Questions From Readers
● Deuteronomy 10:6 reads, “And’ the sons of Israel pulled away from Beeroth Bene-jaakan for Moserah.” However, Numbers 33:31, 32 says exactly the reverse. How are we to understand this seeming discrepancy?
The account in the book of Numbers states that when the Israelites were on their journey through the wilderness they “pulled away from Moseroth and went camping in Bene-jaakan. After that they pulled away from Bene-jaakan and went camping in Hor-haggidgad.” So the account at Deuteronomy does list the direction of travel of the Israelites in reverse order from the Numbers account. In view of the many years spent in the wilderness, it is quite possible that the Israelites passed twice through this region.
As The Pentateuch and Haftorahs (Deuteronomy) commentary on Deuteronomy 10:6 suggests: “A probable explanation is that the Israelites, after journeying on a southern direction to the land of Edom, had to turn sharply to the north. . . . They may have had to retrace their steps for a short distance, and revisit some of the places they had passed through, this time in the reverse order.” It is to be noted that the record of Deuteronomy (10:6) refers to Aaron’s death immediately after referring to the station of Moserah, whereas the Numbers account (Nu 33:31-39) describes the Israelites’ travels to Ezion-geber and then northwest to Kadesh before dealing with the matter of the death of Aaron. This, together with the long number of years involved, would certainly allow for a measure of backtracking, if such were the case. Benejaakan (Beeroth Bene-jaakan, meaning “wells of the sons of Jaakan”) is usually identified with a site a few miles north of Kadesh-barnea.
The record at 2 Chronicles 14:2-5 states: “Asa proceeded to do what was good and right in the eyes of Jehovah his God. So he removed the foreign altars and the high places and broke up the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred poles. Further, he said to Judah to search for Jehovah the God of their forefathers and to do the law and the commandment. Accordingly he removed from all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense stands.” So Asa did demonstrate a zeal for pure worship “like David his forefather,” and courageously set about to clean out of the land the male temple prostitutes and the idols. He even removed his grandmother, Maacah, from her position as a sort of ‘first lady’ of the land because of her making a “horrible idol” to the sacred pole of Ashtoreth, and he burned the religious idol.—1 Ki. 15:11-13.
Right after the account of the king’s destroying his grandmother’s idol, however, 1 Kings 15:14 says that “the high places he did not remove. Nevertheless, Asa’s heart itself proved to be complete with Jehovah all his days.” It therefore appears that the high places referred to in the Chronicles account were those of the adopted pagan worship that infected Judah, while the Kings account refers to high places at which the people engaged in worship of Jehovah.
Even after the setting up of the tabernacle and later after the establishment of Solomon’s temple, occasional sacrificing that was acceptable to Jehovah was done to him on high places under special circumstances, as in the case of Samuel, David and Elijah. (1 Sam. 9:11-19; 1 Chron. 21:26-30; 1 Ki. 18:20, 30-39) Nevertheless, the regular approved place for sacrifice was that authorized by Jehovah. (Num. 33:52; Deut. 12:2-14; Josh. 22:29) Improper modes of worship were also carried on in Jehovah’s name (compare Exodus 32:5) and such may have continued at certain high places in spite of the removal of the pagan high places, perhaps because the king did not pursue their elimination with the same vigor as in the removal of the pagan sites.
Or it is possible that Asa did effect a complete removal of all high places but that such cropped up again in due time and were not removed at the time of the conclusion of his reign, allowing for their being smashed by his successor Jehoshaphat. Asa’s zeal for right worship brought a period of peace from Jehovah so that his “kingdom continued without disturbance before him.”—2 Chron. 14:1, 5.