Northward Along Edom. 1a Then we turned and proceeded into the wilderness on the Red Sea road,b as the LORD had told me, and circled around the highlands of Seir for a long time. 2Finally the LORD said to me, 3You have wandered round these highlands long enough; turn and go north. 4Command the people: You are now about to pass through the territory of your relatives, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. Though they are afraid of you, be very careful 5not to come in conflict with them, for I will not give you so much as a foot of their land, since I have already given Esau possession of the highlands of Seir.c 6You shall purchase from them with money the food you eat; even the water you drink you shall buy from them with money. 7Surely, the LORD, your God, has blessed you in all your undertakings; he has been concerned* about your journey through this vast wilderness. It is now forty years that the LORD, your God, has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.d 8So we passed by our relatives, the descendants of Esau who live in Seir, leaving behind us the Arabah route, Elath, and Ezion-geber.
Along Moab. Then we turned and passed on toward the wilderness of Moab. 9e And the LORD said to me, Do not show hostility to the Moabites or engage them in battle, for I will not give you possession of any of their land, since I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as their possession.f 10(Formerly the Emim lived there, a people great and numerous and as tall as the Anakim;g 11like the Anakim they are considered Rephaim, though the Moabites call them Emim.h 12In Seir, however, the former inhabitants were the Horites;i the descendants of Esau dispossessed them, clearing them out of the way and dwelling in their place, just as Israel has done in the land of its possession which the LORD gave it.) 13Now get ready to cross the Wadi Zered.
So we crossed the Wadi Zered. 14j Now thirty-eight years had elapsed between our departure from Kadesh-barnea and the crossing of the Wadi Zered; in the meantime the whole generation of soldiers had perished from the camp, as the LORD had sworn they should. 15Indeed the LORD’s own hand was against them, to rout them from the camp completely.
Along Ammon. 16k When at length death had put an end to all the soldiers among the people, 17the LORD said to me, 18You are now about to leave Ar and the territory of Moab behind. 19As you come opposite the Ammonites,l do not show hostility or come in conflict with them, for I will not give you possession of any land of the Ammonites, since I have given it to the descendants of Lot as their possession. 20(This also is considered a country of the Rephaim; formerly the Rephaim dwelt there. The Ammonites call them Zamzummim,m 21a people great and numerous and as tall as the Anakim. But these, too, the LORD cleared out of the way for the Ammonites, so that they dispossessed them and dwelt in their place.n 22He did the same for the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir, by clearing the Horites out of their way, so that they dispossessed them and dwelt in their place down to the present.o 23As for the Avvim, who once lived in villages in the vicinity of Gaza,* the Caphtorim, migrating from Caphtor, cleared them away and dwelt in their place.)p
Defeat of Sihon. 24q Advance now across the Wadi Arnon. I now deliver into your power Sihon, the Amorite king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to take possession; engage him in battle.r 25This day I will begin to put a fear and dread of you into the peoples everywhere under heaven, so that at the mention of your name they will quake and tremble before you.
26So I sent messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to Sihon, king of Heshbon, with this offer of peace: 27“Let me pass through your country. I will travel only on the road. I will not turn aside either to the right or to the left. 28The food I eat you will sell me for money, and the water I drink, you will give me for money. Only let me march through, 29as the descendants of Esau who dwell in Seir and the Moabites who dwell in Ar have done, until I cross the Jordan into the land the LORD, our God, is about to give us.”s 30But Sihon, king of Heshbon, refused to let us pass through his land, because the LORD, your God, made him stubborn in mind and obstinate in heart that he might deliver him into your power, as indeed he has now done.
31Then the LORD said to me, Now that I have already begun to give over to you Sihon and his land, begin to take possession. 32So Sihon and all his people advanced against us to join battle at Jahaz; 33but since the LORD, our God, had given him over to us, we defeated him and his sons and all his people. 34t At that time we captured all his cities and put every city under the ban,* men, women and children; we left no survivor. 35Our only plunder was the livestock and the spoils of the captured cities. 36From Aroer on the edge of the Wadi Arnon and from the town in the wadi itself, as far as Gilead,u no city was too well fortified for us. All of them the LORD, our God, gave over to us. 37However, just as the LORD, our God, commanded us, you did not encroach upon any of the Ammonite land, neither the region bordering on the Wadi Jabbok, nor the cities of the highlands.v
* [2:34] Under the ban: in Hebrew, herem, which means to devote to the Lord (cf. 7:1–5; 20:10–18). The biblical text often presents herem as the total extermination of a population as a manifestation of the will of the Lord. It is historically doubtful that Israel ever literally carried out this theological program.