Deuteronomy 1:19
And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which you saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) By the way of the mountain of the Amorites.—Rather, in the direction of the mount. They did not pass the Mount of the Amorites, but went through the “great and terrible wilderness” from Sinai to Kadesh-barnea. So Moses says in Deuteronomy 1:20, “Ye are come unto the mount of the Amorites.”

Deuteronomy 1:19. Great and terrible wilderness — Great, because it extended a great way; and terrible, because mostly desolate, or only inhabited by wild beasts. By the way of the mountain of the Amorites — All the way you went toward that mountain.1:19-46 Moses reminds the Israelites of their march from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, through that great and terrible wilderness. He shows how near they were to a happy settlement in Canaan. It will aggravate the eternal ruin of hypocrites, that they were not far from the kingdom of God. As if it were not enough that they were sure of their God before them, they would send men before them. Never any looked into the Holy Land, but they must own it to be a good land. And was there any cause to distrust this God? An unbelieving heart was at the bottom of all this. All disobedience to God's laws, and distrust of his power and goodness, flow from disbelief of his word, as all true obedience springs from faith. It is profitable for us to divide our past lives into distinct periods; to give thanks to God for the mercies we have received in each, to confess and seek the forgiveness of all the sins we can remember; and thus to renew our acceptance of God's salvation, and our surrender of ourselves to his service. Our own plans seldom avail to good purpose; while courage in the exercise of faith, and in the path of duty, enables the believer to follow the Lord fully, to disregard all that opposes, to triumph over all opposition, and to take firm hold upon the promised blessings.That great and terrible wilderness - Compare Deuteronomy 8:15. This language is such as people would employ after having passed with toil and suffering through the worst part of it, the southern half of the Arabah (see Numbers 21:4 note); and more especially when they had but recently rested from their marches in the plain of Shittim, the largest and richest oasis in the whole district on the Eastern bank near the mouth of the Jordan. 19-21. we went through all that great and terrible wilderness—of Paran, which included the desert and mountainous space lying between the wilderness of Shur westward, or towards Egypt and mount Seir, or the land of Edom eastwards; between the land of Canaan northwards, and the Red Sea southwards; and thus it appears to have comprehended really the wilderness of Sin and Sinai [Fisk]. It is called by the Arabs El Tih, "the wandering." It is a dreary waste of rock and of calcareous soil covered with black sharp flints; all travellers, from a feeling of its complete isolation from the world, describe it as a great and terrible wilderness. No text from Poole on this verse. And when we departed from Horeb,.... As the Lord commanded them to do, when they were obedient:

we went through all the great and terrible wilderness; the wilderness of Paran, called "great", it reaching from Mount Sinai to Kadeshbarnea, eleven days' journey, as Adrichomius (l) relates; and "terrible", being so hard and dry as not to be ploughed nor sown, and presented to the sight something terrible and horrible, even the very image of death; to which may be added the fiery serpents and scorpions it abounded with, Deuteronomy 8:15,

which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites; that is, in the way that led to the mountain:

as the Lord our God commanded us; to depart from Horeb, and take a tour through the wilderness towards the said mountain:

and we came to Kadeshbarnea; having stayed a month by the way at Kibrothhattaavah, where they lusted after flesh, and seven days at Hazeroth, where Miriam was shut out of the camp for leprosy during that time.

(l) Theatrum Terrae, p. 116.

And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. From Ḥoreb to Ḳadesh-Barnea‘

A very brief account, indicating only the beginning and the end of the march, with the character of the wilderness between, and the further goal, the Mt of the Amorite: but it is possible that Deuteronomy 1:1 b, 2 (q.v.) were originally an addition or note to this.—The account of this march in JE, Numbers 10:33 to Numbers 21:16, includes the start from the Mt of Jehovah, the formulas recited on the lifting and the resting of the Ark, the disaffection of the people on the lack of flesh, the institution of 70 elders, the grant of flesh and its fatality, the presumptuousness of Miriam and Aaron, the encampment in the wilderness of Paran. Three stages are named, Tab‘erah, Numbers 11:3, Ḳibroth Ḥaṭṭa’avah and Ḥaṣeroth, Numbers 11:35 : the first two also in Numbers 9:22. P dates the start from Sinai on the 20th of the 2nd month of the 2nd year, states that the guiding cloud settled in the wilderness of Paran, and adds the order of the host, Numbers 10:11-28.

Deuteronomy 1:19. And we journeyed] Rather broke up or set out, A.V. departed. Heb. nasa‘ was originally to pull up the tent-pegs, break camp, but came to cover the journey that ensued, to march by stages (Genesis 12:19; Genesis 35:21). That the earlier meaning is intended here is clear from the following verb.

that great and terrible wilderness] Deuteronomy 8:15. This was much the most desolate tract of the wilderness crossed by Israel. See Palmer on the Desert of el-Tih (Desert of the Exodus), 284–288, and Musil, Edom.

Kadesh-barnea] See above on Deuteronomy 1:2.Verses 19-23. - Here Moses passes from the judges to the people at large; from charging officials to judge righteously, to reminding the people that they also had received from him commandments which they had to obey. The "things" referred to are either the injunctions specified in Exodus 21, etc., or simply the instructions mentioned in the preceding verses. God had called the Israelites out of Egypt that they should go up at once to Canaan, and he had by Moses done all that was needed for this. But they had been rebellious, and had opposed God's commands, the consequence of which was that they had been made to experience various trials, especially to wander nearly forty years in the wilderness, so that of those who came out of Egypt only two were privileged to see the Promised Land. The words of Moses in this section supplement and complete the narrative in Numbers 13; but the words are those, not of a compiler, but of one who had been himself a witness of all he narrates. Verses 19-26. - That great and terrible wilderness: the desert forming the western side of the Stony Arabia. It bears now the name of Et-Tih, i.e. The Wandering, a name "doubtless derived from the wanderings of the Israelites, the tradition of which has been handed down through a period of three thousand years It is a pastoral country; unfitted as a whole for cultivation, because of its scanty soil and scarcity of water" (Dr. Porter, in Kitto's 'Biblical Cyclopedia,' vol. 3. p. 1075). In the northern part especially the country is rugged and bare, with vast tracts of sand, over which the scorching simoom often sweeps (see on ver. 1). This wilderness they had seen, had known, and had experience of, and their experience had been such that the district through which they had been doomed to wander appeared to them dreadful. Passing by the way of the Amorites, as they had been commanded (ver. 7), they came to Kadesh-barnea (see Numbers 12:16). Their discontent broke out oftener than once, before they reached this place (see Numbers 11, 12.); but Moses, in this recapitulation, passes over these earlier instances of their rebelliousness, and hastens to remind them of the rebellion at Kadesh (Numbers 13, 14.), because it was this which led to the nation being doomed to wander in the wilderness until the generation that came out of Egypt had died. It was through faith in God that Canaan was to be gained and occupied by Israel; but this faith they lacked, and so they came short of what God had summoned them t, attain (Psalm 78:22; Psalm 106:24; Hebrews 3:18, 19; comp. 2 Chronicles 20:20; Isaiah 7:9). Hence, when they had come to the very borders of the Promised Land, and the hills of Canaan were before their eyes, and Moses said to them, in the name of God, Go up, possess ("asyndeton emphaticum," Mi-chaelis), they hung back, and proposed that men should be sent out to survey the land and bring a report concerning it. This was approved of by Moses; but when the spies returned and gave their report, the people were discouraged, and refused to go up. They were thus rebellious against the commandment (literally, the mouth, the express will) of Jehovah their God; and not only so, but with signal ingratitude and impiety they murmured against him, and attributed their deliverance out of Egypt to God's hatred of them, that he might destroy them (see Numbers 13:1-33, to which the narrative here corresponds). לכם הבוּ, give here, provide for yourselves. The congregation was to nominate, according to its tribes, wise, intelligent, and well-known men, whom Moses would appoint as heads, i.e., as judges, over the nation. At their installation he gave them the requisite instructions (Deuteronomy 1:16): "Ye shall hear between your brethren," i.e., hear both parties as mediators, "and judge righteously, without respect of person." פּנים הכּיר, to look at the face, equivalent to פּנים נשׁא (Leviticus 19:15), i.e., to act partially (cf. Exodus 23:2-3). "The judgment is God's," i.e., appointed by God, and to be administered in the name of God, or in accordance with His justice; hence the expression "to bring before God" (Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:7, etc.). On the difficult cases which the judges were to bring before Moses, see at Exodus 18:26.
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