Deuteronomy 2: Two Thoughts & a Question

Deuteronomy 2 isn’t exactly the easiest chapter to read and “get something out of it.”

So I decided to take some of my own advice from yesterday and read it slowly and carefully with as much curiosity as I could muster.

And wouldn’t you know it, the results were very interesting.

Call & Response

One of the first things I did was make a list of everything that God does and then make a list of everything that Israel does in the chapter.

God is the initiator. Israel is the responder.

He says go. They go.

He says “make sure you don’t go to war with the descendants of Esau or Lot.” So they don’t go to war with the descendants of Esau or Lot.

He says “Go to war against the Amorites.” So they go to war with the Amorites.

This is in stark contrast to the first chapter. There, we had a couple of stories where the Israelites did their own thing or deliberately disobeyed God’s command. The results were less than spectacular.

This generation is shaping up to be different. They listen and respond. They, it would seem, learned the lesson their parents failed to learn.

Giving Him Over

I’m not sure if this is the first time the phrase “gave him over” occurs in the Bible, but at the very least, we get a picture of what it means.

Here are the phrases immediately following Moses telling the people that the LORD gave him (the King of the Amorites) over to them:

  • We struck him down
  • We captured his towns
  • We utterly destroyed men, women, and children.
  • We left not a single survivor
  • We kept livestock as spoil for ourselves

The Israelites learn God has given the Amorites over to them. The result is total destruction (except for the livestock). They must have an understanding that the phrase “given over” means complete annihilation.

I wonder what that means for the rest of the times that phrase shows up in Scripture.

A Question

Curiosity Alert!

God told Moses to not go to war with Esau or the Ammonites. Instead, they were to ask to go through their land and buy food and drink and then be on their way.

Not so with the Amorites. They are to do battle with them and take possession of the land.

So what does Moses do? He asks if they can come through and buy food and drink and be on their way.


Fortunately, God has hardened King Sihon’s heart and he won’t let them do it. So they go to war and destroy him.

So my question is,


I don’t understand. Someone help me!

6 responses

  1. This is the stuff of the Old Testament that I’m really unsure about, so I guess we’re in the same boat. Our OT professors just glaze over passages like “they destroyed this town and these people” like it’s perfectly normal, but I really just don’t get it.

  2. Could it be as simple as Moses just wanting to avoid a battle if at all possible? He’s obviously prepared to do as God commands, but his message to Sihon sounds like he’s giving him a chance to play nice. Sihon rejects that offer, and fighting breaks out.

    Then again, the conquest stories are difficult for us to process. They’re so alien to our sense of nationhood and warfare that it’s no wonder people avoid them – for me they’re the trickiest part of the Bible to understand (and that’s saying something!)

  3. Hi,

    JBen, Esau descendants, Ammonite and Moabite are land possessed by brothers of Jacob and Abraham.. God’s promised land does not include them, It is all about nations of Canaanites… You can refer it (Genesis 15: 19-21, Deutronomy 7:1).. Since God does not want to touch the Esau, Ammon and Moab people, He does not allow them to destroy those people. But Amorites and other nations already listed and prophesied by God very earlier. Hence God delivered them to Moses and co. ( I am very glad to see your blog and inspired, its really helps me.. I m also doing my bible studies in Deutronomy. I completed 15 chapters so far) Let c we can grow together

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