These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab. It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the LORD had commanded him to say to them. This was after he had defeated King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and King Og of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth, at Edrei. Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law, saying:
“The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. Resume your journey and go to the hill country of the Amorites and their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Judean foothills, the Negev and the sea coast — to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon as far as the great river, the Euphrates River. See, I have set the land before you. Enter and take possession of the land the LORD swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their future descendants.’
“I said to you at that time: I can’t bear the responsibility for you on my own. The LORD your God has so multiplied you that today you are as numerous as the stars of the sky. May the LORD, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times more, and bless you as he promised you. But how can I bear your troubles, burdens, and disputes by myself? Appoint for yourselves wise, understanding, and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will make them your leaders.
“You replied to me, ‘What you propose to do is good.’
“So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and respected men, and set them over you as leaders: commanders for thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and officers for your tribes. I commanded your judges at that time: Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge rightly between a man and his brother or his resident alien. Do not show partiality when deciding a case; listen to small and great alike. Do not be intimidated by anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too difficult for you, and I will hear it. At that time I commanded you about all the things you were to do.
“We then set out from Horeb and went across all the great and terrible wilderness you saw on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, just as the LORD our God had commanded us. When we reached Kadesh-barnea, I said to you: You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the LORD our God is giving us. See, the LORD your God has set the land before you. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
“Then all of you approached me and said, ‘Let’s send men ahead of us, so that they may explore the land for us and bring us back a report about the route we should go up and the cities we will come to.’ The plan seemed good to me, so I selected twelve men from among you, one man for each tribe. They left and went up into the hill country and came to the Valley of Eshcol, scouting the land. They took some of the fruit from the land in their hands, carried it down to us, and brought us back a report: ‘The land the LORD our God is giving us is good.’