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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 3

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


Verse 1

1. Bashan A region celebrated for its oak groves and rich pastures and fine cattle. We find many references to it in the poetical books. Psalms 22:12; Psalms 68:15; Isaiah 2:13; Zechariah 11:2.

Verses 1-11

THE CONQUEST OF THE KINGDOM OF OG A VIEW OF THE LAND, Deuteronomy 3:1-11. After the defeat of Sihon the Israelites were able to move on in their march toward Jordan. As Og held Bashan and the northern part of Gilead, they took the road to Bashan, and met and defeated this powerful Amorite king at Edrei.

Verses 1-29


First Discourse, Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:40.

Addressing the people, with the Promised Land in their sight, Moses reviews the events that have occurred in their march from Horeb to the plains of Moab. He reminds them how God had fulfilled his promises, and how they had sinned, and by their unbelief and rebellion had been kept from entering into the promised possession; and he admonishes them not to forfeit by new transgressions the land they are destined to conquer.

Verse 4

4. Threescore cities, all the region of Argob In every instance in which Argob is mentioned there is accompanying it the descriptive word חבל , rope. Our translators have rendered it “region” in one place and “country” in another. It evidently means a sharply defined border, as if measured by a line or rope. Porter’s Giant Cities of Bashan says: “It thus describes with singular accuracy and minuteness the rocky rampart which encircles the Lejah,” the modern name of Argob. The Argob is a vast field of basalt placed in the midst of a fertile plain. Its surface has an elevation of about thirty feet, and its border is clearly defined by a bank of broken cliffs. In this region were the sixty cities mentioned in the text.

Verse 5

5. These cities were fenced The ruins of these cities are seen to-day. Porter thus describes the region of the captured cities: “The hills of Bashan were close in front, their summits clothed with oak forests and their sides studded with old towns. As we ascended them the rock fields of the Lejah were spread out on the right, and there too the ancient cities were thickly planted. Not less than thirty of the threescore cities of Argob were in view at one time on that day, their black houses and ruins half concealed by the black rocks amid which they are built, and their massive towers rising up here and there like the ‘keeps’ of old Norman fortresses.”

Verses 8-9

8, 9. From… Arnon unto Mount Hermon The river Arnon formed the boundary between the Moabites and the Amorites. Hermon is the southern spur of Antilibanus. This mountain was one of the great landmarks of the Israelites, being marked as their northern boundary as the “sea” was with their western. It bore different names, each significant.

Hermon is the lofty peak. Sirion, as the Sidonians called it, and Shenir, its Amorite name, imply a glittering breastplate. It is now called Jebel es-Sheikh, or Jebel et-Tilj. It is also called Sion. See Deuteronomy 4:48.

Verse 10

10. Salchah In 1 Chronicles 5:11, this place is mentioned in connexion with the tribe of Gad. This, it is thought, is identical with the modern town of Sulkhad, which is located at the southern extremity of the Argob of Scripture.

Edrei Comp. Numbers 21:33.

Verse 11

11. Only Og… remained of the… giants In Abraham’s time the Rephaim were living in Bashan. Genesis 14:5.

His bedstead was… of iron It has been suggested that this was a sarcophagus of basalt. The black basalt of that region contains a large proportion of iron.

Is it not in Rabbath… Ammon Afterward called Philadelphia, now identified with

Amman about twenty-two miles from the Jordan.

After the cubit of a man That is, the ordinary cubit, usually reckoned as eighteen inches. That there was more than one cubit is clear. It has been supposed that Og, in preparing his sarcophagus, intentionally exceeded the necessary size, so as to convey an exaggerated impression of his extraordinary stature. In like manner Diodorus Siculus (xvii, 95) says that Alexander, in his march to India, caused two couches to be prepared for every footsoldier, each five cubits long.

Verses 12-20


The territory taken on the east of the Jordan was given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and to the half tribe of Manasseh. The southern part, from Aroer in the valley of Arnon, and Gilead as far as the Jabbok, to the Reubenites and Gadites; the northern part of Gilead, with Bashan that is, the Argob to the half tribe of Manasseh.

Verse 14

14. Jair the son of Manasseh Meaning, descendant of Manasseh. He was of the tribe of Manasseh on his mother’s side.

Coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi That is, the Geshurites and Maachathites. The Geshurites are often named in connexion with Bashan. David married the daughter of Talmai, king of the Geshurites. Absalom was born of this marriage. After the murder of his brother Amnon by his command, Absalom fled to Geshur, and lived three years in exile among his mother’s kindred. 2 Samuel 13:37. The precise location of Geshur is not decided. It was somewhere near Hermon, on the eastern side of the upper Jordan. The exact location of Maachathi is not settled. It was probably in the neighbourhood of Hermon, not far from Geshur.

Havoth-jair The dwellings or abodes of Jair. Havoth is from the Hebrew word which means life, as the Germans use Leben in such forms as Eisleben.

Verse 15

15. Machir He was the eldest son of Manasseh. His name is put for the tribe.

Verses 16-17

16, 17. Reubenites… Gadites The territory allotted to the tribes of Reuben and Gad is more fully described. They were to have Gilead to the south of the Jabbok as far as the Arnon to the middle of the valley. (The gorge or valley of the Arnon is eighty miles long and about two miles wide.) On the western side they were to have the Arabah or plain, and the bank of the Jordan from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.

Ashdoth-pisgah probably means the slopes of Pisgah.

Verses 18-20

18-20. Moses herein reminds the people of the conditions under which the territory spoken of had been given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh. Comp. Numbers 32:20-32.

Verse 25

THE APPOINTMENT OF JOSHUA AS THE SUCCESSOR OF MOSES, Deuteronomy 3:21-29. In Numbers 27:12-23, the death of Moses is foretold, and the appointment and consecration of Joshua related. Moses here reminds the people of this, and tells them that, notwithstanding his prayer that he might go over and see the goodly land, his request is not granted. This prayer of Moses is not mentioned in Numbers. It undoubtedly preceded the request for the appointment of a leader for the congregation.

25. That goodly mountain Not one particular portion of the Promised Land is referred to, but the whole as a hilly region. As Moses stood on the plains of Moab the land across the Jordan would be to his vision mountainous throughout.

Verse 26

26. The Lord was wroth with me See notes on Deuteronomy 1:37.

Verse 29

29. So we abode in the valley Here the people were encamped a long time. The transactions related in Numbers 28-34 took place here. Here these discourses of Moses were spoken. Near this spot he was buried.

Beth-peor See on Numbers 23:28.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/deuteronomy-3.html. 1874-1909.
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