Deuteronomy 1

Moses speaks to the people

1 These are the words that Moses spoke to the Israelites. They were in the desert on the east side of the Jordan river. This is the Jordan valley from where you can see Suph. It is between the towns called Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. 2 (It is a journey of 11 days from Horeb to Kadesh-Barnea, past Mount Seir.) 3 Moses spoke on the first day of the 11th month, in the 40th year. He repeated to the Israelites all the words that the Lord had spoken about them.

1:3These people are the children of the Israelites who left Egypt. They were born in the desert. They have now arrived on the east side of the River Jordan. They need to hear the Law of God before they cross the river. It will teach them how to live in Canaan.

4 This happened after Moses had beaten Sihon, king of the Amorites. Sihon ruled in the town called Heshbon. Moses had also beaten Og, the king of Bashan, at the town called Edrei. Og ruled in the town called Ashtaroth. 5 Moses began to speak on the east side of the Jordan river, in the country called Moab. He explained the Law of God. He said, 6 ‘The Lord our God said to us at Mount Horeb, “You have stayed for a long time at this mountain. 7 Pack up your tents and begin to travel. Go to the hills of the Amorites and to all the countries near to them. Go to the Jordan valley and to the hills and into the valleys. Go towards the south and to the Mediterranean coast. Go to the country called Canaan, to Lebanon and as far as the great river Euphrates. 8 Look! I have given you all this country. Go in and take it. The Lord promised to give this country to your fathers. He promised to give it to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their children.” ’

Moses choses leaders

9 At that time I, Moses, said these words to you. ‘I alone cannot lead you and help you with all your troubles. 10 The Lord your God has made you as many people as the stars in the sky. 11 I pray that the Lord, the God of your fathers, will make you a thousand times as many people. And I know that he will cause many good things to happen to you. He has promised to do that. 12 But I alone cannot help you with all your troubles and quarrels. 13 You must choose some wise men who understand you, from each of your tribes. Then I will give them authority over you.’

14 You answered me, ‘That is a good idea!’

15 So I chose the leaders of your tribes who were wise and good men. I gave them authority over you and made them leaders. They were leaders of 1,000s, leaders of 100s, leaders of 50s and leaders of 10s. I also chose officers for each tribe.

16 And I said to your leaders at that time, ‘Listen to the quarrels between Israelites. Decide what is right. Do that when the quarrel is between two Israelites. Do the same thing when the quarrel is between an Israelite and a person from a foreign country. 17 Do not make a difference between important people and poor people. Listen to both of them in a careful way. Do not be afraid of anyone. God always decides what is right. If you cannot answer a question, bring it to me. I will listen to you. Then I will decide what is right.’

18 So, at that time, I told you everything that you must do.

Moses sends out men to explore

19 Then the Lord our God told us to start our journey from Mount Horeb. So we went towards the hills of the Amorites. We walked through all that large and frightening desert that you have seen. And so we reached Kadesh-Barnea. 20 Then I said to you, ‘You have reached the hills of the Amorites. The Lord our God is giving this to us. 21 Look! The Lord your God has given you this country. Go in and make it your country. The Lord God of your fathers has told you to do this. Do not be afraid. Do not run away.’

22 Then all of you came to me. You said, ‘Let us send some men in front of us. They can explore the country. Then they can bring back a report to us. They can tell us the best road to travel. They can tell us about the towns that we will come to.’

23 I thought that this was a good idea. I chose 12 men, one from each of your tribes. 24 They left and went up into the hills. They came to the valley of Eshcol and they explored it. 25 They took some of the fruit that they found. They brought it back to us. And they reported, ‘The Lord our God is giving us a good country.’

The people refuse to obey the Lord

26 But you did not want to go into the country. You refused to obey the Lord your God. 27 You spoke bad words in your tents. You said, ‘The Lord hates us. He led us out of Egypt to give us to the Amorites. He wanted to kill us. 28 We do not know where to go. Our friends have made us afraid. They say, “These people are taller and stronger than we are. The cities are large. They have walls that reach up to the sky. We even saw some descendants of Anak there.”’

1:28The Israelites did not believe that God would fight for them. They were afraid, so they would not obey his words. That happened many times during the journey.

29 Then I said to you, ‘Do not be so frightened. Do not be afraid of these people. 30 The Lord your God is going in front of you. He will fight for you, as he fought for you in Egypt. You watched him do it. 31 And he was with you in the desert. He carried you as a father carries his son. You saw how he carried you all the way. He carried you until you reached this place.’

32 But you did not believe in the Lord your God. 33 But he went in front of you, on your journey. He was there in a fire by night and in a cloud by day. He found places for you to put your tents. He showed you the way that you should go.

34 When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry. He made a serious promise. 35 ‘None of you bad men will see the good country. I promised to give this country to your fathers. 36 Only Caleb, the son of Jephunneh will see it. I will give to him and to his family the land that he walks on. This is because he obeyed the Lord completely.’

37 The Lord became angry with me also, because of you. He said to me, ‘And you will not go into this country.’

1:37Moses and his brother Aaron became angry with the people. We can read about this in Numbers 20:7-12. Moses called them rebels because they quarrelled with him. He hit the rock twice with his stick to bring water. But God had said, ‘Speak to the rock and water will come out of it.’ So God said that Moses and Aaron could not go into the country. They had not obeyed him and the Israelites were watching.

38 ‘But your servant Joshua, the son of Nun, will go into the country. You must make him strong by good words. He will lead Israel's people into the country. It will become their country. 39 Your children, too, will go into the country. These children do not yet know the difference between good and bad. You said that they would become slaves. I say that they will go into the country. I will give it to them and it will become their country. 40 But as for you, turn round. Begin your journey towards the desert. Travel along the road to the Red Sea.’

41 Then you answered, ‘We have done wrong things against the Lord. We will go and fight. We will obey the Lord our God.’ So every one of you picked up his weapons. You thought that you could go easily into the hills.

42 But the Lord said, ‘Do not go up the hill to fight. I will not be with you. Your enemies will beat you.’

43 So I repeated the Lord's words to you, but you would not listen. You did not obey the Lord's words. You were proud and so you marched up into the hills. 44 The Amorite people lived in those hills and they came out against you. They ran after you like a large group of bees. They attacked you and you ran down from Seir, all the way to Hormah.

1:44Bees are insects that fly. They hurt us when they attack our bodies.

45 You came back and you wept. But the Lord did not change what he was saying. He would not listen to you. 46 And so you stayed in Kadesh for many days. You remained there for a long time.