Deuteronomy 2:4
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:
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(4) Ye are to pass through the coast.—Literally, Ye are passing through the border. This was apparently said before the permission was asked, and in view of the request made for it (Numbers 20:17). But Edom refused to let Israel pass through his coast or border (Numbers 20:21).

They shall be afraid of you.—According to the prophecy in the song of Moses (Exodus 15:15), “Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed.”

2:1-7 Only a short account of the long stay of Israel in the wilderness is given. God not only chastised them for their murmuring and unbelief, but prepared them for Canaan; by humbling them for sin, teaching them to mortify their lusts, to follow God, and to comfort themselves in him. Though Israel may be long kept waiting for deliverance and enlargement, it will come at last. Before God brought Israel to destroy their enemies in Canaan, he taught them to forgive their enemies in Edom. They must not, under pretence of God's covenant and conduct, think to seize all they could lay hands on. Dominion is not founded in grace. God's Israel shall be well placed, but must not expect to be placed alone in the midst of the earth. Religion must never be made a cloak for injustice. Scorn to be beholden to Edomites, when thou hast an all-sufficient God to depend upon. Use what thou hast, use it cheerfully. Thou hast experienced the care of the Divine providence, never use any crooked methods for thy supply. All this is equally to be applied to the experience of the believer.Compare the marginal reference. Though the Edomites resisted the passage through the midst of their land, they did not, and probably could not, oppose the "passing through the coast" or along their eastern frontier. 4. the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir … shall be afraid of you—The same people who had haughtily repelled the approach of the Israelites from the western frontier were alarmed now that they had come round upon the weak side of their country. Through the coast, or, by or near the coast or border; for they did not pass through their borders, as it is said, Numbers 20:21. And the particle beth doth oft signify by or near, as Genesis 37:13 Joshua 5:13 Judges 8:5 Jeremiah 32:7. Thus that difference may be reconciled, which others reconcile thus, that they at first denied it, but afterwards granted it.

Which dwell in Seir: these words restrain the prohibition to these particular children of Esau, for there were another sort or branch of Esau’s children, which were to be meddled with and destroyed, even the Amalekites, Exodus 17:14 Deu 25:17, who were Esau’s posterity, Genesis 36:12.

They shall be afraid of you; but I charge you take no advantage of their fears, which you will be very apt to do.

And command thou the people,.... Give them a strict charge:

saying, ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children or Esau: not through the midst of their country, for that the king of Edom would not admit of, but by or on the border of it:

and they shall be afraid of you; lest such a numerous body of people as Israel were should seize upon their country, and dispossess them of it, they having been so long, wanderers in a wilderness near them:

take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore; that they did not take any advantage of their fears, and fall upon them, and do them mischief, or that they did not provoke them to battle and overcome them.

And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the {c} 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:

(c) This was the second time, before they had caused the Israelites to return, Nu 20:21.

4. Ye are to pass] The Heb. participle expressing, as often, the immediate future.

through the border] Rather through the territory. The preposition is the same as that used in Israel’s request in JE, Numbers 21:17, let us pass through thy land and in Edom’s reply, thou shall not pass through me. Had the meaning been on or along the border, another preposition would have been used. The territory of Edom appears to have reached the sea (1 Kings 9:26), and Israel must needs cross it on the way to Moab.

your brethren, the sons of Esau] Deuteronomy 23:7; Amos 1:11; Obadiah 1:10; Obadiah 1:12; Malachi 1:2.

which dwell in Seir] Se‘îr is here equivalent to Mt Se‘îr as the next verse shows; yet the range, running S., droops and gives way before the W. el ’Ithm is reached, up which we have supposed that Israel marched.

and they shall be afraid of you] Heb. so that they shall be afraid of you. This is the temper imputed to Edom by JE when Israel asked leave to cross their land from Ḳadesh, Numbers 10:18-20.

take ye good hed unto yourselves] Another favourite expression of the deuteronomic writers.

Verse 4. - It would appear that the Edomites made preparations to resist the passage of the Israelites through their territory (Numbers 20:18-20). As the Israelites, however, kept on the outskirts of their country, and did not attempt to penetrate into the interior, the Edomites did not attack them or seek to hinder their progress. The Israelites, on the other hand, were strictly forbidden to invade that country in a hostile manner; they were to watch over themselves, so as not to be tempted to make war on the Edomites, who were their brethren; as God would not give them any part, not so much as a foot-breadth, of that laud, for he had given Esau (i.e. the race descended from Esau, the Edomites - LXX, τοῖς υἱοῖς Ησαῦ) Mount Seir for a possession. They shall be afraid of you (see Exodus 15:15). Deuteronomy 2:4When they had gone through the Arabah to the southern extremity, the Lord commanded them to turn northwards, i.e., to go round the southern end of Mount Seir, and proceed northwards on the eastern side of it (see at Numbers 21:10), without going to war with the Edomites (התגּרה, to stir oneself up against a person to conflict, מלחמה), as He would not give them a foot-breadth of their land; for He had given Esau (the Edomites) Mount Seir for a possession. For this reason they were to buy victuals and water of them for money (כּרה, to dig, to dig water, i.e., procure water, as it was often necessary to dig wells, and not merely to draw it, Genesis 26:25. The verb כּרה does not signify to buy).
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