(1) Then.—In the original simply “And.” There is no note of time.
By the way of the Red sea.—i.e., in the direction of the Gulf of Akabah, southwards.
As the Lord spake unto me.—In Numbers 14:25, as noted on Deuteronomy 1:40.
Many days.—Until near the close of the thirty-ninth year of the exodus.
They shall be afraid of you.—According to the prophecy in the song of Moses (Exodus 15:15), “Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed.”
The Emims.—See Genesis 14:5-6, for the first mention of Rephaim, Zuzim, Emim, and Horim. (The termination im is plural in Hebrew, and, like cherubim, does not need the additional s.) These tribes were flourishing in the time of Abraham, but were conquered before the exodus.
The children of Esau succeeded them.—A partial mixture of the two races resulted in this case, and from their union sprang the Amalekites, Israel’s inveterate foes (Genesis 36:12; Genesis 36:22).
As Israel did unto the land of his possession.—On the east of Jordan in Moses’ lifetime, as well as on the west of Jordan under Joshua. It is not necessary, therefore, to make the parenthesis (Deuteronomy 2:10-12) editorial, though it forms no essential part of Moses’ speech.
The brook Zered is not yet identified. (See Numbers 21:12.) Several streams run into the Dead Sea on its eastern side south of Arnon; Zered is possibly one of these. Or it may be a tributary of Arnon, which has one large tributary running from south to north.
Thirty and eight years; until all . . . men of war were wasted out from among the host.—The census did not take place until some months later. A plague intervened, which cut off twenty-four thousand. The observation that at the brook Zered all the men of the older generation were “wasted out of the host” indicates an intimate knowledge of the incidents of the exodus. But it is quite natural to suppose that, as the survivors of that generation became fewer, those who remained would become marked men. Every man of the twelve tribes (excluding Levi? ) who passed the census at Sinai was doomed. The fortieth year of the exodus had more than half expired when they came to the brook Zered. All who remained alive in that year knew that they had a short time to live. Probably more notice was taken of the last few deaths than of all the rest of the six hundred thousand put together.
Zamzummims = Zuzims (Genesis 14:5).
Words of peace.—By this message Sihon was excepted from the catalogue of the doomed kings and nations, according to the distinction drawn in Deuteronomy 20:10-11; Deuteronomy 20:15-16. He therefore brought his fate upon himself. He was offered the privileges of the Moabites whom he had conquered, and refused to accept the position.
The city that is by the river.—The description suggests Rabbath-ammon, but this cannot be referred to here.
Deuteronomy 2:37Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the LORD our God forbad us.