Against the cities of Ammon (Jer 49:2-49:3)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore,

The time is surely coming,

When I will sound

The battle alarm

Against Rabbah

Of the Ammonites.

It shall become

A desolate mound.

Its villages

Shall be burned

With fire.

Then Israel shall dispossess

Those who dispossessed him.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Wail!

O Heshbon!

Ai is laid waste!

Cry out!

O daughters of Rabbah!

Put on sackcloth!

Lament!

Slash yourselves

With whips!

Milcom shall go

Into exile,

With his priests,

With his attendants.’”

Yahweh spoke about the destruction of the major cities in Ammon. Rabbah was the capital city of Ammon that would become a desolate mound with its various villages around it. They would be burned to the ground. Thus the dispossessed Israelites would be able to re-possess it. However, it is not the Israelites who are invading, but the Babylonians. Heshbon was the ancient city of King Sihon that had been captured by the Israelites. It was part of the Reuben territory and then Gad territory, since it was almost on the border between Moab and Ammon. The city of Ai was near Bethel in the Benjamin territory on the west side of the Jordan River. However, here this is another otherwise unknown city named Ai near Heshbon. All of these cities were going to lament their situation with mourning and sack cloth. Their god Milcom with his priests and attendants would also go into exile.

The terror in Moab (Jer 48:43-48:46)

“‘Terror!

Pit!

Trap!

They are before you!

O inhabitants of Moab!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Everyone

Who flees from the terror

Shall fall into the pit.

Everyone who climbs

Out of the pit

Shall be caught in the trap.

I will bring these things

Upon Moab,

In the year of their punishment.’

Says Yahweh.

In the shadow of Heshbon,

Fugitives stop exhausted.

A fire has gone out

From Heshbon,

A flame from

The house of Sihon.

It has destroyed

The forehead of Moab,

The scalp of the people

Of tumult.

Woe to you!

O Moab!

The people of Chemosh

Have perished.

Your sons

Have been taken captive.

Your daughters

Have been taken into captivity.”

There would be terror to hit Moab, like the terror of the apocalypse judgment day of Isaiah, chapter 24. Terror was all around with pits and snares to catch people. If they fled, they would fall into a pit. Even if they crawled out of the pit, they would be caught in a trap. There was no escape. They tried to flee to Heshbon, the capital of Ammon, the country north of Moab. However, they were surprised to learn that Heshbon was also on fire. This was the capital city of King Sihon, or house of Sihon, dating back to the days of Joshua, chapter 21. The Moabites would have problems with their foreheads and scalps. They would be cursed, and then perish. The people with their god Chemosh would lose their sons and daughters to captivity.

Yahweh and the Promised Land (Ps 136:16-135:22)

“Yahweh led his people through the wilderness.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He struck down great kings.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He killed famous kings.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He killed Sihon,

King of the Amorites.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He killed Og,

King of Bashan.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He gave their land as a heritage.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He gave it as a heritage to Israel his servant,

His steadfast love endures forever.”

Once again, the congregational refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever” is repeated after every verse. This is once again a repetition of the previous psalm, Psalm 135, about the trip to the Promised Land. In order to take the Promised Land, they had to defeat a number of nations and countries. Yahweh helped them to strike down these fellow humans because his steadfast love endures forever. They and Yahweh killed many kings. The two most prominent as found in Numbers, chapter 21, was King Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan, on the borders of Canaan. They also killed the kings and people in Canaan as found in Joshua, chapters 5-12. Thus Yahweh gave Israel the land of Canaan as a heritage because of his enduring steadfast love.

Yahweh killed many kings (Ps 135:10-135:12)

“Yahweh struck down many nations.

He killed mighty kings.

He killed Sihon,

King of the Amorites.

He killed Og,

King of Bashan.

He killed all in the kingdoms of Canaan.

He gave their land as a heritage.

This was a heritage to his people Israel.”

Yahweh was their protector as they entered the Promised Land. In order to take the Promised Land, they had to defeat a number of nations and countries. Yahweh helped them to kill their fellow humans. They and Yahweh killed many kings. The two most prominent as found in Numbers, chapter 21, was King Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan, on the borders of Canaan. They also killed the kings and people in Canaan as found in Joshua, chapters 5-12. Thus Yahweh gave Israel the land of Canaan as a heritage.

The kings conquered east of the Jordan (Josh 12:1-12:6)

“Now these are the kings of the land, whom the Israelites defeated, whose land they occupied beyond the Jordan toward the east, from the Wadi Arnon to Mount Hermon, with all the Arabah eastward. King Sihon of the Amorites lived at Heshbon. He ruled from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, and from the middle of the valley as far as the river Jabbok. The boundary of the Ammonites was half of Gilead and the Arabah to the Sea of Chinneroth eastward. This is in the direction of Beth-jeshimoth, to the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, southward to the foot of the slopes of Pisgah. King Og of Bashan, one of the last of the Rephaim, lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei. He ruled over Mount Hermon and Salecah and all Bashan to the boundary of the Geshurites and the Maacathites. He ruled over half of Gilead to the boundary of King Sihon of Heshbon. Moses, the servant of Yahweh, and the Israelites defeated them. Moses, the servant of Yahweh, gave their land as a possession to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.”

This is a Deuteronomic summary of what happened. Basically, there were two kings east of the Jordan, kings Sihon and Og, while there will be thirty-one on the west side of the Jordan. Moses led the attack that led to the capture of these two kingdoms. This land was split up between the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.

Three refuges cites on the east side of the Jordan River (Deut 4:41-4:49)

“Then Moses set apart on the east side of the Jordan three cities, to where a murderer could flee, that is someone who unintentionally kills another person, when the two have not been enemies before. The murderer could flee to one of these cities and live. They were Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland belonging to the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead belonging to the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan belonging to the Manassites.”

Here is the direct naming of the three east bank Jordan towns that were generically mentioned in Numbers, chapter 35. The person who killed another person could flee to these cities awaiting a trial. The assumption would be that the two people involved were not enemies. Thus the murderer could avoid the blood revenge from the next of kin and safely await a trial. These towns were Bezer in the south for the Reubenites, Ramoth in the center for the Gadites, and Golan in the north by the Sea of Galilee for the half tribe of Manasseh.

“This is the law that Moses set before the Israelites. These are the decrees, the statutes, and ordinances that Moses spoke to the Israelites when they had come out of Egypt. He spoke to them beyond the Jordan in the valley opposite Beth-peor, in the land of King Sihon of the Amorites, who reigned at Heshbon, whom Moses and the Israelites defeated when they came out of Egypt. They occupied his land and the land of King Og of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites on the eastern side of the Jordan. From Aroer, that is on the edge of the Wadi Arnon, as far as Mount Sirion, that is Mt. Hermon, together with all the Arabah on the east side of the Jordan as far as the Sea of the Arabah, under the slopes of Pisgah.”

This is no longer Moses speaking himself in the first person, but a third person descriptive account about Moses speaking to the Israelites. Once again this is before the battle and the crossing into the West Jordan area. They already occupied all the land of King Sihon and King Og that had been given to the 2 ½ tribes. Moses kept insisting on the statutes and ordinances that they must follow.

 

The establishment of the Transjordan area (Deut 3:1-3:17)

“When we headed up the road to Bashan, King Og of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people for battle at Edrei. Yahweh said to me, ‘Do not fear him. I have handed him over to you, along with his people and his land. Do to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.’ Yahweh our God also handed over to us King Og of Bashan and all his people. We struck him down until not a single survivor was left. At that time, we captured all his towns. There was no citadel that we did not take from them, sixty towns, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these were fortress towns with high walls, double gates, and bars, besides a great many villages. We utterly destroyed them, as we had done to King Sihon of Heshbon. In each city we utterly destroyed men, women, and children. But all the livestock and the plunder of the towns we kept as spoil for ourselves.”

This is a more detailed account of Numbers, chapter 21, where both King Sihon and King Og are defeated. They did exactly the same thing to Og as they had done to Sihon. They captured over 60 towns and villages. Not a single survivor remained. All the men, women, and children were wiped out. The Israelites took over the kingdom of Bashan and keep the spoils for themselves.

“So at that time we took from the two kings of the Amorites the land beyond the Jordan, from the Wadi Arnon to Mount Hermon. The Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, while the Amorites call it Senir. We took all the towns of the tableland, the whole of Gilead, and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, towns of Og’s kingdom in Bashan. Now only King Og of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. In fact his bed, an iron bed, can still be seen at Rabbah of the Ammonites. By the common cubit it is nine cubits long and four cubits wide.”

The two kings of the Amorites were defeated. The Israelites now possessed all the eastern land along the Jordan River form the Arnon River near the middle of the Dead Sea to Mount Hermon, near Lebanon. There was some dispute about the name of this mountain. King Og’s bed was about 13’ long and about 6’ wide, as he was one of the last of the giants.

“As for the land that we took possession of at that time, I gave to the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory north of Aroer that is on the edge of the Wadi Arnon, as well as half the hill country of Gilead with its towns. I gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, Og’s kingdom. The whole region of Argob, all that portion of Bashan had been called a land of Rephaim. Jair the Manassite acquired the whole region of Argob, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites. He named them, Bashan, after himself, Havvoth-jair, as it is to this day. To Machir I gave Gilead. To the Reubenites and the Gadites I gave the territory from Gilead as far as the Wadi Arnon, with the middle of the Wadi as a boundary, up to the Jabbok River, the Wadi being the boundary of the Ammonites. They had the Arabah also, with the Jordan and its banks, from Chinnereth down to the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, with the lower slopes of Pisgah on the east.”

This was a big area about 100 miles long and about 30 miles wide. Chinnereth was the name for the current Sea of Galilee. This is an explicit explanation of how Moses split up the territory of the east bank of the Jordan, between the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, where they had just crushed everyone and everything.   This was first mentioned in Numbers, chapter 32.