The Words
Deuteronomy 1:1−3:22
Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary (CCAR Press)

Dvarim Deuteronomy English translation1:1] These are the words that Moses addressed to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan.—Through the wilderness, in the Arabah near Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab, 2] it is eleven days from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by the Mount Seir route.— 3] It was in the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, that Moses addressed the Israelites in accordance with the instructions that the Eternal had given him for them, 4] after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon, and King Og of Bashan, who dwelt at Ashtaroth [and] Edrei. 5] On the other side of the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to expound this Teaching. He said:

6] The Eternal our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying: You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7] Start out and make your way to the hill country of the Amorites and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Shephelah, the Negeb, the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and the Lebanon, as far as the Great River, the river Euphrates. 8] See, I place the land at your disposal. Go, take possession of the land that the Eternal swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to assign to them and to their heirs after them.

9] Thereupon I said to you, “I cannot bear the burden of you by myself. 10] The Eternal your God has multiplied you until you are today as numerous as the stars in the sky.— 11] May the Eternal, the God of your ancestors, increase your numbers a thousandfold, and bless you as promised.— 12] How can I bear unaided the trouble of you, and the burden, and the bickering! 13] Pick from each of your tribes representatives who are wise, discerning, and experienced, and I will appoint them as your heads.” 14] You answered me and said, “What you propose to do is good.” 15] So I took your tribal leaders, wise and experienced representatives, and appointed them heads over you: chiefs of thousands, chiefs of hundreds, chiefs of fifties, and chiefs of tens, and officials for your tribes. 16] I charged your magistrates at that time as follows, “Hear out your fellow Israelites, and decide justly between anyone and a fellow Israelite or a stranger. 17] You shall not be partial in judgment: hear out low and high alike. Fear no one, for judgment is God’s. And any matter that is too difficult for you, you shall bring to me and I will hear it.” 18] Thus I instructed you, at that time, about the various things that you should do.

19] We set out from Horeb and traveled the great and terrible wilderness that you saw, along the road to the hill country of the Amorites, as the Eternal our God had commanded us. When we reached Kadesh-barnea, 20] I said to you, “You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which the Eternal our God is giving to us. 21] See, the Eternal your God has placed the land at your disposal. Go up, take possession, as the Eternal, the God of your fathers, promised you. Fear not and be not dismayed.”

22] Then all of you came to me and said, “Let us send emissaries ahead to reconnoiter the land for us and bring back word on the route we shall follow and the cities we shall come to.” 23] I approved of the plan, and so I selected from among you twelve representatives, one from each tribe. 24] They made for the hill country, came to the wadi Eshcol, and spied it out. 25] They took some of the fruit of the land with them and brought it down to us. And they gave us this report: “It is a good land that the Eternal our God is giving to us.”

26] Yet you refused to go up, and flouted the command of the Eternal your God. 27] You sulked in your tents and said, “It is out of hatred for us that the Eternal brought us out of the land of Egypt, to hand us over to the Amorites to wipe us out. 28] What kind of place are we going to? Our brothers have taken the heart out of us, saying, ‘We saw there a people stronger and taller than we, large cities with walls sky-high, and even Anakites.’”

29] I said to you, “Have no dread or fear of them. 30] None other than the Eternal your God, who goes before you, will fight for you, just as [God] did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, 31] and in the wilderness, where you saw how the Eternal your God carried you, as a householder carries his son, all the way that you traveled until you came to this place. 32] Yet for all that, you have no faith in the Eternal your God, 33] who goes before you on your journeys—to scout the place where you are to encamp—in fire by night and in cloud by day, in order to guide you on the route you are to follow.”

34] The Eternal heard your loud complaint and, becoming angry, vowed: 35] Not one of the men [counted in the census], this evil generation, shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers— 36] none except Caleb son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his descendants will I give the land on which he set foot, because he remained loyal to the Eternal.— 37] Because of you the Eternal was incensed with me too, saying: You shall not enter it either. 38] Joshua son of Nun, who attends you, he shall enter it. Imbue him with strength, for he shall allot it to Israel.— 39] Moreover, your little ones who you said would be carried off, your children who do not yet know good from bad, they shall enter it; to them will I give it and they shall possess it. 40] As for you, turn about and march into the wilderness by the way of the Sea of Reeds.

41] You replied to me, saying, “We stand guilty before the Eternal. We will go up now and fight, just as the Eternal our God commanded us.” And [the men among] you each girded yourselves with war gear and recklessly started for the hill country. 42] But the Eternal One said to me, “Warn them: Do not go up and do not fight, since I am not in your midst; else you will be routed by your enemies.” 43] I spoke to you, but you would not listen; you flouted the Eternal’s command and willfully marched into the hill country. 44] Then the Amorites who lived in those hills came out against you like so many bees and chased you, and they crushed you at Hormah in Seir. 45] Again you wept before the Eternal; but the Eternal would not heed your cry or give ear to you.

46] Thus, after you had remained at Kadesh all that long time, 2:1] we marched back into the wilderness by the way of the Sea of Reeds, as the Eternal had spoken to me, and skirted the hill country of Seir a long time.

2] Then the Eternal One said to me: 3] You have been skirting this hill country long enough; now turn north. 4] And charge the people as follows: You will be passing through the territory of your kin, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. Though they will be afraid of you, be very careful 5] not to provoke them. For I will not give you of their land so much as a foot can tread on; I have given the hill country of Seir as a possession to Esau. 6] What food you eat you shall obtain from them for money; even the water you drink you shall procure from them for money. 7] Indeed, the Eternal your God has blessed you in all your undertakings. [God] has watched over your wanderings through this great wilderness; the Eternal your God has been with you these past forty years: you have lacked nothing.

8] We then moved on, away from our kin, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir, away from the road of the Arabah, away from Elath and Ezion-geber; and we marched on in the direction of the wilderness of Moab. 9] And the Eternal One said to me: Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war. For I will not give you any of their land as a possession; I have assigned Ar as a possession to the descendants of Lot.—

10] It was formerly inhabited by the Emim, a people great and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. 11] Like the Anakites, they are counted as Rephaim; but the Moabites call them Emim. 12] Similarly, Seir was formerly inhabited by the Horites; but the descendants of Esau dispossessed them, wiping them out and settling in their place, just as Israel did in the land they were to possess, which the Eternal had given to them.—

13] Up now! Cross the wadi Zered!

So we crossed the wadi Zered. 14] The time that we spent in travel from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the wadi Zered was thirty-eight years, until that whole generation of warriors had perished from the camp, as the Eternal had sworn concerning them. 15] Indeed, the hand of the Eternal struck them, to root them out from the camp until they were finished off.

16] When all the warriors among the people had died off, 17] the Eternal One spoke to me, saying: 18] You are now passing through the territory of Moab, through Ar. 19] You will then be close to the Ammonites; do not harass them or start a fight with them. For I will not give any part of the land of the Ammonites to you as a possession; I have assigned it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.—

20] It, too, is counted as Rephaim country. It was formerly inhabited by Rephaim, whom the Ammonites call Zamzummim, 21] a people great and numerous and as tall as the Anakites. The Eternal wiped them out, so that [the Ammonites] dispossessed them and settled in their place, 22] as [God] did for the descendants of Esau who live in Seir, by wiping out the Horites before them, so that they dispossessed them and settled in their place, as is still the case. 23] So, too, with the Avvim who dwelt in villages in the vicinity of Gaza: the Caphtorim, who came from Crete, wiped them out and settled in their place.—

24] Up! Set out across the wadi Arnon! See, I give into your power Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin the occupation: engage him in battle. 25] This day I begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under heaven, so that they shall tremble and quake because of you whenever they hear you mentioned.

26] Then I sent messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to King Sihon of Heshbon with an offer of peace, as follows, 27] “Let me pass through your country. I will keep strictly to the highway, turning off neither to the right nor to the left. 28] What food I eat you will supply for money, and what water I drink you will furnish for money; just let me pass through— 29] as the descendants of Esau who dwell in Seir did for me, and the Moabites who dwell in Ar—that I may cross the Jordan into the land that the Eternal our God is giving us.”

30] But King Sihon of Heshbon refused to let us pass through, because the Eternal had stiffened his will and hardened his heart in order to deliver him into your power—as is now the case. 31] And the Eternal One said to me: See, I begin by placing Sihon and his land at your disposal. Begin the occupation; take possession of his land.

32] Sihon with all his troops took the field against us at Jahaz, 33] and the Eternal our God delivered him to us and we defeated him and his sons and all his troops. 34] At that time we captured all his towns, and we doomed every town—men, women, and children—leaving no survivor. 35] We retained as booty only the cattle and the spoil of the cities that we captured. 36] From Aroer on the edge of the Arnon valley, including the town in the valley itself, to Gilead, not a city was too mighty for us; the Eternal our God delivered everything to us. 37] But you did not encroach upon the land of the Ammonites, all along the wadi Jabbok and the towns of the hill country, just as the Eternal our God had commanded.

3:1] We made our way up the road toward Bashan, and King Og of Bashan with all his troops took the field against us at Edrei. 2] But the Eternal One said to me: Do not fear him, for I am delivering him and all his troops and his country into your power, and you will do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon.

3] So the Eternal our God also delivered into our power King Og of Bashan, with all his troops, and we dealt them such a blow that no survivor was left. 4] At that time we captured all his towns; there was not a town that we did not take from them: sixty towns, the whole district of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan— 5] all those towns were fortified with high walls, gates, and bars—apart from a great number of unwalled towns. 6] We doomed them as we had done in the case of King Sihon of Heshbon; we doomed every town—men, women, and children— 7] and retained as booty all the cattle and the spoil of the towns.

8] Thus we seized, at that time, from the two Amorite kings, the country beyond the Jordan, from the wadi Arnon to Mount Hermon— 9] Sidonians called Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir— 10] all the towns of the Tableland and the whole of Gilead and Bashan as far as Salcah and Edrei, the towns of Og’s kingdom in Bashan. 11] Only King Og of Bashan was left of the remaining Rephaim. His bedstead, an iron bedstead, is now in Rabbah of the Ammonites; it is nine cubits long and four cubits wide, by the standard cubit!

12] And this is the land which we apportioned at that time: The part from Aroer along the wadi Arnon, with part of the hill country of Gilead and its towns, I assigned to the Reubenites and the Gadites. 13] The rest of Gilead, and all of Bashan under Og’s rule—the whole Argob district, all that part of Bashan which is called Rephaim country—I assigned to the half-tribe of Manasseh. 14] Jair son of Manasseh received the whole Argob district (that is, Bashan) as far as the boundary of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and named it after himself: Havvoth-jair—as is still the case. 15] To Machir I assigned Gilead. 16] And to the Reubenites and the Gadites I assigned the part from Gilead down to the wadi Arnon, the middle of the wadi being the boundary, and up to the wadi Jabbok, the boundary of the Ammonites.

17] [We also seized] the Arabah, from the foot of the slopes of Pisgah on the east, to the edge of the Jordan, and from Chinnereth down to the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea.

18] At that time I charged you [men of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh], saying, “The Eternal your God has given you this country to possess. You must go as shock-troops, warriors all, at the head of your Israelite kin. 19] Only your wives, children, and livestock—I know that you have much livestock—shall be left in the towns I have assigned to you, 20] until the Eternal has granted your kin a haven such as you have, and they too have taken possession of the land that the Eternal your God is assigning them, beyond the Jordan. Then you may return each to the homestead that I have assigned to him.”

21] I also charged Joshua at that time, saying, “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Eternal your God has done to these two kings; so shall the Eternal do to all the kingdoms into which you shall cross over. 22] Do not fear them, for it is the Eternal your God who will battle for you.”

Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary, copyright (c) 2016 by CCAR Press. All rights reserved. Translation of Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy from NJPS © 1962, 1985, 1999; CJPS © 2006. Used and adapted by CCAR Press with permission from The Jewish Publication Society and the University of Nebraska Press. No part of this translation may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, distributed, or be transmitted without express written permission from the Central Conference of American Rabbis. For permission, please contact CCAR Press.