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Deuteronomy 1-2 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Moses Talks to the Israelites

These are the commands that Moses gave the Israelites while they were in the Jordan Valley, in the desert east of the Jordan River. This was across from Suph, between the desert of Paran and the cities Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab.

The trip from Mount Horeb through the mountains of Seir to Kadesh Barnea takes only eleven days. But it was 40 years from the time the Israelites left Egypt until the time they came to this place. On the first day of the eleventh month of the 40th year, Moses spoke to the people and told them everything the Lord commanded. This was after he defeated Sihon and Og. (Sihon was the king of the Amorites and lived in Heshbon. Og was the king of Bashan and lived in Ashtaroth and Edrei.) The Israelites were in Moab on the east side of the Jordan River when Moses began to explain what God had commanded:

“At Mount Horeb the Lord our God spoke to us. He said, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. Go to the hill country where the Amorites live and to all the neighboring areas in the Jordan Valley, the hill country, the western slopes, the Negev, and the seacoast. Go throughout the land of Canaan and Lebanon as far as the great river, the Euphrates. Look, I am giving you this land. Go and take it. It is the land that I, the Lord, promised to give to your ancestors—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I promised to give this land to them and to their descendants.’

Moses Chooses Leaders

“At that time I told you, ‘I can’t take care of you by myself. 10 And now, there are even more of you. The Lord your God has added more and more people, so that today you are as many as the stars in the sky. 11 May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, give you 1000 times more people than you are now! May he bless you as he promised. 12 But I cannot take care of you and solve all your arguments by myself. 13 So choose some men from each tribe, and I will make them leaders over you. Choose wise men with experience who understand people.’

14 “And you said, ‘That is a good thing to do.’

15 “So I took the wise, experienced men you chose from your tribes, and I made them your leaders. In this way I gave you leaders over 1000 people, over 100 people, over 50 people, and over 10 people. I also gave you officers for each of your tribes.

16 “At that time I told these judges, ‘Listen to the arguments between your people. Be fair when you judge each case. It doesn’t matter if the problem is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner. You must judge each case fairly. 17 You must treat everyone the same when you judge. You must listen carefully to everyone—whether they are important or not. Don’t be afraid of anyone, because your decision is from God. But if there is a case too hard for you to judge, bring it to me and I will judge it.’ 18 At that same time I also told you everything you must do.

The Spies Go to Canaan

19 “So we obeyed the Lord our God. We left Mount Horeb and went to the hill country of the Amorites. You remember that big, terrible desert that we walked through. We came as far as Kadesh Barnea. 20 Then I said to you, ‘You have now come to the hill country of the Amorites. The Lord our God will give us this country. 21 Look, there it is! Go up and take the land for your own. The Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you to do this, so don’t be afraid or worry about anything.’

22 “But all of you came to me and said, ‘Let’s send some men to look at the land first. They can spy out the land and come back and tell us the way we should go and which cities we will come to.’

23 “I thought that was a good idea. So I chose twelve men from among you, one man from each tribe. 24 Then they left and went up to the hill country. They came to the Valley of Eshcol and explored it. 25 They took some of the fruit from that land and brought it back to us. They told us about the land and said, ‘The Lord our God is giving us a good land.’

26 “But you refused to go into the land. You refused to obey the Lord your God. 27 You went to your tents and began to complain. You said, ‘The Lord hates us! He brought us out of the land of Egypt just to let the Amorites destroy us. 28 Where can we go now? The men we sent have frightened us with their report. They said, “The people there are bigger and taller than we are. The cities are big and have walls as high as the sky. And we saw giants[a] there!”’

29 “So I said to you, ‘Don’t be upset or afraid of those people. 30 The Lord your God is in front, leading you. He will fight for you just as he did in Egypt. 31 You saw what happened in the desert. You saw how the Lord your God carried you like a man carries his child. He brought you safely all the way to this place.’

32 “But you didn’t trust the Lord your God then either. 33 But he was always in front, going ahead to find a place for you to camp. At night, he was in the fire that showed you where to go. And during the day, he was in the cloud.

People Not Allowed to Enter Canaan

34 “The Lord heard what you said, and he was angry. He made a vow. He said, 35 ‘Not one of you evil people who are alive now will go into the good land that I promised to your ancestors. 36 Only Caleb son of Jephunneh will see that land. I will give Caleb the land he walked on, and I will give that land to his descendants, because he did all that I, the Lord, commanded.’

37 “The Lord was also angry with me because of you. He said to me, ‘Moses, you cannot enter the land, either. 38 But your helper, Joshua son of Nun, will go into the land. Encourage Joshua, because he will lead the Israelites to take the land for their own. 39 You thought your little children would be taken by your enemies. But those children, who are still too young to know right from wrong, will go into the land. I will give it to them. Your children will take the land for their own. 40 But you—you must turn around, take the road to the Red Sea and go back into the desert.’

41 “Then you said, ‘Moses, we sinned against the Lord, but now we will do what the Lord our God commanded us before—we will go and fight.’

“Then each of you put on your weapons. You thought it would be easy to go and take the hill country. 42 But the Lord said to me, ‘Tell the people not to go up there and fight, because I will not be with them. Their enemies will defeat them!’

43 “I spoke to you, but you did not listen. You refused to obey the Lord’s command. You thought you could use your own power, so you went up into the hill country. 44 The Amorites who lived there came out like a swarm of bees and chased you all the way from Seir to Hormah. 45 Then you came back crying to the Lord for help, but the Lord refused to listen to you. 46 So you stayed at Kadesh for such a long time.

Israel Wanders Through the Desert

“Then we did what the Lord told me to do. We went back into the desert on the road that leads to the Red Sea. We traveled for many days to go around the mountains of Seir.[b] Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have traveled around these mountains long enough. Turn north. Tell the people this: You will pass through the land of Seir. This land belongs to your relatives, the descendants of Esau. They will be afraid of you. Be very careful. Don’t fight them. I will not give you any of their land—not even a foot of it, because I gave the hill country of Seir to Esau to keep as his own. You must pay the people of Esau for any food you eat or water you drink there. Remember that the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He knows about everything that happened on the trip through this great desert. The Lord your God has been with you these 40 years. You have always had everything you needed.’

“So we passed by our relatives, the people of Esau living there in Seir. We left the road that leads from the Jordan Valley to the towns of Elath and Ezion Geber. We turned onto the road that goes to the desert in Moab.

Israel at Ar

“The Lord said to me, ‘Don’t bother the Moabites. Don’t start a war against them. I will not give you any of their land. They are the descendants of Lot,[c] and I gave them the city of Ar.’”

10 (In the past, the Emites lived in Ar. They were strong people, and there were many of them. They were very tall, like the Anakites. 11 The Anakites were part of the Rephaites. People thought the Emites were also Rephaites, but the people of Moab called them Emites. 12 The Horites also lived in Seir in the past. Then Esau’s people destroyed the Horites, took their land, and settled there, just as the Israelites did to the people in the land that the Lord gave them.)

13 “The Lord told me, ‘Now, go to the other side of Zered Valley.’ So we crossed Zered Valley. 14 It was 38 years from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until the time we crossed Zered Valley. As the Lord had promised, all the fighting men in our camp from that generation had died. 15 The Lord had opposed those men until they were all dead and gone from our camp.

16 “After all the fighting men were dead and gone, 17 the Lord said to me, 18 ‘Today you must cross the border at Ar and go into Moab. 19 You will be just across from the Ammonites. Don’t bother them or fight with them, because I will not give you their land. They are descendants of Lot, and I have given that land to them.’”

20 (That country is also known as the Land of Rephaim. The Rephaites lived there in the past. The people of Ammon called them the Zamzummites. 21 There were many Rephaites, and they were very strong and tall like the Anakites. But the Lord helped the Ammonites destroy them. The Ammonites took that land and live there now. 22 God did the same thing for Esau’s people. In the past the Horites lived in Seir.[d] But Esau’s people destroyed the Horites, and Esau’s descendants still live there today. 23 God did the same thing for some people from Crete. The Avvites lived in the towns around Gaza, but the Cretans destroyed them, took the land, and live there now.)

Fighting the Amorites

24 “The Lord told me, ‘Get ready to go across Arnon Valley. I will let you defeat Sihon the Amorite, the king of Heshbon. I will let you take his country. So fight against him and take his land. 25 Today I will make all people everywhere afraid of you. They will hear the news about you, and they will be afraid and shake with fear.’

26 “While we were in the desert of Kedemoth, I sent messengers to King Sihon of Heshbon. The messengers offered peace to Sihon. They said, 27 ‘Let us go through your land. We will stay on the road. We will not turn off the road to the right or to the left. 28 We will pay you in silver for any food we eat or any water we drink. We only want to march through your country. 29 Let us go through your land until we go across the Jordan River into the land that the Lord our God is giving us. Other people have let us go through their land—the people of Esau living in Seir and the Moabites living in Ar.’

30 “But King Sihon of Heshbon would not let us pass through his country. The Lord your God had made him very stubborn and ready to fight. The Lord did this so that he could help you defeat King Sihon. And today we know that is what happened.

31 “The Lord said to me, ‘I am giving King Sihon and his country to you. Now, go take his land!’

32 “Then King Sihon and all his people came out to fight against us at Jahaz. 33 But the Lord our God gave him to us. We defeated King Sihon, his sons, and all his people. 34 We captured all the cities that belonged to King Sihon at that time. We completely destroyed the people in every city—the men, women, and children. We did not leave anyone alive! 35 We took only the cattle and the valuable things from those cities. 36 We defeated the town of Aroer on the edge of the Arnon Valley and the other town in the middle of that valley. The Lord let us defeat all the cities between the Arnon Valley and Gilead. No city was too strong for us. 37 But you did not go near the land that belongs to the people of Ammon. You did not go near the shores of the Jabbok River or the cities of the hill country. You did not go near any place that the Lord our God would not let us have.


  1. Deuteronomy 1:28 giants Literally, “Anakites,” descendants of Anak, a family famous for tall and powerful fighting men. See Num. 13:33.
  2. Deuteronomy 2:1 Seir Another name for Edom.
  3. Deuteronomy 2:9 descendants of Lot Lot’s sons were Moab and Ammon. See Gen. 19:30-38.
  4. Deuteronomy 2:22 Seir The hill country of Edom.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

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