Thursday, November 19, 2009


Chapter 2
Summary:Moses continues his speech to the Israelites from the previous chapter, saying,
"We then turned and journey through the wilderness toward the Red Sea, as the Lord had had said unto me. We camped at Mount Seir for many days until the Lord said to me, 'You have camped at this mountain long enough. Turn northward and command the people saying, "You are to pass through the coast of your brethren, [the Edomites] the people of Esau, whom live at Mount Seir. Take good heed of yourselves and do not meddle with them, for I will not give you their land - not even so much as a foot of land - because I have given Mount Seir unto the descendants of Esau for their possession. You shall buy any food and water for yourselves from them that you need."' For the Lord thy God has blessed you in all of your works, he knows of your walking through this great wilderness these forty years, and the Lord thy God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.

"When we passed by our brethren [the Edomites], through the way of the plains of Elath, and from Eziongaber, we then turned and passed through the wilderness of Moab. The Lord said to me, 'Distress not the Moabites, nor engage them in battle, for I will not give you their land as a possession, because I have given [the city of] Ar* unto the descendants of Lot for a possession.' The Emims dwelt there in times past, a people great and many, and tall as the Anakims. They were giants as were the Anakims, but the Moabites called them Emims. The Horims also dwelt in Mount Seir beforehand, but [the Edomites] destroyed them and took over the land, as the people of Israel did unto the land of their possession, which the Lord had given them.

"'Now rise up', I said, 'and journey across the Zered Brook', which we did, but the length of time from which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we crossed the Zered Brook took thirty eight years - until all the generation of the men of war [who refused to invade Canaan 38 years prior] had died off from amongst the population, as the Lord had sworn to them. For indeed the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them from amongst the population, until they were all dead.

"So it came to pass when all of the men of war had died that the Lord spoke to me, saying, 'You are to pass over through [the city of] Ar, on the coast of Moab, today. When you encounter the people of Ammon, do not distress them or meddle in their affairs, for I will not give your their land as a possession, because I have given it to the descendants of Lot as their possession.' This land also was a land of giants, and giants lived there in the past. The Ammonites call them Zamzummims - a people great and many, and tall as the Anakims - but the Lord destroyed them before [the Ammonites], who succeeded them and dwelt there in their place, much the same as he did for the descendants of Esau, when he destroyed the Horims before them. The Edomites succeeded them and dwelt in their stead even to this day. The Avims whom dwelt in Hazerim and Azzah*, were destroyed and succeeded by the Caphtorims.

"[The Lord then said,] 'Rise up, and journey across the Arnon River. Behold I have lead you to King Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Possess his land and conquer him in battle. This day I will put the fear of dread upon the nations that are under the whole heaven. Whomever shall hear a report of you shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.'

"I sent forth messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to King Sihon, the king of Heshbon, with words of peace, saying, 'Let me pass through your land. I will go along the highway and will not veer from it. You shall sell me food and water, and I shall pay for it with money. I will pass through on foot (as the people of Esau who dwell in [Mount] Seir, and the Moabites who dwell in Ar allowed me to do) until I pass over the Jordan River into the land which the Lord our God has given us.' But Sihon, king of Heshbon would not let us pass, because the Lord thy God had hardened his spirit, making his heart obstinate, so that God might deliver him into the hands of the Israelite army this day.

"The Lord said to me, 'Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before you to conquer and possess, that you may inherit his land.'

"Then [King] Sihon came out against, he and his men, to attack us at Jahaz. The Lord our God delivered him before us and we destroyed him, his sons, and all his people. We took his all his cities and utterly destroyed every man, woman, and child - we left no survivors. Only the cattle did we keep for ourselves, along with the spoils of the cities we took.

"From Aroer, which is by the brink of the Arnon River, from the city that is by the river, and even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us [to conquer] - the Lord our God delivered them all to us.

"Only the land of the Ammonites, any place near the Jabbok River, and the cities in the mountains did the Lord our God forbid us [from invading]."
Notes:1.) Ar is a city of Moab near the Dead Sea. The Ancient Greeks called it Areopolis, and it was later called Rabbath.
2.) Azzah is the Hebrew name for Gaza.
Thoughts:Moses' continues his speech to the Israelites from the last chapter recounting and expanding upon the stories in Numbers: Chapter 20 and Numbers: Chapter 21" concerning the travel and conquests of the Israelites.

In the first part of Moses' story picks up with the Israelites being camped out near Mount Seir for quite some time until God tells them to head north, and here we hit our first contradiction.

In Moses' speech, God tells Moses to pass through the land of the Edomites, who are descended from Esau (the older brother of Jacob/Israel who sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup), and warns the Israelites not to interfere with or attack the Edomites, because God gave the land around Mount Seir to the Edomites. In Moses' speech, he claims that the Israelites "passed by...through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab." (Deuteronomy 2:8)

In Numbers: Chapter 20 we read a much different story. Here, Moses sent messengers to ask permission from the king to travel through the city of Edom, promising to stay on the main highway, that they would not disturb their fields or vineyards, nor would they veer from the path until they crossed through the border on the other side of the city. The king of Edom however, refuses to let the Israelites enter the city, and threatens them with military force if they try and cross through anyways. After the Israelites begged the king again, the king mobilized his army and the people journeyed from Kadesh to Mount Hor instead.

Even if the biblical apologist could somehow cobble together an explanation as to how both the passages in Numbers: Chapter 20 and Deuteronomy 2:8 could be describing the same event, later on verse 2:29 claims that the Edomites did allow the Israelites to pass through their land:
2:28 "...only I will pass through on my feet;"
2:29 "(As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the LORD our God giveth us."
This directly contradicts Numbers 20:21 which states:
20:21 "Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him."
Complicating this contradiction even more, Moses' speech continues and he explains that the Israelites also passed through the city of Moab, and were warned again by God that they were not to disturb or attack the Moabites, because just like as the case with Edomites, the Israelites were not given this land, because the city of Ar had been given to the descendants of Lot.

Both of these accounts of the Israelites passage through Edom and Moab contradict this verse in Judges Chapter 11:
11:17 "Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh."
11:18 "Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab."
In regards to the Edomites, Judges: Chapter 11 seems to validate the story found in Numbers: Chapter 20, however, the Israelites spent a great deal of time within Moab - including during this very speech - which runs contrary to what is being claimed in Judges 11:18, that the Israelites avoided crossing the border into Moab!

The only explanation that seems to fit and reasonably explains these contradictions is the "Documentary Hypothesis" which I briefly touched upon in my thoughts for Numbers Chapter 25 as a possible explanation for the contradiction in that chapter as well. The "Documentary Hypothesis" asserts that the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) is pieced together by several parallel but independently authored sources. Asserting that Moses single handedly authored the first five books of the bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) doesn't seem probable when we're faced with contradictions such as whether or not the Edomites granted passage through their land.

Moses' speech continues about how races of giants once lived in the lands of Moab and Mount Seir until the Moabites and Edomites destroyed them and took over their land, and how the Israelites will do the same thing to the giants living in Canaan.

He then states that the people were to cross the Zered Brook, but that it took 38 years(!) to do so simply to ensure that the older generation who were barred from entering the "promised land" would die off. After every last one of the older generation had died off, God then tells Moses to lead the people through the city of Ar and into the land of the Ammonites (the Ammonites are the incestuous offspring of Lot and his youngest daughter). Like with the Moabites and the Edomites, God tells Moses that the Israelites are not to bother the Ammonites, because God will not allow the Israelites to take their land, as it was given to the descendants of Lot as their possession.

Also like the lands "given" to the descendants of Esau, and to Lot's other incestuous son Moab, the land "given" to the Ammonites was also originally inhabited by "giants". Moses says that God destroyed the "giants" before the Ammonites, as he had apparently also destroyed the "giants" living in Moab and Edom as well.

Moses now recounts the Israelite's encounter with King Sihon from Numbers: Chapter 21, with a disturbing twist to the tale. Whereas the story in Numbers: Chapter 21 seems to appear that the Israelites conquered King Sihon's land in a brutal retaliation, Moses reveals that God had already commanded the Israelites to attack, destroy, and conquer King Sihon's kingdom, with the primary intention of instilling fear amongst the surrounding nations.

With this additional information added to the story, Moses' "peaceful" request to secure passage through King Sihon's land now appears to simply be a ruse. This request was simply a formality as the Israelites were commanded by God to destroy Sihon and the Amorites - regardless of whether King Sihon let them pass or not - the Israelites were ordered to destroy them. Even worse, God ensures that King Sihon won't opt for a peaceful solution and avoid conflict by "hardening his spirit" - much like he had "hardened the Pharaoh's heart" in Exodus: Chapter 9. So essentially God is forcing King Sihon to seal his own doom to justify the Israelites slaughtering his people and stealing his land.

When King Sihon attacks the "peaceful" Israelites who he refused passage to, Moses tells us that the Israelites left not a single survivor - specifically mentioning that not only the men, but every last woman and child was executed as well - only the cattle was left alive.

Moses explains that the Israelites continued to conquer and destroy civilizations in their paths with the exceptions of the land of the Ammonites, lands near the Jabbok River, and the mountainous cities that God forbade them from invading.

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