Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days.
And the LORD spake unto me, saying,
Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.
Turn you northward - From Mount Seir, in order to get to Canaan. This was not the way they went before, viz., by Kadesh-barnea, but they were to proceed between Edom on the one hand, and Moab and Ammon on the other, so as to enter into Canaan through the land of the Amorites.
And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:
Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.
Meddle not with them - That is, the Edomites. See on Numbers 20:14-21 (note).
Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.
For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.
The Lord - hath blessed thee, etc. - God had given them much property, and therefore they had no need of plunder; they had gold and silver to buy the provender they needed, and therefore God would not permit them to take any thing by violence.
And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.
And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.
The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;
The Emims dwelt therein - Calmet supposes that these people were destroyed in the war made against them by Chedorlaomer and his allies, Genesis 14:5. Lot possessed their country after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. They are generally esteemed as giants; probably they were a hardy, fierce, and terrible people, who lived, like the wandering Arabs, on the plunder of others. This was sufficient to gain them the appellation of giants, or men of prodigious stature. See next verse, Deuteronomy 2:11 (note).
Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.
Which also were accounted giants - This is not a fortunate version. The word is not giants, but רפאים Rephaim, the name of a people. It appears that the Emim, the Anakim, and the Rephaim, were probably the same people, called by different names in the different countries where they dwelt; for they appear originally to have been a kind of wandering free-booters, who lived by plunder. (See on Deuteronomy 2:10 (note)). It must be granted, however, that there were several men of this race of extraordinary stature. And hence all gigantic men have been called Rephaim. (See on Genesis 6:4 (note), and Genesis 14:5 (note)). But we well know that fear and public report have often added whole cubits to men's height. It was under this influence that the spies acted, when they brought the disheartening report mentioned Numbers 13:33.
The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them.
The Horims also dwelt in Seir - The whole of this verse was probably added by Joshua or Ezra.
Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered.
And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them.
For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.
So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people,
That the LORD spake unto me, saying,
Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day:
And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.
(That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;
That also was accounted a land of giants - That was accounted the land or territory of the Rephaim.
Zamzummims - Supposed to be the same as the Zuzim, Genesis 14:5. Of these ancient people we know very little; they were probably inconsiderable tribes or clans, "pursuing and pursued, each other's prey," till at length a stronger totally destroyed or subdued them, and their name became either extinct or absorbed in that of their conquerors. From the 10th to the 12th, and from the 20th to the 23d verse inclusive (Deuteronomy 2:10-12, Deuteronomy 2:20-23), we have certain historical remarks introduced which do not seem to have been made by Moses, but rather by Joshua or Ezra. By the introduction of these verses the thread of the narrative suffers considerable interruption. Dr. Kennicott considers both these passages to be interpolations. That they could not have made a part of the speech of Moses originally, needs little proof.
A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead:
As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day:
And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)
Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.
This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.
And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,
Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.
Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet;
(As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the LORD our God giveth us.
As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir - See the note on Numbers 20:21.
But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land.
Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.
And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.
And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:
Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.
From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us:
From Aroer - by the brink of the river of Arnon - See on Numbers 21:13 (note), etc.
Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the LORD our God forbad us.
Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not - God gave them their commission; and those only were to be cut off, the cup of whose iniquity was full. Though the Moabites and Ammonites were thus spared, they requited good with evil, for they fought against the Israelites, and cast them out of their possessions, Judges 11:4, Judges 11:5; 2 Chronicles 20:1, etc., and committed the most shocking cruelties; see Amos 1:13. Hence God enacted a law, that none of these people should enter into the congregation of the Lord even to their tenth generation: see Deuteronomy 23:3-6.