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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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 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. Meddle not with them, to wit, in battle at this time.
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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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). 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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