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Esau, which dwell in Seir ; and they shall be afraid of you : take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore :
5. Meddle not with them : for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth ; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.
Moses had reminded the Israelites, in the preceding chapter, that in consequence of the disobedience of their fathers, in refusing to go up at God's bidding to take possession of the.promised land, the Almighty had deserted them when they chose to go up of their own accord, and had permitted their enemies to overcome them, and to chase them “ as bees do,” into the neighbourhood of Mount Seir. There they “ abode many days,” indeed, during the far greater portion of thirty-eight years; until, as we find from the fourteenth verse, “ all the generation of the men of war, were wasted out from among the host, as the Lord sware unto them.”
Then, again, the Lord called on them to move northward from the mountain, and to pass through the land of the children of Esau. Very remarkable are the directions given to Israel on this occasion, to respect the possessions of their elder brother. “ Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so
much as a foot breadth, because I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession;" and yet the Edomites were the enemies of the Most High.. So wonderfully does the Almighty respect his promises, notwithstanding the unworthiness of those who profit by them. He will not suffer even his chosen people to root out a disobedient and God-forgetting nation from a land which his own providence has conferred upon them. The word of the Lord standeth sure; so sure, that the children of disobedient Esau shall hold their own, against the unnumbered numbers of the seed of the pious Jacob. The day, indeed, should come when the Edomites * should be utterly destroyed, but that day had not arrived ; “ their iniquity was not yet full,” the promise of the Lord standeth sure, for “ the gifts and callings of God are without repentance,” and even the Edomites were, for the present, safe.
6. Ye shall buy meat of them for money that ye may eat ; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.
7. For the Lord thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand : he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness : these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.
* See Obadiah i. 18.
8. And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Ezion-gaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.
9. And the Lord said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle : for I will not give thee of their land for a possession : because I have given. Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.
Here, again, and for a similar reason, the Israelites were forbidden to conquer. This was, indeed, a stronger case than the preceding, for the Moabites were the descendants of“ just Lot," and therefore in a peculiar manner under the providence of the Almighty. But these were striking lessons, at the very commencement of Israel's wars, of the necessity of forbearance and self-denial. Perhaps one great intention of the Almighty might be, thus practically to inculcate upon the Israelites the superiority of the conquest over themselves, to the far more easy victory over their enemies; to teach the followers of the Lord in after ages, that the most valuable of all triumphs, are those which, by the aid of the Holy Spirit of God, they are enabled to achieve over their own desires, and passions, and lusts, and tempers; and that he alone is the true conqueror, who has thus learnt to subdue himself, and, by Divine grace, to bring “ every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
[Here may be read from verse 10, to 23, inclusive.]
DEUTERONOMY ii. 24–37.
24. Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon : behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land : begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.
25. This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.
26. And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon, with words of peace, saying, :
27. Let me pass through thy land : I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.
28. Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink : only I will pass through on my feet :
29. (As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me ;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the Lord our God giveth us.
30. But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him : for the Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
31. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee : begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land.
32. Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.
33. And the Lord onr God delivered him before us ; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.
34. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain :
35. Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.
36. From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us : the Lord our God delivered all unto us.
37. Only 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.
The Israelites had been taught, in the former part of this chapter, to commence their career of conquest, by the victory over themselves, in