Nomination of Joshua as his Successor. - This reminiscence also recalls the goodness of God in the appointment of Joshua (Num 27:12.), which took place “at that time,” i.e., after the conquest of the land on the east of the Jordan. In accordance with the object of his address, which was to hold up to view what the Lord had done for Israel, he here relates how, at the very outset, he pointed Joshua to the things which he had seen with his eyes (הָרֹאֹת עֵינֶיךָ, thine eyes were seeing; cf. Ewald, §335, b.), namely, to the defeat of the two kings of the Amorites, in which the pledge was contained, that the faithful covenant God would complete the work He had begun, and would do the same to all kingdoms whither Joshua would go over (i.e., across the Jordan).
For this reason they were not to be afraid; for Jehovah Himself would fight for them. “He” is emphatic, and adds force to the subject.
Moses then describes how, notwithstanding his prayer, the Lord had refused him permission to cross over into Canaan and see the glorious land. This prayer is not mentioned in the historical account given in the fourth book; but it must have preceded the prayer for the appointment of a shepherd over the congregation in Num 27:16, as the Lord directs him in His reply (Deu 3:28) to appoint Joshua as the leader of the people. In his prayer, Moses appealed to the manifestations of divine grace which he had already received. As the Lord had already begun to show him His greatness and His mighty hand, so might He also show him the completion of His work. The expression, “begun to show Thy greatness,” relates not so much to the mighty acts of the Lord in Egypt and at the Red Sea (as in Exo 32:11-12, and Num 14:13.), as to the manifestation of the divine omnipotence in the defeat of the Amorites, by which the Lord had begun to bring His people into the possession of the promised land, and had made Himself known as God, to whom there was no equal in heaven or on earth. אֲשֶׁר before אֵל מִי (v. 24) is an explanatory and causal relative: because (quod, quia), or for. “For what God is there in heaven and on earth,” etc. These words recall Exo 15:11, and are echoed in many of the Psalms, - in Psa 86:8 almost verbatim. The contrast drawn between Jehovah and other gods does not involve the reality of the heathen deities, but simply presupposes a belief in the existence of other gods, without deciding as to the truth of that belief. גְּבוּרֹת, manifestations of גְּבוּרָה, mighty deeds.
“I pray Thee, let me go over.” אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּא, a form of desire, used as a petition, as in Deu 2:27; Num 21:22, etc. “That goodly mountain” is not one particular portion of the land of Canaan, such as the mountains of Judah, or the temple mountain (according to Exo 15:17), but the whole of Canaan regarded as a mountainous country, Lebanon being specially mentioned as the boundary wall towards the north. As Moses stood on the lower level of the Arabah, the promised land presented itself not only to his eyes, but also to his soul, as a long mountain range; and that no merely as suggestive of the lower contrast, that “whereas the plains in the East are for the most part sterile, on account of the want of springs or rain, the mountainous regions, which are well watered by springs and streams, are very fertile and pleasant” (Rosenmüller), but also on a much higher ground, viz., as a high and lofty land, which would stand by the side of Horeb, “where he had spent the best and holiest days of his life, and where he had seen the commencement of the covenant between God and His people” (Schultz).
But the Lord would not grant his request. “Let it suffice thee' (satis sit tibi, as in Deu 1:6), substantially equivalent to 2Co 12:8, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (Schultz). בְּ דַּבֵּר, to speak about a thing (as in Deu 6:7; Deu 11:19, etc.).
Deu 3:27 is a rhetorical paraphrase of Num 27:12, where the mountains of Abarim are mentioned in the place of Pisgah, which was the northern portion of Abarim. (On Deu 3:28, cf. Deu 1:38 and Num 27:23.)
“So we abode in the valley over against Beth-peor,” i.e., in the Arboth Moab (Num 22:1), sc., where we still are. The pret. וַנֵּשֶׁב is used, because Moses fixes his eye upon the past, and looks back upon the events already described in Num 28-34 as having taken place there. On Beth-Peor, see at Num 23:28.