Deuteronomy 1:6-8 – Contact and Conflict


Deuteronomy 1:6-8


God sends the Israelites to the land of the Amorites, Canaanites, and their neighbors to take possession of it. 


God, through Moses, said that the people had stayed at Horeb, the mountain of God, long enough. The goal of the contact was not perpetual residence at the Holy Mountain. Instead, they were to take over a land, and displace the people living there. 

This description envisions a massive conquest of “greater Israel” including territories on both sides of the Jordan River, and north through Lebanon up to the Euphrates, far greater than the lands ever held directly by Israelites. 

The description of agency is important. God set the land before the Israelites, but it would be their job to take possession of it. Their taking possession would be fulfillment of God’s land grants to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Israelites, by faithfully following God, would fulfill God’s promises to their forefathers and to themselves. 

The land, as described here, is still in possession of the Amorites and Canaanites, and is defined by their ownership. “The hill country of the Amorites” and “the land of the Canaanites” are held by their pre-Israelite inhabitants. The Negev, Arabah, lowlands and coastlands are known as independent locations, perhaps because they were less well suited to settlement. Perhaps, according to this timeframe, the Philistines had not yet arrived in the land and established their cities along the coast.