2 Moses: Finally we did as the Eternal had commanded me, and we headed back into the wilderness toward the Red Sea.[a] For a long time, we wandered around Mount Seir, 2 until at last I got new instructions from the Eternal: 3 “You’ve wandered around this mountain long enough. Turn north, 4 and give the people these directions from Me: ‘You’re going to cross into the territory of a people who are related to you. They’re the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They’ll be afraid of you, so be very careful what you do. 5 Don’t incite a fight with them because I won’t give you even a square foot of their land. I gave Mount Seir to Esau, and I want his descendants to live there. 6 ‘You may purchase food from them with silver and eat; you may buy water from them with silver and drink.’” 7 You are not to plunder this nation because the Eternal your God, has blessed you in every way. He’s watched over you as you’ve journeyed through this vast wilderness. Throughout these 40 years, the Eternal your God has been with you, and you haven’t lacked a thing.
8 So we traveled peacefully past our relatives, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. We left the road through the arid valley,[b] bypassing Elath and Ezion-geber, and took the desert road to Moab. 9 There the Eternal gave me more instructions: “Don’t attack the Moabites, and don’t fight any battles with them because I’m not going to give you any of Moab’s land. I gave Ar to these descendants of Lot, so it belongs to them.”
10 The Emim were formerly living in Ar. They were a large and powerful nation, and they were as tall as the giant Anakim were. 11 They and the Anakim are usually known as “Rephaim,” but the Moabites call them just “Emim.” 12 The Horites were formerly living in Seir, but the descendants of Esau drove them out. The Edomites destroyed them and took their place, just as Israel did in the land the Eternal gave them as their possession, saying, 13 “Now cross the Wadi Zered into their territory.”
Moses: So we crossed the Zered Valley. 14 At that point, we’d been traveling for 38 years, from Kadesh-barnea to the Zered Valley. The last of the people in our camp who had been old enough to fight back then, those men of war, finally died. The Eternal had sworn to them that none of them would be left among us when we did enter the land, and this happened just as He said. 15 The Eternal struck them with one disaster after another inside the camp until they were all dead.
16 Just as soon as the last man of war was gone, 17 the Eternal spoke to me: 18 “Today you will pass into the territory of Moab when you cross Ar. 19 When you get to the other side, you’ll be facing the descendants of Ammon. Don’t attack them, and don’t fight any battles with them because I’m not going to give you any of Ammon’s land. I already gave this land to these descendants of Lot, so it belongs to them.”
20 The land of the Ammonites is also considered the land of the Rephaim because the Rephaim (whom the Ammonites call the Zamzummin) were formerly living in it. 21 They, too, were a large and powerful nation, as tall as the Anakim, but the Eternal destroyed them so the Ammonites could take their place. 22 He did the same thing for the descendants of Esau who now live in Seir: He destroyed the Horites so the Edomites could take their place. Esau’s descendants are still living in Seir. 23 In the same way, some Caphtorim came from Caphtor[c] and destroyed the Avvim, who were the first to live in villages as far away as Gaza, and took their place.
Moses: 24 The Lord continued, saying, “Get up, get going, and move on through the Arnon Valley. Listen: I’m going to defeat Sihon, the Amorite king of Heshbon, for you; I’ll give you his land as the beginning of your new territory. Go get it, and attack him! 25 Starting today, I’m going to make every nation under the sky terrified of you. When they hear about you, they will tremble and despair.”
Episodes like the one described in 2:34-35, in which entire populations are wiped out, are among the most deeply troubling parts of the Bible. Particularly when this is done under the leadership of people appointed by God, or even on God’s direct instructions, many serious questions are raised. How is this consistent with God’s mercy? Interpreters have taken different approaches to try to account for episodes like these, but many problems still remain.
Perhaps the best that can be done is to acknowledge that the Bible presents us with a mixture of materials. Mostly God’s mercy, kindness, and forgiveness are stressed; but sometimes we do see judgments of God, whether through natural forces such as flood and fire, or through human armies, carried out against entire populations. Which of these attributes, mercy or justice, most essentially characterizes God? Which passages should we consider normative for our own guidance today, and which ones should we see as exceptional and interpret in light of the others? Discerning why and how these exceptional circumstances arose remains a matter for thoughtful students of the Bible to reflect on with reverence and concern.
26 We were in the wilderness of Kedemoth when I sent messengers to King Sihon in Heshbon and offered him these terms of peace: 27 “Allow me to go across your land. I’ll keep to the King’s Highway; I won’t turn off to the right or to the left. 28 I ask only for these rights: sell me food and water for silver, so that I can eat and so that I can drink. Just let me walk across your land. 29 The descendants of Esau who live in Seir let me pass through their territory this way, and so did the Moabites who live in Ar. I’ll keep going right to the Jordan River, where I’ll cross into the land the Eternal, our True God, is giving to us.” 30 But Sihon, king of Heshbon, refused to let us go through his land marching so close to his capital. The Eternal your God made him stubborn and obstinate so that he would fight and be defeated by you, and that’s just what happened. 31 The Eternal told me, “Look! I have already begun to hand Sihon and his land over to you. Go and take it! His land will be the first of your new territories.” 32 Then Sihon and his whole army came out to fight against us at Jahaz. 33 The Eternal, our True God, defeated him for us; we destroyed Sihon and his sons and his whole army. 34 We captured all his cities at that time, and we killed all the men, women, and children in each one of them. We didn’t leave a single survivor. 35 We kept only the livestock as our plunder, along with the loot from the cities we had captured. 36 Not a single city was strong enough to keep us out—from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Valley, including the settlement down in the valley, all the way to Gilead! The Eternal our God gave all of them to us. 37 But you didn’t go near the land of the Ammonites along the Jabbok River, or toward their cities in the highlands, or anywhere else the Eternal our God told us not to go.
3 Moses: Then we left those conquered regions and continued up the road toward Bashan. Og, the king of Bashan, came out with his whole army to fight against us at Edrei. 2 But the Eternal reassured me, “Don’t be afraid of him! I’m going to defeat him and his whole army for you, and I’ll give you his land. You’ll do the same thing to him that you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.” 3 The Eternal, our True God, defeated Og, king of Bashan, for us. We destroyed his whole army—there were no survivors left to fight for him. 4-5 We captured all 60 of his large cities and their surrounding villages at that time; there wasn’t a single one we didn’t take from them in the whole region of Argob (which was the kingdom of Og in Bashan) in spite of their strong defenses: high walls, fortified gates, and strong bars latching the gates’ doors, but we took them all, and a large number of villages. 6 We killed all the men, women, and children in each one of them, just as we had done to Sihon, king of Heshbon. 7 We kept only the cattle and the loot from the cities as our plunder.
8 This is how at that time we conquered the whole land east of the Jordan River. We captured it all from those two ruling Amorite kings, everything from the Arnon Valley all the way up to Mount Hermon:[d] 10 all the cities of the plateau, all of Gilead, and all of Bashan, right out to the cities of Salecah and Edrei (which were in King Og’s Bashan). 12a From then on, all of that land belonged to us.
9 The Sidonians in the north call Mount Hermon “Sirion,” and the Amorites call it “Senir.” 11 King Og of Bashan was the last of the giant Rephaim. He had a bed made of iron; it was over thirteen feet long and six feet wide! You can still see it in the city of Rabbah in Ammon.
Moses: 12b To the children of Reuben and Gad, I gave the kingdom of Sihon, the area north of Aroer on the edge of the Arnon Valley, including half the Gilead highlands and all the cities there. 13 I gave the kingdom of Og to half of Joseph’s descendants in the tribe of Manasseh who settled east of the Jordan, including the rest of Gilead, the region of Argob, and Bashan.
All of Bashan is known as the “land of the Rephaim” because of the size of King Og and his ancestors. 14 Jair, a leader of Manasseh, conquered the outlying areas in the whole region of Argob, as far as the border of the Geshurites and Maacathites. He named them after himself, so that portion of Bashan is now known as Havvoth-jair, which means “the villages of Jair.”
Moses: 15 I gave the city of Gilead to Machir, another leader of Manasseh, because he conquered it. 16 And I gave the children of Reuben and Gad the land from Gilead south to the middle of the Arnon Valley, north to the Jabbok River, east to the border with Ammon; 17 and west to the Jordan River Valley, from the Sea of Galilee[e] down to the Dead Sea,[f] beneath where Mount Pisgah rises to the east. 18 Do you remember what I commanded you at the time? I told the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, “The Eternal your God has given you this land, and now it belongs to you. I want all of your warriors to cross the Jordan, fully armed, ahead of your fellow Israelites. 19 Only your wives and children and cattle (I know you have a lot of cattle thanks to the plunder you earned) will stay behind in the cities I’ve given you. 20 When the Eternal your God has given the rest of the Israelites the land that will belong to them on the other side of the Jordan, when they are living in peace just as you are now, then each of you can come back here and live on your own land which I’ve given you.”
21 I told Joshua, “You’ve seen with your own eyes everything the Eternal your God has done to these two kings. He will do the same thing to the kingdoms you’re now going into. 22 Don’t be afraid of them—any of you! The Eternal your God will do the fighting for you.”
The conquered Ammonite land on the eastern side is given to Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh. But this allocation does not occur until these tribes help their brothers conquer the land on the western side of the Jordan.
Moses: 23 Then I pleaded again and again with the Eternal on my own behalf. 24 “Eternal Lord, You’ve only just begun to show me, Your servant, how very great and powerful You are. What other god in heaven or on earth can do the great and powerful things You do? 25 Please let me cross the Jordan and see that good land and those beautiful highlands and Lebanon.” 26 But the Eternal was angry with me because of you, and He wouldn’t listen to me.
The Lord answers so many of Moses’ other prayers, so why can’t forgiveness and pardon be extended to Moses now? Why is this man of God banned from entering the promised land? At a time when the people need water in the desert (Numbers 20:2–13), even though in their lack of faith they complain bitterly, the Lord mercifully decides to provide water for them. He chooses to give them a miracle through Moses, who is supposed to command a rock (only verbally) to bring forth water. But Moses is enraged with the people. First he castigates them for being “rebels” and then strikes the rock twice with his staff. This act of disobedience will keep Moses from entering the promised land, and in this case, no appeal is possible.
Moses: The Eternal said to me, “That’s enough! Don’t ever bring this up to Me again! 27 You can go up to the top of Mount Pisgah and look to the west and north and south and east to see the land from there. Take a good look, because you’re not going to cross the Jordan River. 28 So instruct Joshua, and strengthen and encourage him, because he’s the one who will lead the people into the land you see and make it their territory. He will conquer it for them.” 29 And that’s why we’ve stayed here in this valley by Beth-peor at the foot of Mount Pisgah.
12 Around this time, Jesus went outside the city to a nearby mountain, along with a large crowd of His disciples. He prayed through the night to God. 13 The next morning, He chose 12 of them and gave each a new title of “emissary. “
They are no longer simply disciples, which means “learners”; now they are also apostles, which means “emissaries.”
14 They included Simon (Jesus called him Peter) and Andrew (Simon’s brother); James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James (son of Alphaeus) and Simon (known as the Zealot); 16 Judas (son of James) and the other Judas (Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus).
17 The whole crowd of disciples (including the 12 now designated as His emissaries) came down together, and they stood on a level area nearby. They were joined by an even greater crowd of people who had come from across the whole region—from all of Judea, from Jerusalem, from the coastal areas of Tyre and Sidon. 18 These people came to hear Jesus teach and to be healed by Jesus of their diseases. Those who were troubled by demonic spirits were liberated.
19 Everyone wanted to touch Jesus because when they did, power emanated from Him and they were healed. 20 He looked across the faces of His disciples.
Jesus: All you who are poor, you are blessed
for the kingdom of God belongs to you.
21 All you who are hungry now, you are blessed
for your hunger will be satisfied.
All you who weep now, you are blessed
for you shall laugh!
22 When people hate you,
when they exclude you
and insult you
and write you off as evil
on account of the Son of Man, you are blessed.
23 When these things happen, rejoice! Jump for joy!
Then you have a great reward in heaven
For at that moment, you are experiencing what the ancient prophets did when they were similarly treated by the ancestors of your detractors.
24 All you who are rich now, you are in danger
for you have received your comfort in full.
25 All you who are full now, you are in danger
for you shall be hungry.
All you who laugh now, you are in danger
for you shall grieve and cry.
26 And when everyone speaks well of you, you are in danger
for their ancestors spoke well of the false prophets too.
Here is Luke’s most concentrated summary of Jesus’ teachings for His followers. Here He describes what life in the kingdom of God looks like.
27 If you’re listening, here’s My message: Keep loving your enemies no matter what they do. Keep doing good to those who hate you. 28 Keep speaking blessings on those who curse you. Keep praying for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer the other cheek too. If someone steals your coat, offer him your shirt too. 30 If someone begs from you, give to him. If someone robs you of your valuables, don’t demand them back. 31 Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them.
32 Listen, what’s the big deal if you love people who already love you? Even scoundrels do that much! 33 So what if you do good to those who do good to you? Even scoundrels do that much! 34 So what if you lend to people who are likely to repay you? Even scoundrels lend to scoundrels if they think they’ll be fully repaid.
35 If you want to be extraordinary—love your enemies! Do good without restraint! Lend with abandon! Don’t expect anything in return! Then you’ll receive the truly great reward—you will be children of the Most High—for God is kind to the ungrateful and those who are wicked. 36 So imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way your Father is.
37 If you don’t want to be judged, don’t judge. If you don’t want to be condemned, don’t condemn. If you want to be forgiven, forgive. 38 Don’t hold back—give freely, and you’ll have plenty poured back into your lap—a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, brimming over. You’ll receive in the same measure you give.
1 May God pour His grace and blessings into us
and turn His face to shine His light on us.
2 So all those on earth will learn to follow Your way
and see Your saving power come to redeem all nations.
3 May all people live to praise You, Our True God;
may all come to praise You.
4 May all nations celebrate together, singing joy-filled songs of praise to You
because You judge the people fairly
and give guidance to all the nations of the earth.
5 May the people praise You with their whole hearts, O God;
may every man, woman, and child on the earth praise You.
6 The land has supplied a bountiful harvest,
and the True God, our God, has poured out His blessings to us all.
7 God is the source of our blessings;
may every corner of the earth respect and revere Him.
27 Those who seek good find the goodwill of others,
but those who look for evil are sure to find it.