40 years in the desert
1 Then we turned back. We began to walk towards the desert. We went along the road to the Red Sea, as the LORD had said. For many days, we walked round the hills in Seir.
2 Then the LORD said to me, 3 ‘You have walked round this hill for a long time. Now turn to the north. 4 These are my words to the Israelites, “You will soon go through the country that belongs to the descendants of Esau. They have the same ancestors that you have. And they live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, so be very careful.”’
2:4Esau was the brother of Jacob. They were the sons of Isaac and the grandsons of Abraham. The Israelites were the descendants of Jacob. So they must not fight the descendants of Esau. We can read about the birth of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25:19‑27.
5 ‘“Do not make them angry so that they fight against you. I will not give any of their country to you, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given the hills in Seir to Esau. 6 You must pay money to his descendants for the food and water that you eat and drink.
7 The LORD your God has helped you in everything that you have done. He has travelled with you through this very large desert. The LORD your God has remained with you for 40 years. He has given you everything that you needed.”’
2:7Moses speaks here about the love of God for his people. He speaks many times in this book God's love. He also teaches the Israelites to love God. If they do this, they will obey God.
8 So we went on. We passed the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They have the same ancestors that we have. We left the road through Arabah. This road is from Elath and Ezion-Geber. We travelled through the desert along the road to Moab.
9 Then the LORD said to me, ‘Do not make the men in Moab angry. Do not make them fight against you. I will not give you any part of their country. I have given Ar city to the descendants of Lot.’
2:9Lot was another relative of Abraham. So the Israelites must not fight against his descendants. We can read about Lot in Genesis 12:4, 5.
10 Some people called the Emites once lived there. There were many of them and they were as strong and tall as the descendants of Anak. 11 Many people called the Emites and the Anakites, ‘Rephaites’. But the people from Moab called them Emites. 12 Before this time, the people called the Horites lived in Seir, but the descendants of Esau sent them away. They killed the Horites and they lived in their country. The Israelites did the same thing to their enemies, when the LORD gave the country to them.
13 And the LORD said, ‘Get up now and cross the Zered Valley.’ So we crossed the valley.
14 38 years had passed since we left Kadesh-Barnea. All the fighting men of that generation had died. The LORD had said that this would happen.
2:14We can read the words of the LORD in Deuteronomy 1:35. The LORD was angry with the Israelites because they did not believe in him. They did not believe that he would beat all their enemies. They were afraid to obey him and go into Canaan.
15 The LORD himself was against them until they had all died.
16 When the last one of these fighting men had died, the LORD spoke to me. 17 This is what he said: 18 ‘Today you will pass by the country called Moab at Ar. 19 You will meet the people from Ammon. Do not make them angry so that they fight against you. I will not give you any of their country. I have given it to the descendants of Lot.’
20 (This country also belonged to the Rephaites, who had lived there. But the descendants of Ammon called them Zamzummites. 21 There were many Zamzummites and they were as tall and strong as the descendants of Anak. The LORD killed them when the descendants of Ammon sent them away. Then the descendants of Ammon lived in their country. 22 The LORD had done the same thing for the descendants of Esau. They lived in Seir. The LORD killed the Horites when the descendants of Esau sent them away. The descendants of Esau still live in their country today. 23 Also, people from the island called Crete came. And they killed the Avvites. The Avvites had lived in villages as far as Gaza. But the people from Crete killed them and they lived in their country.)
24 And God said, ‘Now go! Cross the River Arnon. Look, I have given the country of Sihon the Amorite to you. He is the king of Heshbon and you must fight against him. You must begin to take his country. 25 Today I will begin to make all the people in the world afraid of you. They will hear reports about you and they will be very frightened. You will cause them trouble.’
The Israelites beat Sihon, king of Heshbon
26 We were in the desert called Kedemoth when I sent a message to Sihon, king of Heshbon. We did not want to fight him. This is what I said to him: 27 ‘Please let us travel through your country. We will walk along your widest road. We will not turn to the right or to the left. 28 Please sell us food to eat and water to drink. We will pay you with silver coins. Please let us walk through your country. 29 The descendants of Esau, who live in Seir, let us do this. So did the descendants of Moab who live in Ar. Then we will cross the River Jordan. We will go into the country that the LORD our God is giving to us.’ 30 But Sihon, king of Heshbon, refused to let us travel through his country. He was angry with us and he would not listen. The LORD your God caused that to happen. He wanted to give the country of Sihon to you. And he has now done that.
31 The LORD said to me, ‘Look! I have begun to give Sihon and his country to you. Now you must begin to fight him and to take his country.’
32 Then Sihon and all his army came out to fight against us at Jahaz. 33 The LORD our God gave him to us and we beat him in the fight. We killed Sihon and his sons and his whole army. 34 At that time we took all his towns and destroyed them completely. We killed men, women and children. We left no one alive. 35 But we kept the animals and the good things from every town for ourselves. 36 The LORD our God gave us every town. He gave us all the towns from Aroer, on the edge of the Arnon Valley, all the way to Gilead. He gave us the town in the middle of the Arnon Valley. No town was too strong for us. 37 But you obeyed the word of the LORD our God. You did not go near the country called Ammon. You did not go near the land by the River Jabbok. Neither did you go near the land round any of the towns in the hills.