Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Turned. Instead of going straight forward across the Jordan, we directed our arms against Basan, in the north. See Numbers xxi. 33.
Ver. 4. 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.
Ver. 5. 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 the 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)
Ver. 6. 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 seems 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)
Ver. 8. 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, on 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.
Ver. 10. Plain. Hebrew Mishor, which the Septuagint leave untranslated. It has perhaps the same meaning as Argob, ver. 4. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. 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 broad, taking the cubit at 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 to 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 alone 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 hóg, he burnt) with whom he has probably been confounded. (Vossius on Idolat.) (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Galaad. Moses comprises under this name, all the conquered country. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. 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)
Ver. 15. Machir’s posterity was settled in the same part of Galaad. (Menochius)
Ver. 16. 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)
Ver. 17. 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)
Ver. 20. Rest. Abulensis says, this took place only 14 years after. (Menochius)
Ver. 25. 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 from 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)
Ver. 26. 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)
Ver. 27. 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)
Ver. 29. 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 injunctions to his successor, ver. 23. (Haydock) — Perhaps this might take place before the defeat of the two kings. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The victory over Og, king of Basan. Ruben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasses, receive their possession on the other side of the Jordan.
1 Then we turned *and went by the way of Basan: **and Og, the king of Basan, came out to meet us with his people to fight in Edrai.
2 And the Lord said to me: Fear him not: because he is delivered into thy hand, with all his people and his land: and thou shalt do to him as thou hast done to Sehon, king of the Amorrhites, that dwelt in Hesebon.
3 *So the Lord our God delivered into our hands, Og also, the king of Basan, and all his people: and we utterly destroyed them,
4 Wasting all his cities at one time; there was not a town that escaped us: sixty cities, all the country of Argob, the kingdom of Og, in Basan.
5 All the cities were fenced with very high walls, and with gates and bars, besides innumerable towns that had no walls.
6 And we utterly destroyed them, as we had done to Sehon, the king of Hesebon, destroying every city, men, and women, and children:
7 But the cattle, and the spoils of the cities, we took for our prey.
8 And we took at that time the land out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorrhites, that were beyond the Jordan: from the torrent Arnon unto the mountain Hermon,
9 Which the Sidonians call Sarion, and the Amorrhites Sanir*:
10 All the cities, that are situate in the plain, and all the land of Galaad and Basan, as far as Selcha, and Edrai, cities of the kingdom of Og, in Basan.
11 For only Og, king of Basan, remained of the race of the giants. His bed of iron is shewn, which is in Rabbath of the children of Ammon, being nine cubits long, and four broad after the measure of the cubit of a man’s hand.
12 And we possessed the land at that time from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the torrent Arnon, unto the half of Mount Galaad: *and I gave the cities thereof to Ruben and Gad.
13 And I delivered the other part of Galaad, and all Basan, the kingdom of Og, to the half tribe of Manasses, all the country of Argob: and all Basan is called the land of giants.
14 Jair, the son of Manasses, possessed all the country of *Argob unto the borders of Gessuri, and Machati. And he called Basan by his own name, Havoth Jair, that is to say, the towns of Jair, until this present day.
15 To Machir also I gave Galaad.
16 And to the tribes of Ruben and Gad, I gave of the land of Galaad, as far as the torrent Arnon, half the torrent, and the confines even unto the torrent Jeboc, which is the border of the children of Ammon:
17 And the plain of the wilderness, and the Jordan, and the borders of Cenereth, unto the sea of the desert, which is the most salt sea, to the foot of Mount Phasga, eastward.
18 And I commanded you at that time, saying: The Lord your God giveth you this land for an inheritance; go ye well appointed before your brethren, the children of Israel, all the strong men of you:
19 Leaving your wives, and children, and cattle. For I know you have much cattle, and they must remain in the cities, which I have delivered to you.
20 Until the Lord give rest to your brethren, as he hath given to you: and they also possess the land, which he will give them beyond the Jordan: then shall every man return to his possession, which I have given you.
21 *I commanded Josue also at that time, saying: Thy eyes have seen what the Lord your God hath done to these two kings: so will he do to all the kingdoms, to which thou shalt pass.
22 Fear them not: for the Lord your God will fight for you.
23 And I besought the Lord at that time, saying:
24 Lord God, thou hast begun to shew unto thy servant thy greatness, and most mighty hand; for there is no other God, either in heaven, or earth, that is able to do thy works, or to be compared to thy strength.
25 I will pass over, therefore, and will see this excellent land beyond the Jordan, and this goodly mountain, and Libanus.
26 And the Lord was angry with me on your account, and heard me not, but said to me: It is enough: speak no more to me of this matter.
27 Go up to the top of Phasga, and cast thy eyes round about to the west, and to the north, and to the south, and to the east, and behold it, *for thou shalt not pass this Jordan.
28 Command Josue, and encourage and strengthen him: for he shall go before this people, and shall divide unto them the land which thou shalt see.
29 And we abode in the valley over-against the temple of Phogor.
1: Year of the World 2553. — ** Numbers xxi. 34.
3: Numbers xxi. 35.
9: Deuteronomy iv. 48.
12: Numbers xxxii. 29.
14: Numbers xxi. 34.
21: Numbers xxvii. 18.
27: Deuteronomy xxxi. 2. and xxxiv. 4.