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Deuteronomy 3:8-11

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Deuteronomy 3:8
  • Deuteronomy 3:9
  • Deuteronomy 3:10
  • Deuteronomy 3:11

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).


After the defeat of King Sihon, the Israelites next defeat King Og of Bashan (2:32-37). After the defeat of both kings, Moses distributes their territory to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Following the land distribution, Moses commands these two and half tribes to help the remaining tribes in the conquest of the west side of Jordan and encourages Joshua to cross over the Jordan with the people. Finally, Moses pleads with the LORD that he be allowed to enter Canaan, but God rebukes him and simply allows him to view the land from afar. The chapter can be outlined as follows:

I. Moses explains the defeat of King Og and summarizes Israel’s victory over both kings of the Amorites (3:1-11).

II. Moses distributes the territory of King Sihon and King Og to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (3:12-17).

III. Moses commands the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to help the remaining tribes to conquer Canaan (3:18-22).

IV. Moses pleads with the LORD that he be allowed to enter Canaan, but God rebukes him and simply allows him to view it from afar (3:23-29).


Moses reminds the Israelites of how they defeated King Sihon and King Og, and captured their territories. With the defeat of Og, the giant race called “Rephaim” was completely gone.

This section provides a summary of the victory of the Israelites over King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan. After the defeat of these two kings, the Israelites took their land. Moses stated, “Thus we took the land at that time from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the valley of Arnon to Mount Hermon.” The text identifies both kings as Amorites, thus subject to complete destruction. The distance between the valley of Arnon in the south to Mount Hermon in the north was about 140 miles long. This clearly shows the extent of Israel’s victory.

In a parenthetical note, the author tells us that Sidonians call Hermon “Sirion” but the Amorites call it “Senir.” The Sidonians were the inhabitants of the Phoenician city, Sidon, a port city located in modern Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast. We also learn that the total military operations included all the cities of the plateau and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. Salecah was a town located on the southwestern edge of Mount Hauran in Syria, and Edrei was a town located near the Jordanian border, not far from the Syrian site called “Ashtaroth.” These two towns were part of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.

Finally, the biblical text confirms that Og was the last of the Rephaim, an ancient race of giants living in Palestine during the time of Abraham (Genesis 15:20; Deuteronomy 2:11). Moses stated, “only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim.” So, King Og was also from that giant race and this fact alone can explain why the Israelites might have feared him and his army. God had good reason to strengthen His people by telling them not to fear Og. Such a reassuring statement was needed to prepare Israel’s minds for the battle so that they could be victorious.

Apart from being a giant, King Og was also remarkable. The text tells us that his bedstead was an iron bedstead; it is in Rabbah of the sons of Ammon. The place called “Rabbah” was the capital of ancient Ammon. Today, it is called “Amman,” and is the capital of Jordan. Furthermore, we learn thatthe bedstead was long. Its length was nine cubits and its width four cubits by ordinary cubit.” A cubit was the length of a forearm. So assuming an eighteen inch cubit, Og’s iron bed would have been thirteen and a half feet long. The rhetorical purpose of this background note regarding Og was to show his magnificence. Presumably he needed such a massive bed made of iron to hold up under his great size and weight. Yet, as great as King Og was, the LORD of hosts delivered him into the hands of the Israelites because the LORD is all-powerful. Thus, with the destruction of Og, the giant race called “Rephaim” was completely gone.

Biblical Text:

Thus we took the land at that time from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the valley of Arnon to Mount Hermon (Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir): 10 all the cities of the plateau and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 11 (For only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bedstead was an iron bedstead; it is in Rabbah of the sons of Ammon. Its length was nine cubits and its width four cubits by ordinary cubit.)

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