Lesson 2: Chapter 3
Moses' First Homily Continued:
The History of the Conquest of the Amorite Kingdom of Og,
the Partitioning of the Transjordan and
Moses' Petition to Yahweh

Almighty Lord,
We pray that we will answer Your call to obedience like Your servant Moses.  We also pray that You give us the strength of will to reflect the righteousness of Jesus Christ through our daily actions and that those actions will serve as a witness of our faith and trust in You as our Lord and sovereign King.  You have promised us eternal salvation, Lord, but like the Israelites who were promised victory over their enemies if that had the courage to trust you and to march into battle, we must also have the courage to cooperate in our own path to salvation by claiming the victory against sin. Give us the moral strength to fight to the very end, with the Sacraments as our shield, the Gospel as our sword of truth, and Jesus Christ as the center of our lives.  We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.

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 From Jacob's stock he produced a generous man who found favor in the eyes of all humanity, beloved by God and people, Moses, of blessed memory.  He made him the equal of the holy ones in glory and made him strong, to the terror of his enemies.  By the word of Moses, he made prodigies cease and raised him high in the respect of kings; he gave him commandments for his people, and showed him something of his glory.  For his loyalty and gentleness he sanctified him, choosing him alone out of all human beings; he allowed him to hear his voice, and led him into the darkness; he gave him the commandments face to face, the law of life and knowledge, to teach Jacob his ordinances and Israel his decrees.
Sirach 45:1-6

Chapter Three: The Retelling of the Conquest of the Transjordan Continues with Israel's Victory over the Amorite Kingdom of Og of Bashan

He struck down many nations,
he slaughtered mighty kings,
and Og king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan.
He gave their land as a birthright,
a birthright to his people Israel.
Psalm 135:10-12

In chapter three, Moses continues to recount Israel's prior history that brought them to their final encampment before beginning the conquest of Canaan.  This section of Moses' first homily concerns the conquest of the Transjordan (the lands on the east side of the Jordan River).  The summary of the Transjordan conquest began in Deuteronomy 2:26-37 with the defeat of the Kingdom of the Amorite king Sihon of Heshbon and is a repeat of the events that took place in Numbers 21:21-35.  King Sihon refused Israel's request to travel through his land despite the fact that he had evidence of the Israelite's peaceful intentions when they passed through southern Edom and through Moab.  In response to the king's lack of mercy, God hardened the king's heart so that he would continue to resist Israel.  The resulting battle and Israel's victory was God's first act of delivering the land into the hands of His people (Dt 2:30-31).

God's hardening of King Sihon's heart is remarkably reminiscent of God's first act of delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage when He hardened Pharaoh's heart (Ex 7:3).  It is a historical connection that is significant.  It was Moses' intention to help each new generation of covenant people who read about these events in the book of Deuteronomy to see beyond the historical events recorded in the other books of the Pentateuch and to recognize that everything that happened has been according to God's plan to give Israel her promised inheritance and to move forward God's ultimate plan for man's salvation.

After the Israelite victory over the Amorite kingdom of Sihon, the Israelite army moved north toward the Amorite kingdom of Og, ruler of Bashan.  Bashan was a region in the territory of modern Syria south of Damascus that was known for the fertility of its land (Is 2:13; Mic 7:14).  The territory of Bashan extended from the Yarmuk River to the Hermon mountains on the north and from the Golan Heights on the west to the Leja and Hauran (Jebel Druze) mountains on the east.

Notice that the historical events in part I of Moses' first homily (Dt 1:6-3:29) are presented in chronological order. 

Deuteronomy 3:1-11 Historical Prologue Continued: The Conquest of the Amorite Kingdom of King Og
1 'We then turned on Bashan and invaded that.  And Og king of Bashan marched out against us, he and all his people, to give battle at Edrei.  2 Yahweh said to me, "Do not be afraid of him, for I have put him at your mercy [into your hands], him, all his people and his country.  You will treat him as you treated Sihon king of the Amorites who lived in Heshbon."  3 So, Yahweh our God put Og king of Bashan at our mercy too, with all his people.  We beat him so thoroughly that nobody was left.  4 That was when we captured all his towns; there was not a town of theirs we did not take: sixty towns, the whole confederation of Argob, Og's kingdom in Bashan, 5 all of them fortresses defended by high walls and fortified with gates and bars, not to mention the Perizzite towns, which were very numerous.  6 We laid them under the curse of destruction [haram] as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, laying all these towns under the curse of destruction [herem]: men, women and children-7 but we seized the livestock and spoils of the towns as booty for ourselves.  8 Thus, by then we had taken the country of the two Amorite kings beyond the Jordan, stretching from the Wadi Arnon to Mount Hermon 9 (the Sidonians call Hermon 'Sirion' and the Amorites call it 'Senir'): 10 all the towns of the tableland, all Gilead, and all Bashan as far as Salecah and Edrei, the capital cities of Og in Bashan.  11 (Og king of Bashan was the last survivor of the Rephaim; his bed [sarcophagus] was the iron bed [sarcophagus] that can be seen at Rabbah-of-the-Ammonites, nine cubits long and four wide, according to the human cubit.)  [..] = literal translation (The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, page 464).

In this section of the Historical Prologue, Moses repeats events from Numbers 21:33-36.  He does not mention the Amorite kingdom of Sihon's former victory over the king of Moab and the territory they conquered (Num 21:26), nor does he include the Amorite victory song over Moab (Num 21:27-30). 

Question: Although Og ruled over Amorite territory, he was not an Amorite.  From what people was King Og descended?  See Dt 3:10 and Josh 13:12.
Answer: He was a descendant of the legendary Rephaim, an impressively large people. 

According to the book of Joshua, Og ruled from the city of Ashtaroth (Josh 9:10; 12:4; 13:12, 31).  The city was the ancient home of the Rephaim and was located about twenty miles east of the Sea of Galilee.  Ashtaroth was strategically located along the ancient trade route called "The King's Highway (see Num:21:22; Dt 2:27).  The battle between the Israelites and the army of Og took place at Edrei (Num 21:33; Dt 3:1). Archaeologists believe they have identified the ruins of Edrei south of Ashtaroth near the modern Jordanian border about thirty miles east of the Jordan River by an eastern tributary of the Yarmuk River.  Like Ashtaroth, the city of Edrei is mentioned in Ugaritic (Syria) and Egyptian inscriptions of the Late Bronze Age.  Salecah and Edrei (Dt 3:10) were on the southern boundary of Bashan with Salecah toward the east (Josh 13:11) and Edrei on the west.

Deuteronomy 3:2 Yahweh said to me, "Do not be afraid of him, for I have put him at your mercy [into your hands], him, all his people and his country.  In recounting the events of the Exodus generation's rebellion against Yahweh at Kadesh-Barnea in Deuteronomy 1:27, Moses said that the people accused God of wanting to destroy them: "Yahweh hates us, and that is why had has brought us out of Egypt, to put us into the Amorites' power [hands] and so destroy us" ([..] = literal translation, emphasis added, The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. 1, page 458).  God directly refutes this claim in Deuteronomy 2:24 and here in 3:2. The literal translation of Deuteronomy 2:24 is: Behold, I have given Sihon the king of Heshbon, the Amorite, and his land into your hands (The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 462; emphasis added).

Deuteronomy 3:4 That was when we captured all his towns; there was not a town of theirs we did not take: sixty towns,  the whole confederation of Argob, Og's kingdom in Bashan ... According this passage there were sixty cities in the region of Argob, a section of especially good land within Bashan (Josh 13:30; 1 Kng 4:13).  The mention of sixty captured cities is probably a rounded number.(1) The captured towns were large, fortified cities and smaller country settlements.  The Perizzites (verse 5) were people living in unfortified villages in Amorite territory and are mentioned as one of the seven peoples who will be dispossessed of their land in favor of the descendants of the Patriarchs (Gen 15:19-21; Dt 7:1).

Deuteronomy 3:6 We laid them under the curse of destruction [haram] as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, laying all these towns under the curse of destruction [herem]: men, women and children ... The Hebrew word herem means "a dedicated thing to be utterly destroyed"; it comes from the prime root haram, which means "to devote to religious use, to consecrate, destroy, devote, forfeit" (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, pages 355-56).  

Deuteronomy 3:11 (Og king of Bashan was the last survivor of the Rephaim; his bed [sarcophagus] was the iron bed [sarcophagus] that can be seen at Rabbah-of-the-Ammonites, nine cubits long and four wide, according to the human cubit.)

Verse 8 is a summary statement of the total extent of the two conquests of Heshbon and Bashan east of the Jordan River, while verse 10 includes additional details of what was taken within the extent of the conquered territory.

Question: What was the extent of the Transjordan conquests?
Answer: The Israelites conquered lands that extended from the Arnon river gorge that was the border between Moab and Sihon's Amorite kingdom to the northern limit of Og's Amorite kingdom of Bashan at Mount Hermon.

Mount Hermon is part of the anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its highest peak reaches over 9,000 feet.  It became a natural physical barrier that identified the border between ancient nations and, as verse 9 states, was given different names by the kingdoms near it.   Sahcah and Edrei are two towns on the southern border of Bashan, with Salcah on the east (Josh 13:11) and the royal city of Edrei on the west.(2)

Verses 9 and 11 are later additions and are more explanatory notes inserted into the text.  Verse 11 includes verification of the claim that Og was a descendant of the giant Rephidim by noting Og's tremendous size.

Question: According to Genesis 14:5-6 where were the Rephidim and the other giant peoples mentioned in Deuteronomy 2:20-21 living? Also see Dt 3:13.
Answer: The giant peoples identified as Rephidim were living in the Bashan, with the center of their culture at Ashtaroth, while the Zuzim were living at Ham and the Emim on the Plain of Kiriathaim.

The Anakim, Emim, Rephaim and Zamzummin (Zuzim) were the legendary aboriginal inhabitants of Canaan and the Transjordan.  "Ham" the home of the Zuzim may be a reference to the "land of Ham", Canaan; Deuteronomy 2:20 records that the Ammonites considered the Zuzim and Rephidim to be the same people.  Kiriathaim was a town on the Plains of Moab (Num 32:37; Josh 13:19). The reference to the "Plain of Kiriathaim" is probably the portion of Moabite tableland where the city was located.  It will be allotted to the tribe of Reuben.(3)

Og's large iron "bed" may have been the sarcophagus he was buried in - this translation fits the context of verse 11. The word for "bed" in Hebrew is the same word for sarcophagus. According to the traditional measurement of a "common" cubit (as opposed to a Sanctuary cubit), Og's nine cubit by four cubit iron bed/sarcophagus was about 13 feet by 6 feet. The number nine may also be symbolic since, in the significance of numbers in Scripture, nine is the number which symbolizes judgment.(4) Verse 10 identifies the plateau that Sihon took from the Moabites.  This portion of the plain stretched from the Arnon river gorge north to Gilead.

In his homily, Moses includes one significant addition in verse 3 when recounting the defeat of King Og.  This statement is absent from the earlier account in the book of Numbers but supports what Moses related about the defeat of Sihon at the battle of Jahaz in Deuteronomy 2:33 when he told the new generation of Israel: And Yahweh our God handed him over to us ....

Question: Who does Moses say is responsible for Israel's victory over the Amorite kingdom of Og, and why is this a significant message for the new generation?  See Dt 3:3.
Answer: Moses gave the credit for the victory to Yahweh.  This statement is significant because it emphasizes the theme of God's protection of His people.  When the Israelites were obedient to Yahweh's commands, He gave them victory over their enemies, like their victories over the region's most powerful and highly trained Amorite armies of Sihon and Og.  The message to the new generation is this: if they remain faithful and obedient, Yahweh will continue to give them victories over their enemies.

Question: Why was it necessary for the Israelites to defeat the Midianites (Num 31:1-12) and the two kingdoms of the Amorites (Num 21:23-24, 31-35) before beginning the conquest of Canaan?
Answer: From a strategic standpoint, it was necessary for the Israelites to eliminate powerful enemies on their flanks and to their rear before they crossed the Jordan River into Canaan.  Their encampment near the Jordan River left them venerable to attack-with the river to their west, there was no way to retreat from a large scale attack.  The Amorites and their allies the Midianites were the most powerful military forces in the region, and it was absolutely necessary for the Israelites to eliminate the threat posed by them before beginning to fulfill God's plan to conquer Canaan.

Deuteronomy 3:12-17The Historical Prologue Continued: The Partitioning of the Conquered Transjordan Kingdoms Sihon and Og
12 'Then we took possession of this country, from Aroer on the Wadi Arnon.  To the Reubenites and Gadites I gave half the highlands of Gilead with its towns.  13 To the half-tribe of Manasseh I gave the rest of Gilead and the whole of Bashan, Og's kingdom.  (The whole confederation of Argob and the whole of Bashan is called the country of the Rephaim.  14 Since Jair son of Manasseh occupied the whole confederation of Argob as far as the frontiers of the Geshurites and Maacathites, after him Bashan is called the Encampments of Jair [Havvoth-jair*] even today.)  15 To Machir I gave Gilead.  16 To the Reubenites and the Gadites I gave the region from Gilead to the Wadi Arnon, the middle of the ravine marking the boundary, and up as far as the Jabbok, the ravine marking the frontier of the Ammonites.  17 The Arabah and the Jordan serve as frontiers from Chinnereth down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea), at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah on the east. [..] = literal translation;* also "villages of Jair" (The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, page 465).

After summarizing the extent of the conquered territory, Moses recounted the allotment of the conquered lands of the Transjordan to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (the two clans of Jair and Machir).  This event is described in greater detail in Numbers chapter 32. The tribes of Reuben and Gad had petitioned Moses to let them keep the conquered lands of the Transjordan instead of claiming an inheritance in Canaan.  After negotiating the terms of the request, God gave Moses permission to grant their petition, providing they kept their obligations to their brother Israelites to be the advance troops for the invasion and conquest of Canaan (Num 32:1-27).

Pisgah is the mountain, or mountain chain, that is the southeastern boundary of the Arabah.  Mount Nebo, where Moses will die, is part of the Pisgah range (Num 21:20; 23:14; Dt 3:27; 4:49; 34:1).  Pisgah overlooks the northeast corner of the Dead Sea and the southeastern end of the Jordan River Valley (see Num 34:11-12).  Chinnereth is an ancient name for the region of the Sea Galilee.  In Scripture the Sea of Galilee is called the Sea of Chinnereth/Kinneret (Num 34:11; Dt 3:17; Josh 13:27; 19:35) and was known during the Roman occupation as the Sea of Tiberias (Josh 12:3; 13:27; Jn 6:1, 23; 21:1). See the Appendix to this lesson for the location of the geographic sites mentioned in Deuteronomy Chapters 1-4.

Question: Briefly define what territory was allotted to Reuben, Gad, and the two Manasseh clans?  See Num 32:12-16; Josh 13:15-28).
Answer: There is some confusion in the Biblical accounts, but basically Reuben and Gad received the territory that extended in the south from Aroer, on the banks of the Arnon River, northward to the southern half of the hill country of the Gilead and the Manassehite clans occupied lands north of them:

Verse 17 gives the details of the allocation of land east of the Jordan River and details of the western border of all three of the Israelites tribes given land in the Transjordan, setting off their lands from the other tribes who will settle west of the Jordan.  The entire rift valley of the Arabah (which includes the Jordan River Valley and extends to the Dead Sea) defined the border between the eastern and western tribes.  The Jordan River acted as the boundary from Chinnereth (ancient name of the region of the Sea of Galilee), which was the northern limit with Geshur and Maacah, small Canaanite kingdoms on the north-eastern side of the Jordan and as far south as the Dead Sea (the sea of the Arabah).(5)  The reference to Pisgah may be to a mountain range to the east of the Dead Sea, or it may be a general term referring to a mountain peak or high place.  After Moses' last homily, as he prepared to die, Moses ... went up Mount Nebo, the peak of Pisgah opposite Jericho, and Yahweh showed him the whole country ... (Dt 34:1).

Deuteronomy 3:18-22Historical Prologue Continued: The Agreement with the Tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the two clans of Manasseh for Possession of the Transjordan Lands
18 'I then gave you this order: "Yahweh your God has given you this country to be yours.  Armed, every one of you fit to fight must go ahead of your brothers the Israelites.  19 Only your wives, your children and your flocks (you have many flocks I know) must stay behind in the towns which I have given you, 20 until Yahweh has brought your brothers to rest as he has already brought you, and they too possess the territory which Yahweh your God is giving them on the other side of the Jordan; after that, you can go home, each to the domain I have given you." 21 I then gave Joshua this order, "You can see for yourself everything that Yahweh our God has done to these two kings; Yahweh will do the same to all the kingdoms through which you pass.  22 Do not be afraid of them: Yahweh your God himself is fighting for you."   

Question: How many times has the command that the Israelites must not be afraid been repeated thus far?
Answer: Five times in 1:17, 21, 29; 3:2, and 22.

To be obedient, to trust God and to not be afraid is one of the central themes of the book of Deuteronomy.  It is a message that is reverent to every generation of believers.

The agreement to allow the tribes of Gad and Reuben to settle in the conquered lands of the Transjordan and the addition of the two clans of Manasseh in that settlement is covered in greater detail in Numbers 32:20-33.

Question: What excuse did the tribes of Reuben and Gad give for wanting to settle in the Transjordan?  It is a reason alluded to in Dt 3:19; also see Num 31:42-47; 32:1-5; Dt 2:35; 3:7.
Answer: They had huge flocks and herds of animals-flocks and herds which had grown significantly with the addition of the livestock taken in the Transjordan wars.  They told Moses that the Transjordan was perfect land for raising livestock.  In other words, they did not want to cross the Jordan for economic reasons.

Question: In order to have their petition granted, what condition did the Reubenites, Gadites, and the two clans of Manassehites have to agree to?  Why, despite his anger over their request (Num 32:6-15), did Moses agree to their petition?  Also see Num 32:16-24 and Josh 4:12.
Answer: They were allowed to settle their families and livestock on the conquered Transjordan lands if they agreed to be the vanguard of the Israelite army in the conquest of Canaan.  Moses realized that the rest of the tribes were going to be hampered by their wives, children, and large herds and flocks of animals.  With the families, herds and flocks of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh settled in the Transjordan, those warriors could be the effective shock-troops of the Israelite conquest of Canaan.

Question: In his homily, what warning did Moses give the tribes who wanted to settle in the Transjordan?
Answer: The vanguard forces could not return to their families settled in the Transjordan until all the tribes had secured the land God promised them.

In Joshua 22:1-8, Joshua dismissed the Transjordan tribes, thanking them for keeping their promise, blessing them and sending them to their homes on the far side of the Jordan.  However, the first action they took upon returning to the east side of the river was to build an altar to Yahweh at a Canaanite shrine site (Josh 22:9-10).  According to the law of the covenant, there could be only one place of worship and sacrifice for Yahweh and that was the altar of sacrifice in Yahweh's Sanctuary that was built and consecrated at Mt. Sinai (Ex 40) and which was located in Shiloh after the conquest.  Their action was seen as a breech of the Sinai Covenant and the other tribes prepared to go to war against the Transjordan tribes (Josh 22:11-12, 16).  The Transjordan tribes defended themselves by saying that the altar was not to be used for sacrifice and worship, but only as a reminder of their covenant with Yahweh (Josh 22:26-29).  The high priest Phinehas accepted their explanation, but it was a dangerous precedent that was to lead to future apostasy. 

Question: Why did God allow the two and a half tribes to settle in the Transjordan?  These were not lands specifically included in the promise to Abraham, although some scholars argue that this part of the Transjordan was intended to be part of the Promised Land. 
Answer: In order to advance God's plan to bring forth the promised Redeemer Messiah from the Israelites, as a people they must be settled on the east side of the Jordan River in the land God promised the Patriarchs.  God will richly bless those tribes who are obedient to His plan for man's salvation.  However, God always gives man the free-will choice to cooperate and be blessed through obedience to His plan or to reject His blessings and to follow their own plan. 

Question: What will be the result of the division of the twelve tribes by the physical barrier of the Jordan River?  What is the message for us?  Note: eventually the Transjordan Israelites disappeared from the pages of history as they were disbursed into the Gentile world.(6)
Answer: The choice the two and a half tribes made to remain separated from their brethren by the physical barrier of the Jordan River-a barrier that became a spiritual division-is an example of the disastrous results of choosing one's own plan in opposition to God's plan.  

You will remember that the Exodus generation did not trust God and used their wives and children as the excuse why they did not want to invade Canaan: Why has Yahweh brought us to this country, for us to perish by the sword and our wives and children to be seized as booty? (Num 14:3).

Question: How does the willingness of the children of the Exodus generation to leave their wives and children behind in the Transjordan as they lead the army of Israel in the conquest of Canaan illustrate the differences between the two generations?
Answer: The Israelites who settled in the Transjordan were going to be leaving the wives and children behind, unprotected in a new land.  They trusted God to care for their families while they fulfilled their duty to God and to their brother tribes in leading the conquest of Canaan.

Deuteronomy 3:23-29 Historical Prologue Continued: Moses Tells of His Final Appeal to Yahweh to Allow Him to Enter the Promised Land
23 I then pleaded with Yahweh.  25 "My Lord Yahweh," I said, "now that you have begun to reveal your greatness and your power to your servant with words and mighty deeds no God in heaven or on earth can rival, 25 may I not go across and see this fine [good] country [land] on the other side of the Jordan, that fine [good] upland country [land] and the Lebanon?"  26 But, because of you, Yahweh was angry with me and would not listen.  "Enough!" he said, "Do not mention this subject again!   27 Climb to the Pisgah; turn your eyes to the west, the north, the south, the east.  Look well, for across this Jordan you shall not go.  28 Give Joshua your instructions; encourage him, strengthen him; for he will be the one to cross at the head of this people; he will be the one to bring them into possession of the country which you will see."  29'We then stayed in the valley, close to Beth-Peor.'
[..] =
literal translation (The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, page 466).

Deuteronomy 3:25 "My Lord Yahweh," I said, "now that you have begun to reveal your greatness and your power to your servant with words and mighty deeds no God in heaven or on earth can rival... Moses addressed his prayer to Adonai/Adonay YHWH. It is the special title "Lord" coupled with God's covenant name and will only be repeated a second time in a prayer when Moses speaks of pleading with God in Deuteronomy 9:26. It is the same address Abraham used in his prayer of desperation in Genesis 15:2 and 8 that God give him an heir and that Joshua will use in a prayer of desperation during the early period of the conquest (Josh 7:7-9). The reference to other gods in no way suggests that Moses believed there were gods other than Yahweh. He is instead affirming that there are no other gods since no pagan god has proved its existence by performing the mighty works of Yahweh.

In this passage, we are again reminded in the literal Hebrew text of the "good" God planned for His people in giving them the "good land" of Canaan.  For a second time, Moses reminded the people that because of them he will not be permitted to enter the Promised Land (Dt 1:37).  This part of the historical review provides the new information that Moses pleaded with God to set aside His judgment and provides a glimpse into Moses' intimate relationship with Yahweh.  The prayer of Moses comes first (verses 24-25) and is followed by God's response to Moses' petition (verses 26-28). 

Read about Moses' failure that resulted in the judgment that he was not to enter the Promise Land in Numbers 20:6-12 and the previous event that is connected to his failure in Exodus 17:1-7.  See the commentary on the significance of those two events and Yahweh's judgment in the study on the Book of Numbers, Lesson 9.
Question: What exactly was the nature of Moses' (and Aaron's) failure when Moses stuck the Rock at Kadesh in the presence of the community and the priest Aaron, as he had done before at Horeb/Mt. Sinai in the presence of the leaders of Israel (Ex 17:5-6), instead of calling on the Rock to give forth its life-giving water as he was commanded in Numbers 20:7-8.  See Num 20:12 and 27:12-14.

Answer: In striking the rock instead of calling upon the Rock, Moses demonstrated that he did not believe God could assert His holiness in bringing forth the water from the Rock simply by calling upon the Rock: For you both rebelled in the desert of Zin when the community disputed with me and when I ordered you to assert my holiness before their eyes by means of the water.'  (These were the Waters of Meribah of Kadesh, in the desert of Zin.)

Question: What did St. Paul reveal about the Rock in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4?
Answer: St. Paul wrote that the Rock in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20 is Jesus Christ.

"Rock@quot; is a title used for Yahweh in Dt 32:4, 15, 18, 31 (for false gods in 30, 31 and 37).  Rock is also found as a title for God in 2 Sam 23:3; Ps 18:2, 46; Is 17:10.


Question: What were the theological implications of Moses' act in striking the Rock with God standing on the Rock in the first episode, as witnessed by some of the leaders of Israel and God's command to call upon the Rock to give it's life-giving water in the second episode in the presence of the priest Aaron and the community of the Old Covenant Church, according to what St. Paul revealed about the Rock being Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 10:4?  Also see Num 27:12-14; Mt 26:57; 27:1-2, 41-43; Jn 6:53-58; 7:37-38; 19:33-34.
Answer: St. Paul reveals that the Rock was Jesus Christ.  Jesus was struck down once for our sins in the presence of some of the leaders of Israel/Judea when He died on the Cross.  When the Roman soldier struck His side, blood and water flowed from His Body on the Altar of the Cross (Jn 19:3-34), to nourish His Church in the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist on their journey to salvation like the water that flowed from the Rock to nourish the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land.  From the time of Jesus' crucifixion forward, the Church receives, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the waters of eternal life from the Body and Blood of Christ the Rock in the Eucharist when the priest, in the presence of the community of the New Covenant Church, calls upon God the Holy Spirit to assert His holiness and make Jesus Christ present to His people.  In full view of the covenant community, Jesus the Rock who provides the waters of life comes to His people in the Sacrament of the Eucharist as He promised in John 6:53-58 and 7:37-38. The foreshadowing of these events of water from the Rock took place in the first striking of the Rock at Sinai when God stood upon the Rock at Horeb/Sinai and Moses struck the Rock (and therefore God) to receive the water (Ex 17:6) and in the second event when Moses and Aaron, the covenant mediator and the ordained priest, in full view of the community, were ordered to call on the Rock to give its life-giving water (Num 20:7-9).

The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the Miracle of the Eucharist Prefigured in the Water from the Rock in Ex 17:5-7 and Num 20:7-11 (emphasis added)

On the last day, the great day of the festival, Jesus stood and cried out: 'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me!  Let anyone who believes in me come and drink!  As scripture says, "From his heart shall flow streams of living water..." Jn 7:33-34

In the cloud and in the sea they were all baptized into Moses; all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, since they drank from the spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ. 1 Cor 10:2-4
Ex 17:5-6 Yahweh then said to Moses, 'Go on ahead of the people, taking some of the elders of Israel with you; in your hand take the staff with which you struck the River, and go.  I shall be waiting for you there on the rock (at Horeb). 

Strike the rock,

and water will come out for the people to drink,' This is what Moses did, with the elders of Israel looking on.
Mt 26:57 The men who had arrested Jesus led him off to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled
Mt 27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people met in council to bring about the death of Jesus.
Mt 27:35, 41 When they had finished crucifying him ... The chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him...

Jn 19:33-34 When they came to Jesus, they saw he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water.
Is 55:1 Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty ...
Is 55:3 Pay attention, come to me; listen, and you will live.  I shall make an everlasting covenant with you in fulfillment of the favors promised to David.

Num 20:7-9 Yahweh then spoke to Moses and said, 'Take the branch and call the community together, you and your brother Aaron [the priest].  Then, in full view of them, order [call upon] this rock to release its water.  You will release water from the rock for them and provide drink for the community ... ' 
On the Lord's Day the entire community of the New Covenant Church is called together to witness the miracle of the Eucharist.

In the sacrifice of the Mass the priest, in full view of the community, asserts God's holiness* by calling upon the Holy Spirit, and Christ is made present upon the altar to provide food and drink for the faithful: Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day (Jn 6:54).

Michal E. Hunt © 2011

*see Num 20:12 and 27:14


Question: In Numbers 27:12 Yahweh rebuked Moses and Aaron by saying: Because you did not believe that I could assert my holiness before the Israelites' eyes, you will not lead this assembly into the country which I am giving them.  Are there those today who are members of the New Covenant Church and do not believe God has the power to assert His holiness before the assembly of the faithful when the validly ordained priest speaks the words of consecration and calls upon God the Holy Spirit to make Christ present upon the altar?  See Jn 6:51-58, 66; 1 Cor 11:23-29 and CCC 1381-82, 85.

Answer: Sadly, there are members of the New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ who refused to believe in the power of God to make Christ present in the Eucharist and have left the Church, like those who walked away from Jesus in John 6:66.  However, there are also others who, like Judas, stay and do not believe and put their immortal souls in jeopardy every time they receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist without discerning His Real Presence and without receiving Him in a state of grace who, in St. Paul's words, are eating and drinking to their own judgment.

Question: At what other times during Moses' 40 year relationship with Yahweh (5) did he approach God with a personal request (concerning only himself )?  How did God answer those petitions?  See Ex 4:10-17; 33:17-23; and Num 11:10-17.
Answer: Moses made a personal appeal to God:

  1. When he asked God to relieve him of the burden of the Exodus liberation because he was not an eloquent speaker. 
  2. When he asked to see God's glory (to see God face to face).
  3. When he asked God to let him die because the burden of leading the Israelites was too much for him.

On each of these occasions, God answered part of the petition:

  1. God allowed Aaron, Moses' brother, to be his spokesman.
  2. Moses was permitted to see the back parts of God.
  3. God permitted Moses to appoint 70 elders to assist him.

Question: Why did Moses make the petition, and what was Yahweh's response to Moses' request to enter the Promised Land despite His earlier judgment?  Moses was told before the Israelites reached the Plains of Moab that he will die before the Israelites cross the Jordan into Canaan (Num 27:12-13).  Notice that he does not ask that his life be extended but only that he will be allowed to cross the river with his people and see the Promised Land.  How many years had Moses served Yahweh?  See Ex 7:7; Dt 34:7; and Acts 7:23(7)
Answer: Moses had spent the last 40 years of his life devoted to the mission of bringing his kinsmen into the land God promised to their forefathers.  It was inconceivable to him that God would not allow him to fulfill the final part of his mission.  God denied part of Moses' request-he could not cross the Jordan River with his people to see the Promised Land, but God did promise to allow Moses to view the land before he died.

Question: Obviously, God did not reveal the greater part of His plan for mankind's salvation that required Joshua to be the new leader of the new generation.  Moses would, however, be informed and have a part in the plan for man's liberation from sin and death in what significant event that also granted Moses' petition to speak with God "face to face"?  See Lk 9:28-31.  Note: the name "Jesus" in Hebrew is the same name as "Joshua".
Answer: Both Moses and Elijah had the privilege of meeting "face to face" with God the Son prior to His final journey to Jerusalem. The great lawgiver and the great prophet spoke face to face with their Messiah on the Mt. of Transfiguration.  They spoke with Jesus about His final "exodus" (literal Greek) from Jerusalem when He would lead the New Covenant people of God out of bondage to sin and death and into the Promised Land of Heaven.

Question: How was Moses' response to God's divine judgment that he could not enter the Promised Land for his failure to believe different from the Exodus generation's response to God's divine judgment that they could not enter the Promised Land because of their failure to believe?  See Num 14:39-45; Dt 1:41-45?
Answer: Unlike the Exodus generation at Kadesh, who refused to submit to God's judgment and attempted to invade Canaan without God's protection, Moses, after his petition was denied, humbly accepted God's divine judgment.

Question: With his petition to enter the Promise Land denied, what final mission did Yahweh give His servant Moses?  See Dt 3:28-29.
Answer: God commanded Moses to prepare Joshua for the mission of leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land.

In His mercy, God permitted His old servant to view the land of promise before his death (see Dt 32:48-52).  It had been Moses' life mission to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, but it was God's plan that Yahshua/Joshua was the one destined to lead the people of God across the Jordan, from the east bank to west, to take possession of the Promised Land.

Question: What great act of salvation history will Joshua's action of leading the people in the crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land from east to west prefigure?  See Jn 1:24-33 (the "far side" of the Jordan River is the east side).
Answer: Joshua's crossing of the Jordan River from the east to the west was the beginning of his mission in the conquest of Canaan, when he led God's covenant people into the Promised Land.  Jesus'/Yahshua's crossing of the Jordan River from the east to the west after His baptism was the beginning of His mission to bring salvation to mankind and to lead the New Covenant people of God into the Promised Land of heaven.

The chapter ends with Moses' words identifying their location: 'We then stayed in the valley, close to Beth-Peor.'  Beth-Peor, "house/place of Peor", was a town on the plain of Moab, east of the Jordan River (Josh 13:20).  The town was near the Canaanite shrine of the god Baal.  It was at the pagan cultic shrine of Baal on the plains of Moab that the new generation of Israel fell into idolatry, just as their parents had in the sin of the Golden Calf (Ex 32).  This statement is the introduction to part II of Moses' first homily that will begin with the reminder of Israel's sin, judgment and repentance in the incident at Baal-Peor (Num 25:1-18).

Questions for group discussion:

Moses' statements of God's actions on behalf of Israel in Deuteronomy 2:33 and 3:3 indicated a different way that the Israelites were to understand God's role in history.  Victory was assured from the start because God was with His covenant people.  He was actively participating in the realm of human history as He had from the start of man's creation, but in the defeat of the Amorite kingdoms of Sihon and Og, the victories were not a miraculous act of God apart from His people as had been the miracles of nine of the Egyptian plagues (Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, pages 116-117). 

Question: What was different this time (as opposed to God's miracles in Egypt and on the journey to the Sinai) that was critical for the new generation to understand if they were to successfully take possession of the land God had promised to the Patriarchs?  See God's words to Joshua in Dt 3:21-22.
Answer: The people of God were not just observers of God's mighty acts on their behalf.  They had to cooperate with God to achieve the victory.  They had to enter the battle and experience the presence of God in their works of faith, trust and obedience in order to achieve the promise of the victory.

Note: the tenth plague did require the Israelite's cooperation in the sacrifice of the lambs and kids, the smearing of the blood of the victim in a cruciform shape on the doors of their houses, and the eating of the victim in a sacred meal.  Without the act of faith in God's promise to save them, they would have perished (see Ex 12).

Question: St. Paul wrote that all these things that happened in the Old Testament are lessons for us who live in the final age of mankind (1 Cor 10:6-13).  How does the lesson of claiming victory through faith and obedience apply to those of us who have been promised eternal salvation by Jesus Christ?  See CCC 1129, 1257, 1277, 1696, 1698, 1811, 1889.
Answer: In the Exodus liberation from slavery in Egypt, God worked to save the Israelites and secure their freedom just as in man's liberation from sin and death Jesus did the work of liberation by offering Him life on the Cross and by resurrecting from the dead.  Because of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection our eternal salvation is a promised victory, but it is a gift in which, like the holy warriors of Israel, we must cooperate with God in achieving our final victory.  We must engage in the battle for our salvation by remaining faithful, by trusting in the promises of Jesus Christ, and by being obedient in living out our New Covenant faith according to His commands.


1. 1 Kng 4:13 records that sixty cities were in the region of the Argob in King Solomon's day (d. 930 BC), centuries after the conquest. An Egyptian list of cities in the same region in the fifteenth century BC names eleven cities that had ties to the Egyptians (Mazer, Cities and Districts in Eretz-Israel, pages 182-189).

2. Verse 9 lists the Sidonian and Amorite names for Mt. Hermon.  That the Phoenicians of Sidon called the mountain Sirion is verified from the Ugaritic texts and that the Amorite name was Senir is known from a historical account of Assyrian King Shalmaneser.  It is believed that the place-names Salecah (verse 10) is the city Salhad, mentioned in a Nabatean inscription.  Salhad is located on the southern heights of Mt. Hauran (Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, page 120).

3. In the conquest of Canaan, the Israelites drove the Anakim out of the Hebron highlands, also called the "Valley of the Rephaim" (Josh 15:8; 18:16) and the survivors resettled along the coast in the cities of Gaza, Gath and Ashdod (Num 13:33; Josh 11:21-22; 14:12-15; 15:13-15; 21:11). As a young warrior, David killed Goliath of Gath who was probably a descendant of the Anakim/Rephaim (Josh 11:12; 1 Sam 17:4, 48-51). Years later, when David was King of Israel, David's soldiers killed the last of the four descendants of Rapha, the eponymous ancestor of the Rephaim, (2 Sam 21:16-22; 1 Chr 20:4-8), including another huge man named Goliath, probably a son or relative of the former champion killed by David over a decade earlier (2 Sam 21:19).

4. For Og's bed/sarcophagus to be made of iron is unusual. Iron was relatively uncommon in the Late Bronze Age, and in that period iron was mostly used as decoration for ceremonial objects (the Hebrew word for "iron" means "pierced"). Verse 11 notes that the bed/sarcophagus could still be seen at the capital of the Ammonites (modern Amman, Jordan). Since it is assumed that the additional inscription was added many years later, the reference may have been to another kind of monument - a chromlech/dolmen. There are numerous such monuments in the vicinity of Ammon, Jordan - table shaped monuments consisting of two or more large unhewn stones fixed upright in the ground supporting a large flat stone in a horizontal position. The stone is typically black ferrous basalt. These structures are believed to have been used as monuments for tombs. Archaeologist Gustav Dalmon discovered a noteworthy dolmen which matched the approximate dimensions of Og's bed/sarcophagus in 1918. The region north of the Jabbok river in Bashan, called in the Bible "the land of the Rephaim" (Dt 3:13; Josh 12:4-5; 13:12; 15:8; 18:16; 2 Sam 5:18), contains hundreds of megalithic stone tombs dating from the 5th to 3rd millennia BC. Such monuments are rare on the west side of the Jordan River. The only concentration of stone burial monuments on the west side of the river are found are in the hill country of Judah in the vicinity of Hebron, where the giant Anakim lived. Later, the word rephaim became a synonym for the ghosts in Sheol (Job 25:5-6/26:5-6; Ps 88:10; Prov 2:18; 9:18; 21:16; Is 14:9; 26:14, 19 - sometimes translated in English as "the shadows" or "the shades").

A non-biblical reference to Og is found in a Phoenician funerary inscription from Byblos that dates to c. 500 BC and says if anyone disturbs the bones of the occupant of the tomb, "the mighty Og will avenge me" (Byblos 13; published in 1974). Another connection can be found in an ancient Ugaritic text, dating to the 2nd millennium BC, which uses the term "king" in association with the word "Rapah" (the ancestor of the Rephaim) and includes geographic place names that correspond to Og's cities of Ashtaroth and Edrei (Dt 1:4; Josh 9:10; 12:4; 13:12, 31).

5. The Israelites claimed Geshur, but they never fully occupied it, and the kingdom remained independent (Josh 12:5; 13:11).  In the era of the United Monarchy of Israel, Geshur and Maacah were united as one kingdom and David married Maacah, the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur who bore him a son, Absalom, and a daughter, Tamar (2 Sam 3:3; 13:1; 1 Chr 3:2).  After murdering his half-brother, Amnon (David's first-born), in revenge for raping Tamar, Absalom fled to the kingdom of his grandfather, King Talmai of Geshur (2 Sam 13:21, 32-37).

6. The Transjordan tribes were deported eastward into Gentile lands under the Assyrians in c. 732 BC.  After this they disappeared from the historical record of the Bible, although Reuben's name does appear in the prophetic texts of Ezekiel and Revelation (Ez 48:6; Rev 7:5).

7. According to Scripture and Jewish tradition, Moses' was 40 years old when he fled Egypt (Acts 7:23).  He was eighty years old when he spoke to the Egyptian pharaoh (Ex 7:7),  and he was 120 years old when he died at the end of the 40 years from the Exodus liberation to the arrival on the plains of Moab (Dt 34:7).  Therefore, Moses spend 40 years as God's covenant mediator and Law giver.


Geographical Sites mentioned in Deuteronomy chapters 1-4

Ar (Dt 2:9, 19, 29): An important city and region in Moab (east side of the Jordan River).

Argob (Dt 3:4, 13-14): A region in Bashan in northern Transjordan with sixty fortified cities that were conquered by the Manassehite clan of Jair.

Arnon (Dt 2:24; 3:8, 12, 16): A river gorge that flows into the midpoint of the Dead Sea on the east of the Rift Valley.  It marked the northern boundary of Moab and the southern boundary of the Amorite kingdom of Sihon.

Aroer (Dt 2:36): A fortress guarding the King's Highway, the trade route that crossed the Wadi Arnon nearby (Jer 48:19); also the nearby town in the Arnon valley.  The river Arnon marked Moab's northern boundary with the Amorites (Dt 2:36). 

Ashtaroth and Edrei (Dt 1:4; 3:1, 10): Probably Tel Ashterah, a site along the King's Highway, about 20 miles east of the Sea of Galilee in modern Syria.  Edrei has been identified as Deraa, a town south of Ashtaroth near the Jordanian border with Syria.  Both cities are mentioned in Ugaritic and Egyptian documents of the Late Bronze Age.  King Og of Bashan reigned in both Ashtaroth and Edrei according to Josh 12:4; 13:12, 31.

Bashan (Dt 1:4; 3:1-29): The Amorite kingdom of Og; it was fertile region extending from east of the Sea of Galilee and north of the Yarmuk River to the range of the Hermon mountains and from the Golan Heights on the west to Leja and Hauran, the Druze mountains, on the east.  In ancient times it had been the homeland of the Rephaim (Dt 3:13). 

Beth-Peor (Dt 3:29; 4:46): In Hebrew "house" or "place" of Peor.  A town near the site of the religious shrine of Baal-Peor on the east side of the Jordan River.  This town had once belonged to Moab but was conquered by King Sihon of the Amorites (Num 23:28).  After they defeated the Amorites, the Israelites camped nearby in the valley not far from the river (Josh 13:20).  It was at Baal-Peor that the women of Moab and Midian seduced the Israelite men into the sins of sexual prevision and idolatry by participating in the cultic ceremonies of the fertility god Baal (25:1ff).

Bezer (Dt 4:43): A town "in the wilderness in the Tableland" of Moab, probably indicating the eastern region of the Plains of Moab and mentioned in the Mesha stela.

Chinnereth/Kinneret (Dt 3:17): Chinnereth is an ancient name for the region of the Sea Galilee (Num 34:11; Dt 3:17; Josh 13:27; 19:35), and it was known during the Roman occupation of the Holy Land as the Sea of Tiberias (Josh 12:3; 13:27; Jn 6:1, 23; 21:1).

Di-zahab (Dt 1:1): Probably located on the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba.

Edom/Edom-Seir (Dt 1:2; 2:8): Edom was the southernmost of the Transjordan kingdoms.  Edomite territory stretched south and east of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.  The location of Edom on the main trade route of the King's Highway made it both economically and strategically important (Num 20:17).  The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, the eldest son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, and the twin brother of Jacob.

Elath/Ezion-geber (Dt 2:8): A town on the north coast of the Gulf of Aqaba (1 Kng 9:26).  It may be the same place as Ezion-geber, a port city on the northern shore of the Gulf of Aqaba.  The site was used as an encampment by the Israelites (Num 33:35; Dt 2:8).

Geshur (Dt 3:14): A small kingdom in Transjordan, east of the Sea of Galilee and north of Bashan.

Golan in Bashan (Dt 4:43): This site has not been positively identified but scholars assume it was located somewhere in the vicinity of the Golan Heights.

Havvoth-jair (Dt 3:14): In Hebrew the "villages of Jair."  A group of towns or settlements in northern Transjordan conquered and occupied by the clan Jair of the tribe of Manasseh.

Hazeroth  (Dt 1:1): The second campsite of the Israelites after leaving Mt. Sinai (Num 11:35; 33:17).

Heshbon (Dt 1:4; 2:26): Capital of the Amorite King Sihon, located east of the Jordan.

Horeb (Dt 1:2; 4:10): The most frequent name for Mt. Sinai and the surrounding region in Deuteronomy.

Jabbok/Yabbok River (Dt 2:37; 3:16): Eastern tributary of the Jordan River and the border between the Amorites and the Ammonites.  Later it formed the boarder between Gad and the Manassehite clans.  It was the site where Jacob wrestled with the angel of God (Gen 32:22).

Jahaz (Dt 2:32): A city on the east side of the Jordan that marked the boundary between Amorite territory and the Ammonite frontier.  At Jahaz the Israelites defeated the Amorite king, Sihon and took possession of his lands. 

Kadesh/Kadesh-Barnea (Dt 1:2, 19, 46): An oasis in the northern Sinai that was the gateway to the Negeb and the rest of Canaan. Kadesh is mentioned in the story of Abraham, was the intended jumping off point for Israel's invasion of Canaan in Numbers, and was the place where Miriam died (Gen 14:7; 16:14; 20:1; Num 13:26; 20:1).

Kedemoth (Dt 2:26): A city in what had formerly been Moabite territory that was conquered by the Amorites and the wilderness east of Moab (Josh 13:18).

Paran (Dt 1:1): A wilderness region in the northern Sinai and southern Negeb.

Pisgah (Dt 3:27; 4:49): Pisgah is the mountain, or mountain chain, that is the southeastern boundary of the Arabah.  Mount Nebo, where Moses will die, is part of the Pisgah range (Num 21:20; 23:14; Dt 3:27; 4:49; 34:1).  Pisgah overlooks the northeast corner of the Dead Sea and the southeastern end of the Jordan River Valley (see Num 34:11-12).

Ramoth/Ramoth-Gilead (Dt 4:43): A fortress city on the east side of the Jordan in the northern territory of Gilead that was given to the tribe of Gad.

Salecah/Salcah (Dt 3:10): Identified with a site on the southwestern edge of Mt. Hauran in the fertile Bashan region (modern Syria) of the Transjordan.

Wadi Zered (Dt 2:13): The wadi and valley was the southern boundary of Moab and the boundary between Moab and Edom.  Crossing the Wadi-Zered ended Israel's forty years in the wilderness as well as the transition from the old to the new generation of Israelite warriors and was the beginning of the conquest of the Transjordan and marked (Dt 2:18).

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2010 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references: CCC 1381-82, 85.