Deuteronomy 2:5
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 to Esau for a possession.
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(5) I have given mount Seir unto Esau—It is worthy of notice that the development of Ishmael preceded that of Isaac, and the inheritance of Esau was won earlier than that of Jacob. (Comp. Genesis 25:16 with Genesis 35:23-26, and Genesis 36:31 with Genesis 37:1.) Isaac and Israel were still strangers and sojourners, while the Ishmaelites were princes, with towns and castles, and the Edomites dukes and kings.

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.I have given mount Seir to Esau - Though the descendants of Esau were conquered by David 2 Samuel 8:14, yet they were not dispossessed of their land, and in the reign of Jehoshaphat they regained their independence 2 Kings 8:20-22. 5-7. Meddle not with them—that is, "which dwell in Seir" (De 2:4)—for there was another branch of Esau's posterity, namely, the Amalekites, who were to be fought against and destroyed (Ge 36:12; Ex 17:14; De 25:17). But the people of Edom were not to be injured, either in their persons or property. And although the approach of so vast a nomadic horde as the Israelites naturally created apprehension, they were to take no advantage of the prevailing terror to compel the Edomites to accept whatever terms they imposed. They were merely to pass "through" or along their border, and to buy meat and water of them for money (De 2:6). The people, kinder than their king, did sell them bread, meat, fruits, and water in their passage along their border (De 2:29), in the same manner as the Syrian caravan of Mecca is now supplied by the people of the same mountains, who meet the pilgrims as at a fair or market on the hadji route [Robinson]. Although the Israelites still enjoyed a daily supply of the manna, there was no prohibition against their eating other food when opportunity afforded. Only they were not to cherish an inordinate desire for it. Water is a scarce commodity and is often paid for by travellers in those parts. It was the more incumbent on the Israelites to do so, as, by the blessing of God, they possessed plenty of means to purchase, and the long-continued experience of the extraordinary goodness of God to them, should inspire such confidence in Him as would suppress the smallest thought of resorting to fraud or violence in supplying their wants. Meddle not with them, to wit, in battle at this time. Contend not with them in battle, nor provoke them to it:

for I will not give you of their land, no not so much as a foot breadth; or as the sole of a man's foot can tread on, signifying that they should not have the least part of it, not any at all. Jarchi makes mention of an exposition of theirs, that he would give them nothing of it until should come the day of the treading of the sole of the foot in the mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4, meaning not till the days of the Messiah, when Edom should be a possession of Israel; see Numbers 24:18, Obadiah 1:19.

because I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession; and therefore not to be taken away from them; they have a right of inheritance of it; see Genesis 36:8.

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.
5. contend not with them] In its causative form the Heb. verb means to stir up, e.g. strife, Proverbs 15:18, etc.; here the reflex. form is to excite oneself against another, to quarrel with them. In the Pent. found only in this chapter, Deuteronomy 2:9; Deuteronomy 2:19; Deuteronomy 2:24.

for the sole of the foot to tread on] Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 1:3.

I have given] Note the claim made by the God of Israel over other peoples (cp. Amos 1:3 to Amos 2:3, Amos 9:7), also the memory or tradition that on their entry to Canaan Israel had not violated the rights of their kinsfolk. There is no hostile feeling towards Edom, such as became irrepressible in Israel after the Exile.

for a possession] Heb. yerushshah, in the Hex. found only in this discourse, Deuteronomy 2:5; Deuteronomy 2:8; Deuteronomy 2:12; Deuteronomy 2:19 bis, Deuteronomy 3:20, and in the deuteronomic Joshua 1:15; Joshua 12:6-7.Verse 5. - Meddle not with them; literally, Excite not yourself against them, i.e. so as to strive in battle with them; comp. the use of the verb in Jeremiah 50:24, "hast striven" (Authorized Version); Daniel 11:25 (where מִלְחָמָה, war, is added), "shall be stirred up to battle" (Authorized Version). Accordingly, they were enjoined to buy from them for money food and water as they required. Two different words in the Hebrew are rendered here by "buy" in the Authorized Version; the former, שָׁבר, a denominative from שֶׁבֶר, grain, properly means to deal in grain, whether as buyer or seller, and so to buy food; the latter, שָׁרָה, means primarily to dig (a well, e.g., Genesis 26:25), and, as used here, probably conveys the idea that the Israelites were to pay for permission to dig wells in the country of the Edomites to supply themselves with water as they passed along; this, however, does not necessarily follow from the use of this word, for it has also the meaning to buy (comp. Hosea 3:2, and the corresponding Arabic verb, kara, which in certain conjugations has the meaning to borrow or hire). "Then ye returned and wept before Jehovah," i.e., before the sanctuary; "but Jehovah did not hearken to your voice." שׁוּב does not refer to the return to Kadesh, but to an inward turning, not indeed true conversion to repentance, but simply the giving up of their rash enterprise, which they had undertaken in opposition to the commandment of God-the return from a defiant attitude to unbelieving complaining on account of the misfortune that had come upon them. Such complaining God never hears. "And ye sat (remained) in Kadesh many days, that ye remained," i.e., not "as many days as ye had been there already before the return of the spies," or "as long as ye remained in all the other stations together, viz., the half of thirty-eight years" (as Seder Olam and many of the Rabbins interpret); but "just as long as ye did remain there," as we may see from a comparison of Deuteronomy 9:25. It seemed superfluous to mention more precisely the time they spent in Kadesh, because that was well known to the people, whom Moses was addressing. He therefore contented himself with fixing it by simply referring to its duration, which was known to them all. It is no doubt impossible for us to determine the time they remained in Kadesh, because the expression "many days" is imply a relative one, and may signify many years, just as well as many months or weeks. But it by no means warrants the assumption of Fires and others, that no absolute departure of the whole of the people from Kadesh ever took place. Such an assumption is at variance with Deuteronomy 2:1. The change of subjects, "ye sat," etc. (Deuteronomy 1:46), and "we turned and removed" (Deuteronomy 2:1), by no means proves that Moses only went away with that part of the congregation which attached itself to him, whilst the other portion, which was most thoroughly estranged from him, or rather from the Lord, remained there still. The change of subject is rather to be explained from the fact that Moses was passing from the consideration of the events in Kadesh, which he held up before the people as a warning, to a description of the further guidance of Israel. The reference to those events had led him involuntarily, from Deuteronomy 1:22 onwards, to distinguish between himself and the people, and to address his words to them for the purpose of bringing out their rebellion against God. And now that he had finished with this, he returned to the communicative mode of address with which he set out in Deuteronomy 1:6, but which he had suspended again until Deuteronomy 1:19.
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