Deuteronomy 2:16-23

Key Verse(s):

Deuteronomy 2:16–18 (HCSB)

16 “When all the fighting men had died among the people, 17 the Lord spoke to me, 18 ‘Today you are going to cross the border of Moab at Ar.


Moses continues his reflection of the past, this passage concerning the Israelites trek past the land of the Ammonites. There are two interesting points here:

  1. The recurrence of the theme of God providing, promising, and protecting other peoples than the Israelites is interesting. Israel may have been God’s “chosen people”, but we again see that He is concerned with all people, and has no issue with moving and displacing people groups as He sees fit in pursuing His plan. This passage alone makes reference to three people groups that lived in the Ammonites land prior, as well as to the Horites whom Esau’s descendants displaced. We should always remember that God’s plans extend far beyond our little world, and even far beyond the borders of our nation.
  2. Why would God have to tell the Israelites not to fight with the Ammonites (v19) when all the fighting men had died (v16)? Perhaps the reference to “fighting men” is meant specifically for those older men whom God had declared this punishment, and there was a younger generation of fighting men that had risen up as well. This seems likely, but the text still carries an interesting connotation that Israel has lost some of its might. Perhaps it is a reminder of just how weak the Israelites were without God. Notice in Deut 2:19 God goes on to say “I will not give” and “I have given”, suggesting that any change of possession is under God’s control, not man’s. We ought to be careful not to place our trust in our weapons, our tools, our economy, our whatever, instead of God.


Lord, thank You for leading us, for guiding us, and for showing us the boundaries of where we can and should go, versus where we should avoid. You do this in all areas of our life, yet we often ignore Your guidance. Help me to obey You, to listen for Your lead, and to follow through. Amen.


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