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But God will carry into effect his purposes, and manifest his sovereign power, as he chooses, to accomplish the ends of his holy, just, and benevolent government. Our place is that of submission and confidence, of dependance and obedience. Then we are safe. Let us ponder-well the lesson of the brazen serpent, and the memorable words of our Saviour in connection with it. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Valley of Zered. Destruction of the Amorites, and
of Og and his army.
Ezion-gaber was at the northern extremity of the Elanitic gulf, near Akaba. After crossing the ridge of mountains to the eastward of this place, as we have seen, the Israelites continued their course through the extensive and elevated plains, which are still traversed by the Syrian pilgrims ir their way to Mecca. The route lay along the western skirts of the great desert, and near the mountains of Edom.
On entering these plains, Moses received this divine direction, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough : turn you northward. And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir, and they shall be afraid of
ye heed unto yourselves therefore. 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.”
The Israelites were, also, directed to purchase provisions and water of this people ; the same who had successfully resisted their approach on the strong, western frontier of Edom, but were now peaceful in their movements, being alarmed at the sight of such an immense host, on the weaker and more accessible side of the country.
An injunction was, also, given not to attack, or distress, the Moabites, who were the posterity of Lot, and on whose account God had granted them their country for a possession.
While thus pursuing their course northward, four stations of the Israelites are mentioned, Zalmonah, Punon, Oboth, and Ije-abarim; the last of which was in the wilderness east of Moab. Their next encampment was in the valley of Zered, ad
joining a brook of the same name, which rising in the mountains of Moab, and running from east to west, falls into the Dead Sea, south of the Arnon. It is probably the valley now called Wady el Ahsy. Just thirty-eight years had now elapsed since they left Kadesh-barnea, and about forty from the time of their departure out of Egypt; and in the meanwhile, as the Lord "sware unto them," all the men of war who had been numbered in the wilderness of Sinai, and were at that time twenty years old and upwards, had died;
for the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them, until they were consumed."
At this time, another people whose borders they would soon approach, were secured against any attack of the Israelites by an express command of God. They were the Ammonitės, who like the Moabites were the descendants of Lot. Their territory extended from the Arnon to the Jabbok, and from the Jordan a considerable distance into Arabia. They, as well as the Moabites, were dispossessed of a part of their country by the Amorites; which portions of territory, as we shall see, Moses retook, and divided between the tribes of Gad and Reuben.
Leaving the valley of Zered, the Israelites crossed the river Arnon, and encamped on the other side of it, in the wilderness which stretched northward into the territory of the Amorites. Thence they proceeded, after two other encampments, to Beer, or the well whereof the Lord spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water.”
Mattanah was the next station; and then encamping at Nahaliel, and Bamoth, they arrived at the mountains of Abarim, of which Nebo and Pisgah were two important summits. These mountains were east of the Jordan, over against Jericho, and north of the Arnon. While in their neighborhood, in the wilderness of Kedemoth, Moses sent messengers unto Sihon, king of the Amorites, asking permission to pass through his territory; and engaging to go along by the highway, and to pay for the provisions and water with which they might be furnished. But Sihon utterly refused, and collecting his forces, advanced against the Israelites. A battle between them was fought near Jahaz, in which the king of the Amorites, being delivered up by God to his fate, was entirely defeated. Israel smote him and his army with the edge of the sword. They took possession of his country from the Arnon to the Jabbok, and of all the cities ; destroying the inhabitants, (such was the divine command,) but reserving the cattle and the spoil. The Moabites and Ammonites, as had been ordered, were spared. These people, however, requited good with evil. They would not furnish the Israelites with any provisions or water,
and they endeavored, as we shall see, to hire Ba. laam to curse them. For this conduct there was a divine ordinance afterwards enacted, that none of the Moabites, or Ammonites, should become members of the civil community of the Jews, even to the tenth generation.
After their victory over Sihon, and the conquest of his country, the Israelites proceeded on their march, by the way of Bashan. This lay east of the Jordan, and west of the mountains of Gilead. On its north was mount Hermon, and on ils south the brook Jabbok. It was an exceedingly fruitful region, remarkable for its oaks, rich pastures, and fine cattle. Its king, whose name was Og, was among the last of the race of the giants, a man of immense stature and bodily strength. His bedstead, made of iron, is described as being nine cubits, or thirteen feet and a half, in length; so that, whatever allowance is made for the differ. ence between this and his height, he must have been a giant indeed.
Having collected all his forces, Og came out against the Israelites; and gave them battle at Edrei, a city north of the mountains of Gilead, Moses was told not to fear this powerful monarch, nor his great army.
"For I will deliver him," said the Lord, "and all his people, and his land, into thy hand.” And such was the issue of the contest. The Israelites, defeating them, took all their