Battles with Sichon and Og in Bemidbar and Devarim

Introduction

The description of the conquest and inheritance of the lands of Sichon and Og is found in both Bemidbar 21 and 32 and Devarim 2-3. Moshe's retelling in Devarim overlaps significantly with the original account in Bemidbar. However, in contrast to most of the other stories in Sefer Devarim which are shorter than the original, here there are numerous additions.1 By examining these, the reader may gain insight into the unique message Moshe intended to impart in his recounting of the story. For a full comparison of the two accounts, open the comparison table and expand to full screen. For a summary of the differences, see the chart below.

Points of Contrast

Analysis

One of Moshe's central goals in Sefer Devarim is to instill confidence in the nation that they will be successful in conquering the Land of Israel. Similar to the anointed priest's pep talk to the nation before going to war (Devarim 20:1-9), Moshe's speech is meant to boost the morale of the nation.5 As such, the historical events he reviews are brought and molded so as to further this objective rather than to simply recount history in a straight chronological fashion. Many of the variations brought above are thus readily understood:

Summary Chart

EN/HEע/E
Bemidbar Devarim
Conquest and inheritance Split into distinct narratives Merged into one narrative
Hashem's role Less emphasized Highlighted
Conquest of cities and spoils of war Minimal details Extensive description
Background of Og ___ Noted
Strength of Ammon Noted ___
Request and inheritance of the 2½ tribes Request, consent, and inheritance all are mentioned Only the consent and inheritance are mentioned
Encouragement of Yehoshua ___ Elaborated
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