Deuteronomy 2:1-4 Moses continues to review their past 40 years and how the Lord has brought them safely thus far. He’s reminding this next generation of God’s care as they are about to take the land from the Canaanites. They were about to claim the inheritance promised by God. Courage was needed and Moses knew this, and he’s stressing God’s faithfulness. He reminds them of God’s judgment and discipline on the first generation who were forced to wander in the wilderness forty years until the last adult died. Now God charged this new generation to advance and take the Land
Deuteronomy 2:4-6 God warns Israel they were going to pass through Seir where the Edomites, the descendants of Esau lived. Since they were their brothers, they were not to provoke them. If they did, Israel would be defeated, because God had given Seir to Esau and his descendants. Esau also known as Edom was Jacob’s brother (Gen. 25:30). As they passed through Edom, they were to pay for the food and water they needed.
Deuteronomy 2:7-9 Once again Moses reminds them that God had watched over them making sure they lacked nothing. Just as God led the first generation, He would lead this second generation with His presence and guidance and would be with them as they went through Edom and as they approached the land of Moab. They were admonished not to touch the Edomites as well as the Moabites. God promised the land of Moab to Lot and his descendants (Genesis 19:37). Their land would not be a part of the promised land given to Israel.
Deuteronomy 2:10-12 These verses cover a brief history of the area, showing how God fulfilled His promise to Abraham by using Lot and Esau. The point is significant: if God fulfilled His Word to Abraham blessing his nephew Lot and his great-grandson Esau, he surely would provide for them, His first-born sons. The Moabites had defeated a terrifying people know as the Emim, Anakites and Rephaites who were part of the people who terrified the previous generation. The Edomites also defeated the Horites and settled in their land. All these people were part of the of Canaanites that were now being removed from God’s land because they polluted it with their sin.
Deuteronomy 2:13-16 This is the charge of God to the second generation 38 years after they had left Kadesh Barnea and marked a new beginning for God’s people. The entire first generation perished in the wilderness because of their refusal to trust and obey God. None from the first generation was left, each person twenty years old and older had been eliminated. This charge needed to be remembered by the second generation to understand that no one escapes the judgment of God which is an important aspect of His faithfulness in keeping His word in both blessings and discipline.
Deuteronomy 2:17-23 God here warns Israel not to harass the Ammonites as they were the descendants of Lot as were the Moabites. God also used the Ammonites to defeat the Rephaites or Zamzummites and occupy the land assigned to them. These verses are a reminder that God is sovereign over all nations.
Deuteronomy 2:24-25 Resuming the travel narrative again, Moses recalls the command of the Lord to the people that they press on to the Land promised to them. They have arrived at the Arnon River, a deep ravine that was the border between the Moabites and the Amorites to the north. This time the instructions are different because the Amorites, were not related in any way to Israel and were in fact enemies of the Lord and his people. They were unrepentant squatters who had to be removed from the lands promised to Israel. God commanded Israel to make war against Sihon, king of the Amorites. The Lord said that he had already delivered the Amorites to Israel by putting in them and the other nations they were going to evict, terror and fear.
Deuteronomy 2:26-30 Moses offered terms for peace to Sihon. In exchange for safe passage through his territory, Israel would remain on the road toward Jericho and would not take any property or produce without paying for it. Moses shared with Sihon that the Edomites and Moabites had permitted Israel to pass through their lands with the same terms that he was offering Sihon. Sihon refused to let Israel pass and Moses attributed this to God at work hardening his heart. This is exactly what happened with Pharaoh in Egypt. Men have a free will but in some way the timing of their resistance to God and His will is in the Lord’s hands. Both free will and God’s sovereignty are at work in the affairs of men. Consider these scriptures: Prov. 21:1 “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes. And the example of Cyrus, king of Persia who becomes the Lord’s servant to help Israel return to Israel at the end of the Babylonian captivity. Consider also a Rabbinical understanding of God’s sovereignty as taught by Paul in Rom. 9:10-24.
Deuteronomy 2:31-37 The hardness of Sihon was the beginning of his downfall. This is how the Lord could say, “I have begun to deliver Sihon and his country over to you”. Israel simply had to follow the Lord’s leading into battle. The battle was the Lord’s and as such victory was assured. Sihon, his sons, and his army were routed, and the people were placed under חָרַם “charam” meaning to be set apart to the Lord’s judgment and completely annihilated. This action is in harmony with the covenant outlined later in Deuteronomy, where cities, houses, wells, vineyards, and olive groves would become Israel’s without their doing any work (Deut 6:10-11). Israel’s victory over Sihon and the Amorites extended from “from Aroer to Gilead” which is referring to the Arnon River to the Jabbok which were the borders of Amorites. The land of the Ammonites remained untouched as Israel was told that the Lord had given those lands to the descendants of Lot.