Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Turned. Instead of going forward across the Jordan, we directed our arms against Basan, in the north. See Numbers xxi. 33.
Country. Hebrew, "the line" with which lands were measured, chap. xxxii. 9. --- Argob may signify rich and fertile; "all that fertile region, the kingdom of Og." Vatable thinks that Basan, Argob, and Trachonitis, denote the same country. But Cellarius observes, that the last mentioned country was ill cultivated and very poor, the inhabitants living mostly in the caverns of rocks, whereas Argob or Basan was adorned with 60 cities.
Walls. Tacitus remarks, that "a great part of Judea is covered with villages, though towns may likewise be found in the country. (Hist. v. 8.) See 3 Kings iv. 13. Septuagint, "besides the towns of Pherezites, which were very numerous." (Calmet) --- The spies had not travelled in this county, when they gave an account of the walled towns being as high as heaven. But Moses here informs us, that the cities on the east side of the Jordan were not much inferior to those on the west, and the land was infested also with giants, ver. 13. (Haydock)
Utterly. Yet out of the ruins they soon raised other strong cities, Numbers xxxii. 26. All the walls were not probably demolished, (ver. 19,) but only a part, so that they might be repaired with no great labour or expense. The inhabitants were all destroyed, that they might not pervert the Hebrews by their bad example; and because God had pronounced the sentence of death upon them, in punishment of their crimes. Hebrew seem to insinuate, that the cities were destroyed only by the death of the inhabitants. "We subjected them to anathema....utterly destroying the men," &c. (Haydock) --- We devoted to utter ruin the men, women, and children of the cities which we took. (Calmet)
Beyond. East of the promised land of Chanaan, which the sacred writers have generally in view. (Haydock) --- Hebrew heber, means, "alongside, opposite to, at the passage, at this side," &c. See chap. i. 1., and 3 Kings iv. 24. (Calmet) --- There is no need, therefore, to suppose that this and similar passages have been inserted by a later writer. (Haydock) --- Hermon, which profane authors commonly call Antilibanus, (Calmet) was a part of the range of the mountains of Galaad, by which name it goes frequently, though it be also denominated Seon, or Sion, (chap. iv. 48.; Menochius) and the different nations had other names for it, ver. 9. (Haydock) --- It does not appear that Moses went much beyond the torrent of Jeboc. But he knew that the territory, as far as Hermon and Emath, belonged to the Hebrews, and he probably, sent some troops to take possession of it. They did not, however, entirely banish the Hevites, that dwelt from Baal-Hermon to the entering into Emath. These and some other nations were left by God to instruct Israel, Judges iii. 3.
Plain. Hebrew Mishor, which the Septuagint leave untranslated. It has perhaps the same meaning as Argob, ver. 4. (Calmet)
Giants. Hebrew, "Raphaim." Og was the only survivor of this family in Basan, though there were other giants dispersed throughout the land, 1 Paralipomenon xx. 6. (Tirinus) --- Some of the stock of Rapha were also seen afterwards at Geth, but they did not reign in the country of their fathers, as Og alone did at this time, Josue xv. 14., and xvii. 15. Hebrew may be, "Now Og, king of Basan, was a remnant of the Raphaim." (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "for, moreover, Og....was left of the Raphaim." --- His bed was 13½ feet long, and 6½ feet broad, taking the cubit at least 18 inches, with Arbuthnot; though Calmet allows 20½ French inches, which are greater than ours. As beds are commonly made larger than the person who lies in them, he concludes that Og might be 14 or 15 feet high, unless he was possessed with the same vanity as Alexander the Great, who caused beds five cubits long to be left in his camp, when he returned from his Indian expedition, in order that the people might think that his soldiers were of a gigantic stature. Allowances must here be made for a royal bed; and, at any rate, it will not easily be proved that a human body might not exceed 12 or 15 feet in height, without injuring the just proportions, as Thomas Paine would have us believe. We know that the difference in size between the inhabitants of Shetland and of Patagonia is still very great; and the people of the former island would act very irrationally, if they would not credit the existence of the Lincolnshire ox, or of the large dray horses in London, because their own oxen are not bigger than mastiffs. See Watson, p. 26. --- Iron. Bedsteads are frequently made of iron, brass, silver, or gold, in hot countries, for the sake of cleanliness and grandeur, Proverbs xxv. 11., Esther i. 6. The Parthian kings reserved to themselves the privilege of lying on golden beds. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xx. 20.) The Thebans made beds of iron and brass out of the spoils of Platea, and consecrated them to Juno. (Thucydides, iii.) --- Ammon. Hebrew, "Behold his bedstead was of iron; is it not in Rabbath?" &c . This town is called Rabbatamana, by Polybius; and Ammana, by Eusebius, who says it had afterwards the name of Astarte, till Ptolemy Philadelphus gave it the title of Philadelphia. It lay to the east of Jazer, not far from the Arnon. (Cellarius, iii. 14.) It is probable that the bed of Og continued in this city till it was taken by David, 2 Kings xxii. 30. How the Ammonites got possession of it we do not know. It seems that the account of it, and of Jair, (ver. 15,) have been given by some one who lived a long time after these events had taken place. (Calmet) --- This conjecture, however, is not well founded, for though Moses was addressing those who had been witnesses to these transactions not many months before, his appeal to them gives the strongest authority to a narration, which was to be handed down to the latest posterity. They could attest the surprising stature of that giant, whom they had slain, and their neighbours kept his bed as a proof of his having existed, the terror of all that country. Until this present day, (ver. 14,) is an expression often used in Scripture to denote an event which had taken place at no very great distance of time, chap. xi. 4. Thus St. Matthew, (xxvii. 8,) writing about eight years after the ascension of our Saviour, says, the field was called Haceldama....even to this day. See Josue viii. 29. (Haydock) --- It is sufficient if the thing be still in the same state as it was before. (Menochius) --- Hand. Hebrew, "according to the cubit of a man." from the elbow to the finger ends. (Calmet) --- Syriac, "of giants." Chaldean, "of the king;" whence some have imagined, that the bed was nine times as long as the cubit of Og, which is very improbable. (Haydock) --- The Rabbins, who delight in fables, say that this bed was used by Og only while he was in his infancy: for he grew to be 120 cubits high; and some say his foot along was this length. He would have hurled a mountain to overwhelm all the Hebrews at once, only a bird, or some ants, made a hole in it, and the mountain falling upon his shoulders, he could not extricate his head, God causing his teeth to grow ten cubits, and in this condition he was taken and killed by Moses. (Lyranus, &c.) --- Noble discovery of these blind guides! (Calmet) --- The poets have not been more extravagant in their descriptions of Typheus, or Typho, whose name signifies burning, as well as that of Og, (or hog, he burnt) with whom he has probably been confounded. (Vossius on Idolat.) (Haydock)
Galaad. Moses comprises under this name all the conquered country. (Calmet)
Jair. Some have supposed that this was one of the judges of Israel, but without foundation. He was a son or descendant of Manasses, Numbers xxxii. 41., and Judges x. 4. --- And Machati. These were the most southern towns of this half tribe. (Calmet) --- Day. If Esdras added these words, he did it not against the law, but to explain it. (Worthington)
Machir's posterity was settled in the same part of Galaad. (Menochius)
Torrent. The other part belonged to the Moabites, (Calmet) on the south and east. --- Ammon. See chap. ii. 37. The two tribes of Gad and Ruben occupied the territory lying between the Jeboc and the Arnon, hemmed in by the mountains of Galaad, on the east, and by the Jordan and the most salt sea, and that of Cenereth, on the west. Gad occupied the northern division of this country. (Haydock)
Foot. Hebrew and Septuagint Ashdoth-pisga. Eusebius seems to have taken these for two different towns. The former was situated near Phasga, Josue xii. 3. This mount was the eastern boundary of Ruben. The plain here mentioned was that where Moses was speaking. (Calmet)
Rest. Abulensis says, this took place only 14 years after. (Menochius)
I will. Moses flattered himself that God's refusal to let him cross the Jordan, was only conditional; and therefore he begs, with all humility, for leave to enter Chanaan, at the head of the people. But, though God had pardoned his fault, he would not deprive Josue of the honour, which to fulfil the mystery, was reserved for him, Numbers xx. 12., and xxvi. 64. (Calmet) --- Moses might very lawfully desire to behold a place, consecrated by the abode of the Patriarchs, and to be honoured still more by the presence of the Messias, a happiness for which he had been labouring now forty years. (Du Hamel) --- And Libanus. Whether this and be an explanation of what mountain he meant, (Tirinus) is a matter of doubt. He unquestionably desired to see, and to put his people in possession of, all the country designed for their inheritance, in which various fruitful mountains appeared. That of Bethel was very high, and most delightful where Abraham and Jacob had dwelt. Moria and Sion, the future seat of the temple, might also attract his notice, and the mountains of Judea, as well as all the other lofty hills, which diversify the country for Idumea to Libanus. (Haydock) --- Egypt was a flat country. New and grander prospects now open to his view. Libanus is styled Antilibanus by the Septuatint, and by profane authors, as it lies, in effect, to the land of the Hebrews. Behind it Cœlostria extends, as far as Libanus. This mountain comprises four different hills, rising one above another, and taking in a circuit of 300 miles. The first of these hills, Antilibanus, is remarkable for its fertility in corn; the second has abundance of fine springs: but the third resembles an earthly paradise, being constantly adorned with fruits and flowers. Cedars grow chiefly upon the fourth, amidst the snows which lie there perpetually, notwithstanding the burning heats of the adjacent countries. Lebanon signifies both "whiteness and incense," for which it is very renowned. (Calmet) --- De la Roque thinks that it is higher than the Alps or Pyrenees. It stands in the form of a horse-shoe, extending from above Smyrna to Sidon, and thence towards Damascus, (Buffon) unless this be a part of Antilibanus, which runs north, from Damascus, in a parallel direction to Libanus, and includes the hollow Syria. (Haydock) --- Serarius makes these two mountains run eastward, almost from the Mediterranean sea, as Strabo (xvi.) and Ptolemy seem also to do. (Bonfrere)
Your account. Moses cannot help reminding the people that they were the occasion of his giving way to diffidence, and thus incurring a most sensible chastisement from the hands of God. Their conduct had provoked him so, that he gave some outward signs of the trouble with which his mind was so much disturbed, chap. xx. 12. Yet God admits of no excuse, particularly in the sins of those who act in his name, and who, of course, ought to guard against the smallest deviation from virtue. Be ye holy and perfect, is addressed to such in a particular manner. (Haydock)
East. It seems, if Phasga was the eastern boundary of Ruben, (ver. 17,) there was no occasion for Moses to cast his eyes that way. He is ordered to take a full view of the countries allotted by God to the Hebrews; and if we consider that the territory, as far as the Euphrates, was promised to them, if they would continue to be faithful, and that it was made tributary, under Solomon, we need not wonder if Moses should be pleased to behold it, chap. i. 7. (Haydock)
Phogor. Hebrew Beth pehor, "the house, temple, or city of Phogor," where that idol was the object of adoration. The city was probably at the foot of Mount Phasga, and fell to the share of Ruben, Josue xiii. 20. (Calmet) --- The Hebrews dwelt in the valley when Moses made the aforesaid supplication to God, and was ordered to desist; and, after taking a view of the promised land, to give the necessary instructions to his successor, ver. 23. (Haydock) --- Perhaps this might take place before the defeat of the two kings. (Calmet)