There are disagreements as to whether Moses got his name from his mother or Pharoah’s daughter, but one thing is for sure. He is the only figure in the Bible with that name. That makes him a very special character. From his encounter with God at the burning bush in the early chapters of Exodus, Moses became God’s spokesman. First, to the Israelite slaves and then to Pharoah himself. He was not excited about the role but fulfilled the calling with honor. He spoke with God’s authority both to Pharoah and then for forty years to the Israelites as they journeyed or wandered through the wilderness on their way to the promised land.

These words of Moses came after the defeat of the two Amorite kings, Og and Sihon. Interestingly, we don’t find any direct extra-biblical mention of these two kinds. But Biblical Archaeology is always turning up new things. I would love to see these two names discovered in ancient digs east of the Jordan where they lived. Bashan, Ashtaroth, and Edrei are known sites in that area. Sihon was the king who refused to grant Israel passage through their territory on their way to Canaan. Sihon was the king of the Amorites but we’re not sure of Og. So as Merrill observes, “The ethnic identity of the people of Bashan is unclear though Og himself is said to have been a Rephaite giant who required an iron bed.”[1] He required an iron bed because he was so big! He was one of the giants in the land from whom Goliath is a descendant. Put taking the land just to the east of the Jordan river opened access to the promised land to the Israelites. Moses needed to speak to them because he knew he wouldn’t be going with them and they would need final instructions on how they should live in the land.

After the Israelites, under Moses’ leadership, defeated the two kings of the Amorites, God told Moses to speak to the people again and gave him something specific to say to them. Deuteronomy 1:3b-4 says, “Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him in commandment to them after he had defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and Edrei.” Whatever God told Moses to say, he said! That Moses’ was faithful to deliver the exact words of God is very important. One Jewish commentator observed, “The theological question strikes us from the moment we open this fifth Book of the Bible: Moses is speaking with his voice to the people of Israel. Each of the other four biblical books are written in the third person, in God’s voice, as it were, recording the history, narrating the drama, and commanding the laws. This fifth book is written in the first person. Does this mean that the first four books are God’s Bible and the fifth Moses’ Bible?”[2] No, of course not and this short passage is one statement that affirms Moses’ words being inspired by God through Moses’ personality much like the authors of the New Testament. My Jewish commentator continued, “In the book of Deuteronomy, he spoke to his people, telling them not God’s words but his own, and God commanded him to write down the words of this Book as well for all eternity, God was granting the Divine imprimatur of Torah to Moses’ Book of Deuteronomy — and making it His (God’s) Book as well. Moses spoke and God answered Amen.” We say that about the books of the New Testament as well.

[1] Merrill, Eugene H. 1994. Deuteronomy. Vol. 4. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.