21:24 But the Israelites 1 defeated him in battle 2 and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the Ammonites, for the border of the Ammonites was strongly defended. 21:25 So Israel took all these cities; and Israel settled in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all its villages. 3 21:26 For Heshbon was the city of King Sihon of the Amorites. Now he had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all of his land from his control, 4 as far as the Arnon.
1 tn The Hebrew text has “Israel,” but the verb is plural.
2 tn Heb “with the edge of the sword.”
3 tn Heb “its daughters.”
4 sn There is a justice, always, in the divine plan for the conquest of the land. Modern students of the Bible often think that the conquest passages are crude and unjust. But an understanding of the ancient Near East is critical here. This Sihon was not a part of the original population of the land. He himself invaded the territory and destroyed the population of Moab that was indigenous there and established his own kingdom. The ancient history is filled with such events; it is the way of life they chose – conquer or be conquered. For Israel to defeat them was in part a turning of their own devices back on their heads – “those that live by the sword will die by the sword.” Sihon knew this, and he did not wait, but took the war to Israel. Israel wanted to pass through, not fight. But now they would either fight or be pushed into the gorge. So God used Israel to defeat Sihon, who had no claim to the land, as part of divine judgment.