1We spent many years wandering around outside the hill country of Seir,#2.1 hill country of Seir: See the note at 1.44.#Nu 21.4. 2until the LORD said:
Moses, 3Israel has wandered in these hills long enough. Turn and go north. 4And give the people these orders: “Be very careful, because you will soon go through the land that belongs to your relatives, the descendants of Esau.#2.4 your relatives, the descendants of Esau: Esau was the brother of Jacob, the ancestor of the nation of Israel. Esau's descendants were also known as the nation of Edom. They are afraid of you,#Gn 36.8. 5but don't start a war with them. I have given them the hill country of Seir, so I won't give any of it to you, not even enough to set a foot on. 6And as you go through their land, you will have to buy food and water from them.”
7The LORD has helped us and taken care of us during the past forty years that we have been in this huge desert. We've had everything we needed, and the LORD has blessed us and made us successful in whatever we have done.
8We went past the territory that belonged to our relatives, the descendants of Esau.#2.8 We went past…Esau: According to Numbers 20.14-21, the king of Edom did not let the Israelites go through his land. We followed Arabah Road that starts in the south at Elath and Ezion-Geber, then we turned on to the desert road that leads to Moab.
9The LORD told me, “Don't try to start a war with Moab. Leave them alone, because I gave the land of Ar#2.9 Ar: One of the main cities of Moab (see Numbers 21.28); sometimes it may have stood for the whole territory of Moab. to them,#2.9 them: The Hebrew text has “the descendants of Lot”; the nation of Moab descended from Moab, who was the son of Lot, the nephew of Abraham. and I will not let you have any of it.”#Gn 19.37.
Tribes that lived near Canaan
10Before the LORD gave the Moabites their land, a large and powerful tribe lived there. They were the Emim, and they were as tall as the Anakim. 11The Moabites called them Emim, though others sometimes used the name Rephaim#2.10,11 Emim…Anakim…Rephaim: These may refer to a group or groups of very tall people that lived in or near Palestine before the Israelites (see also Numbers 13.33). for both the Anakim and the Emim.
12The Horites used to live in Seir, but the Edomites#2.12 Edomites: The Hebrew text has “the descendants of Esau”, who became the nation of Edom. took over that region. They killed many of the Horites and forced the rest of them to leave, just as Israel did to the people in the land that the LORD gave them.
Israel crossed the Zered Gorge
Moses said to Israel:
13When we came to the Zered Gorge along the southern border of Moab, the LORD told us to cross the gorge into Moab, and we did. 14This was thirty-eight years after we left Kadesh-Barnea, and by that time all the men who had been in the army at Kadesh-Barnea had died, just as the LORD had said they would.#Nu 14.28-35. 15-16The LORD kept getting rid of#2.15,16 getting rid of: Or “sending diseases on”. them until finally none of them were left.
17Then the LORD told me, 18“Moses, now go past the town of Ar and cross Moab's northern border 19into Ammon. But don't start a war with the Ammonites. I gave them#2.19 them: The Hebrew text has “descendants of Lot”; the nation of Ammon descended from Benammi, who was the son of Lot, the nephew of Abraham. their land, and I won't give any of it to Israel.”#Gn 19.38.
More nations that lived near Canaan
20Before the Ammonites conquered the land that the LORD had given them, some of the Rephaim used to live there, although the Ammonites called them Zamzummim. 21The Zamzummim were a large and powerful tribe and were as tall as the Anakim.#2.21 Anakim: See the note at 2.10,11. But the LORD helped the Ammonites, and they killed many of the Zamzummim and forced the rest to leave. Then the Ammonites settled there. 22The LORD helped them as he had helped the Edomites,#2.22 Edomites: See the note at 2.12. who killed many of the Horites in Seir and forced the rest to leave before settling there themselves.
23A group called the Avvim used to live in villages as far south as Gaza, but the Philistines#2.23 Philistines: The Hebrew text has “the Caphtorim from Caphtor”, probably referring to the Philistines who originally came from Crete. killed them and settled on their land.
Israel crossed the Arnon Gorge
24After we went through Ammon, the LORD told us:
Israel, pack up your possessions, take down your tents, and cross the gorge of the River Arnon.#2.24 gorge of the River Arnon: The northern boundary of Moab's territory and the southern boundary of Sihon's kingdom. The territory of the Amorite King Sihon of Heshbon lies on the other side of the river, but I now give you his land. So attack and take it! 25Today I will start making all other nations afraid of you. They will tremble with fear when anyone mentions you, and they will be terrified when you appear.
The defeat of King Sihon of Heshbon
Moses said to Israel:
26After we had crossed the Arnon and had set up camp in the Kedemoth Desert, I sent messengers to King Sihon of Heshbon, telling him that his nation and ours could be at peace. I said:
27Please let Israel go across your country. We will walk straight through, without turning off the road. 28-29You can even sell us food and water, and we will pay with silver. We need to reach the River Jordan and cross it, because the LORD our God is giving us the land on the west side. The Edomites and Moabites#2.28,29 Edomites and Moabites: Hebrew “descendants of Esau, who live in Seir and Moabites who live in Ar”. have already let us cross their land. Please let us cross your land as well.
30-31But Sihon refused to let us go across his country, because the LORD made him stubborn and eager to fight us. The LORD told me, “I am going to help you defeat Sihon and take his land, so attack him!”
32We met Sihon and his army in battle at Jahaz, 33and the LORD our God helped us defeat them. We killed Sihon, his sons, and everyone else in his army. 34Then we captured and destroyed every town in Sihon's kingdom, killing everyone, 35but keeping the livestock and everything else of value. 36The LORD helped us capture every town from the gorge of the River Arnon north to the boundary of Gilead, including the town of Aroer on the edge of the gorge and the town in the middle of the gorge.
37However, we stayed away from all the Ammonite towns, both in the hill country and near the River Jabbok, just as the LORD had commanded.