Devotional Short Note to Deuteronomy 2


Before we delve into this chapter we need to understand that scholars are trying to toothpick all kinds of strange ideas regarding Moses’ editorial work and compilation here. They are saying that when Moses’ introduce something new in this Book, he uses the phrase “which I command” like in 4:2 and 40. But when he is using the Books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, he is using the expression “as was commanded/swore/promised” like in 2:1 and 14. We will have a chance to test these concepts by secular Jews of the recent-past scholarship. Of course Moses is going to use older laws that he penned down in the desert given to him by God either direct, on the mountain or else by visions or other means of revelation. He explains older laws that were given in wilderness but to say he expanded it is a question we reserved the answer for until we look into it in this Book. Moses is not scrutinizing the laws for practical deficiencies or other reasons, he did already explain it in such a way in the wilderness, he is just putting it in print here what he said then. There is no difference between what he said earlier or now. He reminds them what he told them before, a theme that is constantly popping-up in Deuteronomy.

To say that Moses had a concern for inconsistencies between cases, is not correct. He had a long experience dealing with cases and he is just jotting down what he said or did all these years. Some say Moses had a concern to make the law comprehensive or integrated here in Deuteronomy. But, that was his heartfelt feeling all the time dealing with Israel from day one.

Others felt that Moses was trying in this Book of Deuteronomy to make the laws more workable or practicable. But, that is not true either since nothing he said here would cancel what he said earlier. The fact that it is not reported in the same way as it is said here in Deuteronomy, does not mean that he never said it the same way as he is saying it here later in his life, even earlier in his life.

Scholars are trying to say that the combination of priests and magistrates in a court is a combination of civil and religious persons together is a Book of Deuteronomy invention. This cannot be true. Moses will not develop or adjust the words of the Lord earlier on his own. It is rather a command by God to do it later for purposes that God knows why, or God said it from day one and Moses is only penning it down now in the Book of Deuteronomy.

Moses wish to continue the anecdotes of rebellion in ways past and bad consequences for not following the Lord.

He said that they took their trip into the wilderness and they past Mount Seir (2:1). They lingered at this mountain.

Then the Lord spoke to them to pass on (2:3).

They should turn northward.

They would pass through the area of distant brothers the children of Esau which dwelled in Seir. Their attitude will not be good but they need to take care of themselves: “take good heed unto yourselves therefore” (2:4).

How should they deal with this “brotherly” enemy? Do not meddle with them; they are not given their land; for the land was given unto Esau (2:5). Trading can be done with money so that they can buy meat from them to eat, water to drink (2:6).

For 40 years God has seen that they lack nothing. He provided for them (2:7). “You lacked nothing”.

Some words of Moses in 1411/1410 BCE compares very well with phrases one finds in the early Amarna corpus that dates to the days of Thutmosis IV or pharaoh Naphureya the father of Nimmureya (Amenhotep III). In the letter EA 29 which is from the days of Thutmosis IVth between 1410-1405 BCE, with Artatama dating to 1405 BCE, one sees the author using the words: “and I have not caused [my brother dis]tress” EA 29 line 147, also line 165, compared to Moses in Deuteronomy 2:9 where the Lord said through Moses to Israel: “Distress not the Moabites”. The original transcribed by Knudzon reads: ù[ a-n]a-k[u libbibi ai-]ia lu-ú la ú-še-im-ri-i translated by me as: “and I, the heart of my brother, not did I cause distress”. The Amarna corpus was using similar language and formulas that Moses was using a few years earlier in the Book of Deuteronomy. It is to be expected that there will be correspondences. Writers that are professional use the linguistic conventions of their times. Moses was learned from Egyptian top Universities under the watchful eye of his supporter mentor pharaoh Hatshepsut, between 1518-1490 BCE. Quite a period of education. The Amarna corpus comes from the city built by the grandson of Thutmosis IV, Amenhotep IV, or Ikhnaton, a hippie pharaoh. But, it collected also the old archives of his grandfather and that is the early corpus or war years of the Amarna corpus when the Habiru = SA-GAZ people = Hebrews, were causing havoc in Canaan with the Egyptian overseers having heart attacks. These are the texts that I am comparing here. Proximity and relevancy are the key words here. Forget about Wellhausen’s “after the exile compositions” theories as a qualified reader of the Koran as he was, a great Arabist superimposing his research over the Hebrew Scriptures to prescribe for Moses what he wrote and what not, when he wrote and when not. Shelve him kindly back among the other books in the library and leave him where he belongs. Among Arabic research where he more properly belongs.

And now that we are free from obstacles studying Moses’ Book of Deuteronomy, one can proceed.

The time the Lord was with them, says Moses was 40 years. That means it is the year 1410 BCE (Deuteronomy 2:7). The internal dating of Deuteronomy is 1410 BCE for chapters 1 and 2.

It is the time of the reign of Thutmosis IV the grandson of the pharaoh of the Exodus Thutmosis III who’s body was never found after that Red Sea incident. The Thutmosis III mummy in the Oriental Institute in Chicago is the oldest son of Thutmosis III that also died at 12 o’ clock when the angel of the Lord came through. This mummy is only 35 years old and Thut III was much older in his seventies.

Thutmosis IV reigned possibly between 1419/1418-1386 BCE. His first year was probably in 1415 BCE. It is not always clear if the pharaohs are dated by sole rulership or co-rulership times. He was not a well-documented pharaoh. Yet there are enough evidence available of him with his building projects. Both Amenhotep II and Thutmosis IV focus was not to Canaan but to the South majorly.

God gave the area to Lot and the Emims lived there in the past, also tall like the Anakims. The division of the land to Lot happened in 2162 BCE during the reign of Neterkhet of the 2nd Dynasty in Egypt? The Emims is shrouded in mystery and speculation is the only resort. The Sumerian word for “house” is É. Mim should then also be a cuneiform word meaning something else. The suggestion is that they were Mesopotamian traders squatting in the area before 2162 BCE. At that time the area of Sodom and Gemorrah was very beautiful as well as the other cities in that valley which is today the Dead Sea. With Hammurabi [not the later Hammurabi of the Law but an earlier one] or Amraphel interested in the area in the days of Lot, it is thus not too remote to seek for a meaning for Emims.

They were also giants but the Moabites called them Emims (2:11).

At these early times, the Horims dwelled at Seir but the children of Esau destroyed them (2:12). This must have been between 2040-2030 BCE when Isaac developed some form of cataract on the eyes?

Esau married a Hittite so that Hurrians and they were probably mixed? Is Horims another form of Hurrians? Their main capital was at Nuzi.

Between strata V and III at Nuzi, there were buildings and graves at the site in the Dynasty of Agade and the Gutian Invasion between 2180-2070 BCE. There is a one meter layer of ashes of burning and destruction probably indicative of this invasion during the time of Lot. They may have resettled in Moab as they fled before the Invaders? The early building texts dated to just after 2070 BCE. The Hurrian history of Nuzi starts after the end of the Ur III period in 2004 BCE which is the date for the destruction of Ur. It spans a period between 2004-1475 BCE, the last date which is the letter of Saushshattar. During this period there were no graves at Nuzi. It is between strata IIB until strata I.

With this excursus on the history of God’s dealings with these great nations giving their land to the people, it is then fair to say that God does not want them to fear these people. They are to rise up and get over the brook Zered. They stood up and went over (2:13). The time it took between Kadesh-Barnea and the brook of Zered is 38 years (2:14). It is maybe 1410 BCE that they arrived at the Zered? They arrived at Kadesh-Barnea 2 years after the Exodus in 1448 BCE.

The delay happened until all died who the Lord decreed that they should not live to enter (2:15-16).

They are to pass over Ar the coast of Moab that day (2:18).

Also the Ammonites they are not to distress for the Lord gave it over to the sons of Lot (2:19). They were also giants in the olden times before Lot came there in 2165 BCE, namely the Zamzummims. Again there is mere speculation over who they could have been?

Who in 2165 BCE could qualify for the Zamzummims?

First about the word. One cannot miss the repetition of consonants in the word. Normally when Semites want to express something repetitive or circle shape, they used the repetition mode of the root. The root is repeated indicating a circular movement. The /z/ in the word would disqualify a Sumerian or Assyrian word. Mesopotamia is not likely the place where one expect them to come from.

In the later Ammonite area, the Zamzummims were living. Then Lot and his children moved in and later the Ammonites lived there. Scholars suggested that it is a people who speaks in a buzzing voice, and others suggested that they are people scheming. But, it cannot satisfy the quest of investigation much. One never hear of them afterwards any more. One does not know much of them even before this time. On page 273 of the Hebrew Dictionary by Brown-Driver-Briggs they suggested one who speaks gibberish on the basis of Arabic! Moses knew nothing about Arabic and to use 6th century A.D. Arabic to analyze a word used by the author in 1410 BCE dating to 2165 BCE, is methodologically flawed. Cancel and shelve.

What does archaeology reveal about these people in Transjordan pottery wise and material culture before 2165 BCE?

According to the specialists in this area, during this time a donkey based trade existed in the region. At Heshbon for example, there is evidence of an Early Bronze sherd with a rope motif on the rim found in 1971 at Locus C.1:44 and published in Hesban after 25 years page 231. James A. Saur’s comment (idem) that there was a lack of water at Heshban is a jump to conclusions. The area was one of the most beautiful areas because Lot selected it for himself in 2165 BCE and many nations wanted to come and grab it in 2151 BCE which was the 14th year of the foreign occupation according to Genesis 14 but in Genesis 13:10 Lot selected this area because it was “well watered”. Saur contradicts the Word of God here. Shelve his idea. The rope motif on the Early Bronze big jars can also be found on the Hanriver at Amsa in South Korea on the southern side of the river settlements. Common for that period in 2165 BCE. So who are the Zamzummims? We do not know. Early Greek traders? Was it a musical instrument?

But the Lord destroyed them in the time of Esau in 2040-2030 BCE before them (2:21). Just as He did in 2165, he did also in 2040 BCE. As He did at Moab for Lot, He did at Seir for Esau and He did at Ammon also for Lot in 2165 BCE.

Other squatting nations were also destroyed by God: Avims who dwelled at Hazerim, Caphtorims from the island of Caphtor (2:23) were all destroyed. This is proof that they squatted there and it was not their original habitat. Many anti-colonialists are trying to retreat or rewind the engine by claiming these nations land were stolen by the Israelites. Not so. They were squatting there anyways.

Sihon at Hesbon was an Amorite! Squatter again. It is not his homeland or home-country. The Amorites were all known on the edges of the Tigris and Haran and other desert areas (2:24).

From that day that they are to take Heshbon from the Amorite king Sihon, the Lord was going to spread the news of their fear to all nations (2:25).

The start of the Amarna Corpus letters of overseers to the pharaoh with cries, which one can see in the early corpus of the military letters, was one big lament about the SAGAZ or Habiru that ransacked them left right and center. One cannot miss the central message. Asking the pharaoh to send more troops but the pharaohs were dumbfounded.

No reaction.

Moses sent a messenger to Sihon saying that he asked for right of passage through his area. He wanted meat and water for money but was not planning any other situation than to pass through (2:26-29). He had references that he did the same at Seir and Moab.

But Sihon was obnoxious. “Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him” (2:30).

“His heart was obstinate” (2:30).

So the Lord gave his land into the hand the Israelites (2:31).

They fought at Jahaz (2:32).

All were smote (2:33).

All the cities were taken at that time (2:34). They destroyed everyone.

The cattle they took as prey and spoil (2:35).

From Aroer unto Gilead there were none too strong for them (2:36).

But unto the land of the Ammonites, they did not come for they lived in places near the Jabbok and in cities of the mountains. The Lord forbade them to disturb them (2:37). It appears that the Ammonites were remnants of Lot. They were not to be destroyed at all.


Dear God

When You decide to give a space for someone, You do it and You keep to Your decisions and Words. We pray that in our day and age, You will protect us against the evil who wants to steal and landgrab around us. In Jesus Name. Amen.