Saturday Dec 05, 2020

Deuteronomy 3:1-22

     In this pericope, Moses recounts the historical defeat of Og (Deut 3:1-3), reveals the territory obtained by their victory (Deut 3:4-11), and explains how the land east of the Jordan was allotted to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh (Deut 3:12-22). As Moses and the Israelites advanced northward, they were met by Og, king of Bashan and his people who came out against them for war (Deut 3:1). This was a display of hostility toward God and His people. But the Lord instructed Moses to look to Him and to reflect on His past faithfulness in which He had delivered them in a similar situation, when He defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites (Deut 3:2). By looking to God and reflecting on His past deliverances, Moses’ faith was strengthened and he could move forward in confidence rather than fear. Confidence is not necessarily the absence of fear, but the overcoming of fear to do God’s will. As Moses and Israel went forward, God delivered Og and his people into their hand and all their cities were taken as spoils of military conquest (Deut 3:3-4, 7-8). There was no fortification nor human resistance that could stop the advance of God’s people (Deut 3:5-6). We then have a description of the territory that was taken (Deut 3:9-10), as well as a comment about Og’s bed, that was apparently kept as an historical attraction to demonstrate his physical size (Deut 3:11). Having taken possession of the land of the Amorites east of the Jordan River, Moses then divided the land north of the Valley of Arnon to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (Deut 3:12-13, 16-17). Reuben and Gad were two of the sons of Jacob (Gen 29:32; 30:11), and the tribe of Joseph had split into two groups that were named after his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen 48:8-16). Special mention is given to Jair, a son of Manasseh, and Machir, a subtribe of Manasseh, because of their great courage in battle (Deut. 3:14-15; cf. Num 32:39-41). Though all Israel were faithful to the Lord, apparently some fought harder than others and they were blessed in a special way with more land. The tribes of Manasseh, Reuben and Gad requested to live east of the Jordan River, and Moses granted their request, but only on the condition they would help their brothers complete the military conquest into Canaan beyond the Jordan River (Deut 3:18). They would help their fellow Israelites by leaving their wives, children, and livestock behind (Deut 3:19). After victory was obtained, they could return to their own land (Deut 3:20). We know from the book of Joshua that they were faithful to help their brothers (Josh 22:1-6). Moses then encouraged Joshua, his theocratic successor, to contemplate God’s past faithfulness and draw strength from it as they moved forward into Canaan (Deut 3:21). By thinking divine viewpoint, Joshua would “not fear them” (Deut 3:22a), as he would realize “the LORD your God is the one fighting for you” (Deut 3:22b). The defeat of Sihon and Og would have sent a message to the residents of Canaan that would have instilled fear in them, which is what God intended (Deut 11:25; Josh 2:8-11). In addition, these victories over Sihon and Og were designed to prepare Israel for what lay ahead and to give them confidence that God was with them to defeat their enemies. What was required of Moses and the Israelites was to obey God’s commands, trust Him at His Word, and face the enemy with courage.

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