New Neighbors and Enemies

Deuteronomy 2:1-3:11

Moses notes for the people a number of nations with whom the Israelites had various interactions over the years. First he speaks of the descendants of Esau and of Moab, whom the Children of Israel encountered early in their journey. God, at the time, instructed the Israelites not to wage war against either nation, as God would not be giving them their land. Rather, they were to pay for the food and water the nations provided.


38 years later, after the generation of the desert had perished, the Israelites encountered the Ammonites, whom Moses also told them not to attack. Additionally, Moses points out that each of these three nations is not the original inhabitant if its current homeland. Rather, different giant nations lived there and were driven out by God for the benefit of these three nations.


Not every encounter with other nations turned out to be peaceful. Moses reminds the Children of Israel of their recent battles with Sihon and Og, powerful kings who refused to allow the Israelites to cross their land. Instead, with God’s help, the Children of Israel conquered their lands.


The Israel Bible explains why God instructed the Israelites not to engage the Moabites in war. Both they and the Ammonites are descendants of Abraham’s nephew, Lot. When Abraham and his family fled Canaan in a famine and came to Egypt, he asked Sarah to pretend to be his sister so that he would not be murdered so she could be taken for her beauty. Lot knew the truth, but protected his aunt and uncle’s secret. The Israelites’ respect for his descendants’ borders is the result of this act of nobility. From here we can appreciate that the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel is based on friendship, kindness and brotherhood.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Moses seems to be jumping from topic to topic in his address. Why do you think these exploits would be among the first things he would want to raise with the people?

Comments ( 5 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

Post a Reply

Comments must adhere to our guidelines or they may be removed.

  • Herman Arentsen

    The first things Moshe named are the things concerning far family: Esav, Moav and Ammon. They also had the promisses of the Eternal One and fighting against those peoples would mean going against the promisses G-d had done towards them. Was it not Lot who kept silant in MitzraIm when Avram lied there about the truth on his wife ?

  • Angela B

    It appears he is jumping from topic to topic, but he is trying to bring out the point of Yahweh's special people — Yisrael, and the land given to them; it is therefore important that he reminds them why they didn't fight some nations while they fought others , and in so doing, talking about the various peoples and their lands becomes inevitable — hence the haphazard-like narration.

    • Angela B

      In addition, as explained by Rabbi David Fohrman on , it is because Moshe was trying to focus on the reason for their 40 years' wandering in the wilderness — the sin of the spies, hence, he skips some things in this account because he was centering on why an 11 day old journey took them 40 years. He therefore had to caution to them against unbelief in the future, not to repeat this same grave mistake, which cost their fathers the PROMISED LAND.

  • Doreen Poole

    It was most important to me to hear the reminder of Lots descendants . those crossing over were children born on the journey or children during the Exodus. It makes it fresh in all minds that HaShem does control the battles, gives chances to allow Isreal to pass on land they were told not to battle and HaShem battles, not us, we follow. As humans we tend to remember the beginning of a speech, this was most important to all, HaShem is in control.

  • Diana Brown

    I think Moses wants Bnei Yisrael to remember that the battle belongs to the Lord when adversity comes to the boundaries of Israel. Since evil is spiritual, the Lord’s Spirit does the fighting. He just asks His People to show up. The world hates God because He makes and keeps covenant. The world cannot keep covenant on their own. The world cannot be trusted but the Lord can be trusted with your very life and future. Man’s laws can be remade and treaties ignored. God’s Word will last forever. Moses was reminding Israel of God’s Faithfulness to the Covenant He made with Abraham, Issac and Jacob.
    Moses relayed the up’s and down’s of Israel’s dealing with people here so he did jump around a bit. He wanted them to remember, God’s People are always caught in the cross-hairs of conflict and persecution. It hurts and terrifies us now but it will be worth the pain in the world to come. Whether in peril or in peace, trust the Lord of all Flesh.

Skip to toolbar