Preparing to Enter the Promised Land

1:1 Sensing that he would soon die, Moses understood that the time had now come for him to admonish the Israelites for their misdeeds, in order that they repent and be ready to begin the next stage of their national life with renewed dedication to their Divine purpose under the leadership of his successor. By waiting to admonish the people until he was about to die, Moses was following the example set by Jacob. Joshua,1 Samuel,2 and King David3 would, in turn, follow Moses’ example.

Furthermore, now that the Israelites were about to enter the Land of Israel and begin their life there, Moses understood that it was time for him to review those aspects of the Torah’s teachings that needed to be clarified and convey those aspects of the Torah’s teachings that he not yet conveyed since they had not been relevant to their life in the desert.

The following are the words of rebuke that Moses spoke to all Israel. Out of his deep respect for the people, he did not mention their misdeeds explicitly but only alluded to them—either by mentioning where they had occurred or by referring to them obliquely. He assembled the people and spoke to all Israel at once, so that anyone who could excuse or justify their behavior would have the opportunity to do so. This rebuke was delivered on the eastern side of the Jordan River, as the people were poised to enter the Land of Israel, and it was intended to facilitate their transition into this new phase of their life as a people.4

Moses first rebuked them for having complained at Alush, in the Sin Desert, when they ran out of provisions.5 He then rebuked them for all the other times they had provoked God’s anger for causes attributable to their being in the desert6 —leaving over manna for the morning,7 going out on the Sabbath to gather manna,8 complaining of not having any water9 and complaining once again of not having any meat.10 He then rebuked them for their other sins: First, he rebuked them for having worshipped the idol Ba’al Pe’or when they were in the plain of Moab.11 He then rebuked them for having doubted that God would save them when they were encamped opposite the Sea of Reeds and the Egyptians were pursuing them,12 and similarly, for having doubted that God had indeed saved them when they exited the Sea of Reeds.13 He then rebuked them for having doubted God’s ability to overcome the inhabitants of the Land of Israel when they were encamped at Ritmah, in the Paran Desert, after they heard the report of the spies they had sent from there.14 He then rebuked them for having maligned the white, delicious manna God had given them to eat.15 He then rebuked them for having joined Korach’s rebellion,16 which took place after they had journeyed from Chatzerot to Ritmah.17 He then rebuked them for having made the Golden Calf, thereby brazenly misusing the wealth God had showered upon them when they left Egypt.18

2 Moses then continued, “It is normally an eleven-day journey from Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai) by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea. But you miraculously traveled this distance in just three days: When you left the Sinai Desert on the 20th of Iyar, it took you one day to travel to Kivrot HaTa’avah,19 an additional day to travel from there to Chatzerot,20 and one more day to travel to Ritmah, just opposite Kadesh Barnea.21 So you see how much God exerted22 Himself in order to bring you into the Land of Israel. But because of your misdeeds, He had to delay your entry until now, almost23 forty years later!

3 It was on the first day of Shevat, the eleventh month of the year 2488, which was the fortieth year since the Exodus from Egypt, that Moses spoke to the Israelites regarding all that God had commanded him regarding them.

4 Besides his other reasons for not rebuking them earlier, Moses also waited until after he had smitten Sichon (the formidable king of the Amorites, who dwelt in the impregnable fortress of Cheshbon24 ) and Og (the formidable king of the Bashan,25 who dwelt in the impregnable fortress of Ashterot-Karnaim26 and in his other royal city, Edrei27 ). Once Moses proved that he was capable of conquering their enemies, the Israelites could not accuse him of rebuking them in order to blame his inability to conquer the Land of Israel for them on their supposed unworthiness.

5 The Israelites were camped on the east side of the Jordan River, in what had formerly been part of Moab; this is whereMoses began his farewell address. In the course of this address, he not only reviewed those parts of the Torah that were particularly pertinent now that they were about to enter the Promised Land;28 he explained this teaching in the seventy original languages of humanity.29 But before explaining the Torah, he continued rebuking the people for their misbehavior over the preceding forty years. First, he returned to the topic of the journey from Mount Sinai to Ritmah, saying,

6 “God, our God, spoke to us at Mount Horeb, saying, ‘You have dwelt too long at this mountain; I am anxious for you to enter the Promised Land. You are now fully prepared for your new life: by dwelling at the foot of this mountain, you have acquired the greatness that will distinguish you from other nations and that will enable you to remain holy even while engaged in mundane activities. First of all, you constructed the Tabernacle, which is a locus for the Divine Presence (as is most manifestly expressed by the second lamp of the Candelabrum, which miraculously burns longer than the other lamps even though they are all filled with equal amounts of oil before they are lit30 ). The permanence of the Divine Presence in your midst will virtually force you to remain holy. Second, you received the Torah, which instructs you how to sanctify mundane life on a daily basis. Third, you established a judiciary, who will teach you how to apply the Torah’s teachings in all situations. Furthermore, by dwelling at this mountain you have earned the merit of conquering the land miraculously.31

7 Turn northwardand journey into the land. Come first to the central mountain, occupied by the Amorites,32 and afterward to all its neighboring placesEdom, Moab, and Ammon.’ (God made this statement when He intended to give us these three lands together with the seven lands of Canaan proper;33 He later rescinded this intention.34 )Traverse the wooded plain of the Jordan valley; the mountainous area west of this plain; the lowland south of these mountains; the western lowlands—from their southern border northward along the seashore until the northern border of the land of the Canaanitesand finally, all of Lebanon, until the Euphrates River, which is known as “the great river” due to its association with the Land of Israel.35

8 See now how miraculously fast you will travel from Mount Sinai to Ritmah. This will demonstrate to you that I have virtually set the land before you. You will not have to rely on the promise you heard from Me in Egypt36 nor on the assumption that since I was able to perform miracles for you in Egypt and at the Sea of Reeds I can probably do so for you now, as well. Furthermore, once the neighboring nations hear how miraculously fast you traveled, they will acknowledge that the land belongs to you by Divine right and will no longer contest your claim to it. And do not worry that they will nonetheless try to defend their land; I guarantee you that they will vacate it of their own accord and that you will meet with no armed resistance. You do not even need to frighten them by brandishing your weapons. All you need to do is come and take possession of the land. For this is the land that I, God, swore to your forefathers—to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, each of whose merit is independently sufficient to earn you this miraculous Divine intervention—to give them and their descendants after them.’ In fact, however, by sending out the scouts, you demonstrated that you did not trust in God’s promise of miraculous assistance. You therefore forfeited this degree of Divine intervention; you will thus have to contend with the nations that presently occupy the land and conduct your conquest by natural means.37

Rebuke Regarding the Judiciary

9 Meanwhile, I said to you at that time, while we were still at Mount Sinai, conveying what God told me in accordance with my father-in-law Jethro’s suggestion,38 ‘I cannot alone bear the burden of adjudicating all the legal cases you bring before me, because

10 God, your God, has made you great—i.e., into the noblest nation on earth—by selecting you to carry out His mission. He has also ennobled you by promising to make you His eternal nation,39 and thus, behold, by virtue of this promise, you are already today as everlasting as the sun, the moon, and the stars of heaven. True, you are only eternal collectively, as a people, but each one of you expresses and partakes individually of your collective immutability, just as each star is a unique and integral constituent of the celestial array.40 Because you possess this lofty stature, God has made it a capital crime to inadvertently misjudge even a civil case of yours.41 Moreover, the qualitative difficulty in judging you due to your noble stature is compounded by your quantitative magnitude, which is already too great for one man to act as sole judge, and is moreover destined to increase greatly.42

11 For I bless you that God, God of your forefathers, add to you a thousand times as many descendants as you presently number!’ When you heard me quantify my blessing to you—even though you understood that I meant ‘a thousandfold’ only figuratively—you complained that I was limiting your population growth, whereas God had promised Abraham that his offspring would increase without limit.43 I therefore replied to you, I, being human, can only express my blessing in finite idioms. As for God, however, may He bless you as He spoke concerning you.’44

Second Reading 12 Returning to the subject of judging you, I said: It could be argued that although judging you by myself entails awesome responsibility, it also earns great reward, so I should nonetheless want to judge you all by myself. But even if I wanted to, God has specifically instructed me not to do so. So how, then, can I bear this burden myself? Furthermore, you are constantly complicating the legal process with your troublesome penchant for always producing new evidence and witnesses; with your burdensome mistrust of me; and with your constant strife, because of which you are constantly going to court. How can I bear this all by myself?

13 Therefore, as God has instructed me to tell you, ready yourselves for the appointment of men who are God-fearing; who command respect for their integrity; who are unattached to their wealth; and who are righteous, wise (i.e., insightful), understanding (i.e., able to deduce new laws from legal precedent), and who are known among your tribes for their impeccable reputations.45 I will appoint them as your judges. Treat them as your heads, i.e., with proper respect, for as your judges they will be responsible for inculcating you with moral integrity and will therefore bear responsibility for your sins.

14 Now, you should have protested this plan, insisting on being led and judged by me personally rather than by any disciple of mine. But you answered me and said, ‘The plan you have spoken is good for us, because you believed that judges of lesser stature would be open to accepting bribes. Moreover, when you saw that I was reluctant to implement this plan, you urged me to do it quickly.

15 In setting out to implement it, however, I only found a sufficient number of men who possessed three out of the seven qualities God told me to seek out: righteousness, insight, and impeccable reputation. (I did indeed find men capable of basic deductive reasoning, just as I had when I was recruiting artisans to construct the Tabernacle and its furnishings,46 but I did not find men possessing sufficient deductive powers to be able to derive new laws from legal precedent.47 ) I convinced these righteous, wise, and notable men to be the heads of your tribes by pointing out to them what an honor it would be to lead and judge the descendants of the patriarchs, the people whom God loves so dearly. I made them dignitaries over you by enjoining you to treat them with respect, giving them the first right to buy, sell, state their opinions, and enter or leave a room. I then appointed them as leaders over thousands, leaders over hundreds, leaders over fifties, and leaders over tens. I made these judges responsible for not only rendering judgment but for executing justice, as well,48 but I also appointed floggers over your tribes to help the judges administer lashes if they were unable to do so themselves.49

16 I commanded your judges at that time, saying, ‘You are no longer private individuals; you are now public servants. Therefore, hear disputes between your brothers and deliberate over them repeatedly, even if you have adjudicated similar cases in the past and would thus be inclined to render a hasty decision. Furthermore, judge justly between every man and his fellow, even in cases between people when one litigant makes accusations without producing evidence, and even in seemingly petty disputes over the division of inherited property.

17 When you appoint other judges, you must not favor persons with respect to criteria other than their ability to judge correctly; if you do, I will hold the one who made the appointment responsible for his appointee’s errors in judgment. You must hear a dispute involving a small amount of money just as readily as a dispute involving a large amount; do not postpone the former in deference to the latter. In addition, you must hear the claims of a poor person in the same impartiality with which you hear those of a rich person: do not rule in favor of a guilty poor person in order to force his rich litigant to support him, and do not rule publicly in favor of a guilty rich person in order to safeguard his reputation and then tell him privately that he is really guilty and should pay the innocent poor person his due. You must neither fear any man nor withhold your words on account of any man, for the ultimate responsibility for correct judgment is God’s: if you pervert justice, God will be forced to redress any injustice you have caused. Bring to me any case that is too difficult for you and I will hear it myself.’

18 At that time, I commanded you to do all the things you should do in order to differentiate between civil and capital cases.

Rebuke Regarding the Scouts

19 After we established the judiciary as God had commanded us, we journeyed from Horeb and traversed that entire great and frightening desert, which, as you saw, abounded with giant serpents and scorpions. We traveled toward the mountain of the Amorites, as God, our God, had commanded us, and we came as far as Ritmah, opposite Kadesh Barnea.50

20 I said to you there, ‘You have arrived at the mountain of the Amorites, the strategic high ground of the land that God, our God, is giving us.

21 Behold, God, your God, has set the land before you. Go up and take possession of it, as God, God of your fathers, has spoken to you. You should be neither afraid nor terrified, since God will lead you and do battle for you.’51

Third Reading 22 But when you heard that the time had come to confront the nations living in the Promised Land, you panicked. All of you (except for the tribe of Levi) approached me as an unruly mob, disregarding any hierarchy of age, rank, or social status.Instead of trusting in God, you said, ‘Let us send men ahead of us so that they will search out the land for us; tell us what language its inhabitants speak; seek out the easiest, most direct route by which we will go up; and determine which cities we should approach first to conquer.’

23 God was displeased by your desire to employ these natural strategies of conducting a conquest, since this evinced a lack of faith in His promise that you would conquer the land miraculously. But the plan you proposed actually pleased me, since I thought that if I would agree to send scouts, my confidence in the positive outcome of their expedition would quiet your fears, and you would withdraw your request. But this tactic did not work: you did not withdraw your request. So I acquiesced to it and took twelve of the best and finest men from among you, one man for every tribe52 —except for that of Levi, since they had not requested representation among the scouts.

24 The scouts turned north and ascended the mountain of the Amorites. They came to the valley that would be called the valley of Eshkol [‘cluster’ of grapes] on account of the grapes they took from it to show you, and also spied out the entire length and breadth of the land.

25 They took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us—‘down,’ since the Land of Israel is considered the ‘top’ of the world53and brought us back word. They said that just as the fruit of the land is abnormally large, so are the people who live in it. They thus tried to convince you that it was impossible to conquer the land by natural means. They then tried to persuade you that God would not assist you supernaturally, either. But Joshua and Caleb said, ‘The land that God, our God, is giving us is good, and God will surely help us conquer it.’54

26 But althoughyoudid not fully accept the spies’ contention that the land was unconquerable, you nonetheless did not want to go up, for you resented God for giving you a land that you considered inferior to Egypt. So you joined the spies and rebelled against the commandment of God, your God.

27 You slandered God, saying that He is reciprocating your love with hatred: He was forced to give you your own land because He promised the patriarchs that He would, but He gave the choicer land to the Egyptians and reserved the inferior land for you. In fact, however, it was you who were reciprocating His love with hatred, because your complaint was demonstrably false: Although Egypt is indeed generously irrigated by the annual overflow of the Nile, great effort is required to distribute this water over the fields to irrigate them. In contrast, although you will have to earn the rain in the Land of Israel by your good behavior55 and constantly pray for it, once the rain does fall it will water the fields by itself! Since your complaint was really an expression of your resentment of God for obligating you to obey His will, you articulated it only in private, in your tents, and said, ‘Out of God’s hatred of us, He took us out of Egypt.’

Publicly, however, you added your voices to the spies’ and complained, God plans to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to exterminate us.56

28 Where can we go up? Our brothers have discouraged us, saying, “The land is occupied by a people greater and taller than we; it is filled with cities so great and so fortified thatthey reach up to the very heavens;57 and we have even seen there the descendants of the supernatural giants who were fathered by the fallen angels Shamchazai and Azael.” ’58

29 I said to you, ‘Do not be broken-hearted or afraid of them.

30 God, your God, who goes before you, will fight for you, just as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes,

31 and just as He did for you in the desert, where you saw how God, your God, protected you as if He was carrying you the way that a man carries his son, all along the road that you traveled until you came to this place.

32 But despite God’s open and miraculous protection you have witnessed so far, you stubbornly do not believe God, your God, regarding this matter of His promise to bring you safely into the Land of Israel,

33 even though He goes before you on your journey in a pillar of fire at night and in a pillar of cloud by day in order to search out a place for you to make camp and to show you which way you should go!’

34 God heard the sound of your words and became angry. He swore, saying,59

35 ‘None of these men of this evil generation will see the good land that I swore to give your forefathers

36 except Caleb the son of Yefuneh. He will see it, and I will give Hebron, the land he trod upon,60 to him and his children, because he was loyal to God.’61

37 God also allowed Joshua to enter the Land of Israel in reward for not having joined the rest of the spies,62 but beyond Caleb, Joshua was appointed to lead the people in its conquest. This is because, years later, God also became angry with me—because of my improper response to you when you complained against Him at Kadesh—saying to me, ‘You will not go there, either.63

38 Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you to serve you, will go there in your stead. Strengthen him, for he—and not you—will cause Israel to inherit the Promised Land.’64

Fourth Reading 39 Continuing with regard to you, God said:65 ‘Your little ones, whom you said would be prey, and your children, who on that day did not know the difference between good and evil, will go there; I will give it to them, and they will possess it.

40 But as for you, turn around and journey southward into the desert, heading toward the Red Sea.’

41 Then you answered and said to me,66 ‘We have sinned against God. We will go up and fight, in accordance with all that God, our God, has commanded us.’ So every one of you girded his weapons and you readied yourselves to ascend the mountain.

42 But God said to me, ‘Say to them, “You will not go up—in fact, you will fall before your enemies. Do not fight, for I am not among you. Do not allow yourselves to be struck down before your enemies!” ’

43 So I spoke thusly to you, but you did not listen. You rebelled against God’s command and willfully ascended the mountain of the Amorites.

44 And just as God had told me they would, the Canaanites and Amalekites, followed by the Amorites, who were dwelling on that mountain, came out towards you and pursued you just as bees do. Even though they miraculously died when they touched you, just as bees die when they sting, this was only after they smote you at Mount Seir as far as Chormah.

45 So you returned to our camp and wept before God, begging His forgiveness, but your obstinacy made God withhold His mercy; He refused to heed your voice, nor would He listen to you.

46 So you perforce stayed67 in Ritmah, opposite Kadesh Barnea for many days—nineteen years, in fact;68 this was the same amount of time that you dwelt in all your subsequent encampments.69

2:1 Then we turned southward and journeyed into the desert, toward the Red Sea, as God had spoken to me,70 and we circled the area southwest of Mount Seir for many days, i.e., for nineteen years, eventually camping at Etzion Gever.

God’s Assistance in Conquering the Promised Land

Fifth Reading 2 At this point, God spoke to me, saying,

3 You have circled the area southwest of this mountain long enough; now turn northward and journey to Kadesh, on the border of Edom. Ask the Edomites for passage through their country.71

4 At the same time, command the people, saying, “You are about to cross the boundary of the land of your kinsmen, the descendants of Esau, who dwell on Mount Seir, and they will be afraid of you. Nonetheless, take great care that

5 you not provoke them, for I will not now give you any of their land—not so much as a footstep—because I have already given Mount Seir to Esau and to his descendants for a temporary inheritance from Abraham. You will inherit their land only in the future.72

6 You may buy food from them with money, that you may eat; and you may also buy water from them with money, that you may drink.

7 In fact, you should purchase food from them, in order to show that God, your God, has blessed you in whatever you do and that you have thus become wealthy. As you know, He was intimately aware of your needs during your trek through this great desert; you have lacked nothing throughout these forty years that God, your God, has been with you.” ’

8 But despite our peaceful overtures, the Edomites did not allow us to pass through their land, so we departed from our kinsmen, the descendants of Esau, who dwelt on Mount Seir, and returned southward by way of the Aravahthe plain that extends northward toward Kadesh from Eilat and from Etzion Geverand we turned eastward and passed by the southern borders of Edom and Moab toward the Moab desert.

9 As we approached Moab, God said to me, ‘Do not distress the Moabites by provoking them to war, for I will not give you any of their land asan inheritance, because I have given Moab and its capital district, Ar,73 to the descendants of Lot as a temporary inheritance from Abraham. This consideration is Lot’s second reward for having gone along with Abraham’s pretense to the Egyptians that Sarah was his sister rather than his wife74 (the first being Lot’s rescue from the destruction of the Cities of the Plain75 ). You may, however, frighten, raid, and plunder them, because they continue to imitate the immodesty and immorality of their ancestress, Lot’s elder daughter.76

10 The Eimim77 formerly dwelt there—in the territory presently occupied by Moab. They were a people as great, numerous, and tall in stature as the giants who lived before the Flood.

11 Even though the Eimim were not technically part of the Rephaim, they were nonetheless termed Rephaim, because whoever saw them became enfeebled [rafeh] out of fear, just as the giants who descended from those who had lived before the Flood were termed Rephaim because whoever saw them also became enfeebled out of fear. Similarly, the Moabites called these former inhabitants of their land Eimim [from eimah, “terror”] for that very reason. So you might think that this territory is that of the Rephaim, one of the seven nations you are intended to drive out as part of your conquest of the Land of Israel.78 But since the Eimim were not really Rephaim, their territory is not considered that of the Rephaim; and in any case, I have given this territory to the Moabites.

12 The status of the land of Moab is thus similar to that of Mount Seir. The Horites formerly dwelt on Mount Seir, and when they did, you could have conquered it. But the descendants of Esau gradually dispossessed them. They eventually destroyed them and settled in their place, just as you, the Israelites, recently did to the land of your inheritance that God gave you, when you conquered Sichon and Og.79 Since I gave this territory to the Edomites, you may no longer conquer it.80

13 Now arise and cross the Zered brook.’ So we crossed the Zered brook.

14 The time we spent traveling once we departed from Ritmah, across the border from Kadesh Barnea, until we crossed the Zered brook was 38 years. We had to delay our approach to the Promised Land until the entire generation of men old enough to go to war81 finished being removed from the camp by dying out, just as God swore to them that they would.

15 Some of them died a natural death, but in addition, God intervened directly with those of them who did not in order to wipe them out prematurely from the camp, until they all finished dying in this relatively short period of time, allowing you to proceed toward the Promised Land.

16 Although God continued to communicate with me during these 38 years, He did so detachedly. It was only when all those men old enough to go to war finished dying and were thus removed from the people

17 that God once again spoke to me amicably, saying,82

18 ‘Today you are crossing the Arnon River, which, further west, is the northern boundary of Moab and its capital district, Ar.

19 When you approach the area opposite the Ammonites, neither distress them, nor provoke them in any fashion, for I will not give you any part of the land of the Ammonites as an inheritance, because I have already given it to them—the descendants of Lotas a temporary inheritance from Abraham, for the same reason that I have given Moab to the Moabites.83 Unlike the way I allowed you to vex the Moabites, however, you must not frighten, raid, or plunder the Ammonites, because their ancestress (Lot’s younger daughter), was not as immodest and immoral as was the Moabites’ ancestress (Lot’s elder daughter), and thus, in imitating her, the Ammonites did not behave as immorally as the Moabites.84

20 Ammon, too, is considered land of the Rephaim, because the Zuzim85 —a people who were also termed Rephaimformerly dwelt in it; the Ammonites call them Zamzumim.

21 The Zuzim were a people as great, numerous, and tall as the giants who lived before the Flood, but God destroyed them, and thus the Ammonites dispossessed them and settled there in their stead,

22 just as He did for the descendants of Esau, who dwell on Mount Seir, when He destroyed the Horites and they thus dispossessed them and settled there in their stead, living there to this day. In both cases, that of the Horites and the Zuzim, the presence of the present inhabitants of the land render it off-limits to you.

23 The opposite phenomenon occurred with the coastal area on the western border of the Promised Land: The Avim were the dwellers in open cities throughout this area from the southern border northward until Gaza. They are part of the Philistines,86 with whom Abraham made a pact87 that should have prevented you from conquering their territory. The Kaftorites, however, who hail from Kaftor, destroyed the Avim and dwelt there in their stead. Since there is no pact with the Kaftorites, you are now permitted to conquer this territory.

24 In any case, not all the land north of the Arnon River is off limits to you; Sichon the Amorite has conquered much of it from Ammon and Moab.88 Therefore, arise, journey, and cross the Arnon River. Behold, I have delivered Sichon the Amorite, king of Cheshbon, and his land into your hand. Begin to take possession of it, and provoke him to war.89

25 Today I will begin to place the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the nations that dwell under the entire heaven—that is, upon all the nations of the earth90who will hear reports of you and tremble and be in trepidation because of you.’

26 Although God did not explicitly command me to offer Sichon the option of peaceful coexistence, I nonetheless did so,91 even though it was obvious that Sichon would reject my offer. I was in fact following the example God setin the Sinai desert, when He offered the Torah (which existed prior to the creation of the world and thus should logically have been the law for all people) to the descendants of Ishmael and Edom,92 even though He knew in advance that they would reject His offer.

I also was following the example God set when He sent me from the desert to make peaceful overtures to Pharaoh, even though, as the omnipotent creator who existed prior to creation, God could have easily and instantaneously annihilated the Egyptians. Similarly, although I knew that with God’s assistance we could easily overcome Sichon, I still made peaceful overtures to him.

So I sent messengers to Sichon, king of Cheshbon, with words of peace, saying,

27 ‘Allow me to pass through your land. I will keep to the highway; I will turn neither to the right nor to the left.

28 You will sell me food in exchange for money, that I may eat; and you will give me water in exchange for money, that I may drink—I will only pass through on foot.

29 Sell me food and drink, just as the descendants of Esau (who dwell on Mount Seir) and the Moabites (who dwell in Ar) did for me, until I cross the Jordan River into the land that God, our God, is giving us.’

30 But Sichon, king of Cheshbon, did not wish to let us pass by him, for God, your God, caused his spirit to be hardened and his heart to be obstinate, so that He could give him into your hand and you could thereby possess his land, as you do this day.

Sixth Reading 31 God then subjugated the Amorites’ guardian angel to me, and God said to me, ‘Behold, in this way I have begun to deliver Sichon and his land before you. Begin to take possession of it, so that you may possess his land.’

32 Then Sichon went forth towards us. He did not summon his northern confederate, Og, because he was confident of his ability to defeat us on his own; only he and all his people wentto war against us at Yahatz.

33 But God, our God, delivered him to us, and we smote him, his sons—including his one son who was as mighty as he was—and all his people. The sun miraculously stood still for us in this battle.93

34 We conquered all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed every city: men, women, and young children; we left no survivor.

35 We took only the cattle as pillage for ourselves, along with the spoils of the cities that we had taken. The spoils taken in this battle more than sufficed for whatever material wealth we could need.

36 From the southern border of this territory, i.e., Aroer, which is on the edge of the Arnon gorge, and the city that is in the gorge, until its northern border, Gilead, there was not even one communal city that was too strong for us: God, our God, gave all of it to us.

37 The only place you did not approach was the land of the Ammonites, namely: all the Ammonite area south of the Yabok River, the Ammonite cities of the hill country, and wherever else God, our God, commanded us not to conquer.

3:1 Then we turned and went northward toward Bashan, and Og, king of Bashan, came forth toward us, he and all his people, going to war against us at Edrei.94

2 I was afraid to wage war against Og, for I thought he might be protected by the merit of having helped Abraham.95 But God said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have given him, all his people, and his land into your hand, and you will do to him as you did to Sichon, king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Cheshbon.’

3 Thus God, our God, also delivered Og, king of Bashan, and all his people into our hands. We smote him until no remnant remained of him.

4 We conquered all his cities at that time. There was not even one communal city that we did not seize from them—sixty cities, including all the territory of Og’s royal palace, which all together constituted the kingdom of Og in Bashan.

5 All these sixty cities were fortified with high walls, double doors, and bolts; nonetheless, we miraculously overcame them. Besides these, we captured a great many unwalled cities.

6 We utterly destroyed them, as we did to the land of Sichon, king of Cheshbon, utterly destroying every city—the men, the women, and the young children.

7 But we took all the cattle and the spoils of the cities as pillage for ourselves, even though we had more than enough from the spoils of the battle with Sichon and were thus nauseated by it all.96

8 Thus we took at that time the land out of the hands of the two kings of the Amorites who were on that side of the Jordan, from the brook of Arnon in the south to Mount Hermon in the north.

9 (The high regard with which the non-Jewish nations held the Land of Israel is exemplified by the fact that each insisted on using their own names for Mount Hermon: some called it ‘Mount Sion,’97 the Sidonians called Mount Hermon ‘Mount Sirion,’ and the Amorites called it ‘Mount Senir [Snow].’)

10 The land of Sichon and Og comprised all the cities of the plain that Sichon had conquered from Moab, all of Gilead, and all of Bashan as far east as Salchah, and included Edrei, one of the two royal cities of Og in Bashan.98

11 Og’s strength is attested to by the fact that only Og, king of Bashan, was left from the remnant of the Rephaim; all the other Rephaim were wiped out by the alliance of Kedorlaomer at Ashterot-Karnaim.99 Og was so large and heavy that he could not sleep on a wooden bed; his bed had to be a bed of iron. Is it not preserved in the city of Rabbah of the Ammonites, so anyone can go see it? It is nine cubits long and four cubits wide—measured not according to the standard cubit, i.e., arm’s length, in which case it would measure approximately 4.3 meters (14.2 feet) long and 1.9 meters (6.3 feet) wide, which is already quite large—but according to the cubit of the man Og himself, whose arm’s length was much greater than the standard cubit.

12 I divided this land, which we took possession of at that time—having captured it from Sichon and Og—as follows: I gave the land northward from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Arnon gorge, and half of Mount Gilead and its cities to the tribes of Reuben and Gad.

13 I gave the rest of Gilead and all of Bashan—the latter being the kingdom of Og—to the half-tribe of Manasseh: all the territory of Og’s royal palace togetherwith all of Bashan. This—Bashan—is theland that is called the land of Rephaim that God had promised to Abraham.

14 Yair, the great-grandson of Manasseh, went and took all the territory of Og’s royal palace, and conquered additional territory as far as the boundaries of the Geshurites and the Ma’achatites. This territory included cities and villages; since Yair was childless, he called the villages of Bashan after his own name, “the villages of Yair,” as they are called to this day.100

Seventh Reading 15 I gave the part of northern Gilead that liesbeyond the borders of Og’s kingdom to Machir, the son of Manasseh, since he, too, conquered this territory on his own initiative.101

16 To the tribes of Reuben and Gad I gave the part of Gilead that liessouthward until the Arnon gorge, down to the midst of the gorge and the borderland on its opposite, southern bank; and northward until the Yabok River, which is also the northern boundary of the Ammonites,

17 including the plain on the east bank of the Jordan River; the Jordan River itself; the borderland on its opposite, western bankfrom Lake Kineret in the north southward to the sea of the plain—the Sea of Salt, i.e., the Dead Sea; and the land further southward along the foot of the waterfalls102 descending from the peak of Mount Nebo103 to the eastern side of the Dead Sea, until the Arnon gorge.”

18 Moses then addressed the tribes of Reuben and Gad: “I commanded you at that time saying, ‘God, your God, has given you this land to take possession of. But you are not permitted to settle it until you help the other tribes conquer their land on the western side of the Jordan River. At that time, I still hoped that I would lead the people in their conquest of the Land of Israel,104 and I knew that if I would act as their general, God would come to our aid supernaturally. Of course, we would still have to make some natural preparation in order to earn this supernatural assistance, but for that purpose it would suffice if you—the tribes gifted with military prowess—would form the front lines of each tribe’s division. But now that I know that I will not be leading the people into battle, and that therefore God will be coming to their aid only through natural means, it is necessary for all of you who are warriors to cross over, armed, as a separate division before your brothers, the other Israelites. True, the tribe of Judah has also been blessed with military prowess, but their blessing is that their enemies will flee before them,105 and we have been commanded to kill every member of the seven nations currently occupying the Land of Israel, not to merely displace them.106 The tribe of Gad however, has been blessed both not to suffer any military casualties107 as well as with the ability to kill the enemy with one blow.108 It is therefore appropriate that they be the ones to lead the people in battle as the initial striking force.109

19 But your wives, your young children, and your cattle—I know that you have a lot of cattle—must dwell in your cities that I have given you

Maftir 20 until God has given rest to your brothers by conquering their enemies, just as He did for you, and until they also take possession of the land that God, your God, is giving them on the other side of the Jordan River, just as you have taken possession of your land on this side. Only then may every man return to his land inheritance, which I have given to you.”

21 Once again addressing the entire people, Moses continued: “I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your have seen with your own eyes all that God, your God, has done to these two kings. So, too, will God do to all the kingdoms through which you will pass.

22 Do not fear them, for it is God, your God, who is fighting for you.’