Deuteronomy 3:23
And I sought the LORD at that time, saying,
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(23) Here begins the second section according to the Jewish division, called “And I besought” (vaeth channân).

(23-28) And I besought the Lord at that time.—Two things Moses is recorded to have asked for himself in the story of the exodus. The first is written in Exodus 33:18, “I beseech thee shew me thy glory;” the second is before us here. “O Lord GOD (Adonai Jehovah), thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness and thy mighty hand . . . I pray thee let me go over and see the good land beyond Jordan.” It would seem that Moses desired not so much to view the land (which, indeed, was granted him), but to see the greatness of Jehovah manifested in the conquest, as he had seen it in the victories over Og and Sihon. While we cannot allow for a moment that “the old fathers looked only for transitory promises” (see Notes on Deuteronomy 5:16; Deuteronomy 22:7), yet it is impossible not to feel in this prayer of Moses the pressure of the veil which hung over the unseen world before the coming of our Saviour, who “brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” Moses evidently did not realise that he might see the works of Jehovah and His glory still more clearly in the other world.

Deuteronomy 3:23-24. I besought the Lord — We should allow no desire in our hearts, which we cannot in faith offer unto God by prayer. Thou hast begun to show thy servant thy greatness — Lord, perfect what thou hast begun. The more we see of God’s glory in his works, the more we desire to see. And the more affected we are with what we have seen of God, the better we are prepared for further discoveries.3:21-29 Moses encouraged Joshua, who was to succeed him. Thus the aged and experienced in the service of God, should do all they can to strengthen the hands of those who are young, and setting out in religion. Consider what God has done, what God has promised. If God be for us, who can be against us, so as to prevail? We reproach our Leader if we follow him trembling. Moses prayed, that, if it were God's will, he might go before Israel, over Jordan into Canaan. We should never allow any desires in our hearts, which we cannot in faith offer up to God by prayer. God's answer to this prayer had a mixture of mercy and judgment. God sees it good to deny many things we desire. He may accept our prayers, yet not grant us the very things we pray for. It God does not by his providence give us what we desire, yet if by his grace he makes us content without, it comes to much the same. Let it suffice thee to have God for thy Father, and heaven for thy portion, though thou hast not every thing thou wouldst have in the world. God promised Moses a sight of Canaan from the top of Pisgah. Though he should not have the possession of it, he should have the prospect of it. Even great believers, in this present state, see heaven but at a distance. God provided him a successor. It is a comfort to the friends of the church of Christ, to see God's work likely to be carried on by others, when they are silent in the dust. And if we have the earnest and prospect of heaven, let these suffice us; let us submit to the Lord's will, and speak no more to Him of matters which he sees good to refuse us.The sense is that the Reubenites and Gadites were to possess the district from the Jabbok on the north to the Arnon on the south, including the middle part of the valley of the Arnon, and the territory ("coast" or "border") thereto pertaining. 16. from Gilead—that is, not the mountainous region, but the town Ramoth-gilead,

even unto the river Arnon half the valley—The word "valley" signifies a wady, either filled with water or dry, as the Arnon is in summer, and thus the proper rendering of the passage will be—"even to the half or middle of the river Arnon" (compare Jos 12:2). This prudent arrangement of the boundaries was evidently made to prevent all disputes between the adjacent tribes about the exclusive right to the water.

No text from Poole on this verse. And I besought the Lord at that time,.... When he was told he should die, and Joshua should succeed him; or when the two kings were slain, and their kingdoms conquered; this being the beginning, pledge, and earnest of what God had promised to do for the people of Israel; Moses was very desirous of living to see the work completed, and therefore sought the Lord by prayer and supplication:

saying; as follows.

And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,
23. And I besought the Lord] In the Pent. the Heb. verb is used with the Deity only here; but to beseech man in E, Genesis 42:21.

23–29. Moses’ Prayer and its Rejection

At that time Moses besought God to finish what He had begun and show him all His greatness (Deuteronomy 3:23 f.), by letting him cross Jordan and view the whole land (Deuteronomy 3:25). Wroth with him on Israel’s account God refused (Deuteronomy 3:26) and bade him ascend the Pisgah and thence view the land (Deuteronomy 3:27); also he must charge Joshua as his successor in leading Israel to their heritage (Deuteronomy 3:28). They abode in the ravine opposite Beth-Pe‘or (Deuteronomy 3:29).—To this prayer there is no parallel in JE; for the JE account of the ascent of the Pisgah see Deuteronomy 34:1 b ff. Nor does P record the prayer; it ascribes the exclusion of Moses to his own sin at Ḳadesh, and differently names the Mt he ascended; with Deuteronomy 3:27 f. cp. Deuteronomy 32:48-52, Numbers 20:12; Numbers 27:12-21. See further the notes immediately after this, that on Deuteronomy 1:37, and those on Deuteronomy 32:48 ff.Verses 23-29. - Prayer of Moses. Moses knew that he was not to enter the Promised Land with the people; but, reluctant to relinquish the enterprise which he had so far conducted until he should see it successfully finished, he besought the Lord that at least he might be permitted to cross the Jordan, and see the goodly land. This prayer was presented probably just before Moses asked God to set a man over the congregation to be their leader to the promised land (Numbers 27:15-17); for the command to give a charge to Joshua, in that office, follows immediately, as part of God's answer to Moses' request (ver. 28), and the expression "at that time" (ver. 23) points back to the charge of Moses to Joshua, as contemporaneous with the offering of his prayer. In this prayer Moses appeals to what he had already experienced of God's favor to him, in that he had begun to show him his greatness and his mighty power. The reference is to the victories already achieved over the Amorites; these were tokens of the Divine power graciously manifested to Israel, and Moses appeals to them as strengthening his plea for further favors (comp. the pleading, Exodus 33:12, etc.). Machir received Gilead (see Numbers 32:40). - In Deuteronomy 3:16 and Deuteronomy 3:17 the possession of the tribes of Reuben and Gad is described more fully according to its boundaries. They received the land of Gilead (to the south of the Jabbok) as far as the brook Arnon, the middle of the valley and its territory. הנּחל תּוך is a more precise definition of ארנן נחל, expressive of the fact that the territory of these tribes was not to reach merely to the northern edge of the Arnon valley, but into the middle of it, viz., to the river Arnon, which flowed through the middle of the valley; and וּגבוּל (and the border) is an explanatory apposition to what goes before, as in Numbers 34:6, signifying, "viz., the border of the Arnon valley as far as the river." On the east, "even unto Jabbok the brook, the (western) border of the Ammonites" (i.e., as far as the upper Jabbok, the Nahr Ammn: see at Numbers 21:24); and on the west "The Arabah (the Ghor: see Deuteronomy 1:1) and the Jordan with territory" (i.e., with its eastern bank), "from Chinnereth" (i.e., the town from which the Sea of Galilee received the name of Sea of Chinnereth: Numbers 34:11; see at Joshua 19:35) "to the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea under the slopes of Pisgah (see at Numbers 21:15 and Numbers 27:12) eastward" (i.e., merely the eastern side of the Arabah and Jordan). - In Deuteronomy 3:18-20 Moses reminds them of the conditions upon which he had given the two tribes and a half the land referred to for their inheritance (cf. Numbers 32:20-32).
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