i.e., the present Szalchat or Szarchad , about six hours to the east of Bozrah , south of Jebel Hauran, a town with 800 houses, and a castle upon a basaltic rock, but uninhabited (cf. v. Raumer , Pal. p. 255); and northwards to Edrei , i.e., the northern Edrei (see at Numbers 21:33), a considerable ruin on the northwest of Bozrah , three or four English miles in extent, in the old buildings of which there are 200 families living at present (Turks, Druses, and Christians). By the Arabian geographers ( Abulfeda, Ibn Batuta ) it is called Sora, by modern travellers Adra or Edra ( v. Richter ), or Oezraa ( Seetzen ), or Ezra ( Burckhardt ), and Edhra (Robinson, App. 155). Consequently nearly the whole of Jebel Hauran, and the northern portion of the plain, viz., the Leja , were outside the kingdom of Og and the land of Bashan, of which the Israelites took possession, although Burckhardt reckons Ezra as part of the Leja.

Verse 11

Even in Abraham's time, the giant tribe of Rephaim was living in Bashan (Genesis 14:5). But out of the remnant of these, king Og, whom the Israelites defeated and slew, was the only one left. For the purpose of recalling the greatness of the grace of God that had been manifested in that victory, and not merely to establish the credibility of the statements concerning the size of Og (“just as things belonging to an age that has long passed away are shown to be credible by their remains,” Spinoza , etc.), Moses points to the iron bed of this king, which was still in Rabbath-Ammon, and was nine cubits long and four broad, “after the cubit of a man,” i.e., the ordinary cubit in common use (see the analogous expression, “a man's pen,” Isaiah 8:1). הלה , for הלא , synonymous with הנּה . There is nothing to amaze is in the size of the bed or bedstead given here. The ordinary Hebrew cubit was only a foot and a half, probably only eighteen Dresden inches (see my Archäologie , ii. p. 126, Anm. 4). Now a bed is always larger than the man who sleeps in it. But in this case Clericus fancies that Og “intentionally exceeded the necessary size, in order that posterity might be led to draw more magnificent conclusions from the size of the bed, as to the stature of the man who was accustomed to sleep in it.” He also refers to the analogous case of Alexander the Great, of whom Diod. Sic. (xvii. 95) affirms, that whenever he was obliged to halt on his march to India, he made colossal arrangements of all kinds, causing, among other things, two couches to be prepared in the tents for every foot-soldier, each five cubits long, and two stalls for every horseman, twice as large as the ordinary size, “to represent a camp of heroes, and leave striking memorials behind for the inhabitants of the land, of gigantic men and their supernatural strength.” With a similar intention Og may also have left behind him a gigantic bed as a memorial of his superhuman greatness, on the occasion of some expedition of his against the Ammonites; and this bed may have been preserved in their capital as a proof of the greatness of their foe.

(Note: “It will often be found, that very tall people are disposed to make themselves appear even taller than they actually are” (Hengstenberg, Diss. ii. p. 201). Moreover, there are still giants who are eight feet high and upwards. “According to the N. Preuss. Zeit. of 1857, there came a man to Berlin 8 feet 4 inches high, and possibly still growing, as he was only twenty years old; and he was said to have a great-uncle who was nine inches taller” ( Schultz ).)

Moses might then refer to this gigantic bed of Og, which was known to the Israelites; and there is no reason for resorting to the improbable conjecture, that the Ammonites had taken possession of a bed of king Og upon some expedition against the Amorites, and had carried it off as a trophy to their capital.

(Note: There is still less probability in the conjecture of J. D. Michaelis, Vater, Winer, and others, that Og's iron bed was a sarcophagus of basalt, such as are still frequently met with in those regions, as much as 9 feet long and 3 1/2 feet broad, or even as much as 12 feet long and 6 feet in breadth and height (vid., Burckhardt , pp. 220, 246; Robinson, iii. p. 385; Seetzen , i. pp. 355, 360); and the still further assumption, that the corpse of the fallen king was taken to Rabbah, and there interred in a royal way, is altogether improbable.)

Rabbath of the sons of Ammon,” or briefly Rabbah , i.e., the great (Joshua 13:25; 2 Samuel 11:1), was the capital of the Ammonites, afterwards called Philadelphia , probably from Ptolemaeus Philadelphus; by Polybius , Ῥαββατάμανα ; by Abulfeda , Ammân , which is the name still given to the uninhabited ruins on the Nahr Ammân , i.e., the upper Jabbok (see Burckhardt , pp. 612ff. and v. Raumer , Pal. p. 268).

Verse 12-13

Review of the Distribution of the Conquered Land. - The land which the Israelites had taken belonging to these two kingdoms was given by Moses to the two tribes and a half for their possession, viz., the southern portion from Aroer in the Arnon valley (see at Numbers 32:34), and half Gilead (as far as the Jabbok: see at Deuteronomy 3:10) with its towns, which are enumerated in Joshua 13:15-20 and Joshua 13:24-28, to the Reubenites and Gadites; and the northern half of Gilead, with the whole of Bashan (i.e., all the region of Argob: see at Deuteronomy 3:4, and Numbers 32:33), to the half-tribe of Manasseh. לכל־הבּשׁן , “ as for all Bashan ,” is in apposition to “ all the region of Argob ,” and the ל simply serves to connect it; for “all the region of Argob” was not merely one portion of Bashan, but was identical with “all Bashan,” so far as it belonged to the kingdom of Og (see at v. 4). All this region passed for a land of giants. הקּרא , to be called, i.e., to be, and to be recognised as being.

Verse 14

The region of Argob, or the country of Bashan, was given to Jair (see Numbers 32:41), as far as the territory of the Geshurites and Maachathites (cf. Joshua 12:5; Joshua 13:11). “ Unto ,” as far as, is to be understood as inclusive. This is evident from the statement in Joshua 13:13 : “The children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites nor the Maachathites; but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day .” Consequently Moses allotted the territory of these two tribes to the Manassites, because it formed part of the kingdom of Og. “ Geshuri and Maachathi ” are the inhabitants of Geshur and Maachah , two provinces which formed small independent kingdoms even in David's time (2 Samuel 3:3; 2 Samuel 13:37, and 2 Samuel 10:6). Geshur bordered on Aram. The Geshurites and Aramaeans afterwards took from the Israelites the Jair -towns and Kenath , with their daughter towns ( 1 Chronicles 2:23). In David's time Geshur had a king Thalmai , whose daughter David married. This daughter was the mother of Absalom; and it was in Geshur that Absalom lived for a time in exile (2 Samuel 3:3; 2 Samuel 13:37; 2 Samuel 14:23; 2 Samuel 15:8). The exact situation of Geshur has not yet been determined. It was certainly somewhere near Hermon, on the eastern side of the upper Jordan, and by a bridge over the Jordan, as Geshur signifies bridge in all the Semitic dialects. Maachah , which is referred to in 1 Chronicles 19:6 as a kingdom under the name of Aram-Maachah (Eng. V. Syria-Maachah), is probably to be sought for to the north-east of Geshur . According to the Onomast . ( s. v. Μαχαθί ), it was in the neighbourhood of the Hermon. “ And he called them (the towns of the region of Argob) after his own name; Bashan (sc., he called) Havvoth Jair unto this day ” (cf. Numbers 32:41). The word חוּת ( Havvoth ), which only occurs in connection with the Jair -towns, does not mean towns or camps of a particular kind, viz., tent villages, as some suppose, but is the plural of חוּה , life ( Leben , a common German termination, e.g., Eisleben ), for which afterwards the word חיּה was used (comp. 2 Samuel 23:13 with 1 Chronicles 11:15). It applies to any kind of dwelling-place, being used in the passages just mentioned to denote even a warlike encampment. The Jair's-lives ( Jairsleben ) were not a particular class of towns, therefore, in the district of Argob, but Jair gave this collective name to all the sixty fortified towns, as is perfectly evident from the verse before us when compared with Deuteronomy 3:5 and Numbers 32:41, and expressly confirmed by Joshua 13:30 and 1 Kings 4:13, where the sixty fortified towns of the district of Argob are called Havvoth Jair . - The statement in 1 Chronicles 2:22-23, that “ Jair had twenty-three towns in Gilead (which is used here as in Deuteronomy 34:1; Joshua 22:9; Joshua 13:15; Judges 5:17; Judges 20:1, to denote the whole of Palestine to the east of the Jordan), and Geshur and Aram took the Havvoth Jair from them , (and) Kenath and its daughters, sixty towns (sc., in all),” is by no means at variance with this, but, on the contrary, in the most perfect harmony with it. For it is evident from this passage, that the twenty-three Havvoth Jair, with Kenath and its daughters, formed sixty towns altogether. The distinction between the twenty-three Havvoth Jair and the other thirty-seven towns, viz., Kenath and its daughters, is to be explained from the simple fact that, according to Numbers 32:42, Nobah , no doubt a family of sons of Machir related to Jair, conquered Kenath and its daughters, and called the conquered towns by his name, namely, when they had been allotted to him by Moses. Consequently Bashan, or the region of Argob, with its sixty fortified towns, was divided between two of the leading families of Machir the Manassite, viz., the families of Jair and Nobah , each family receiving the districts which it had conquered, together with their towns; namely, the family of Nobah , Kenath and its daughter towns, or the eastern portion of Bashan; and the family of Jair , twenty-three towns in the west, which are called Havvoth Jair in 1 Chronicles 2:23, in harmony with Numbers 32:41, where Jair is said to have given this name to the towns which were conquered by him. In the address before us, however, in which Moses had no intention to enter into historical details, all the (sixty) towns of the whole district of Argob, or the whole of Bashan, are comprehended under the name of Havvoth Jair , probably because Nobah was a subordinate branch of the family of Jair , and the towns conquered by him were under the supremacy of Jair. The expression “unto this day” certainly does not point to a later period than the Mosaic age. This definition of time is simply a relative one. It does not necessarily presuppose a very long duration, and here it merely serves to bring out the marvellous change which was due to the divine grace, viz., that the sixty fortified towns of the giant king Og of Bashan had now become Jair's lives.

(Note: The conquest of these towns, in fact, does not seem to have been of long duration, and the possession of them by the Israelites was a very disputed one (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:22-23). In the time of the judges we find thirty in the possession of the judge Jair (Judges 10:4), which caused the old name Havvoth Jair to be revived.)

Verses 15-20

Machir received Gilead (see Numbers 32:40). - In Deuteronomy 3:16 and Deuteronomy 3:17 the possession of the tribes of Reuben and Gad is described more fully according to its boundaries. They received the land of Gilead (to the south of the Jabbok) as far as the brook Arnon, the middle of the valley and its territory. הנּחל תּוך is a more precise definition of ארנן נחל , expressive of the fact that the territory of these tribes was not to reach merely to the northern edge of the Arnon valley, but into the middle of it, viz., to the river Arnon, which flowed through the middle of the valley; and וּגבוּל (and the border) is an explanatory apposition to what goes before, as in Numbers 34:6, signifying, “viz., the border of the Arnon valley as far as the river .” On the east, “ even unto Jabbok the brook, the (western) border of the Ammonites ” (i.e., as far as the upper Jabbok, the Nahr Ammân: see at Numbers 21:24); and on the west “ The Arabah (the Ghor: see Deuteronomy 1:1) and the Jordan with territory ” (i.e., with its eastern bank), “ from Chinnereth ” (i.e., the town from which the Sea of Galilee received the name of Sea of Chinnereth: Numbers 34:11; see at Joshua 19:35) “ to the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea under the slopes of Pisgah (see at Numbers 21:15 and Numbers 27:12) eastward ” (i.e., merely the eastern side of the Arabah and Jordan). - In Deuteronomy 3:18-20 Moses reminds them of the conditions upon which he had given the two tribes and a half the land referred to for their inheritance (cf. Numbers 32:20-32).

Verses 21-29

Nomination of Joshua as his Successor. - This reminiscence also recalls the goodness of God in the appointment of Joshua (Numbers 27:12.), which took place “ at that time ,” i.e., after the conquest of the land on the east of the Jordan. In accordance with the object of his address, which was to hold up to view what the Lord had done for Israel, he here relates how, at the very outset, he pointed Joshua to the things which he had seen with his eyes ( הראת עיניך , thine eyes were seeing; cf. Ewald , §335, b .), namely, to the defeat of the two kings of the Amorites, in which the pledge was contained, that the faithful covenant God would complete the work He had begun, and would do the same to all kingdoms whither Joshua would go over (i.e., across the Jordan).

Deuteronomy 3:22

For this reason they were not to be afraid; for Jehovah Himself would fight for them. “ He ” is emphatic, and adds force to the subject.

Deuteronomy 3:23-24

Moses then describes how, notwithstanding his prayer, the Lord had refused him permission to cross over into Canaan and see the glorious land. This prayer is not mentioned in the historical account given in the fourth book; but it must have preceded the prayer for the appointment of a shepherd over the congregation in Numbers 27:16, as the Lord directs him in His reply (Deuteronomy 3:28) to appoint Joshua as the leader of the people. In his prayer, Moses appealed to the manifestations of divine grace which he had already received. As the Lord had already begun to show him His greatness and His mighty hand, so might He also show him the completion of His work. The expression, “begun to show Thy greatness,” relates not so much to the mighty acts of the Lord in Egypt and at the Red Sea (as in Exodus 32:11-12, and Numbers 14:13.), as to the manifestation of the divine omnipotence in the defeat of the Amorites, by which the Lord had begun to bring His people into the possession of the promised land, and had made Himself known as God, to whom there was no equal in heaven or on earth. אשׁר before אל מי (v. 24) is an explanatory and causal relative: because ( quod, quia ), or for. “ For what God is there in heaven and on earth ,” etc. These words recall Exodus 15:11, and are echoed in many of the Psalms, - in Psalms 86:8 almost verbatim . The contrast drawn between Jehovah and other gods does not involve the reality of the heathen deities, but simply presupposes a belief in the existence of other gods, without deciding as to the truth of that belief. גּבוּרת , manifestations of גּבוּרה , mighty deeds.

Deuteronomy 3:25

I pray Thee, let me go over .” אעבּרה־נּא , a form of desire, used as a petition, as in Deuteronomy 2:27; Numbers 21:22, etc. “ That goodly mountain ” is not one particular portion of the land of Canaan, such as the mountains of Judah, or the temple mountain (according to Exodus 15:17), but the whole of Canaan regarded as a mountainous country, Lebanon being specially mentioned as the boundary wall towards the north. As Moses stood on the lower level of the Arabah, the promised land presented itself not only to his eyes, but also to his soul, as a long mountain range; and that no merely as suggestive of the lower contrast, that “whereas the plains in the East are for the most part sterile, on account of the want of springs or rain, the mountainous regions, which are well watered by springs and streams, are very fertile and pleasant” ( Rosenmüller ), but also on a much higher ground, viz., as a high and lofty land, which would stand by the side of Horeb, “where he had spent the best and holiest days of his life, and where he had seen the commencement of the covenant between God and His people” ( Schultz ).

Deuteronomy 3:26

But the Lord would not grant his request. “ Let it suffice thee' ( satis sit tibi , as in Deuteronomy 1:6), substantially equivalent to 2 Corinthians 12:8, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (Schultz). בּ דּבּר , to speak about a thing (as in Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19, etc.).

Deuteronomy 3:27-28

Deuteronomy 3:27 is a rhetorical paraphrase of Numbers 27:12, where the mountains of Abarim are mentioned in the place of Pisgah , which was the northern portion of Abarim. (On Deuteronomy 3:28, cf. Deuteronomy 1:38 and Numbers 27:23.)

Deuteronomy 3:29

So we abode in the valley over against Beth-peor ,” i.e., in the Arboth Moab (Numbers 22:1), sc., where we still are. The pret. ונּשׁב is used, because Moses fixes his eye upon the past, and looks back upon the events already described in Num 28-34 as having taken place there. On Beth-Peor , see at Numbers 23:28.


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The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 3:4". 1854-1889.

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Friday, June 22nd, 2018
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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