Devarim 2 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
Israel Directed to the Land Via Arnon
The chapter commences thirty-eight years on from the previous one. Moses turns from the description of the rebellion at Kadesh, and its tragic outcome, to the period immediately preceeding his oration. There is only brief reference to the long period of wilderness wandering adjacent to Kadesh. Particular reference is made to the dealings of the nation with Edom, Moab and Amon.*
1 Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea [Yam Suf], as Yahweh spoke unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days [circled Mt Seir yamim rabbim].
Edom refused Israel passage through its territory, and so forced upon the nation a circuitous route to the Promised Land - Num. 20: 14-20.
The children of Israel moved from Kadesh in a southeasterly direction towards the gulf of Aqaba, and then, as indicated in the wanderings listed in Num. 33, they returned to Kadesh.
Mt. Seir is the geographical name for the nation of Edom, whose territory at that time extended west almost to Kadesh. The children of Israel skirted the western borders of Edom for thirty-eight years, returning again to Kadesh.
2 And Yahweh spake unto me, saying,
After thirty-eight years, a new commandment was issued by Yahweh to Moses.
3 Ye have compassed this mountain [ circled hahar hazeh] long enough: turn you northward.
...to commence a direct march to the Land of Promise.*
4 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast [ territory] of your brethren the children of Esau [Bnei Esav], which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed [be shomer me'od] unto yourselves therefore:
The thirty-eight years of wandering had witnessed the death of Miriam, the sin of Moses, the death of Aaron, defeat at the hands of the Hormahites, a plague of serpents cured by the brazen serpent on a pole (See Num. chps. 20,21). Now the command is to move directly to the Land of Promise, skirting the borders of the Edomites. The Israelites were strictly forbidden to invade their country in a hostile manner; they were to watch over themselves, so as to avoid being provoked into making war with the Edomites, tend with, and things that they must ignore and pass by.*
5 Meddle [to contend-RV] not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot [regel ] breadth ["even to the treading of the sole of the foot"*] because I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession [Esav for a yerushah (inheritance)]
Though Edom is related to Israel, it is a quarrelsome, warlike nation. Though it refuses the Israelites a short-cut passage through its country Moses is warned not to attack it, or meddle with the people.
Edom is identified with Esau, described as a "profane person" (Heb. 12:16). For the people of Israel to meddle with that which is profane is to court disaster in their spiritual walk to the Land of Promise. *
Israel will attain unto the land of Edom in the future
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David... That they may possess the remnant of Edom Amos 9:12, Isa. 11:14; 63:1-5; ; Obad. 8.
"I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession" - Yahweh apportions the lot of nations in their particular inheritances. He determines "the bounds of their habitations". He decides how far a Napoleon or a Hitler may go; or what will be the extent of British or Russian possessions.
"He rules in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever He will" - Dan. 4:17.
"Seir" denotes rough or hairy, like Esau - Gen. 25: 25... the word for "goat" as found in Num. 28:22; 29:22,28,31 etc., is from a common root with that of Seir. The goat represented sin in the flesh, and Edom symbolised the sin power in political manifestation. No wonder Israel was commanded not to meddle with such!*
*The Christadelphian Expositor