Deut. 2:1 Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days.
Deut. 2:2 And the LORD spake unto me, saying,
Deut. 2:3 Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.
After leaving Kadesh Barnea, the Israelites began their wilderness journey by turning south into the desert “by way of the Red Sea.” The route evidently took them around the borders of the hill country of Seir. After “many days,” the Lord instructed them to turn back north.
Deut. 2:4 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:
Deut. 2:5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.
The hill country of Seir was land that God had given to Esau and his descendants, relatives of the children of Israel as descended through Jacob’s brother. Point is made that God was leading them along the borders of Seir, but not through Seir. The fact that they were such a great multitude would provoke fear in the hearts of the people of Seir, but they were to avoid angering them or causing trouble with them in any way.
Deut. 2:6 Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.
Deut. 2:7 For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.
God had abundantly blessed the Israelites. I am reminded that they left Egypt with great wealth. They had evidently been blessed to use these resources in accumulating further wealth. The Israelites were to buy what they needed. They were not to use their strength to take advantage of the people of Seir. God had provided for them so that they lacked nothing throughout their years of wandering. Implied—and He would continue to do so if they followed Him in faith and obedience.
Deut. 2:8 And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.
Deut. 2:9 And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.
After traveling along the borders of Esau’s descendants in Seir, the Israelites would journey along the borders of the descendants of Lot, the Moabites. Again, the Lord instructs them not to cause any trouble with the Moabites because He has also given these cousins of the Israelites their own land.
Deut. 2:10 The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;
Deut. 2:11 Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.
It would seem that the lands of Seir and Moab had once been inhabited by giants. The Hebrew for the word giants makes reference to the Rephaim. In past studies I have found these terms all connected to the “nephilim” that were spawned from the union of the “sons of God,” who I believe to be the fallen angels, with the daughters of men.
Genesis 6:1-4 “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”
I think an excerpt from my journal in Genesis is appropriate here.
Many commentators believe the “sons of God” is a reference to men; some specify that they descended from Seth. Why would the union of regular men and women (be they godly or not) produce such mighty men of renown—giants? Why would obedience to God’s command to men and women to multiply and fill the earth bring about a decision by God to limit man’s existence on planet earth? It makes much more sense that these “sons of God” are fallen angels meant to pollute the line of the Messiah as seems to be indicated in verse 9 below.
Genesis 6:9 “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”
“perfect” = without blemish, undefiled
I think you can find support for the “sons of God” being angels in the first chapter of Job.
Job 1:6 “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.”
It would seem that there is a time of discussion in heaven between God and His angels as they interact with man. The writer of Hebrews tells us that they were created as “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14) Satan evidently continues to present himself on these occasions to “accuse the brethren,” as stated by John in Revelation 12:10 and as the story of Job so vividly pictures. Not until the New Testament is the phrase “sons of God” applied to men who believe on Jesus for their salvation.
I think it was Chuck Missler that I heard give a reasonable explanation regarding the term “sons of God” referencing direct creations of God. It wasn’t until the New Testament times that men could become a “new creation” in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Deut. 2:12 The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them.
The children of Esau eventually conquered a group of people (which in context seem to be grouped with the giants) called “Horims” in their take over of Seir. The wording of this verse indicates that the Lord empowered them to conquer a physically superior enemy just as He would empower the Israelites to conquer the Canaanites.
Deut. 2:13 Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered.
Deut. 2:14 And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them.
Deut. 2:15 For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.
The main point of these verses is that the children of Israel were not allowed to continue in their objective to conquer the Promised Land until all adults of the generation that refused to believe that God was able to fulfill His word and give them the land in spite of the physical superiority of the enemy had died. Thirty-eight years had passed since their sin at Kadeshbarnea until the time that God directed them to cross the brook Zered in preparation for conquering the land. It is emphasized that God destroyed every man (20 years and older, cf Numbers 14:29) of the rebellious generation (except Caleb and Joshua, cf Numbers 14:30). This would put the whole company of Israelites at age 57 or younger (except Caleb and Joshua).
Deut. 2:16 So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people,
Deut. 2:17 That the LORD spake unto me, saying,
Deut. 2:18 Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day:
Deut. 2:19 And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.
Again, point is made that when the offending generation of men were dead, the Lord instructed Moses to lead the people along the border of Moab and continue along the border of Ammon toward their objective. Again, the Israelites are warned not to cause any trouble with the children of Ammon. They were also descendants of Lot, and God had given them the land they possessed as well.
Deut. 2:20 (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;
Deut. 2:21 A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead:
Deut. 2:22 As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day:
Deut. 2:23 And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)
Giants had also previously inhabited the land now possessed by the children of Ammon, but God had empowered them to defeat the mighty giants as He had their cousins, the children of Esau, and the Moabites.
According to the prophet Jeremiah, the Caphtorims were of the same origin as the Philistines.
Jeremiah 47:4 “Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor.”
They are credited with destroying the Avims and dwelling in their land.
This brings up a sad but valid observation. Those who were not God’s people had accomplished what the people of Israel had not; they had conquered land possessed by giants. We know that God had enabled their victory, since He gave them the land. It is a sad but true fact today that often those who do not follow God as Lord are more bold and confident in the actions they take in the name of what they believe than do those of us in the “church.” The people of Israel could have experienced blessing so much sooner if they had just trusted God who had so publicly proven Himself on their behalf.
Deut. 2:24 Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.
Deut. 2:25 This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.
Moses now records how the Lord instructed him to lead the Israelites across the river Arnon to the land of the Amorites. I thought it was interesting that the instruction was to “begin” to possess it through battle with King Sihon and his armies. God promised to use this victory by the Israelites to “begin” provoking fear of them among the other heathen nations in the world that heard the report of this battle. The fact is stressed that it is God who is the true source of the nations’ fear of the Israelites since He is the One empowering His people. Both uses of the word begin are an indication of more of the same to follow.
I am reminded of the scripture that connected the Amorites reaching fullness of sin with the deliverance of the descendants of Abraham from Egypt. God told Abraham, “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” Genesis 15:16
This is just another amazing example of the omniscience and sovereignty of God. In His righteousness there is a time allotted for every nation and, I believe, every person to respond to Him in faith and repentance. In His sovereignty there is also a time at which that nation’s or individual’s opportunity to respond to Him comes to an end. We have no right to question either determination. Every decision made by YHWH is holy and just.
Isaiah 5:16 “But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.”
Daniel 9:14 “…for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth….”
Revelation 16:7 “And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.”
Deut. 2:26 And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,
Deut. 2:27 Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.
Deut. 2:28 Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet;
Deut. 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.
Moses describes how he sent a message to King Sihon asking permission to lead the people through his land on foot, promising to stay on an established route and buy food and drink on their way through. (This incident is recorded in Numbers 21.) This is the same treatment accorded them by the inhabitants of Seir and Moab. He assures the king that his intent is to cross Jordan to possess the land that YHWH, the self-existent, eternal God of Israel, is giving them. They had no evil intentions toward Sihon.
Deut. 2:30 But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
Deut. 2:31 And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land.
Sihon = The whole country on the east of Jordan, from the Arnon to the Jabbok. (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)
The sins of the Amorites were now “full.” God hardened Sihon’s heart, just as He had Pharaoh’s. He is not making Sihon go against his will; He is giving him over to his will. This is the term that Paul uses in his letter to the Romans in describing God’s response to those who reject God and choose evil. This was to be the first of many victories as the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land.
Romans 1:24, 26, 28 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts….For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections….And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind….”
Note that God first began to give the people of Israel the land that was east of the Jordan River (v31).
Deut. 2:32 Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.
Deut. 2:33 And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.
Deut. 2:34 And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:
Deut. 2:35 Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.
Sihon chose to deny the Israelites passage and came out in force to do battle at Jahaz. YHWH, the God of Israel, empowered Israel to conquer Sihon and his people. They took possession of all the Amorite cities and destroyed all the people—men, women and children. They kept only the cattle and the material spoil of the cities.
These are the sections of scripture that cause many people to question God’s righteousness and love. They forget that God allowed His people to suffer in Egypt for hundreds of years as He allowed time for these wicked people to turn to Him in faith and repentance. As a loving Father, He does not want to allow people to live who will only be a stumbling block to the faithfulness of His people by introducing them to the worship of false gods. They don’t take into consideration that the children were spared being brought up by such wicked parents. I believe these children will be in heaven among the multitudes of others who suffered evil at the hands of their parents, such as those that are aborted for the convenience of their parent(s). Even King David’s own son died because of the sin of his father and mother, but David declared that he knew he would one day be reunited with that son.
2Samuel 12:22-23 “And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
His son was an innocent child, not yet accountable for sin.
Deut. 2:36 From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us:
Deut. 2:37 Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the LORD our God forbad us.
Moses reminds the people that from that first battle until they reached Gilead, not one city had been able to stand against them. God had made them victorious over each one. The only places they did not conquer were the ones that God had forbidden them to touch—Seir, Moab, and Ammon.