Matthew Poole's Commentary
Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days.Their march from Kadesh-barnea, Deu 2:1-3. A charge that they trouble not the Edomites, Deu 2:4,5; nor the Moabites, Deu 2:9; nor the Ammonites, Deu 2:19. But are encouraged to fight the Amorites: they put them to flight, and take possession of their lands, Deu 2:24-37.
The mountainous country of Seir or Edom. Many days, or, many years, even for thirty-eight years.
And the LORD spake unto me, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.Towards the land of the Amorites and Canaanites.
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: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.
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.Meddle not with them, to wit, in battle at this time.
Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.Buy meat of them; for though the manna did yet rain upon them, they were not forbidden to buy other meats when they had opportunity, but only were forbidden greedily to hunger after them when they could not obtain them.
Buy water of them; for water in those parts was scarce, and therefore private persons did severally dig pits for their particular use. See Genesis 26:18 Numbers 21:18.
For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.By God’s blessing thou art able to buy thy conveniences, and therefore thy theft and rapine will be inexcusable, because without any pretence of necessity.
He knoweth, Heb. he hath known, i.e. observed, or regarded with care and kindness, which that word oft notes, as Psalm 1:6 31:7; which experience of God’s singular goodness to thee, should make thee trust him still, and not use any indirect and unjust practices to procure. what thou wantest or desirest.
And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.Ezion-gaber; of which see Numbers 33:35, which may be either that place upon the Red Sea, 1 Kings 9:26, or another of the same name.
We turned, to wit, from our direct road which lay through Edom’s land.
And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.Ar, the chief city of the Moabites, Numbers 21:15,28, here put for the whole country, which depended upon it.
The children of Lot; so called to signify that this preservation was not for their sakes, for they were a wicked people; but for Lot’s sake, whose memory God yet honours.
The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;Emims; men terrible for stature and strength, as their very name imports; see Genesis 14:5; whose expulsion by the Moabites is here noted as a great encouragement to the Israelites, for whose sake he would much more drive out the wicked and accursed Canaanites.
Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.No text from Poole on this verse.
The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them.Object. God had not yet given it unto them.
Answ. 1. The past tense is here put for the future, will give, after the manner of the prophets.
2. Things are oft said to be done when they are only resolved, or decreed, or attempted to be done, in which sense Reuben is said to deliver Joseph, Genesis 37:21; Balak to fight against Israel, Joshua 24:9; Abraham to have offered his son, Hebrews 11:17.
3. God may well be said to have given it, not only because he had purposed and promised to give it, but also because he was now about to give it, and had already given them some part of it, and that as an earnest of the whole.
4. This may be particularly understood of that part of Israel’s possession which was beyond Jordan, which God had actually given to them, that is, to some of them, for even the land of Canaan on this side Jordan was not given to all of them, but only to some of the tribes.
Of the Horims, see Genesis 14:6 36:20.
Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them.No text from Poole on this verse.
For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.No text from Poole on this verse.
So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people,No text from Poole on this verse.
That the LORD spake unto me, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day:Or, to pass by the border of Moab, by Ar.
And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.No text from Poole on this verse.
(That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;Which signifies men most wicked and abominable, or most presumptuous, or most crafty.
A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead:The Lord therefore will certainly do as much for his own people.
As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day:No text from Poole on this verse.
And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)Caphtorims, a people akin to the Philistines, Genesis 10:14, and confederate with them in this enterprise, and so dwelling together, and by degrees were probably united together by marriages or other ways, and became one people, the Caphtorims being at last swallowed up in the Philistines. See Jeremiah 47:4 Amos 9:7.
Caphtor is by the learned thought to be Cappadocia; whither these people might make an expedition out of Egypt, either because of the report of the great riches of part of that country, which drew others thither from places equally remote, or after the manner of those ancient times, or for some other reason now unknown.
Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.No text from Poole on this verse.
This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.Under the whole heaven; which is a synecdoche and an hyperbole, but is explained by the following words, which restrain the sentence to those nations that heard of them.
And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,Kedemoth; so called from a city of that name, Joshua 13:18; and called Jeshimon, Numbers 21:20.
With words of peace; with offers of peace, which they refusing, their destruction was highly just and reasonable.
Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.In my direct road to Canaan, from which I will not turn aside into thy fields, or vineyards, or houses;
Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet;Or, with my foot-men, or with my company which are on foot; which is added significantly, because if their army had consisted as much of horsemen as many other armies did, their passage through his land might have been more mischievous and dangerous; but they were generally on foot.
(As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the LORD our God giveth us.Object. The king of Edom, i.e. of the children of Esau, did not grant them passage, Num 20.
Answ. They did permit them to pass quietly by the borders, though not through the heart of their land; and in their passage the people sold them meat and drink, being, it seems, more kind to them than their king would have had them; and therefore they here ascribe this favour not to the king, though they are now treating with a king, but to the people,
the children of Esau.
But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.By him, i.e. by his borders. Obstinate; unmovable and inexorable to our desires.
And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.No text from Poole on this verse.
And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:By God’s command, these being a part of those people who were devoted by the Lord of life and death to utter destruction for their abominable wickedness. See Deu 7:2 20:16.
Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.No text from Poole on this verse.
From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us:Aroer was in the border of Moab, but now in the hands of the Amorites.
By the river, Heb. in the river, wherewith it was encompassed, Numbers 21:15,28 Jos 12:2 13:9. He speaks exclusively, for this was Ar, which now was in the Moabites’ jurisdiction, above, Deu 2:9.
Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the LORD our God forbad us.Of the river Jabbok, i.e. beyond Jabbok; for that was the border of the Ammonites, Joshua 12:2.
Object. Half the land of the Ammonites is said to be given to the tribe of Gad, Joshua 13:25.
Answ. This is true of that half of it which the Amorites had taken from them, but not of the other half, which yet was in the possession of the Ammonites.
In the mountains; the mountainous country of the Ammonites.
Forbad us, Heb. commanded us: commanding is put for forbidding here, as Genesis 2:16 3:11 Leviticus 4:2 Deu 4:23. The words may be thus rendered, concerning
which the Lord gave us command or charge, to wit, that we should not meddle with them, as was said before. So it is only an ellipsis of the preposition, which is very frequent.