The Covenant Setting
1:1 This is what 1 Moses said to the assembly of Israel 2 in the Transjordanian 3 wastelands, the arid country opposite 4 Suph, 5 between 6 Paran 7 and Tophel, 8 Laban, 9 Hazeroth, 10 and Di Zahab 11 1:2 Now it is ordinarily an eleven-day journey 12 from Horeb 13 to Kadesh Barnea 14 by way of Mount Seir. 15 1:3 However, it was not until 16 the first day of the eleventh month 17 of the fortieth year 18 that Moses addressed the Israelites just as 19 the Lord had instructed him to do. 1:4 This took place after the defeat 20 of King Sihon 21 of the Amorites, whose capital was 22 in Heshbon, 23 and King Og of Bashan, whose capital was 24 in Ashtaroth, 25 specifically in Edrei. 26 1:5 So it was in the Transjordan, in Moab, that Moses began to deliver these words: 27
Events at Horeb
1:6 The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb and said, “You have stayed 28 in the area of this mountain long enough. 1:7 Get up now, 29 resume your journey, heading for 30 the Amorite hill country, to all its areas 31 including the arid country, 32 the highlands, the Shephelah, 33 the Negev, 34 and the coastal plain – all of Canaan and Lebanon as far as the Great River, that is, the Euphrates. 1:8 Look! I have already given the land to you. 35 Go, occupy the territory that I, 36 the Lord, promised 37 to give to your ancestors 38 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their descendants.” 39 1:9 I also said to you at that time, “I am no longer able to sustain you by myself. 1:10 The Lord your God has increased your population 40 to the point that you are now as numerous as the very stars of the sky. 41 1:11 Indeed, may the Lord, the God of your ancestors, make you a thousand times more numerous than you are now, blessing you 42 just as he said he would! 1:12 But how can I alone bear up under the burden of your hardship and strife? 1:13 Select wise and practical 43 men, those known among your tribes, whom I may appoint as your leaders.” 1:14 You replied to me that what I had said to you was good. 1:15 So I chose 44 as your tribal leaders wise and well-known men, placing them over you as administrators of groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and also as other tribal officials. 1:16 I furthermore admonished your judges at that time that they 45 should pay attention to issues among your fellow citizens 46 and judge fairly, 47 whether between one citizen and another 48 or a citizen and a resident foreigner. 49 1:17 They 50 must not discriminate in judgment, but hear the lowly 51 and the great alike. Nor should they be intimidated by human beings, for judgment belongs to God. If the matter being adjudicated is too difficult for them, they should bring it before me for a hearing.
Instructions at Kadesh Barnea
1:18 So I instructed you at that time regarding everything you should do. 1:19 Then we left Horeb and passed through all that immense, forbidding wilderness that you saw on the way to the Amorite hill country as the Lord our God had commanded us to do, finally arriving at Kadesh Barnea. 1:20 Then I said to you, “You have come to the Amorite hill country which the Lord our God is about to give 52 us. 1:21 Look, he 53 has placed the land in front of you! 54 Go up, take possession of it, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, said to do. Do not be afraid or discouraged!” 1:22 So all of you approached me and said, “Let’s send some men ahead of us to scout out the land and bring us back word as to how we should attack it and what the cities are like there.” 1:23 I thought this was a good idea, 55 so I sent 56 twelve men from among you, one from each tribe. 1:24 They left and went up to the hill country, coming to the Eshcol Valley, 57 which they scouted out. 1:25 Then they took 58 some of the produce of the land and carried it back down to us. They also brought a report to us, saying, “The land that the Lord our God is about to give us is good.”
Disobedience at Kadesh Barnea
1:26 You were not willing to go up, however, but instead rebelled against the Lord your God. 59 1:27 You complained among yourselves privately 60 and said, “Because the Lord hates us he brought us from Egypt to deliver us over to the Amorites so they could destroy us! 1:28 What is going to happen to us? Our brothers have drained away our courage 61 by describing people who are more numerous 62 and taller than we are, and great cities whose defenses appear to be as high as heaven 63 itself! Moreover, they said they saw 64 Anakites 65 there.” 1:29 So I responded to you, “Do not be terrified 66 of them! 1:30 The Lord your God is about to go 67 ahead of you; he will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt 68 1:31 and in the desert, where you saw him 69 carrying you along like a man carries his son. This he did everywhere you went until you came to this very place.” 1:32 However, through all this you did not have confidence in the Lord your God, 1:33 the one who was constantly going before you to find places for you to set up camp. He appeared by fire at night and cloud by day, to show you the way you ought to go.
Judgment at Kadesh Barnea
1:34 When the Lord heard you, he became angry and made this vow: 70 1:35 “Not a single person 71 of this evil generation will see the good land that I promised to give to your ancestors! 1:36 The exception is Caleb son of Jephunneh; 72 he will see it and I will give him and his descendants the territory on which he has walked, because he has wholeheartedly followed me.” 73 1:37 As for me, the Lord was also angry with me on your account. He said, “You also will not be able to go there. 1:38 However, Joshua son of Nun, your assistant, 74 will go. Encourage him, because he will enable Israel to inherit the land. 75 1:39 Also, your infants, who you thought would die on the way, 76 and your children, who as yet do not know good from bad, 77 will go there; I will give them the land and they will possess it. 1:40 But as for you, 78 turn back and head for the desert by the way to the Red Sea.” 79
Unsuccessful Conquest of Canaan
1:41 Then you responded to me and admitted, “We have sinned against the Lord. We will now go up and fight as the Lord our God has told us to do.” So you each put on your battle gear and prepared to go up to the hill country. 1:42 But the Lord told me: “Tell them this: ‘Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you and you will be defeated by your enemies.’” 1:43 I spoke to you, but you did not listen. Instead you rebelled against the Lord 80 and recklessly went up to the hill country. 1:44 The Amorite inhabitants of that area 81 confronted 82 you and chased you like a swarm of bees, striking you down from Seir as far as Hormah. 83 1:45 Then you came back and wept before the Lord, but he 84 paid no attention to you whatsoever. 85 1:46 Therefore, you remained at Kadesh for a long time – indeed, for the full time. 86
The Journey from Kadesh Barnea to Moab
2:1 Then we turned and set out toward the desert land on the way to the Red Sea 87 just as the Lord told me to do, detouring around Mount Seir for a long time. 2:2 At this point the Lord said to me, 2:3 “You have circled around this mountain long enough; now turn north. 2:4 Instruct 88 these people as follows: ‘You are about to cross the border of your relatives 89 the descendants of Esau, 90 who inhabit Seir. They will be afraid of you, so watch yourselves carefully. 2:5 Do not be hostile toward them, because I am not giving you any of their land, not even a footprint, for I have given Mount Seir 91 as an inheritance for Esau. 2:6 You may purchase 92 food to eat and water to drink from them. 2:7 All along the way I, the Lord your God, 93 have blessed your every effort. 94 I have 95 been attentive to 96 your travels through this great wasteland. These forty years I have 97 been with you; you have lacked for nothing.’”
2:8 So we turned away from our relatives 98 the descendants of Esau, the inhabitants of Seir, turning from the desert route, 99 from Elat 100 and Ezion Geber, 101 and traveling the way of the Moab wastelands. 2:9 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not harass Moab and provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land as your territory. This is because I have given Ar 102 to the descendants of Lot 103 as their possession. 2:10 (The Emites 104 used to live there, a people as powerful, numerous, and tall as the Anakites. 2:11 These people, as well as the Anakites, are also considered Rephaites; 105 the Moabites call them Emites. 2:12 Previously the Horites 106 lived in Seir but the descendants of Esau dispossessed and destroyed them and settled in their place, just as Israel did to the land it came to possess, the land the Lord gave them.) 107 2:13 Now, get up and cross the Wadi Zered.” 108 So we did so. 109 2:14 Now the length of time it took for us to go from Kadesh Barnea to the crossing of Wadi Zered was thirty-eight years, time for all the military men of that generation to die, just as the Lord had vowed to them. 2:15 Indeed, it was the very hand of the Lord that eliminated them from within 110 the camp until they were all gone.
Instructions Concerning Ammon
2:16 So it was that after all the military men had been eliminated from the community, 111 2:17 the Lord said to me, 2:18 “Today you are going to cross the border of Moab, that is, of Ar. 112 2:19 But when you come close to the Ammonites, do not harass or provoke them because I am not giving you any of the Ammonites’ land as your possession; I have already given it to Lot’s descendants 113 as their possession.
2:20 (That also is considered to be a land of the Rephaites. 114 The Rephaites lived there originally; the Ammonites call them Zamzummites. 115 2:21 They are a people as powerful, numerous, and tall as the Anakites. But the Lord destroyed the Rephaites 116 in advance of the Ammonites, 117 so they dispossessed them and settled down in their place. 2:22 This is exactly what he did for the descendants of Esau who lived in Seir when he destroyed the Horites before them so that they could dispossess them and settle in their area to this very day. 2:23 As for the Avvites 118 who lived in settlements as far west as Gaza, Caphtorites 119 who came from Crete 120 destroyed them and settled down in their place.)
2:24 Get up, make your way across Wadi Arnon. Look! I have already delivered over to you Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, 121 and his land. Go ahead! Take it! Engage him in war! 2:25 This very day I will begin to fill all the people of the earth 122 with dread and to terrify them when they hear about you. They will shiver and shake in anticipation of your approach.” 123
Defeat of Sihon, King of Heshbon
2:26 Then I sent messengers from the Kedemoth 124 Desert to King Sihon of Heshbon with an offer of peace: 2:27 “Let me pass through your land; I will keep strictly to the roadway. 125 I will not turn aside to the right or the left. 2:28 Sell me food for cash 126 so that I can eat and sell me water to drink. 127 Just allow me to go through on foot, 2:29 just as the descendants of Esau who live at Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did for me, until I cross the Jordan to the land the Lord our God is giving us.” 2:30 But King Sihon of Heshbon was unwilling to allow us to pass near him because the Lord our 128 God had made him obstinate 129 and stubborn 130 so that he might deliver him over to you 131 this very day. 2:31 The Lord said to me, “Look! I have already begun to give over Sihon and his land to you. Start right now to take his land as your possession.” 2:32 When Sihon and all his troops 132 emerged to encounter us in battle at Jahaz, 133 2:33 the Lord our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, along with his sons 134 and everyone else. 135 2:34 At that time we seized all his cities and put every one of them 136 under divine judgment, 137 including even the women and children; we left no survivors. 2:35 We kept only the livestock and plunder from the cities for ourselves. 2:36 From Aroer, 138 which is at the edge of Wadi Arnon (it is the city in the wadi), 139 all the way to Gilead there was not a town able to resist us – the Lord our God gave them all to us. 2:37 However, you did not approach the land of the Ammonites, the Wadi Jabbok, 140 the cities of the hill country, or any place else forbidden by the Lord our God.
Defeat of King Og of Bashan
3:1 Next we set out on 141 the route to Bashan, 142 but King Og of Bashan and his whole army 143 came out to meet us in battle at Edrei. 144 3:2 The Lord, however, said to me, “Don’t be afraid of him because I have already given him, his whole army, 145 and his land to you. You will do to him exactly what you did to King Sihon of the Amorites who lived in Heshbon.” 3:3 So the Lord our God did indeed give over to us King Og of Bashan and his whole army and we struck them down until not a single survivor was left. 146 3:4 We captured all his cities at that time – there was not a town we did not take from them – sixty cities, all the region of Argob, 147 the dominion of Og in Bashan. 3:5 All of these cities were fortified by high walls, gates, and locking bars; 148 in addition there were a great many open villages. 149 3:6 We put all of these under divine judgment 150 just as we had done to King Sihon of Heshbon – every occupied city, 151 including women and children. 3:7 But all the livestock and plunder from the cities we kept for ourselves. 3:8 So at that time we took the land of the two Amorite kings in the Transjordan from Wadi Arnon to Mount Hermon 152 3:9 (the Sidonians 153 call Hermon Sirion 154 and the Amorites call it Senir), 155 3:10 all the cities of the plateau, all of Gilead and Bashan as far as Salecah 156 and Edrei, 157 cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 3:11 Only King Og of Bashan was left of the remaining Rephaites. (It is noteworthy 158 that his sarcophagus 159 was made of iron. 160 Does it not, indeed, still remain in Rabbath 161 of the Ammonites? It is thirteen and a half feet 162 long and six feet 163 wide according to standard measure.) 164
Distribution of the Transjordanian Allotments
3:12 This is the land we brought under our control at that time: The territory extending from Aroer 165 by the Wadi Arnon and half the Gilead hill country with its cities I gave to the Reubenites and Gadites. 166 3:13 The rest of Gilead and all of Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to half the tribe of Manasseh. 167 (All the region of Argob, 168 that is, all Bashan, is called the land of Rephaim. 3:14 Jair, son of Manasseh, took all the Argob region as far as the border with the Geshurites 169 and Maacathites 170 (namely Bashan) and called it by his name, Havvoth-Jair, 171 which it retains to this very day.) 3:15 I gave Gilead to Machir. 172 3:16 To the Reubenites and Gadites I allocated the territory extending from Gilead as far as Wadi Arnon (the exact middle of the wadi was a boundary) all the way to the Wadi Jabbok, the Ammonite border. 3:17 The Arabah and the Jordan River 173 were also a border, from the sea of Chinnereth 174 to the sea of the Arabah (that is, the Salt Sea), 175 beneath the watershed 176 of Pisgah 177 to the east.
Instructions to the Transjordanian Tribes
3:18 At that time I instructed you as follows: “The Lord your God has given you this land for your possession. You warriors are to cross over before your fellow Israelites 178 equipped for battle. 3:19 But your wives, children, and livestock (of which I know you have many) may remain in the cities I have given you. 3:20 You must fight 179 until the Lord gives your countrymen victory 180 as he did you and they take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them on the other side of the Jordan River. Then each of you may return to his own territory that I have given you.” 3:21 I also commanded Joshua at the same time, “You have seen everything the Lord your God did to these two kings; he 181 will do the same to all the kingdoms where you are going. 182 3:22 Do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God will personally fight for you.”
Denial to Moses of the Promised Land
3:23 Moreover, at that time I pleaded with the Lord, 3:24 “O, Lord God, 183 you have begun to show me 184 your greatness and strength. 185 (What god in heaven or earth can rival your works and mighty deeds?) 3:25 Let me please cross over to see the good land on the other side of the Jordan River – this good hill country and the Lebanon!” 186 3:26 But the Lord was angry at me because of you and would not listen to me. Instead, he 187 said to me, “Enough of that! 188 Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 3:27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and take a good look to the west, north, south, and east, 189 for you will not be allowed to cross the Jordan. 3:28 Commission 190 Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, because he will lead these people over and will enable them to inherit the land you will see.” 3:29 So we settled down in the valley opposite Beth Peor. 191
The Privileges of the Covenant
4:1 Now, Israel, pay attention to the statutes and ordinances 192 I am about to teach you, so that you might live and go on to enter and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, 193 is giving you. 4:2 Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I am delivering to 194 you. 4:3 You have witnessed what the Lord did at Baal Peor, 195 how he 196 eradicated from your midst everyone who followed Baal Peor. 197 4:4 But you who remained faithful to the Lord your God are still alive to this very day, every one of you. 4:5 Look! I have taught you statutes and ordinances just as the Lord my God told me to do, so that you might carry them out in 198 the land you are about to enter and possess. 4:6 So be sure to do them, because this will testify of your wise understanding 199 to the people who will learn of all these statutes and say, “Indeed, this great nation is a very wise 200 people.” 4:7 In fact, what other great nation has a god so near to them like the Lord our God whenever we call on him? 4:8 And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just 201 as this whole law 202 that I am about to share with 203 you today?
Reminder of the Horeb Covenant
4:9 Again, however, pay very careful attention, 204 lest you forget the things you have seen and disregard them for the rest of your life; instead teach them to your children and grandchildren. 4:10 You 205 stood before the Lord your God at Horeb and he 206 said to me, “Assemble the people before me so that I can tell them my commands. 207 Then they will learn to revere me all the days they live in the land, and they will instruct their children.” 4:11 You approached and stood at the foot of the mountain, a mountain ablaze to the sky above it 208 and yet dark with a thick cloud. 209 4:12 Then the Lord spoke to you from the middle of the fire; you heard speech but you could not see anything – only a voice was heard. 210 4:13 And he revealed to you the covenant 211 he has commanded you to keep, the ten commandments, 212 writing them on two stone tablets. 4:14 Moreover, at that same time the Lord commanded me to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to keep in the land which you are about to enter and possess. 213
The Nature of Israel’s God
4:15 Be very careful, 214 then, because you saw no form at the time the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the middle of the fire. 4:16 I say this 215 so you will not corrupt yourselves by making an image in the form of any kind of figure. This includes the likeness of a human male or female, 4:17 any kind of land animal, any bird that flies in the sky, 4:18 anything that crawls 216 on the ground, or any fish in the deep waters of the earth. 217 4:19 When you look up 218 to the sky 219 and see the sun, moon, and stars – the whole heavenly creation 220 – you must not be seduced to worship and serve them, 221 for the Lord your God has assigned 222 them to all the people 223 of the world. 224 4:20 You, however, the Lord has selected and brought from Egypt, that iron-smelting furnace, 225 to be his special people 226 as you are today. 4:21 But the Lord became angry with me because of you and vowed that I would never cross the Jordan nor enter the good land that he 227 is about to give you. 228 4:22 So I must die here in this land; I will not cross the Jordan. But you are going over and will possess that 229 good land. 4:23 Be on guard so that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he has made with you, and that you do not make an image of any kind, just as he 230 has forbidden 231 you. 4:24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire; he is a jealous God. 232
Threat and Blessing following Covenant Disobedience
4:25 After you have produced children and grandchildren and have been in the land a long time, 233 if you become corrupt and make an image of any kind 234 and do other evil things before the Lord your God that enrage him, 235 4:26 I invoke heaven and earth as witnesses against you 236 today that you will surely and swiftly be removed 237 from the very land you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. You will not last long there because you will surely be 238 annihilated. 4:27 Then the Lord will scatter you among the peoples and there will be very few of you 239 among the nations where the Lord will drive you. 4:28 There you will worship gods made by human hands – wood and stone that can neither see, hear, eat, nor smell. 4:29 But if you seek the Lord your God from there, you will find him, if, indeed, you seek him with all your heart and soul. 240 4:30 In your distress when all these things happen to you in the latter days, 241 if you return to the Lord your God and obey him 242 4:31 (for he 243 is a merciful God), he will not let you down 244 or destroy you, for he cannot 245 forget the covenant with your ancestors that he confirmed by oath to them.
The Uniqueness of Israel’s God
4:32 Indeed, ask about the distant past, starting from the day God created humankind 246 on the earth, and ask 247 from one end of heaven to the other, whether there has ever been such a great thing as this, or even a rumor of it. 4:33 Have a people ever heard the voice of God speaking from the middle of fire, as you yourselves have, and lived to tell about it? 4:34 Or has God 248 ever before tried to deliver 249 a nation from the middle of another nation, accompanied by judgments, 250 signs, wonders, war, strength, power, 251 and other very terrifying things like the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? 4:35 You have been taught that the Lord alone is God – there is no other besides him. 4:36 From heaven he spoke to you in order to teach you, and on earth he showed you his great fire from which you also heard his words. 252 4:37 Moreover, because he loved 253 your ancestors, he chose their 254 descendants who followed them and personally brought you out of Egypt with his great power 4:38 to dispossess nations greater and stronger than you and brought you here this day to give you their land as your property. 255 4:39 Today realize and carefully consider that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below – there is no other! 4:40 Keep his statutes and commandments that I am setting forth 256 today so that it may go well with you and your descendants and that you may enjoy longevity in the land that the Lord your God is about to give you as a permanent possession.
The Narrative Concerning Cities of Refuge
4:41 Then Moses selected three cities in the Transjordan, toward the east. 4:42 Anyone who accidentally killed someone 257 without hating him at the time of the accident 258 could flee to one of those cities and be safe. 4:43 These cities are Bezer, in the desert plateau, for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan for the Manassehites.
The Setting and Introduction of the Covenant
4:44 This is the law that Moses set before the Israelites. 259 4:45 These are the stipulations, statutes, and ordinances that Moses spoke to the Israelites after he had brought them out of Egypt, 4:46 in the Transjordan, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, in the land of King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon. (It is he whom Moses and the Israelites attacked after they came out of Egypt. 4:47 They possessed his land and that of King Og of Bashan – both of whom were Amorite kings in the Transjordan, to the east. 4:48 Their territory extended 260 from Aroer at the edge of the Arnon valley as far as Mount Siyon 261 – that is, Hermon – 4:49 including all the Arabah of the Transjordan in the east to the sea of the Arabah, 262 beneath the watershed 263 of Pisgah.)