Journeys in Transjordan

Next, we turned around and headed back toward the wilderness along the Reed Sea[a] road, exactly as the Lord instructed me. We traveled all around Mount Seir for a long time.

Eventually the Lord said: You’ve been traveling around this mountain long enough. Head north. Command the people as follows: You are about to enter into the territory of your relatives who live in Seir: Esau’s descendants. They will be afraid of you, so watch yourselves most carefully. Don’t fight with them because I will not give the tiniest parcel of their land to you. I have given Mount Seir to Esau’s family as their property. Of course you may buy food from them with money so you can eat, and also water with money so you can drink.

No doubt about it: the Lord your God has blessed you in all that you have done. He watched over your journey through that vast desert. Throughout these forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You haven’t needed a thing.

So we passed through the territory of our relatives who live in Seir, Esau’s descendants, leaving the desert road from Elath and from Ezion-geber. Next we turned and went along the Moab wilderness route. The Lord said to me: Don’t aggravate Moab. Don’t fight them in battle because I won’t give any part of their land to you as your own. I have given Ar to Lot’s descendants as their property.

(10 Now the Emim[b] had lived there before. They were big and numerous and tall—just like the Anakim. 11 Most people thought the Emim were Rephaim, like the Anakim were. But the Moabites called them “Emim.” 12 Additionally, the Horim[c] had lived in Seir previously, but Esau’s descendants took possession of their area, eliminating them altogether and settling in their place. That is exactly what Israel did in the land it took possession of, which the Lord gave to them.)

13 “So then, get going. Cross the Zered ravine.”

So we crossed the Zered ravine.

14 It took us a total of thirty-eight years to go from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the Zered ravine. It was at that point that the last of the previous generation, every one of fighting age in the camp, had died, just as the Lord had sworn about them. 15 In fact, the Lord’s power was against them, to rid the camp of them, until they were all gone.

16 Now as soon as all those of fighting age had died, 17 the Lord said to me: 18 Today you are crossing through the territory of Moab and Ar 19 and you will come close to the Ammonites. Don’t aggravate them. Don’t fight with them because I won’t give any part of the Ammonites’ land to you as your own. I’ve given it to Lot’s descendants as their property.

20 Now people thought that land was Rephaim territory as well. The Rephaim had lived there previously. But the Ammonites called them “Zamzummim.”[d] 21 They were large, numerous, and tall, just like the Anakim. But the Lord completely destroyed the Zamzummim before the Ammonites, and they took possession of that area, settling in their place. 22 That is exactly what God did for Esau’s descendants, who live in Seir, when he completely destroyed the Horites in their presence, and they took possession of the Horites’ area, settling in their place to this very day. 23 The Avvim,[e] who had lived in settlements around Gaza, were completely destroyed by the Caphtorim, who had come from Caphtor. They replaced the Avvim there.

Victories in Transjordan

24 “So get going. Cross the Arnon ravine. I have handed Sihon the Amorite king of Heshbon and his land over to you. It’s time to possess the area! It’s time to fight him in battle! 25 Starting right now, I am making everyone everywhere afraid of you and scared of you. Once they hear news of you, they will be shaking and worrying because of you.”

26 I then sent messengers from the Kedemoth desert to Sihon, Heshbon’s king, with words of peace: 27 “Please let us[f] pass through your land. We promise to stay on the road. We won’t step off it, right or left. 28 Please sell us food for money so we can eat; sell us water for money so we can drink. Let us pass through on foot— 29 just as Esau’s descendants who live in Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did for me—until we cross the Jordan River into the land that the Lord our God is giving to us.”

30 But Sihon, Heshbon’s king, wasn’t willing to let us pass through his land because the Lord your God had made his spirit hard and his heart inflexible so that God could hand him over to you, which is exactly how it happened. 31 The Lord said to me: Look! Right now I’m laying Sihon and his land before you. It’s time to take possession of his land!

32 Sihon and all his forces came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz. 33 But the Lord our God gave him to us. We struck him down, along with his sons, and all his forces. 34 At that time, we captured all of Sihon’s cities, and we placed every town—men, women, and children—under the ban.[g] We left no survivors. 35 The only things we kept for ourselves were the animals and the plunder from the towns we had taken. 36 From Aroer, which is on the edge of the Arnon Ravine, to the town that is in the valley there,[h] even as far as Gilead, there wasn’t a city that could resist us. The Lord our God laid everything out before us. 37 But you didn’t go near the Ammonite lands or hillside cities alongside the Jabbok River, in compliance with all[i] that the Lord our God had commanded.


  1. Deuteronomy 2:1 Or Red Sea
  2. Deuteronomy 2:10 Or Frighteners
  3. Deuteronomy 2:12 Or Cave-dwellers or Hurrians
  4. Deuteronomy 2:20 Or Mumblers
  5. Deuteronomy 2:23 Or Ruiners
  6. Deuteronomy 2:27 Heb here and through 2:29a is singular me, I.
  7. Deuteronomy 2:34 A technique of holy war that often involves total destruction, in which everything that is destroyed is dedicated to the deity who helps in the battle
  8. Deuteronomy 2:36 Heb uncertain
  9. Deuteronomy 2:37 LXX, Tg Jonathan; MT and all