40 years in the desert
1 Then we turned back to travel towards the desert. We went along the road to the Red Sea, as the Lord had told me. For many days, we walked around the region of Mount Seir.
2:1Mount Seir was in Edom.
2 Then the Lord said to me, 3 ‘You have walked round this mountain for a long time. Now turn to the north. 4 Give this message to the Israelites: “You will soon go through the country that belongs to Esau's descendants. They have the same ancestors that you have. They live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, so be very careful. 5 Do not attack them at all. I will not give any of their land to you, not even enough ground to put your foot on. I have given the hills around Mount Seir to Esau, for his descendants to live there. 6 When you eat their food and you drink their water, you must pay them for it. 7 I, the Lord your God, have blessed you in everything that you have done. I have taken care of you as you travelled through this great desert. I have been with you for 40 years. You have received everything that you needed.” ’
2:4Esau was the brother of Jacob. We can read about the birth of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25:19-27. The Israelites were the descendants of Jacob. So they should not fight against the descendants of Esau.
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 on the road through the Moab desert.
9 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not make the people of Moab angry. Do not start a fight against them. I will not give any part of their land to you. I have given Ar to Lot's descendants to be their city.’
2:9Lot was a nephew of Abraham. Lot's descendants were the Moabites and the Ammonites. 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 Anakites. 11 Some people called the Emites and the Anakites, ‘Rephaites’. But the people from Moab called them ‘Emites’. 12 Before this time, the Horites lived in Seir, but the descendants of Esau chased them away. They destroyed the Horites and they lived in their country. The Israelites did the same thing to the people who had lived in the land that the Lord gave to them.)
13 Then the Lord said, ‘Get up now and cross the Zered valley.’ So we went across the stream.
14 38 years had passed since we left Kadesh-Barnea. By the time we crossed the Zered valley, all the men who had been old enough to fight had now died. The Lord had said that this would happen. 15 The Lord himself removed them so that they all died, one by one.
16 Finally, the last one of these men died and no longer lived among the people. 17 Then the Lord said to me, 18 ‘Today you will cross the border of Moab at Ar. 19 You will go into the land of the Ammonites. Do not make them angry so that they fight against you. I will not give any of their land to you. I have already given it to Lot's descendants so that they can live there.’
20 (People also call this region the land of the Rephaites, who had once lived there. The Ammonites called them Zamzummites. 21 There were many Zamzummites and they were as tall and strong as the Anakites. The Lord destroyed the Rephaites when the Ammonites moved in. Then the Ammonites lived there instead of the Rephaites. 22 The Lord had done the same thing for Esau's descendants who lived in Seir. The Lord destroyed the Horites when Esau's descendants moved in and chased them out. Esau's descendants still live in their country today. 23 The same thing happened to the Avvites. They had lived in villages as far west as Gaza. But Philistines came from Crete island and they killed the Avvites. The Philistines lived there instead.)
24 Then God said, ‘Now go across Arnon valley. Look, I have given you the land of King Sihon, the Amorite. He is the king of Heshbon. You must go and fight against him. Attack him and take his land for yourselves. 25 Today I will begin to make all the people in the world afraid of you. They will hear reports about you. That will cause them to be very frightened. They will shake with fear!’
Sihon, king of Heshbon
26 When we were in Kedemoth desert, I sent a message to Sihon, king of Heshbon. We wanted to agree that we would not fight against each other. 27 I said to him, ‘Please let us go through your country. We will only travel along the road. We will not turn away from the road, to the right side or to the left side. 28 Please sell us food to eat and water to drink. We will pay you with silver coins. We only want to 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. We will go through your country and then we will cross the Jordan river. We will go into the land that the Lord our God is giving to us.’
30 But Sihon, the king of Heshbon, refused to let us travel through his country. He was too proud to agree with us. The Lord our God had caused him to be like that. He wanted to put King Sihon under your power and give his land to you. You still live in his land today.
31 The Lord said to me, ‘Look! I have begun to give King Sihon and his country to you. Now you must begin to fight against him and take his land for yourselves.’
32 Then Sihon and all his army came out to fight a battle against us at Jahaz. 33 The Lord our God put him under our power. We won the battle against him. We killed King Sihon and his sons and all his soldiers. 34 At that time we took all his towns and we gave everything as a gift to the Lord. We killed the men, women and children. We left no one alive. 35 But we kept the farm animals and other valuable things in the cities for ourselves. 36 The Lord our God gave us all their towns. That included Aroer, on the edge of the Arnon valley, the city in the valley and other towns all the way to Gilead. No town was too strong for us to take.
37 But we did not go into the Ammonites' country. We did not go into the Jabbok valley. We did not go near the towns in the hill country. The Lord our God had commanded us not to attack those places.