Saturday, November 21, 2009


Chapter 3
Summary:Moses continues his speech to the Israelites, saying,
"We then turned and went up towards Bashan, where the king, King Og of Bashan came out against us to battle us at Edrei.

"The Lord said to me, 'Do not fear [King Og], for I will deliver him, his people, and his land into your hand. You shall do unto him the same as you had done to the king of the Amorites, King Sihon.'

"So the Lord our God delivered into our hands King Og and all of his people, and we battled him until no one was left alive. We took all of his cities - there was not a single city that we did not take of his - all sixty cities, all of the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All of these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars, and we took the many unwalled towns that surrounded them. We utterly destroyed them, just as we had done to King Sihon, executing every last man, woman, and child in every city. Only the cattle did we allow to live, which we took along with the spoils of the cities, for ourselves.

"At that time we took out of the hands of the two kings of the Amorites the land that was on this side of the Jordan River, from the Amon River unto Mount Hermon (which the Sidonians call Sirion, and the Amorites call Shenir), all the cities of the plain, all of Gilead, all of Bashan, unto Salchah and Edrei - the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.

"[King] Og was the last of the "giants" in Bashan. Behold his bedstead was made of iron (which can you not see on display in the city of Rabbath?) and was nine cubits* in length, and four cubits wide.

"This land which we possessed at that time, from Aroer - which is by the Arnon River, half of Mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, I gave to the Reubenites and to the Gadites. The rest of Gilead, all of Bashan - being the kingdom of Og - I gave to the half tribe of Manasseh. All the region of Argob, with all of Bashan which [I gave them] was called 'the land of giants'.

"Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi, and named the land after himself, Bashanhavothjair*, which it is still called today. I gave the land of Gilead to Machir.

"To the Reubenites and to the Gadites, I gave them the area extending from Gilead to the Arnon River to the Jabbok River, which borders the people of Ammon. They also received the plain on the coast of the Jordan River, from Chinnereth out to the Salt Sea, east to Ashdothpisgah.

"I commanded you [the Reubenites and Gadites] at that time, saying, 'The Lord your God has given you this land to possess it - but you shall first pass over armed before your Israelite brethren, all that are fit for war. However, your wives and children, along with your cattle - as I realize you have a lot of cattle - may reside in the cities which I have given you. Until the Lord has given rest to the Israelite army, as well as to yourselves, and until they possess the "promised land" across the Jordan River, then you will be allowed to return to your lands which have been given to you.'

"I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, 'You have seen with your own eyes what the Lord your God has done to these two kings [Sihon and Og], and so the Lord shall do the same unto all the kingdoms you shall pass. You shall not fear them, for the Lord your God shall fight for you.'

"I then sought the Lord, saying, 'O Lord God, you have begun to show your servants your greatness and your mighty hand; for what god is there in heaven or in earth, that could do all of these works according to your might? I pray to you, let me go over and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan River, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.'

"But the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and would not listen to me. The Lord said to me, 'Let it suffice to you, do not speak any more to me about this matter. Get up to the top of [Mount] Pisgah and lift your eyes westward, northward, southward, and eastward. Behold this [view] with your eyes, but you shall not cross the Jordan [River]. However, put Joshua in charge, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall rule over the people, and will lead them to inherit the land which you shall see.'

"So we camped in the valley over toward Bethpeor."
Notes:1.) Moses is claiming that King Og's bed was 9 cubits long by 6 cubits wide, meaning it was approximately 13 1/2 feet long and six feet wide.
2.) Meaning "Jair's Villages" in Hebrew.
Thoughts:Moses continues his speech to the Israelites that he began in Chapter 1, recounting and expanding upon the stories in Numbers: Chapter 21, Numbers: Chapter 32, and Numbers: Chapter 27 which are noticeably out of sequence.

Moses' speech begins recounting God's command to destroy King Og and his people, and take his land in the same manner in which they had done to King Sihon, as first told in Numbers: Chapter 21 and detailed in the previous chapter. Once again the Israelites slaughtered everyone - every last man, woman, and child and left not a single survivor behind, only the cattle was left alive - which they took for themselves. The Israelites took all of King Og's sixty cities, not leaving a single city or town behind. Moses notes that the Israelites had now conquered and destroyed the kingdoms of two kings of the Amorites on their side of the Jordan River.

Moses now explains that King Og was the last of the "giants" in Bashan. As a testament to how big Og allegedly was, Moses mentions that King Og's bed still resides on display in the city of Rabbath, and that it is nine cubits in length, and four cubits wide - roughly thirteen and a half feet long, and six feet wide. If Moses' measurements are accurate, and if King Og's bed was made to fit, then we can assume that King Og would have to at least been twelve feet tall (almost 4 meters tall).

The necessity of presenting King Og's bed as evidence for his stature seems very suspect however, considering how recently this event occured in relation to it's telling here in the speech - according to the timeline given in the bible, the slaying of King Og must have occurred less than a year prior to this speech, which in that case it would be well known by the Israeli army how tall King Og was. This curious mention seems a bit more suspect that it was meant for more modern readers than to those of whom Moses would have been addressing in his speech.

Moses then skips ahead in his timeline to cover an event from Numbers: Chapter 32, where the tribes of Gad and Reuben ask for land outside of the "promised land", in the land of Gilead, due to its suitability for cattle. Moses talks about how he divides the land amongst the tribes of Gad and Reuben as well as the half tribe of Manasseh. He then recounts that the military vow that the tribes were bound to before they could claim their land, although the wording here in Moses' speech makes it appear as though Moses had drafted the conditions, when in Numbers: Chapter 32 they were volunteered by the tribes themselves - although the tribes would later appear to infer that it was really God's idea.

Also curious is that it that when Moses explains the clan of Jair naming "Bashanhavothjair", he caps it off saying that it has been called this "unto this day". Considering that the conquest of Gilead and Moses' speech couldn't possibly be more than a year apart, this wouldn't seem to be relevant or even make sense unless this was written long after the fact.

Next up Moses re-tells the story of God's appointment of Moses' successor Joshua which conflicts with the story from Numbers: Chapter 27. A comparison of the two different accounts:
Numbers 27:12-20Deuteronomy 3:21-28
The first event is that God tells Moses to climb Mount Abarim to see the "promised land" (Num 27:12), and that after Moses has seen it he shall be killed as Aaron was (27:13) for "rebelling" against God's commandment in the desert of Zin.The first event in Moses' speech is of him promising Joshua that God will destroy every kingdom that he (Joshua) passes through (3:21), telling him not to fear them as God will fight the battle for him.
The second event has Moses asking God (27:15) to appoint a new leader to replace himself after he is to be killed (27:16), because the people need leadership (27:17).The second event in Moses' speech has Moses speaking to God (3:23), praising him for helping the Israelite conquer and slaughter the kingdoms of Sihon and Og (3:21), and begging God to allow him to be able to enter and see the "promised land" (3:25).
The last event is God telling Moses to lay his hand upon Joshua (27:18) and to bring him before the people and appoint him as leader in front of them (27:19) so that the Israelites will obey him (27:20).The last event in Moses speech has Moses claiming that God was angry with him because of the faults of the Israelites, and would not listen to Moses' plea, telling him not to bring it up ever again (3:26). He tells Moses to climb Mount Pisgah, look in all directions at the "promised land" from up atop the mountain, because he won't be allowed to enter the land (3:27). Finally he tells Moses to put Joshua in charge of the Israelites, as he will be the one to cause them to inherit the "promised land" (3:28)
As you can see there are a few things at odds between the separate accounts of Numbers versus Deuteronomy, notably with the events almost being completely reversed.
  • In the account in Numbers, God first instructs Moses to climb the mountain and view the "promised land" from atop a mountain, whereas this is the final event in Moses' account in Deuteronomy.

    Also of note, although the names of the mountains seem to contradict (Abarim versus Pisgah) they technically do not. The Pisgah mountains refer to the northern end of the Abarim mountain range.
  • The first event in Moses' speech in Deuteronomy has him promising Joshua that God will destroy every kingdom that Joshua will pass through. Why Moses would say this to Joshua prior to Joshua being elected to be Moses' successor doesn't appear to make a lot of sense.
  • The first event in the account of Numbers also has God announcing Moses' death sentence after he instructs Moses to climb the mountain, and God makes it clear that his reasoning is that because both Moses and Aaron "rebelled" against him out in the desert of Zin.

    In Moses' speech however he claims that he begged God to allow him to see the "promised land", and explains that God refused Moses' request was angry at him and that it was due in fault because of the Israelites. Following this, then God tells Moses to climb the mountain to view the "promised land" from the top.
Moses concludes his speech by stating that the Israelites camped out near Bethpeor after this event.

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