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Deuteronomy 2:32-37

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Deuteronomy 2:32
  • Deuteronomy 2:33
  • Deuteronomy 2:34
  • Deuteronomy 2:35
  • Deuteronomy 2:36
  • Deuteronomy 2:37

The book of Deuteronomy is the fifth and last book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of the first 4 books and picks up exactly where the book of Numbers ends (with the people on the plain of Moab). Therefore, as we set the context for the book of Deuteronomy, it is important that we briefly summarize the theme of the previous books to see how the story of God unfolds.

Genesis describes God’s plan to bless the Israelites and the world through one man named Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Exodus focuses on God’s loving act by which He rescued the Israelites from Egypt in order to have a covenant relationship with them. Once the children of Israel are redeemed, Leviticus instructs them to live a holy life that reflects the life of their covenant redeemer (cf. Lev. 19). Since the first generation of the Israelites failed to obey God wholeheartedly, the book of Numbers displays a strong contrast between God’s faithfulness and the nation’s failure. That is why the book of Deuteronomy reiterates and expands on the covenant to a new generation of Israelites poised to enter and conquer the Promised Land. The message of the book is centered around two key terms: love and loyalty (Deut. 6:4-5).


In Chapter 2, the Israelites resume their journey to Canaan from Kadesh, the place where they “remained” many days after their defeat at Hormah by the Amorites (1:41-46). Instead of entering the land of Canaan straight from the wilderness, as they could have done thirty-eight years earlier, the people of God must now take a different route. This new geographical path requires them to pass through five countries east of the Jordan River: Edom, Moab, Ammon, Heshbon, and Bashan.
As the Israelites proceed, God asks them to protect the Edomites, the Moabites, and the Ammonites, because these three people groups are Israel’s kinsmen (2:1-23). God has already promised them their land as their own possession (Deut. 2:5, 9, 19). Nevertheless, God asks the Israelites to destroy King Sihon of Heshbon since He has already hardened Sihon’s heart to deliver him over to His people (vv. 24-31). This chapter, ending with Israel’s victory over Sihon and the Amorites (vv. 32-37), demonstrates God’s care for other families of the earth besides Israel, as well as His willingness to fight for His people when they trust and obey Him. The chapter can be outlined as follows:

I. God instructs the Israelites concerning their Kinsmen (2:1-23).

1. He instructs them concerning Edom (vv. 1-8).
2. He instructs them concerning Moab (vv. 9-15).
3. He instructs them concerning Ammon (vv. 16-23).

II. God Instructs the Israelites to confront Sihon. God hardens Sihon’s heart to deliver him over to His people (2:24-37).

1. He commands the Israelites to defeat King Sihon (vv. 24-25).
2. He hardens the heart of King Sihon (vv. 26-31).
3. He delivers Sihon over to the Israelites (vv. 32-37).


Moses reminds the Israelites of the time when the LORD allowed them to defeat King Sihon and the Amorites in order to occupy their land.

The previous section (vv. 26-31) is the prerequisite for the victory of the Israelites over the Amorites. For in it, the LORD told His people that He had already paved the way for them to conquer the land of the Amorites by hardening the heart and spirit of King Sihon (vv. 30). Therefore, since all the conditions were met, God said, “Begin to occupy, that you may possess his land” (v. 31).

Now we see that the Israelites did exactly what God commanded them to do. Sihon with all his people came out to meet the Israelites in battle at Jahaz, a city located somewhere between Heshbon and the wilderness of Kedemoth. The LORD delivered Sihon over to the Israelites, so they defeated him with his sons and all his people. Israel’s victory was based solely upon obedience to the will of the great warrior (Yahweh) who always fights for His people (Exodus 14:14).

When the Israelites defeated Sihon and his army, they captured all the cities of Heshbon and utterly destroyed the men, women and children of every city. The verb (charam, in Hebrew) translated here as “destroyed” or “utterly destroyed” basically means “ban,” “exterminate,” or “devote.” It denotes what is forbidden. It can apply to something that is forbidden to touch, as in something that is sacred. Or it can be applied to something that is forbidden to engage with because it is accursed and should be eliminated. Here it is used in the context of the holy war as an act of obedience, which dedicates the adversaries to God (Numbers 21:2; Deuteronomy 13:17; Joshua 6:17). Moses stated, “We left no survivor.” The Amorites were dedicated to the LORD for complete destruction.

However, this elimination did not include the animals because the text says the Israelites took the animals as their booty. God caused His people to be victorious and made provisions for them. The victory of the Israelites extended from Aroer which is on the edge of the valley of Arnon and from the city which is in the valley, even to Gilead.

The city named “Aroer” lies on the northern border of the valley of Arnon, just one mile from the river Arnon. Gilead is the northern part of the territory located on the east side of the Jordan River. From north to south the lands east of the Jordan River can be remembered with the letters GAME: Gilead, Ammon, Moab, and Edom. The text again tells us it was the LORD who delivered all these cities over to the Israelites. The land of the sons of Ammon which runs along the river Jabbok and the cities of the hill country remained unmolested, because the LORD had already told His people to spare these cities.

Biblical Text:

32 “Then Sihon with all his people came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz. 33 The Lord our God delivered him over to us, and we defeated him with his sons and all his people. 34 So we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed the men, women and children of every city. We left no survivor. 35 We took only the animals as our booty and the spoil of the cities which we had captured. 36 From Aroer which is on the edge of the valley of Arnon and from the city which is in the valley, even to Gilead, there was no city that was too high for us; the Lord our God delivered all over to us. 37 Only you did not go near to the land of the sons of Ammon, all along the river Jabbok and the cities of the hill country, and wherever the Lord our God had commanded us.

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