The Book of Deuteronomy is kind of like Moses’ Memoirs. Or perhaps you could say it was his last review of all that had happened to the Children of Israel on their journey in the wilderness, so they would not forget.
In Devarim, this week’s parsha, Moses talks about their wanderings and God’s instructions along the way.
“It’s enough already,” God said, “Wandering around! Turn northward.”
“You’re going into the lands of the Children of Esau. Don’t make war with them. You’re not getting even a footprint of their land. If you take any food or water, pay for it.”
So, Moses relates, they had gone on to Moab, which God described as belonging to the Children of Lot. “Don’t fight them.” God told them, “Moab belongs to the Moabites.”
Then, says Moses. they wandered around for 38 years until a whole generation died out.
After 38 years, Moses tells them, the Children of Israel approached yet another group of people. This time it was the Children of Ammon, and the Children of Israel were not to disturb them.
But the next group they ran into was ruled by Sihon, king of Heshbon. Moses tried to offer him the same deal: “We’ll pass peacefully through your land and buy food and water with silver.”
But Sihon was having none of it. Like Pharoah, God had hardened Sihon’s heart. God promised the Children of Israel Sihon’s land, and there was a big battle. The Children of Israel wiped out everybody from Heshbon.
Moses relates lots more, but that’s for next week.
Food for Thought
Why did God harden Sihon’s heart? Do you think that was fair to the people of Heshbon?