In Numbers 20:14-21, Moses and the Israelites are denied passage through Edom. The Edomites "came out to confront the Israelites with a large force of heavily armed people." So "Israel turned away from them." When Moses is recounting the all that has happened to the new generation in the beginning of Deuteronomy, he reiterates this (2:8), but seems to contradict himself (2:29) when recalling his request of passage through the land of Sihon king of Heshbon. Is he being dishonest about the incident with Sihon, or is there something I'm missing? --Ben Owen (Gainesville, Florida)

Here is my answer. Moses never explicitly claimed that the Israelites marched through Edomite territory. Rather, as is clear from the Numbers text, they were forced to bypass it. That, however, doesn't necessarily mean the Edomites were not content to have the Israelites go past them. Deuteronomy 2:8 says that the Israelites went past or beyond them. I agree, I would not have phrased things as Moses did, but then I am far removed in culture, language, and wisdom from the great patriarch.

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