Deuteronomy 2:34
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:
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(34) And utterly destroyed.—i.e., devoted to destruction. They made them chêrem, like the spoil of Jericho. This could only be by Divine direction. The word implies nothing less. It will be seen, therefore, that the narrative asserts in this case an extermination of Sihon’s people by the express command of Jehovah.

Deuteronomy 2:34. Utterly destroyed — By God’s command, these being a part of those people who were devoted by the Lord of life and death to utter destruction for their abominable wickedness.2:24-37 God tried his people, by forbidding them to meddle with the rich countries of Moab and Ammon. He gives them possession of the country of the Amorites. If we keep from what God forbids, we shall not lose by our obedience. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; and he gives it to whom he pleases; but when there is no express direction, none can plead his grant for such proceedings. Though God assured the Israelites that the land should be their own, yet they must contend with the enemy. What God gives we must endeavour to get. What a new world did Israel now come into! Much more joyful will the change be, which holy souls will experience, when they remove out of the wilderness of this world to the better country, that is, the heavenly, to the city that has foundations. Let us, by reflecting upon God's dealings with his people Israel, be led to meditate upon our years spent in vanity, through our transgressions. But happy are those whom Jesus has delivered from the wrath to come. To whom he hath given the earnest of his Spirit in their hearts. Their inheritance cannot be affected by revolutions of kingdoms, or changes in earthly possessions.Utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city - Render, laid under ban (compare Leviticus 27:28 note) every inhabited city, both women and children: these last words being added by way of fuller explanation. 24-36. Rise ye up … and pass over the river Arnon—At its mouth, this stream is eighty-two feet wide and four deep. It flows in a channel banked by perpendicular cliffs of sandstone. At the date of the Israelitish migration to the east of the Jordan, the whole of the fine country lying between the Arnon and the Jabbok including the mountainous tract of Gilead, had been seized by the Amorites, who, being one of the nations doomed to destruction (see De 7:2; 20:16), were utterly exterminated. Their country fell by right of conquest into the hands of the Israelites. Moses, however, considering this doom as referring solely to the Amorite possessions west of Jordan, sent a pacific message to Sihon, requesting permission to go through his territories, which lay on the east of that river. It is always customary to send messengers before to prepare the way; but the rejection of Moses' request by Sihon and his opposition to the advance of the Israelites (Nu 21:23; Jud 11:26) drew down on himself and his Amorite subjects the predicted doom on the first pitched battlefield with the Canaanites. It secured to Israel not only the possession of a fine and pastoral country, but, what was of more importance to them, a free access to the Jordan on the east. By God’s command, these being a part of those people who were devoted by the Lord of life and death to utter destruction for their abominable wickedness. See Deu 7:2 20:16. And we took all his cities at that time,.... As Heshbon, and others mentioned in Numbers 21:25,

and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones of every city, we left none to remain; for the Amorites were one of the seven nations who were devoted to destruction, the measure of whose iniquity was now full, and therefore vengeance was taken.

And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the {o} women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:

(o) God had cursed Canaan, and therefore he did not want any of the wicked race to be preserved.

34. And we look all his cities] E, Numbers 21:24 a, possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabboḳ; J, id. 25: Israel took all these cities and dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, Ḥeshbon and her towns. Anciently this part of the Plateau was thickly populated. From almost every elevation several groups of ruins are visible, mostly Byzantine, but how much older each site may be cannot yet be said. The land is very good for corn.

utterly destroyed every inhabited city, with the women and the little ones] Devotedput to the ḥerem or banevery city-full of males, with, etc. The first mention in Deut. of a custom practised also by other Semites. Mesha (Moabite Stone, 14–17) records that having taken Nebo from Israel he slew the whole population for he ‘had devoted it to Ashtar-Chemosh’; the same verb as in Heb. To Israel as to other peoples a war was from first to last a religious process (see on Deuteronomy 20:1 ff.) and the ḥerem was the climax of a series of solemn rites. It consisted of the devotion to the deity, by destruction, of the captives and spoil. The name is from the root ḥrm, ‘to set apart’ or ‘shut off’ (cp. Ar. ḥaram ‘sacred precincts’ and ḥarîm) and was not confined to war. By the earliest code every idolatrous Israelite was put to the ḥerem, E, Exodus 22:20 [19]; cp. Deuteronomy 13:6-11 of idolaters, and Deuteronomy 13:12-18 [13–19] of an idolatrous city; P, Leviticus 27:28 f. In war the full process was the slaughter of the conquered population and their cattle, the burning of combustible spoil, and the oblation of the rest to the sanctuary. So in the story of the fall of Jericho and Achan’s trespass, Joshua 6 f. (especially Deuteronomy 6:17-19; Deuteronomy 6:21; Deuteronomy 6:24, Deuteronomy 7:1; Deuteronomy 7:11 ff.), which however contains many editorial additions. But as we see from several narratives and laws, the actual practice varied from time to time under the competing influences of religious feeling, material considerations and humane impulses. The most illustrative passage is 1 Samuel 15. Samuel charges Saul to devote all ‘Amaleḳ and their cattle; Saul spares the king and the best of the cattle. Either his excuse, that he reserved them for sacrifice, is an afterthought; or from the first he had been unwilling that the best cattle should be rendered by the ḥerem unusable by the people in sacrificial feasts. Was the king moved by feelings of humanity? Samuel condemns his action as disobedience against Jehovah; so absolutely at that time was the ḥerem conceived by the religious leaders. The deuteronomic directions, all in the Sg. address, distinguish between Israel’s treatment of the seven Canaanite nations and of Israelite idolaters on the one side, and their treatment of other nations at a distance:—(a) Deuteronomy 7:2 : the seven nations are to be put to the ḥerem because of their idolatry and no league with them is allowed; Deuteronomy 2:25 f. their idols are to be burned with the silver and gold on them, for they are ḥerem and if used by Israel would make the people ḥerem or devoted to destruction. Similarly in Deuteronomy 13:15 f. every Israelite community falling to idolatry shall be devoted, and their city, cattle, and spoil burned to Jehovah thy God. But (b) Deuteronomy 20:10 ff directs that distant enemies if they submit shall be spared, though they must become tributary; while if they resist only the males shall be slain, the women, children, cattle and spoil being treated as booty. And in Deuteronomy 20:16-17 it is repeated that the nations of Palestine shall be devoted. Religious feeling, the desire that Israel shall not be infected by the idolatry from which they ran most risk of infection, is obviously the paramount motive of these laws. But it is remarkable that the only instances of the ḥerem recorded in Deut., those against Sîḥôn and ‘Ôg, fully agree neither with the treatment enjoined by the deuteronomic laws against the seven nations, nor with that enjoined against distant enemies, but combine features of both. The captive men, women, and children were slain, but the cattle and spoil reserved for booty, Deuteronomy 2:34 f., Deuteronomy 3:6 f. So too in Jos. (outside the story of Achan):—Joshua 8:2; Joshua 8:27 spoil and cattle reserved, Joshua 10:28 ff., only the people devoted; Joshua 11:9 horses houghed, chariots burned; Joshua 11:11-15, people devoted, cattle and spoil reserved. Except Joshua 11:9 these passages appear to be editorial.—In connection with this subject note that Amos (Amos 1:6; Amos 1:9) condemns as inhuman the selling into captivity of a whole population, just as to-day it is contrary to the Arab conscience to extinguish a ḳabîla or tribe in war (Doughty, Ar. Des. i. 335). Yet, just as by Samuel in the case of Saul, and in Deut., this natural conscience has often been overborne by the rigorous religious demands of Islam. The parallel is instructive; cp. Deuteronomy 20:10-18.—See on the use of the term in a criminal case, Exodus 22:20, with Driver’s note.If Moses, notwithstanding this, sent messengers to king Sihon with words of peace (Deuteronomy 2:26.; cf. Numbers 21:21.), this was done to show the king of the Amorites, that it was through his own fault that his kingdom and lands and life were lost. The wish to pass through his land in a peaceable manner was quite seriously expressed; although Moses foresaw, in consequence of the divine communication, that he would reject his proposal, and meet Israel with hostilities. For Sihon's kingdom did not form part of the land of Canaan, which God had promised to the patriarchs for their descendants; and the divine foreknowledge of the hardness of Sihon no more destroyed the freedom of his will to resolve, or the freedom of his actions, than the circumstance that in Deuteronomy 2:30 the unwillingness of Sihon is described as the effect of his being hardened by God Himself. The hardening was quite as much the production of human freedom and guilt, as the consequence of the divine decree; just as in the case of Pharaoh. On Kedemoth, see Numbers 21:13. בּדּרך בּדּרך, equivalent to "upon the way, and always upon the way," i.e., upon the high road alone, as in Numbers 20:19. On the behaviour of the Edomites towards Israel, mentioned in Deuteronomy 2:29, see Numbers 21:10. In the same way the Moabites also supplied Israel with provisions for money. This statement is not at variance with the unbrotherly conduct for which the Moabites are blamed in Deuteronomy 23:4, viz., that they did not meet the Israelites with bread and water. For קדּם, to meet and anticipate, signifies a hospitable reception, and the offering of food and drink without reward, which is essentially different from selling for money. "In Ar" (Deuteronomy 2:29), as in Deuteronomy 2:18. The suffix in בּו (Deuteronomy 2:30) refers to the king, who is mentioned as the lord of the land, in the place of the land itself, just as in Numbers 20:18.
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