These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness,(A) in the Arabah(B) opposite Suph,[a] between Paran(C) and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth,(D) and Di-zahab. It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb(E) to Kadesh-barnea(F) by way of Mount Seir.(G) In the fortieth year,(H) in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them. This was after he had defeated King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and King Og of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth, at Edrei.(I) Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law, saying:

Departure from Horeb

“The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. Resume your journey and go to the hill country of the Amorites(J) and their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Judean foothills,[b] the Negev(K) and the sea coast—to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon as far as the great river, the Euphrates River.(L) See, I have set the land before you. Enter and take possession of the land(M) the Lord swore to give to your ancestors(N) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their future descendants.’(O)

Leaders for the Tribes

“I said to you at that time: I can’t bear the responsibility for you on my own. 10 The Lord your God has so multiplied you that today you are as numerous as the stars of the sky.(P) 11 May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times more, and bless you as he promised you. 12 But how can I bear your troubles, burdens, and disputes by myself? 13 Appoint for yourselves wise, understanding, and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will make them your leaders.

14 “You replied to me, ‘What you propose to do is good.’

15 “So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and respected men, and set them over you as leaders: commanders for thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and officers for your tribes. 16 I commanded your judges at that time: Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge rightly between a man and his brother or his resident alien. 17 Do not show partiality when deciding a case;(Q) listen to small and great alike. Do not be intimidated by anyone, for judgment belongs to God.(R) Bring me any case too difficult for you, and I will hear it. 18 At that time I commanded you about all the things you were to do.(S)

Israel’s Disobedience at Kadesh-barnea

19 “We then set out from Horeb and went across all the great and terrible wilderness you saw on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, just as the Lord our God had commanded us. When we reached Kadesh-barnea, 20 I said to you: You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. 21 See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has told you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.

22 “Then(T) all of you approached me and said, ‘Let’s send men ahead of us, so that they may explore the land for us and bring us back a report about the route we should go up and the cities we will come to.’ 23 The plan seemed good to me, so I selected twelve men from among you, one man for each tribe. 24 They left and went up into the hill country and came to Eshcol Valley, scouting the land. 25 They took some of the fruit from the land in their hands, carried it down to us, and brought us back a report: ‘The land the Lord our God is giving us is good.’(U)

26 “But you were not willing to go up. You rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. 27 You grumbled in your tents(V) and said, ‘The Lord brought us out of the land of Egypt to hand us over to the Amorites in order to destroy us, because he hates us. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart,[c](W) saying: The people are larger and taller than we are; the cities are large, fortified to the heavens.(X) We also saw the descendants of the Anakim(Y) there.’

29 “So I said to you: Don’t be terrified or afraid of them!(Z) 30 The Lord your God who goes before you(AA) will fight for you,(AB) just as you saw him do for you in Egypt. 31 And you saw in the wilderness how the Lord your God carried you as a man carries his son all along the way you traveled until you reached this place. 32 But in spite of this you did not trust the Lord your God, 33 who went before you on the journey to seek out a place for you to camp. He went in the fire by night and in the cloud by day to guide you on the road you were to travel.

34 “When the Lord heard your[d] words, he grew angry and swore an oath: 35 ‘None of these men in this evil generation will see the good land I swore to give your ancestors,(AC) 36 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land on which he has set foot, because he remained loyal to the Lord.’

37 “The Lord was angry with me also because of you and said, ‘You will not enter there either.(AD) 38 Joshua son of Nun, who attends you, will enter it. Encourage him, for he will enable Israel to inherit it.(AE) 39 Your children, who you said would be plunder, your sons who[e] don’t yet know good from evil, will enter there. I will give them the land, and they will take possession of it. 40 But you are to turn back and head for the wilderness by way of the Red Sea.’(AF)

41 “You answered me, ‘We have sinned against the Lord. We will go up and fight just as the Lord our God commanded us.’ Then each of you put on his weapons of war and thought it would be easy to go up into the hill country.

42 “But the Lord said to me, ‘Tell them: Don’t go up and fight, for I am not with you to keep you from being defeated by your enemies.’(AG) 43 So I spoke to you, but you didn’t listen. You rebelled against the Lord’s command and defiantly went up into the hill country. 44 Then the Amorites who lived there came out against you and chased you like a swarm of bees. They routed you from Seir as far as Hormah.(AH) 45 When you returned, you wept before the Lord, but he didn’t listen to your requests or pay attention to you. 46 For this reason you stayed in Kadesh as long as you did.[f]

Journey past Seir

“Then we turned back and headed for the wilderness by way of the Red Sea,(AI) as the Lord had told me, and we traveled around the hill country of Seir for many days. The Lord then said to me, ‘You’ve been traveling around this hill country long enough; turn north.(AJ) Command the people: You are about to travel through the territory of your brothers, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, so be very careful. Don’t provoke them, for I will not give you any of their land, not even a foot of it,[g] because I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his possession.(AK) You may purchase food from them, so that you may eat, and buy water from them to drink.(AL) For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.(AM) He has watched over your journey through this immense wilderness. The Lord your God has been with you these past forty years, and you have lacked nothing.’(AN)

Journey past Moab

“So we bypassed our brothers, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. We turned away from the Arabah road and from Elath and Ezion-geber.(AO) We traveled along the road to the Wilderness of Moab. The Lord said to me, ‘Show no hostility toward Moab, and do not provoke them to battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, since I have given Ar as a possession to the descendants of Lot.’”(AP)

10 The Emim, a great and numerous people as tall as the Anakim,(AQ) had previously lived there. 11 They were also regarded as Rephaim,(AR) like the Anakim, though the Moabites called them Emim.(AS) 12 The Horites(AT) had previously lived in Seir, but the descendants of Esau drove them out, destroying them completely[h] and settling in their place, just as Israel did in the land of its possession the Lord gave them.

13 “The Lord said, ‘Now get up and cross the Zered Valley.’ So we crossed the Zered Valley.(AU) 14 The time we spent traveling from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley was thirty-eight years until the entire generation of fighting men had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them. 15 Indeed, the Lord’s hand was against them, to eliminate(AV) them from the camp until they had all perished.(AW)

Journey past Ammon

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. 19 When you get close to the Ammonites, don’t show any hostility to them or provoke them, for I will not give you any of the Ammonites’ land as a possession; I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.’”(AX)

20 This too used to be regarded as the land of the Rephaim. The Rephaim lived there previously, though the Ammonites called them Zamzummim,(AY) 21 a great and numerous people, tall as the Anakim. The Lord destroyed the Rephaim at the advance of the Ammonites, so that they drove them out and settled in their place. 22 This was just as he had done for the descendants of Esau who lived in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites before them; they drove them out and have lived in their place until now. 23 The Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor,[i](AZ) destroyed the Avvites, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, and settled in their place.

Defeat of Sihon the Amorite

24 “The Lord also said, ‘Get up, move out, and cross the Arnon Valley. See, I have handed the Amorites’ King Sihon of Heshbon and his land over to you. Begin to take possession of it; engage[j] him in battle.(BA) 25 Today I will begin to put the fear and dread of you on the peoples everywhere under heaven. They will hear the report about you, tremble, and be in anguish because of you.’(BB)

26 “So I sent messengers with an offer of peace(BC) to King Sihon of Heshbon from the Wilderness of Kedemoth, saying, 27 ‘Let us travel through your land; we will keep strictly to the highway. We will not turn to the right or the left.(BD) 28 You can sell us food in exchange for silver so we may eat, and give us water for silver so we may drink. Only let us travel through on foot, 29 just as the descendants of Esau who live in Seir did for us, and the Moabites who live in Ar, until we cross the Jordan into the land the Lord our God is giving us.’ 30 But King Sihon of Heshbon would not let us travel through his land, for the Lord your God had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to hand him over to you, as has now taken place.(BE)

31 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘See, I have begun to give Sihon and his land to you. Begin to take possession of it.’ 32 So Sihon and his whole army came out against us for battle at Jahaz. 33 The Lord our God handed him over to us,(BF) and we defeated him, his sons, and his whole army. 34 At that time we captured all his cities and completely destroyed the people of every city, including the women and children. We left no survivors.(BG) 35 We took only the livestock and the spoil from the cities we captured as plunder for ourselves. 36 There was no city that was inaccessible to[k](BH) us, from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Valley, along with the city in the valley, even as far as Gilead.(BI) The Lord our God gave everything to us. 37 But you did not go near the Ammonites’ land, all along the bank of the Jabbok River,(BJ) the cities of the hill country, or any place that the Lord our God had forbidden.(BK)

Defeat of Og of Bashan

“Then we turned and went up the road to Bashan, and King Og of Bashan(BL) came out against us with his whole army to do battle at Edrei.(BM) But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have handed him over to you along with his whole army and his land. Do to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites,(BN) who lived in Heshbon.’ So the Lord our God also handed over King Og of Bashan and his whole army to us. We struck him until there was no survivor left.(BO) We captured all his cities at that time. There wasn’t a city that we didn’t take from them: sixty cities, the entire region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these were fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides a large number of rural villages. We completely destroyed them, as we had done to King Sihon of Heshbon, destroying the men, women, and children of every city. But we took all the livestock and the spoil from the cities as plunder for ourselves.(BP)

The Land of the Transjordan Tribes

“At that time we took the land from the two Amorite kings across the Jordan,(BQ) from the Arnon Valley as far as Mount Hermon, which the Sidonians call Sirion, but the Amorites call Senir, 10 all the cities of the plateau, Gilead, and Bashan as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of Og’s kingdom in Bashan.(BR) 11 (Only King Og of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim.(BS) His bed[l] was made of iron. Isn’t it in Rabbah of the Ammonites?(BT) It is 13½ feet long and 6 feet wide by a standard measure.[m])(BU)

12 “At that time we took possession of this land.(BV) I gave to the Reubenites and Gadites the area extending from Aroer by the Arnon Valley, and half the hill country of Gilead along with its cities. 13 I gave to half the tribe of Manasseh the rest of Gilead and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og. The entire region of Argob, the whole territory of Bashan, used to be called the land of the Rephaim. 14 Jair, a descendant of Manasseh, took over the entire region of Argob as far as the border of the Geshurites and Maacathites. He called Bashan by his own name, Jair’s Villages,[n] as it is today. 15 I gave Gilead to Machir, 16 and I gave to the Reubenites and Gadites the area extending from Gilead to the Arnon Valley (the middle of the valley was the border) and up to the Jabbok River, the border of the Ammonites. 17 The Arabah and Jordan are also borders from Chinnereth[o] as far as the Sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, under the slopes of Pisgah on the east.(BW)

18 “I commanded you at that time: The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your valiant men will cross over in battle formation ahead of your brothers the Israelites. 19 But your wives, dependents, and livestock—I know that you have a lot of livestock—will remain in the cities I have given you(BX) 20 until the Lord gives rest(BY) to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them across the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession that I have given you.(BZ)

The Transfer of Israel’s Leadership

21 “I commanded Joshua at that time: Your own eyes have seen everything the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms you are about to enter. 22 Don’t be afraid of them, for the Lord your God fights for you.

23 “At that time I begged the Lord: 24 Lord God, you have begun to show your greatness and your strong hand to your servant, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can perform deeds and mighty acts like yours? 25 Please let me cross over and see the beautiful land(CA) on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.

26 “But the Lord was angry with me because of you[p] and would not listen to me. The Lord said to me, ‘That’s enough! Do not speak to me again about this matter. 27 Go to the top of Pisgah and look to the west, north, south, and east, and see it with your own eyes, for you will not cross the Jordan.(CB) 28 But commission Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will cross over ahead of the people and enable them to inherit this land that you will see.’(CC) 29 So we stayed in the valley facing Beth-peor.

Call to Obedience

“Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances(CD) I am teaching you to follow, so that you may live,(CE) enter, and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors,(CF) is giving you. You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it,(CG) so that you may keep the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you. Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal-peor, for the Lord your God destroyed every one of you who followed Baal of Peor.(CH) But you who have remained faithful[q] to the Lord your God are all alive today. Look, I have taught you statutes and ordinances as the Lord my God has commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to possess. Carefully follow them, for this will show your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples. When they hear about all these statutes, they will say, ‘This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him?(CI) And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today?(CJ)

“Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves,(CK) so that you don’t forget(CL) the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind[r] as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.(CM) 10 The day you stood before the Lord your God(CN) at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me, and I will let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me(CO) all the days they live on the earth and may instruct their children.’ 11 You came near and stood at the base of the mountain,(CP) a mountain blazing with fire(CQ) into the heavens and enveloped in a totally black cloud.(CR) 12 Then the Lord spoke to you from the fire.(CS) You kept hearing the sound of the words, but didn’t see a form; there was only a voice.(CT) 13 He declared his covenant(CU) to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments,(CV) which he wrote on two stone tablets.(CW) 14 At that time the Lord commanded me to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to follow in the land you are about to cross into and possess.

Worshiping the True God

15 “Diligently watch yourselves—because you did not see any form on the day the Lord spoke to you out of the fire at Horeb— 16 so you don’t act corruptly and make an idol for yourselves in the shape of any figure: a male or female form, 17 or the form of any animal on the earth, any winged creature that flies in the sky, 18 any creature that crawls on the ground, or any fish in the waters under the earth. 19 When you look to the heavens and see the sun, moon, and stars—all the stars in the sky—do not be led astray to bow in worship to them and serve them.(CX) The Lord your God has provided them for all people everywhere under heaven.(CY) 20 But the Lord selected you and brought you out of Egypt’s iron furnace(CZ) to be a people for his inheritance, as you are today.

21 “The Lord was angry with me on your account.(DA) He swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land(DB) the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.(DC) 22 I won’t be crossing the Jordan because I am going to die in this land.(DD) But you are about to cross over and take possession of this good land. 23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you, and make an idol for yourselves in the shape of anything he has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire,(DE) a jealous God.(DF)

25 “When you have children and grandchildren and have been in the land a long time, and if you act corruptly, make an idol in the form of anything, and do what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, angering him, 26 I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that you will quickly perish(DG) from the land you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. You will not live long there, but you will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples,(DH) and you will be reduced to a few survivors[s] among the nations where the Lord your God will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see, hear, eat, or smell. 29 But from there, you will search for the Lord your God, and you will find him when you seek him with all your heart and all your soul.(DI) 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, in the future you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 He will not leave you, destroy you, or forget the covenant(DJ) with your ancestors that he swore to them by oath, because the Lord your God is a compassionate God.(DK)

32 “Indeed, ask about the earlier days that preceded you, from the day God created mankind[t] on the earth and from one end of the heavens to the other: Has anything like this great event ever happened, or has anything like it been heard of? 33 Has a people heard God’s voice speaking from the fire as you have, and lived? 34 Or has a god attempted to go and take a nation as his own out of another nation, by trials, signs, wonders, and war, by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 You were shown these things so that you would know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.(DL) 36 He let you hear his voice from heaven to instruct you.(DM) He showed you his great fire on earth, and you heard his words from the fire.(DN) 37 Because he loved(DO) your ancestors, he chose their descendants after them and brought you out of Egypt by his presence and great power, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you in and give you their land as an inheritance,(DP) as is now taking place. 39 Today, recognize and keep in mind that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other. 40 Keep his statutes and commands, which I am giving you today, so that you and your children after you may prosper and so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”

Cities of Refuge

41 Then Moses set apart three cities across the Jordan to the east. 42 Someone could flee there who committed manslaughter, killing his neighbor accidentally without previously hating him. He could flee to one of these cities and stay alive: 43 Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau land, belonging to the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead, belonging to the Gadites; or Golan in Bashan, belonging to the Manassites.(DQ)

Introduction to the Law

44 This is the law Moses gave the Israelites. 45 These are the decrees, statutes, and ordinances Moses proclaimed to them after they came out of Egypt, 46 across the Jordan in the valley facing Beth-peor in the land of King Sihon of the Amorites. He lived in Heshbon, and Moses and the Israelites defeated him after they came out of Egypt. 47 They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two Amorite kings who were across the Jordan to the east, 48 from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Valley as far as Mount Sion (that is, Hermon) 49 and all the Arabah on the east side of the Jordan as far as the Dead Sea below the slopes of Pisgah.


  1. 1:1 LXX, Tg, Vg read the Red Sea
  2. 1:7 Or the Shephelah
  3. 1:28 Lit have melted our hearts
  4. 1:34 Lit the sound of your
  5. 1:39 Lit who today
  6. 1:46 Lit Kadesh for many days, according to the days you stayed
  7. 2:5 Lit land as far as the width of a sole of a foot
  8. 2:12 Lit them before them
  9. 2:23 Probably Crete
  10. 2:24 Or provoke
  11. 2:36 Or was too high for
  12. 3:11 Or sarcophagus
  13. 3:11 Lit nine cubits its length and four cubits its width, by a man’s cubit
  14. 3:14 Or Havvoth-jair
  15. 3:17 = the Sea of Galilee; Jos 12:3; 13:27; Lk 5:1
  16. 3:26 Or me for your sake
  17. 4:4 Lit have held on
  18. 4:9 Or don’t depart from your heart
  19. 4:27 Lit be left few in number
  20. 4:32 Or Adam

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