Deuteronomy 3 – Moses Remembers the March On to Canaan, and the Appointment of Joshua
A. Moses remembers the defeat of Bashan.
1. (1-2) God commands Israel to attack Bashan.
“Then we turned and went up the road to Bashan; and Og king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. And the LORD said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.’”
a. Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand: As Israel continued closer to the Promised Land, moving westward towards the Jordan River, they passed through the land of Og, king of Bashan.
2. (3-11) Israel defeats Bashan.
“So the LORD our God also delivered into our hands Og king of Bashan, with all his people, and we attacked him until he had no survivors remaining. And we took 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. All these cities were fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides a great many rural towns. And we utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children of every city. But all the livestock and the spoil of the cities we took as booty for ourselves. And at that time we took the land from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were on this side of the Jordan, from the River Arnon to Mount Hermon (the Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir), all the cities of the plain, all Gilead, and all Bashan, as far as Salcah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants. Indeed his bedstead was an iron bedstead. (Is it not in Rabbah of the people of Ammon?) Nine cubits is its length and four cubits its width, according to the standard cubit.”
a. And we took all his cities at that time… sixty cities: This brought Israel even more territory to occupy on the east side of the Jordan River, and it showed them that they could, through the power of God, overcome the mighty enemies they would confront on the west side of the Jordan River.
b. Only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants: Apparently, Og was the last of the rephaim in his area, on the east side of the Jordan River.
i. The repeated references to the rephaim in these first three chapters shows that Israel, when trusting in God, was well able to defeat this race of fearsome warriors. It also shows that their fear of these men back in Numbers 13, where they first refused to go into the Promised Land, was unfounded. Their excuses are shown to be weaker in light of the next generation’s victories.
c. Indeed his bedstead was an iron bedstead: Og’s bedstead was 14 feet by 6 feet in modern measurement (4 meters by 2 meters). Some commentators believe this actually describes his burial sarcophagus.
B. Moses remembers the tribes that settled on the east side of the Jordan River.
1. (12-17) The division of the land conquered on the east side of the Jordan River among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh.
“And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the River Arnon, and half the mountains of Gilead and its cities, I gave to the Reubenites and the Gadites. The rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to half the tribe of Manasseh. (All the region of Argob, with all Bashan, was called the land of the giants. Jair the son of Manasseh took all the region of Argob, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and called Bashan after his own name, Havoth Jair, to this day.) Also I gave Gilead to Machir. And to the Reubenites and the Gadites I gave from Gilead as far as the River Arnon, the middle of the river as the border, as far as the River Jabbok, the border of the people of Ammon; the plain also, with the Jordan as the border, from Chinnereth as far as the east side of the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea), below the slopes of Pisgah.”
a. And this land, which we possessed at that time: These two-and-one-half tribes decided that this land on the east side of the Jordan River was good enough for them, and the LORD allowed it – if they would fulfill the obligations mentioned in the following verses.
2. (18-20) The command for the trans-jordan tribes to assist the rest of Israel in the conquest of Canaan.
“Then I commanded you at that time, saying: ‘The LORD your God has given you this land to possess. All you men of valor shall cross over armed before your brethren, the children of Israel. But your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall stay in your cities which I have given you, until the LORD has given rest to your brethren as to you, and they also possess the land which the LORD your God is giving them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’”
C. Moses remembers the appointment of Joshua.
1. (21-22) Moses encourages Joshua.
“And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings; so will the LORD do to all the kingdoms through which you pass. You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you.’”
a. And I commanded Joshua at that time: Joshua had a huge job to do – to bring a whole nation into a land where they would not be welcome, and where they would have to fight to possess what God had rightfully given to them.
b. You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you: With this huge challenge in front of him, Joshua is encouraged to remember all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings (Sihon and Og). Remembering God’s past faithfulness is key to present and future victory.
2. (23-29) Moses remembers his plea to enter the Promised Land.
“Then I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying: ‘O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’ But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the LORD said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.’ So we stayed in the valley opposite Beth Peor.”
a. Then I pleaded with the LORD… Let me cross over and see: Moses knew God was rich in mercy and forgiveness. He knew there was no harm in asking God to relent from His previous judgment that Moses would not see the Promised Land.
i. We can appreciate what a painful thing this was for Moses. He lived the first 40 years of his life confident in his own ability to deliver Israel. He spent the next 40 years of his life having that confidence demolished as he tended his father-in-law’s sheep. He spent the last 40 years of his life being used of God to do what he was called to do. Now, he was not allowed to see the end result. No wonder Moses pleaded with the LORD.
b. Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter: God did not want to hear Moses’ appeal on this matter. Because of his sin at Meribah (Numbers 20), where he misrepresented God as being angry with Israel when He was not, Moses could not enter the Promised Land.
i. This may seem an excessively harsh punishment for Moses. It seemed that after only one slip-up, he then had to die short of the Promised Land. But Moses was being judged by a stricter standard because of his leadership position with the nation, and because he had a uniquely close relationship with God.
ii. It is right for teachers and leaders to be judged by a stricter standard (James 3:1); though it is unrighteous to hold teachers and leaders to a perfect standard. It is true the people’s conduct was worse than Moses’, but it is irrelevant.
iii. Worst of all, Moses defaced a beautiful picture of Jesus’ redemptive work through the rock which provided water in the wilderness. The New Testament makes it clear this water-providing, life-giving rock was a picture of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:4). Jesus, being struck once, provided life for all who would drink of Him (John 7:37). But it was unnecessary – and unrighteous – that Jesus would be struck again, much less again twice, because the Son of God needed only to suffer once (Hebrews 10:10-12). Jesus can now be come to with words of faith (Romans 10:8-10), as Moses should have only used words of faith to bring life-giving water to the nation of Israel. Moses “ruined” this picture of the work of Jesus God intended.
c. Speak no more to Me of this matter: Moses was a great man of intercession – perhaps one of the greatest in the Bible. Yet, God would say “no” even to Moses in prayer. God will sometimes say no even to His mightiest intercessors (Jeremiah 15:1).
d. Go up to Pisgah: This was the place where Moses would be able to see the Promised Land from a distance, and then die – and where the book of Deuteronomy will end.
e. But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him: It was probably easy for Moses to have a bad attitude here – “well, if I’m not going into the Promised Land, I’m sure not going to knock myself out training my replacement.” But that was not the heart of Moses – he would do everything he could to love the people, prepare them to go in, and to make Joshua a success. A man of God would not do it any other way.
i. Moses had the heart of a true shepherd. He knew that his ministry was not centered on himself and his own satisfaction, but on God and His people.
ii. “In fact, Moses’ death is not recorded until chapter 34, so that the whole book of Deuteronomy is framed between the announcement of Moses’ impending death and the announcement of his actual death. The book is thus, in a sense, the spiritual testament of Moses, Israel’s great Lawgiver.” (Thompson)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission