Deuteronomy 2:1-15 - Bypassing Edom - James Dale Text & Audio
Journeys and Victories
(Part 1 of 4)
After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the nation of Israel is once again ready to enter the Promised Land. This time, it is the children of those people who rebelled and suffered the tragic consequences of unbelief. Moses does not want this next generation to make the same mistake as their fathers.
Moses delivers three sermons …all with a common thread of “Love God – Obey God – Teach Your Children”. The first sermon is a recap … a review of Israel’s past … and it is in two parts. The first part is chapter 1 … the tragedy of unbelief … where he told the story of the first time God told them to go into the land at Kadesh-Barnea and how they rebelled. The second part where we are starting today is chapters 2 – 4 (Journeys and Victories) where he reviews the events of the last two years which has brought them from the wilderness around Kadesh-Barnea to the banks of the Jordan River.
Since this sermon of Moses is technically a history lesson, there is a lot of geography. I don’t know about you, but my knowledge of ancient Mid-East geography is pretty limited, so I cobbled together a map that helped me immensely as I hiked through chapter 2. I thought maybe it would help you also so I made a handout. Notice that I put a circled number on Israel’s dotted path from Egypt to the Promised Land which indicates major events along the way. Off to the side is a key to the Scripture references for that event.
Just as it was Moses’ goal to review the history of the last 40 years, it will be my goal to trace through these three chapters of history and geography without being too overwhelming … and hopefully we can learn some things along the way. So … let’s begin.
Numbers 1-4 on the map (Next page)
The first four circled numbers on the map trace their journey from Egypt to Mt. Sinai and is found in the book of Exodus. This is not included in the passage for today, so we won’t comment. However, you may notice that I did not place Mt. Sinai in the traditional place of most maps. Since the year 2000, some exciting archaeological discoveries have introduced a more plausible scenario for their Exodus route and the location of Mt. Sinai which can be viewed on YouTube and called “The Exodus Revealed”.
Numbers 4-7 on the map
Chapter 1 in Deuteronomy covers their journey from Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea which we covered in the last three sermons. This is when they refused to enter the land, and the subsequent judgment of God as they wandered in the wilderness around Kadesh-Barnea for 38 years. Deuteronomy 2 begins when God tells them it is time to move on to the Promised Land. This brings us to Deuteronomy 2.
We are now at #8 on the map.
Read Deuteronomy 2:1-7
The Lord spoke unto Moses and told them to travel toward the Red Sea through the Wilderness of Paran. Notice on your map that this is away from the Promised Land. The fuller story is in Numbers 20. They wanted to go from Kadesh through Edom and Moab on the King’s Highway, an established trade route and the shortest distance. However, the king of Edom refused passage through his country.
God told the Israelites in advance that Edom would not trust them (verse 4 “They shall be afraid of you”). God tells Israel not to engage them in battle or take even a foot-breadth of their land, but rather to “compass” (which means “go around”) Mt. Seir and to buy what supplies they needed from them. Think of Mt. Seir like we think of Moscow Mountain. It is not a single high mountain with one peak but rather a mountain range that extends from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.
The Jordan Rift Valley is an elongated depression located in modern-day Israel, Jordan, and Palestine along the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, which is the lowest land elevation on planet earth, and continues to the Red Sea. The Seir mountain range is located on the east side of the Arabah depression from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.
We learn in verse 7 that although Israel had wandered for 40 years they were by no means poor. God had blessed them. Their cattle had multiplied and they had money. They also had an organized military strong enough to take what they wanted, so why didn’t they?
Since we are going to run into this situation at least two more times in this chapter, we need to deal with some history. Remember that Israel is the name that God gave to Jacob. Therefore, this nation is called the Israelites which means “descendants of Jacob” or “descendants of Israel”. Between them and the Promised Land were four countries … Edom, Moab, Ammon, and the Amorites. Three of this were Israel’s (Jacob’s) relatives. Just as God had given the Promised Land to Israel, he had also promised some land to three of Jacob’s relatives. The first country they encountered was Edom.
Edom was the land given to Esau who was Jacob’s brother. Jacob had tricked his older brother Esau out of his rightful inheritance (Hebrews 12:16,17). Even though Esau was a profane person who sold his birthright for a single meal, and the consequences could not be reversed, God still took care of him. In Genesis 36:1-8, we see that God gave him the land of Edom in Mount Seir.
We can learn from this that, although the Bible concentrates on the nation of Israel, God was quietly taking care of Esau. When we sin, God does not forsake us. He uses it to give us opportunities to grow.
Personal example: My daughter had just returned from a year in Venezuela and none of the Spanish classes were advanced enough for her. We realized she needed to enroll in a university class but cost hundreds of dollars. At that time, because of several emergencies, we had the worst debt load of our married lives. Since she just turned 16 she got a job at a new Spanish restaurant that opened. My idea is that she could pay for her own class with her earnings.
When our budget discussion came up, I proposed this plan to keep up from going deeper into debt. My wife stated strongly that it was not a good idea. Instead of listening to her reasons, I became angry and left the room. At that moment, I was a profane person just like Esau. Did God leave me because I blew it. No. Within a few minutes I realized what I had done and apologized and we started again. We did find a solution to that problem, but as I look back I realize that God worked in my heart to have a right attitude, and he did provide for my needs in the long run … just like Easu.
We also see that God respects borders. The current idea that countries should be without borders is not a Biblical idea. This has been in the news recently when President Trump addressed the problem of the MS-13 gang and some of the terrible things they are doing in this country when they come in illegally. Strong borders is a Biblical concept.
Anyway, because of all this, God told Israel to march south and around Edom.
We are now at #9 on the map.
Rad Deuteronomy 2:8
After they passed by the country of Edom along the Seir mountain range, they came to the Plain of Elath, a city on the north shore of the Gulf of Aqaba (The Red Sea). At this point, they turned east and eventually northward (verse 3) in a direction toward the Promised Land. This eventually put them in the Wilderness of Moab.
We are now at #10 on the map.
Read Deuteronomy 2:9-15
When they came to Edom they were told not to meddle with them. Now, when they come to the border of Moab, God tells them not to distress or engage the Moabites in battle either. God makes it clear that He will not give them any of their land and the reason is the same as with Edom … Moab was land that God gave to another of Jacob’s relatives. This man’s name was Lot which was Jacob’s grandfather’s nephew. This is to say that Lot was Abraham’s nephew, or was Jacob’s first cousin once-removed. God had also given Lot some land for a possession which was the land of Moab with its metropolis Ar.
The story about this comes from Genesis 19. Lot had moved to the wicked city of Sodom and God had to judge it. Lot escaped from the city by the skin of his teeth by God’s grace along with his wife and two daughters. The wife on the way out of the city looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, the daughters’ husbands had refused to go with them, and so Lot and his two daughters ended up alone in a cave. With their husbands dead, the daughters cooked up a plan to become pregnant by their father without his knowledge. The oldest gave birth to a son named Moab, and the second had a son named Ben-ammin or Ammon. In each case, God gave these two grandsons of Lot some land which he preserved for their descendants.
In verse 10, the Emim were the indigenous people that lived there before Moab. The word means “terrible ones” because they were numerous and tall like the Anakim … a race of giant, warlike Canaanites descendent from Anak (Number 13:33).
Moses then includes the side bar here that it was the same scenario for Esau in Edom. Just as Moab displaced the Emim, Esau displaced the original people who lived in Mt. Seir who were called the Horim. These were cave dwellers whom some believe made the city of Petra.
After these instructions not to mess with the Moabites, they moved from the wilderness of Moab and across the Brook Zered, the boundary between Edom and Moab. It mentions that the time from Kadesh to this moment was 38 years. It did take 40 years before they entered the Promised Land, but by this time all the men of war had died because of God’s judgment for their unbelief (Numbers 24:64,65). The dates were from 1444 to 1406 B.C.
This brings us up to #11 on the map.
We will continue this exciting hike through history in the next sermon. But let us close by looking at the phrase in verse 14 … “the men of war were wasted”. It took them 38 years to get to this place by the Brook Zered, and by this time all the warriors that were alive at the time of the first invitation to enter the land at Kadesh-Barnea had died according to the judgment of the Lord. They were “wasted warriors”.
The thought occurred to me that I could be a wasted warrior. In America, God has been systematically removed from the public square to such a degree that it becomes politically incorrect to mention anything about God except in the church. As a Christian I am engaged in a battle … it is a warfare. When is the last time I can remember speaking publicly about God in any way when there are non-Christians around? Have I retreated? Have I become a wasted warrior without realizing it? The next time you brush shoulders with unbelievers, think about asking them questions and looking for an opening to identify with Christ.