Where the world comes to study the Bible

Deuteronomy 3

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
King Og Defeated Historical Review (1:1-3:29) Israel Conquers King Og Conquest of the Kingdom of Og
3:1-11 3:1-7 3:1-2 3:1-7
    3:3-7  
  3:8-17 3:8-10 3:8-11
    3:11  
The Land East of the Jordan Divided   The Tribes that Settled East of the Jordan The Partitioning of Transjordan
3:12-17   3:12-13a 3:12-17
    3:13b-14  
    3:15-17 Further Instructions from Moses
3:18-22 3:18-22 3:18-20 3:18-22
    3:21-22  
Moses Forbidden to Enter the Land   Moses Is Not Permitted to Enter Canaan  
3:23-29 3:23-29 3:23-25 3:23-28
    3:26-28  
    3:29 3:29

READING CYCLE THREE (see p. vii in introductory section)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3, p. viii). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 3:1-7
  1"Then we turned and went up the road to Bashan, and Og, king of Bashan, with all his people came out to meet us in battle at Edrei. 2But the Lord said to me, 'Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; and you shall do to him just as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.' 3So the Lord our God delivered Og also, king of Bashan, with all his people into our hand, and we smote them until no survivor was left. 4We captured all his cities at that time; there was not a city which we did not take from them: sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates and bars, besides a great many unwalled towns. 6We utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women and children of every city. 7But all the animals and the spoil of the cities we took as our booty."

3:1 "up. . .road" This refers to the King's Highway. This was a trans-Jordan road which went directly through the center of Edom, Moab, and Ammon. It was a major caravan route from the Gulf of Aqaba to Damascus.

▣ "Bashan" The names means "smooth" (BDB 143), in the sense of prime agricultural land (i.e., no rocks). This was a very fertile and wooded land in the northern trans-Jordan area north of the Yarmuk River or possibly Jabbok River to just south of the foothills of Mt. Hermon, which means it included part of the area known as Gilead. It was known for its timber and large herds of cattle.

▣ "Og, king of Bashan" See Num. 21:33-35; Deut. 1:4.

▣ "at Edrei" This city is located on a fork of the Yarmuk River and was one of the royal residences. The capital was Ashtaroth to the north. Og faced Israel here, probably using the river as a defensive position.

3:2 "the Lord said to me" See note at 2:2.

▣ "Do not fear him" The verb (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense) is used often in Deuteronomy (e.g., 1:19,21,29; 2:4; 3:2,22; 4:10). God was fighting in their behalf (i.e., holy war, e.g., Num. 21:34; Josh. 10:8; 11:6).

NASB, NKJV"I have delivered him"
NRSV"I have handed him over to you"
TEV"I am going to give him"
NJB"I have put him at your mercy"

The verb (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal perfect) means "give," "put," or "set." It is a common verb. Notice its use in this literary unit of Deuteronomy (cf. 1:8,15,20,21,25,27,35,36,39; 2:5,9,12,19,24,25, 28,29,30,31,33,36; 3:2,3,12,13,15,16,18,19,20; 4:1,8,21,38,40). YHWH is the giver. There is only one God!

▣ "we smote them until no survivor was left" This is the language and reality of "holy war." This reflects the Hebrew concept of herem, or "under the ban" (cf. v. 6). The following is a representative sample of OT references to this term which shows how it was used in different ways. The concept of herem or "holy war," "ban," or "corban":

1. total destruction-nothing that breathes is left alive, nothing material can be taken out (cf. Deut. 20:16-18; I Sam. 15:3; Josh. 7)

2. kill all the people, but leave the cattle (cf. Deut. 2:34, 35; 3:6, 7)

3. kill only the men (cf. Deut. 20:10-15)

 

3:4 "region of Argob" The term "region" (BDB 286) literally means, "a cord," it is used of:

1. a cord rope

2. a measuring line

3. a piece of land (i.e., region, cf. Josh. 17:5, or inheritance, cf. Deut. 32:9; Josh. 17:14)

4. a group of people (i.e., band of prophets, cf. I Sam. 10:5,10)

 

▣ "Argob" This term (BDB 918) is the name of a region or plot of land. Its location is in the land of Bashan (cf. 3:4,13,14; I Kgs. 4:13). The root may be related to "clod" (BDB 918) or "heap" (BDB 918), but this is uncertain.

3:5 "All these cities were fortified with high walls, gates and bars" These cities were built from volcanic rock blocks and were quite large. They presented a rather intimidating sight. Their size may have reflected the population of the race of people living there. However, the faith of the Israelites was stronger than their fear of the giants (cf. 2:20-24).

The Handbook on Deuteronomy from the United Bible Societies mentions that "gates and bars" probably refers to a double gate with a metal bar across both, pp. 68-69. This may explain the plural "gates": (1) there may just be more than one gate, or (2) this may have been the characteristic inner and outer gates (i.e., chambers).

3:6

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"utterly destroyed"
TEV"destroyed"
NJB"the curse of destruction"
REB"under solemn ban"
JPSOA"doomed"

This verb (BDB 355, KB 353) is used twice in this verse (Hiphil imperative and Hiphil infinitive absolute). Its basic meaning is to devote something to God whereby it becomes too holy for human use and must be destroyed. It is regularly used in "holy war" contexts (cf. 2:34; 7:2; Exod. 22:20; Josh. 6:17,21) to assert that the victory and, thereby, the spoils belong to YHWH. In these conquest contexts the things devoted to God are Canaanites and their property. They are judged because of their abominable sins and unwillingness to repent (cf. Gen. 15:16; Lev. 18:24-26; Deut. 9:5).

For a good discussion of "holy war" see Ancient Israel, by Roland deVaux, vol. 1, pp. 258-267.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 3:8-11
  8"Thus we took the land at that time from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the valley of Arnon to Mount Hermon 9(Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir): 10all the cities of the plateau and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 11(For only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bedstead was an iron bedstead; it is in Rabbah of the sons of Ammon. Its length was nine cubits and its width four cubits by ordinary cubit.)

3:8 "Thus we took the land. . .from the hand of the two kings" Verse 24 says it was "the strong hand of God," which, anthropomorphically (see Special Topic at 2:15) shows the power and might of God. Here again is the interplay between God's sovereignty and human effort.

▣ "Mount Hermon" Mt. Hermon was the northern limit of the land that God gave to the Israelites. It is the largest mountain in the entire area located in Lebanon, north of the Sea of Chinnereth (i.e., Galilee). Its name (BDB 356) is related to herem (devoted thing) and the site of many temples (cf. Ancient Israel, Roland deVaux, vol. 1, pp. 279-282). It is the northern limit of the conquered lands (cf. Jdgs. 1:1).

3:9 "Sidonians" This is the major city in ancient Phoenicia (cf. I Kgs. 16:31). It was located on the coast north of Tyre, which later became the major city. It being mentioned instead of Tyre shows the ancientness of this text.

▣ "Sirion" This term (BDB 970, Ps. 29:6) used for Mt. Hermon has been found in Ugaritic texts also shows the ancientness of this text.

▣ "Senir" This term (BDB 972, cf. I Chr. 5:23; Song of Songs 4:8; Ezek. 27:5) has been found in accounts of Shalmaneser III, an Assyrian king who attacked Damascus.

3:10

NASB, TEV"the plateau"
NKJV"the plain"
NRSV, NJB"the tableland"

This term (BDB 449) means "a level place." It could refer to a plain or a flat tableland. Here it refers to the plateau between the Arnon River and the city of Heshbon (cf. 4:43; Josh. 13:9,16,17,21; Jer. 48:8,21). This plateau was part of Moab and became the tribal inheritance of Reuben (cf. Josh. 20:8).

▣ "Gilead" The term (BDB 166) is of unknown origin or meaning. A popular (word play) definition is given in Gen. 31:48. It can refer to:

1. a tribe (e.g., Num. 26:29; Jdgs. 5:17)

2. a land (e.g., Gen. 37:25)

It always refers to an area on the east side of the Jordan River from the Arnon River north to the land of Bashan.

▣ "Salecah" This city seems to form the southeastern limit of Bashan and is often used, along with Mt. Hermon, to designate the extent of Bashan (cf. Josh. 12:5; 13:11; I Chr. 5:11).

3:11 This seems to be an editorial comment, like 2:10-12,20; 3:9.

▣ "Rephaim" This can mean (1) an ethnic group; (2) giants; or (3) the realm of the dead. The context here seems to speak of the giants. See Special Topic at 1:28.

NASB, NKJV"his bedstead was an iron bedstead"
NRSV, NJB"his bed, an iron bed"
TEV"his coffin, made of stone"
REB"his sarcophagus of basalt"

The term (BDB 793) basically means "a wooden frame." It could be used of a trellis, couch, bed, saddle, chair/throne. Here it refers to a place to sleep:

1. bed - II Sam. 17:28; Job 7:13; Ps. 6:6; 41:3; Amos 6:4

2. couch - Pro. 7:16

3. coffin (sarcophagus, i.e., one's final place of rest/sleep)

It is possible that "iron" refers to basalt stone sarcophagus color (cf. NET Bible, p. 350). NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 741, says, "there is no literary support for the suggestion this was a sarcophagus or dolmen."

▣ "Rabbah" This was the capital of the kingdom of Ammon (cf. Josh. 13:25). It is today the capital of Jordan, Amman.

▣ "an ordinary cubit" This is literally, "to the cubit of a man," which was an idiom for a "standard cubit." See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: CUBIT

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 3:12-17
  12"So we took possession of this land at that time. From Aroer, which is by the valley of Arnon, and half the hill country of Gilead and its cities I gave to the Reubenites and to the Gadites. 13The rest of Gilead and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh, all the region of Argob (concerning all Bashan, it is called the land of Rephaim. 14Jair the son of Manasseh took all the region of Argob as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and called it, that is, Bashan, after his own name, Havvoth-jair, as it is to this day.) 15To Machir I gave Gilead. 16To the Reubenites and to the Gadites I gave from Gilead even as far as the valley of Arnon, the middle of the valley as a border and as far as the river Jabbok, the border of the sons of Ammon; 17the Arabah also, with the Jordan as a border, from Chinnereth even as far as the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah on the east."

3:12 "Reubenites and Gadites" These two tribes took over Sihons' kingdom (cf. Josh. 13:15-23,24-28).

3:13 "half-tribe" The sons of Joseph made up the half-tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim (cf. Gen. 41:50,52; 48:1-7). Manasseh's inheritance was split, half on the eastern side of Jordan and half on the western side.

3:14 "Jair" Rather than "son of" this means "descendant of" (cf. Num. 32:41). Several of the generations are skipped in this lineage. Verses 12-13 are general in nature and vv. 14-17 provide more detail (cf. NIC, Deuteronomy, Craigie, p. 121).

▣ "the son of Manasseh" "Son" here means descendant rather than direct son (cf. I Chr. 2:22).

▣ "Geshurites and Maachathites" These are different racial and ethnic groups (BDB 178 and 591). They lived on the northern border of the land of Bashan (cf. Josh. 13:13). Israel did not fight these people.

▣ "Havoth-jair" This means "the towns," "regions," or "kingdom" (BDB 795 II) of Jair.

▣ "as it is to this day" This phrase refers to a later period than the event (cf. 2:22; 3:14; 4:38; 10:8,15; 29:28; Josh. 7:26; 8:28,29; 9:27; 13:13; 14:14; 16:10; 22:3,17; 23:8; Jdgs. 1:21,26; 10:4; 18:12,30; 19:30). Verse 5 seems to have a similar thrust. The issue is "how much" later. It can refer to "soon after" (e.g., Josh. 6:25; 23:9) or it can mean generations later. Who recorded Moses words? Who arranged the Pentateuch? Who was the final editor? Modern scholarship cannot answer these questions!

3:15 "To Machir" Numbers 32:39-40 gives more information about this man.

3:17 "Arabah" This was another word for the Jordan Valley, which goes from above the Sea of Galilee past the Dead Sea down to the Gulf of Aqaba in the Sinai Peninsula (see note at 1:1). This is a geological rift through which the Jordan River runs, from the foothills of Mt. Hermon to the Dead Sea.

▣ "Chinnereth" This (BDB 490) is the name of a city in Galilee which was close to a large lake that goes by several names in the Bible"

1. Chinnereth (e.g., Num. 34:11; Josh. 12:3; 13:27)

2. Galilee (e.g., Matt. 4:18; Mark 1:16; John 6:1)

3. Gennesaret (e.g., Luke 5:1)

4. Tiberias (e.g., John 6:1; 21:1)

 

▣ "the sea of the Arabah" This (cf. 4:49; Josh. 3:16; 12:3, also called "Sea of the Plain" in II Kgs. 14:25) is another name for the Salt Sea (cf. Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:3,12; Josh. 3:16; 15:2,5; 18:19) or, as it is called today, called the Dead Sea. It is also called "the eastern sea" (cf. Ezek. 47:18; Joel 2:20; Zech. 14:8) or just "the sea" (cf. Isa. 16:8; Jer. 48:32).

▣ "Pisgah" This mountain (BDB 820) is identified with or is very close to Mt. Nebo (BDB 612 I, cf. 32:49; 34:1). Possibly they are twin peaks of one formation or the name of the ridge and its highest peak. These mountains are the result of erosion of the plateau of Moab above the Arabah. This name is more common in the OT than Nebo (cf. Num. 21:20; 23:14; Deut. 3:17,27; 4:49; 34:1).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 3:18-22
  18"Then I commanded you at that time, saying, 'The Lord your God has given you this land to possess it; all you valiant men shall cross over armed before your brothers, the sons of Israel. 19But your wives and your little ones and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in your cities which I have given you, 20until the Lord gives rest to your fellow countrymen as to you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God will give them beyond the Jordan. Then you may return every man to his possession which I have given you.' 21I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, 'Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so the Lord shall do to all the kingdoms into which you are about to cross. 22Do not fear them, for the Lord your God is the one fighting for you.'

3:18 "The Lord your God has given you this land" This refers to the eastern bank (trans-Jordan) of the Arabah.

▣ "shall cross over armed before your brothers" Because Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh settled on the eastern side of the Jordan which had already been conquered, they were now to go into battle first and fight for their brothers' land (cf. vv. 19-20) before they could settle in their own.

3:19 "much livestock" The "much livestock" which they had were the spoils of war both from (1) Egypt and (2) the trans-Jordan nations.

▣ "which I have given you" The source of all blessings is God (the often used verb "given" BDB 678, KB 733, Qal perfect). They had not earned the spoils of war themselves.

3:20 "the Lord gives rest to your fellow countrymen" The book of Hebrews is the best NT commentary on the Pentateuch. In Hebrews 4, the word "rest" is used three ways:

1. a seventh day rest as God rested after creation, the Sabbath

2. the Israelites rested after they conquered the Promised Land (cf. 12:10; 25:19; Josh. 23:1)

3. heaven, the eternal seventh-day rest

Here "rest" refers to security, #2.

3:21 Because of YHWH's provision in the wilderness and victories in the trans-Jordan, the Israelis are to trust Him and march on!

3:22 "the Lord your God is the one fighting for you" This is not human effort, skills, or resources, but God's power (cf. 1:30; 20:4; Exod. 14:14; 15:3).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 3:23-29
  23"I also pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, 24'O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? 25Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.' 26But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; and the Lord said to me, 'Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter. 27Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. 28But charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.' 29So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor."

3:23-29 This is a very personal note from Moses. This is the only place in all the Bible that we have a recorded plea of Moses for himself. In other places he prayed for people or land. This is a glimpse into the heart of Moses, the man.

3:23

NASB, NKJV,
NJB"pleaded"
NRSV"entreated"
TEV"earnestly prayed"

I earnestly implored (BDB 335, KB 334, Hithpael imperfect, cf. I Kgs. 8:33,47,59; II Chr. 6:37; Job 8:5; 9:15; Ps. 30:8; 142:1; Hosea 12:4) the Lord. Moses was in agony over not being allowed to enter the Promised Land.

3:24 "O Lord God" The term for "Lord" here is the word adonai (BDB 10),which is the Hebrew word for "owner," "master," "husband," or "Lord." The word "God" is the Hebrew word YHWH (BDB 217). He is saying "Lord, YHWH." This designation is seldom used in Moses' writings. This is Moses' prayer language. See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at 1:3.

▣ "You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand" Moses is pleading that his intimate knowledge of YHWH, His character (see full notes at 4:31 and 10:17), His acts should motivate YHWH to let him cross Jordan, but YHWH is no respecter of persons!

▣ "for what god is there in heaven or earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours" Is this the concept that God is the supreme God among many, called henotheism (e.g., Exod. 15:11 and Deut. 4:7; 5:7, see The Jewish Study Bible, pp. 379-380)? Does this mean that Moses is not denying the existence of other gods, but that YHWH is the strongest? Or is this monotheism (e.g., 4:35,39; 6:4; Exod. 20:2-3; Isa. 43:11; 44:6,8,24; 45:5,6-7,14,18,21,22), one and only one God? We really do not know. I would rather believe that Moses is not referring to other gods, but to other spiritual forces, e.g., sometimes called elohim (cf. Ps. 8:5; 82:1,6; 1 Sam. 28:13).

3:25 "Let me, I pray, cross over and see" This phrase has two verbs:

1. "cross over" - BDB 716, KB 778, Qal cohortative

2. "see" - BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperfect, but in a cohortative sense

 

3:26 "the Lord was angry" This is an example of anthropomorphic language ("angry" BDB 720, KB 780, see Special Topic at 2:15). How can we express God's being upset without using human terms? We can't, but we must remember that God is not a human and does not think and act like humans. We use human terms to describe the nature of God knowing that fallen humans can not ultimately describe God.

Moses' public sin (cf. 32:51; Num. 20:10-12; 27:12-14) brought public consequences!

▣ "on your account" See notes at 1:34,37.

▣ "Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter" Moses has been praying over and over (cf. Num. 20:2-13; 27:13; Deut. 1:37; 3:23-27), "I'm sorry, please let me go into the Promised Land." Finally God said, "No, don't ask any more" (BDB 414, KB 418, Hiphil jussive).

3:27 This verse and v. 28 have a series of commands in response to Moses' prayer:

1. "go up" - BDB 748, KB 828, Qal imperative

2. "lift up" - BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperative

 3. "see" BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative

4. "charge" - BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel imperative

5. "encourage" - BDB 304, KB 302, Piel imperative

6. "strengthen" - BDB 54, KB 65, Piel imperative

God made provision for Moses and for Israel (to empower Joshua, cf. v. 28b,c).

▣ "top of Pisgah" See note at v. 17.

▣ "lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes" This is a perfect example of God's love and His wrath. "I said you cannot go in, but I will let you see it."

▣ "for you shall not cross over this Jordan" God is not a respecter of persons. Moses was a great man of God, but he publicly disobeyed God and so he suffered the consequences (cf. Job 34:11; Ps. 28:4; 62:12; Pro. 24:12; Eccl. 12:14; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Rom. 2:6; 14:12; I Cor. 3:8; II Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:7-10; II Tim. 4:14; I Pet. 1:17; Rev. 2:23; 20:12; 22:12).

3:29 "Beth-peor" This was literally "house/temple of Peor" (BDB 112). Peor was a mountain or city in northwest Moab. This was the site of Israel's idolatry (Ba'al fertility worship, cf. Numbers 22-23). It became the inheritance of Reuben (cf. Josh. 13:20).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What theological knowledge about God do we learn from this account?

2. How do you relate the God of vv. 3 and 6 to the God of the NT?

3. Does v. 24 teach the existence of other gods?

4. How did God show mercy and yet justice to Moses in v. 27?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods