Summary of passage: We follow the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. They reached the land of the Amorites and their king, Sihon, would not let Israel pass through. They fought and Israel occupied the land of the Amorites. Another king, Og, marched out against the Israelites as well but God said to Moses do not be afraid for I have already handed them over to you. So the Israelites conquered them and took their land as well.
9a) The Israelites turned away from the Edomites. Here, Israel chose to fight and they were victorious.
[In Deuteronomy 2:30 we discover another reason for the engagement: The Lord made Sihon’s spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate. We also see in Deuteronomy 2 that God told the Israelites to engage Sihon in battle in order for other nations to begin to fear you and tremble before you. God wanted the Israelites to possess the land and plunder the town.]
b) It gave them a place to stay and rest on their way to the Promised Land. The news of the defeat of the Amorites would spread to other nations and they would begin to fear the Israelites. And it boosted their morale–what the Israelites desperately needed. It also was a useful distraction that would leave them no time to grumble.
9c) Personal Question. My answer: I haven’t had a spiritual victory in my life this week.
10a) They may not have wanted 2 million people traipsing through their backyards. They may be warring peoples who saw an opportunity to take riches and slaves from the Israelites. They may have been afraid of being conquered so they struck first. And in Deuteronomy 2 we see God’s hand as he hardened the heart of Sihon in order to hand him over to Israel. Hence, God was the one deciding who Israel would fight and not fight.
b) In my humble opinion, this is an extrapolation that does not make much sense especially in light of Deuteronomy 2 where we see God’s hand in these wars. Comparing 2 million refugees if you will to individuals is completely different. We see stubbornness in Deuteronomy 2 and an unwillingness to be magnanimous in life. We see selfishness. We see greed. We see man’s nature and man’s sin. Nothing has changed today as much as we tell ourselves it has. Every war has evil and sin behind it as does every evil deed. And there is no other way around it.
11a) “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites.”
b) Personal Question. My answer: Again, another poor extrapolation. In Numbers, the Israelites are facing death and so must defend themselves in a life and death situation. So God says to kill them all. The only thing I can think of here is to pray first and see what God says. If you are facing a physical attack, obviously fight back. If your character is being attacked, I would say the same–with God’s guidance. Again, too open-ended and vague here to get a proper response.
In response to what we learn in Deuteronomy 2, I’d ask God, “God, what are you trying to teach me here through this person’s attack? How are you looking to grow me?” It seems God had a mighty hand in Sihon’s heart as he does in all believers’ and unbelievers’ hearts. Everything is for a reason–one we normally cannot see. So ask Him for guidance. To see. To learn. To grow.
Conclusions: Questions such as 9c make me wonder: am I supposed to have a spiritual victory in my life? What if I haven’t? Is there something wrong with me? Am I not doing enough for God if I haven’t had a spiritual battle this week? Again, another open-ended question with no answer for me. Too big to narrow it down to anything of substance and in this case a question that makes me feel inadequate–which I don’t like nor appreciate. It’s a small part, but it’s there.
This lesson is driving me nuts and I’m sure you all will comment on how I shouldn’t say anything negative about BSF or their questions. But that’s not me. I tell it how I feel and to me this lesson was horrible–the worst in recent memory. I almost want to skip lecture because of it! 5 out of 21 questions are of a personal nature (that’s 24%!) all of which I thought unnecessary and too broad. A waste of time, effort, and space.
Yet, at the same time, I feel bad for saying how horrible this lesson was in my opinion because I’m not supposed to say such things and feel like I’m complaining.
For me, I would much rather have spent only a day or two on this chapter and moved on so I can digest the last 10 chapters of Numbers and the 1st 26 chapters of Deuteronomy in a few short weeks. Furthermore, I wish the parallel chapters in Deuteronomy would have been assigned for us to read instead of re-reading them in the next few weeks. This added much to my understanding here as more details are recorded.
Maybe I’m just missing the whole point here so enlightenment by you all would be most welcome.
End Notes: The Book of the Wars is lost to us as are several other books mentioned in the Bible.
We see God strengthening the Israelites here, giving them opponents to bolster their faith and belief. What a merciful God we have!
Scholars say the poetry quoted here is to show how cultured the peoples were who were conquered, adding to Israel’s victory.
This land conquered later becomes part of Israel, land given to Gad and Manasseh.
We end Chapter 21 on a positive note for once. However, as we shall see, the Israelites still have an uphill battle in their quest for the Promised Land.
Another Version showing Iye Abarim: http://www.bibleornot.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/exodus-route-map.jpg