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Bible: What Does Deuteronomy 3-4 Teach Us About Moses and the Promised Land?

Updated on September 8, 2016



Defeating Og

Next, Israel engaged Og king of Bashan in battle at Edrei (v. 1).

Divinely informed of a victory similar to the one he had just experienced against Sihon, Moses struck Og’s sixty walled cities and completely annihilated all human life (vv. 2-6).

Again, Israel plundered the livestock and the spoil of the cities (v. 7).

God’s people also took over the land of the Amorites: from Arnon to Mount Hermon (Sirion/Senir), all cities of the plain, Gilead, and cities of Bashan (vv. 8-10).

Apparently, the giant Og survived, but his huge, iron bedstead Israel confiscated (v. 11).

Moses gave most of this land to the Reubenites and Gadites; the rest of Gilead and Bashan belonged to the half tribe of Manasseh (vv. 12-13a).

The following table shows the divisions of the conquered land:

(click column header to sort results)
Reuben and Gad  
1/2 Manasseh  
Aroer, half of Gilead’s mountains and its cities; from Gilead to Arnon to Jabbok, the plain from Chinnereth to the east side of the Salt Sea below Pisgah (vv. 16-17)
The rest of Gilead and all Bashan (v. 13)
Argob to border of Geshurites and Maachathites (v. 14)
Gilead (v. 15)

Moses and the Promised Land


Moses and the Mountain

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[Again, Moses inserts a parenthetical remark about what a certain region and a certain land were called after Jair conquered it (vv. 13b-14)].

Moses required these two and one-half tribes to fight with their brethren and secure the Land “beyond the Jordan” for them before returning to their possession on “this side of the Jordan” (vv. 18-20).

He also commanded his successor Joshua not to fear those kingdoms he would battle in Canaan, “for the LORD your God Himself fights for you” (vv. 21-22).

Having seen the beginnings of Yahweh’s mighty victories, Moses adds that he desired to enter the Land so much that he pleaded one last time with the LORD to allow him (vv. 23-25).

He reports that God angrily refused the request, though He did permit Moses to climb Mt. Pisgah and see the Land’s full expanse (vv. 26-27).

In addition, Yahweh commanded Moses to encourage Joshua to lead the people to their inheritance (v. 28).

Israel camped in the valley opposite the city of Peor (v. 29).

Moses, the Teacher of Israel


Deuteronomy 4

While in Peor Moses delivers a major address to Israel, emphasizing their need to obey the LORD’s instruction precisely if they wished to remain alive in the Land (vv. 1-2).

He reminds them about the perils of idolatry, pointing to the destruction of those who followed Baal at Peor (v. 3).

As Moses’ obedient disciples, his audience survived that ordeal by heeding his diligent, faithful teaching (v. 5).

Now, as they are about to enter the Land, he encourages them to keep observing God’s word, so that the nations would recognize their wisdom and understanding (v. 6).

Moses exults both in the nearness of Israel’s great and loving LORD and in His wondrous word (vv. 7-8).

So concerned is Moses about Israel’s future that he issues several more directives to his people:

(1) Take heed to themselves;

(2) Diligently keep themselves, so they do not forget what they have seen; and

(3) Teach these truths and the nation’s history to all their descendants, especially those events touching Sinai (vv. 9-10a).

The eyewitness then delves into details, revealing God’s initial instructions to Israel at Mount Horeb. These lessons include:

(1) Listen to His voice (the sound of the words);

(2) Teach children to fear Him; and

(3) Notice that He has no form (vv. 10b-12).

[The LORD wanted to communicate clearly His nature as Israel’s invisible Judge].

Yahweh wrote His “Ten Words” for Israel that through Moses’ teaching they might perform them in the Land (vv. 13-14).

Israel's Early Idolatry


At this point, Moses’ sermon focuses on the dangers of idolatry (vv. 15-40).

Stressing Yahweh’s invisible nature, it admonishes Israel about carving images for themselves of their God (vv. 15-16a; cf. Romans 1: 20ff).

Israel must not make idols resembling any of God’s creation (man [male or female], land animal, bird, creeping thing, or fish) [vv. 16b-18).

In addition, Israel must not worship the heavenly bodies; these created objects serve all humanity (v. 19).

Yahweh, on the other hand, redeemed Israel to be His inheritance (v. 20).

Moses repeats that he will not enter the Land, but will die before that day (vv. 21-22a).

The people, however, will inherit Canaan; therefore, they must not forget the covenant by making graven images because Yahweh will not tolerate unfaithfulness (vv. 22b-24; cf. Ex. 20:5).

[This “Take heed” is the fourth such admonition in Moses’ sermonette].

Sadly, Moses reports that this apostasy will occur (“When . . . “) after these survivors age (v. 25).

As if Israel were on trial, Moses calls heaven and earth as witnesses to their wrongdoing, promising their utter destruction and the scattering of a remnant among the nations where they will serve gods of stone and wood (vv. 26-28).

Nevertheless, God’s covenant mercy will not forsake Israel, but reach out to them in the “latter days,” and His people will find Him as they seek Him with their whole heart and turn to Him (vv. 29-31).

[Moses prophesies about the times of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, as well as about the Tribulation period].

God's Law


The Law of the LORD

Seeking to emphasize Israel’s singular privilege as a nation, Moses asks them to consider ancient history to see if they could find another people anywhere who survived hearing God’s voice (vv. 32-33), or whom God miraculously redeemed from another nation (v. 34).

Israel has received special revelation that they might know Yahweh, the one and only true God (v. 35).

They heard His voice from heaven and from the burning bush (v. 36).

Furthermore, He chose them as descendants of their beloved fathers to leave Egypt and take the Land of inheritance from nations mightier than they (vv. 37-38).

Moses admonishes them to know the LORD as the only God in existence, and to obey His word that the nation might live long in the Land (vv. 39-40).

[The last words “for all time” indicate that the Land belongs to Israel “eternally.”

The people may leave it for a short time, but eventually true Israel will reclaim their inheritance].

Thus ends Moses’ address. Now Moses sets up three cities of refuge on “this side of the Jordan”—Bezer, Ramoth Gilead, and Golan in Bashan—that the manslayer may flee there to save his life (vv. 41-43).

Verses 44-49 introduce an extensive treatment of God’s Law, mentioning the location whence Moses penned it (vv. 44-46), and the kings from whom Israel took the land in which he wrote it (v. 47).

Moses is very careful to note the exact extent of the Land they now possessed (vv. 48-49).

© 2013 glynch1


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