New European Commentary

 

About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan


Deeper Commentary

 

Num 32:1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock. When they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead that behold, the place was a place for livestock-
The record sounds as if it were only these tribes; it is Reuben and Gad who make the agreement to not return to the land East of Jordan until the other tribes are settled (:25). But the bad attitude spread to Manasseh, according to Josh. 22; at this time, only three individuals from Manasseh were given an inheritance East of Jordan (32:40-42). But this spread to half the tribe wanting such an inheritance there. A theme of this chapter is how bad attitudes spread so easily.

The frequent command "You shall not covet" (Ex. 20:17 etc.) uses the same Hebrew word translated "desire" when we read of how Eve "desired" the fruit (Gen. 3:6); yet Israel "desired" the wrong fruit (Is. 1:29). As Eve saw the fruit and fell for it, so the people of Reuben and Gad saw the land East of Jordan and imagined how good it would be to have it, despite having been given 'all the land' West of Jordan to enjoy [cp. Adam and Eve's dominion in Eden] (Num. 32:1,2,7). In all these allusions [and they exist in almost every chapter of the Bible] we are being shown how human sin is a repetition in essence of that of our first parents. The insistent emphasis is that we should rise above and not be like them. And yet this call for personal effort and struggle with ourselves in order to overcome sin is muted and misplaced by all the stress upon a supposed Devil tempting Eve, pushing the blame onto him, and thereby de-emphasizing our role in overcoming sin within ourselves. And so we see so many loud-mouthed condemners of the Devil totally not 'getting it' about the need for personal self-control and spiritual mindedness in daily life and private character.

A very great multitude of livestock- Remember that wealth in those days was not measured by bank accounts but by animals. They had worked hard for this because many animals would have died at some points in the wilderness journey- see on Num. 21:4. Their temptation to seek the Kingdom now arose from being wealthy; they saw a good place for their animals and they wanted the Kingdom right away. The Lord in the wilderness faced the same essential temptation- to take the Kingdom now. This was what first century Israel wanted, and it led them to reject their Messiah. And it's what we all would like. To have our nice homes and villas now, rather than bear the cross before the eternal crown.

 

Num 32:2 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the princes of the congregation, saying,
Num 32:3 Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Sebam, and Nebo, and Beon-
These place names occur in the later Old Testament, but always with reference to the fact that Gentiles lived there. So Reuben and Gad’s short term desire for inheritance didn’t last for long; subsequent generations lost those lands. Although they changed the names of these cities (:38), their original names evidently stayed with them because the Gentiles re-took them from Reuben and Gad.


Num 32:4 the land which Yahweh struck before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.
Num 32:5 They said, If we have found favour in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Don’t bring us over the Jordan-
They said this to Moses, who so dearly wished to enter the land but wasn’t able to. The paradox is obvious and intentional; Moses could easily have answered their request with reference to it, but he omits all personal reference, in his selfless way; and focuses instead on the impact their choice would have on God’s people as a whole. For their salvation and not his own was uppermost in his mind.

They were intended to themselves go over Jordan into the promised land of Canaan. But they speak as if they are being brought over by Moses, as if against their will, or at best, as a result of their submission to a will more powerful than their own. This is not how we should see our journey to the Kingdom. We ourselves should want to enter the land. This could be read as meaning that they despised the land promised. Although comparing the various definitions of that land, it is so that the territory was open to re-definition according to Israel's strengths and weaknesses. The final crossing over Jordan as recorded in Joshua 4 is however clearly typical of our final entry into the Kingdom, and to opt out of it can be therefore read quite negatively. 'Crossing over Jordan to enter Canaan' is seen in the Bible as the point of entering the land of Canaan, which had effectively become the promised land for Israel (e.g. Num 33:51; 35:10;  Dt. 2:29 "I shall pass over Jordan into the land the Lord gives us"). Not going over Jordan was the punishment given to Moses in excluding him from the land (Dt. 3:27; 4:21,22). To not wish to do so was therefore voting themselves out of the land of Canaan. But the Eastern bank of Jordan was within the land promised to Abraham. So I would conclude that they were using a Biblical argument to justify their desire for an immediate Kingdom, and this is just how the flesh justifies our weaknesses.


Num 32:6 Moses said to the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brothers go to the war, and shall you sit here?- You sit here
- The contrast is between 'sitting', being passive and sedentary, and 'possessing' Canaan (:5)- the Hebrew meaning to seize. We are to seize the Kingdom, not passively; we are to by all means lay hold upon it (Phil. 3:12), taking the Kingdom as storm troopers (Mt. 11:12). They wanted the easier way- dwelling in an area which was apparently offering less opposition than the land West of Jordan. We likewise can take the easy way to the Kingdom [or so it seems], taking the path there which appears the way of least resistance, convenience and passivity.

 
Num 32:7 Why do you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which Yahweh has given them?-
Our attitude to the Kingdom has far greater influence on others' hearts / thinking than we realize. The Hebrew is usually translated "disallow" or once "break" (Ps. 141:5); attitude is hereby described in proactive terms. We can break others' hearts without saying a word to them- by our attitude. And the final equilibrium of God's judgment will take this into account. It's not so much what lawas we broke, but the effect we had upon others which is to be so significant in that day. Our attitudes to possessing the Kingdom affect others; if we don’t want to go over ourselves, we will discourage others. The power of example is far greater than we realize. Jesus may have referred to this incident when He condemned the Pharisees for not entering the Kingdom of God themselves and not sending forth others on their way there either (Mt. 23:13 Gk.).


Num 32:8 Your fathers did so when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to see the land-
The Gaddites and Reubenites didn't say a word to the others, didn't at all in so many words discourage them from entering the land. But in essence, their attitude was as bad as what their fathers did in stating that the land was too hard to possess. It could be that Moses' perceived that really, they were fearful of the opposition in the land, just as their fathers had been. And again we can infer that the land East of Jordan was perceived as not giving any insurmountable opposition to them.


Num 32:9 For when they went up to the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which Yahweh had given them.
Num 32:10 Yahweh’s anger was kindled in that day, and He swore, saying,
Num 32:11 ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me -
 Wholly followed Me
- 'Caleb' can mean 'dog', and so this is appropriate.


Num 32:12 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, because they have followed Yahweh completely’-
Caleb was a Gentile (Josh. 15:17; Jud. 1:13; Gen. 36:11); and yet in Num. 13:6; 34:19 his descendants are incorporated into the tribe of Judah. Likewise Samuel, an Ephraimite (1 Sam. 1:1), was counted as a Levite (1 Chron. 6:16-28). Indeed it would appear that 'genealogies' in the Bible very often reflect themes of associations rather than being literal accounts of blood descent.

Caleb was head of a household within the tribe of Judah. It could be argued that he was directly related to Judah through Hezron and Pharez (1 Chron. 2:5,18,25). But "Kenizzite" (also Num. 32:12) could refer to the Gentile tribe of Gen. 15:19; or to a man called Kenaz, memorialized by Caleb naming his son with that same name (1 Chron. 4:15). And Jud. 1:13 could mean that Caleb's father was called Kenaz. Caleb means "dog", and this is apparently alluded to when he is commended for faithfully following Yahweh, as a dog would follow its master (Num. 14:24). The genealogies are constructed in such a way that they don't preclude Caleb having been a Gentile who was fully accepted into the tribe of Judah.  


Num 32:13 Yahweh’s anger was kindled against Israel, and He made them wander back and forth in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, who had done evil in the sight of Yahweh, was consumed-
 Done evil
- That generation disbelieved that they could enter the land. They didn't 'do' any evil but their mental attitudes, their heart, was counted as doing evil. This continues the theme noted on :7 and :8; mental attitudes are counted as actions.


Num 32:14 Behold, you have risen up in your fathers’ place, an increase of sinful men, to augment yet the fierce anger of Yahweh toward Israel-
 An increase of sinful men
- As noted on :7,8,13,15 and elsewhere, a theme of this incident is that mental attitudes are counted as proactively sinful behaviour. They were an "increase" or descendants of the sinful men mentioned in :8, their 'fathers' who had likewise not wanted to enter the land. Again their motives are being revealed as identical to that of their fathers- fear of opposition, and preferring to sacrifice the Kingdom for the sake of non-action. The particular "fathers" (:8) and "sinful men" in view would have been the princes of Reuben and Gad who had reported that the land was unable to be possessed: Shammua son of Zaccur [of Reuben] and Geuel son of Machi [of Gad] (Num. 13:4,15). The sin of those two men appears the worse when we see it twice mentioned here that their attitude had influenced a whole generation of their tribal descendants.

To augment yet the fierce anger of Yahweh- God's anger had been kindled 38 years ago over this matter of not having faith to enter the Kingdom He had prepared. By not learning the lesson of our fathers' failures, and repeating in essence their sin, we provoke that anger yet more. Failure to learn from history is therefore highly significant before God; and this is where the historical record which is the Bible becomes of such supreme importance. There are degrees of sin. Paul seems to reason that sexual sin involving the body of God’s creation is especially culpable. And here Num. 32:14 speaks of ‘augmenting yet the fierce anger of the Lord’ by premeditated sin, as  if there is a scale of offence to God. 

 


Num 32:15 For if you turn away from after Him
-
They would have argued that all they were doing was asking for what seemed a logical, practical concession. But because of the attitudes underlying it, they are spoken of as having actually done the most awful things in practice. See on :14. Turning away from behind God is the language of :11- not wholly following God into the promised land. He is leading us into His Kingdom- it is wilful pulling out of that program which will provoke His anger. And if we remain within the path lead by Him, we shall surely get there. He is not passive. He has not merely enabled a future Kingdom and remained willing to give it to whoever makes the journey. He is leading us there, going before us, dragging us there...

He will yet again leave them in the wilderness- Yet God had earlier implied that after that previous generation had died, then the next generation, their children, would enter the land. He had apparently limited the time that Israel would remain in the wilderness- to 40 years (Num. 14:33,34). But here we see that once again, God's purpose is conditional and can change; even if there are no hints of the conditions at earlier points. The forty year time period had the possibility of becoming longer. This reflects God's sensitivity to human behaviour. We who pray so half-heartedly for victory against temptation, who so easily assume that God will understand that we can't fully change... need to realize that extreme sensitivity which He has to our choices and thoughts. Let's get it clear: the whole people of Israel would have been left in the wilderness and not allowed to enter the land, if Gad and Reuben refused to cross the Jordan river (Num. 32:15). But this would have broken the Divine promise of Num. 14:31 that all those under 20 would enter the land. Even that promise, therefore, had unstated conditions attached to it. And yet God had yet another option- if they refused to go over Jordan, then they would forfeit their land and receive a different inheritance (Num. 32:30). The complexities of these conditions are of course beyond us, because we are seeing only a part of the working of God’s infinite mind. The point is, there are conditions attached to God’s promises which aren’t always made apparent to us.

And you will destroy all this people- This may sound extreme language, but this is the theme of the chapter: internal attitudes have huge affect upon others. We must again remember that the area they wished to possess was still part of the land promised to Abraham, although not strictly part of the land of Canaan which God wished to take His people to. They had a quasi-Biblical justification for their attitude. At first sight this may appear unreasonable- that the whole community would be punished for the sake of the sin and short-termist thinking of two tribes. But the eternal wellbeing of others is in our hands in that our example can discourage others from entering the Kingdom, and God may not compensate for our causing them to stumble.


Num 32:16 They came near to him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones;-
We shouldn't seek isolation from our brothers and sisters; we should seek to be with them and interact with them. Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh didn't want to go over Jordan and be with their brethren; they chose the good pasturelands East of Jordan to live in because it was good cattle country. But in later Scripture, every reference to the towns they settled in records those towns (Dibon, Ataroth, Heshbon etc.) as being in Gentile hands (Num. 32:33-38); and it would seem from the 1 Chron. 5 genealogies that they went off into Assyria and assimilated into the tribes there. By choosing separation from God's people, they drifted off with the world. And notice how Gad asked for permission to build dwellings East of Jordan "for our cattle and for our children / little ones", but God gave them permission to build such dwellings "for your little ones and for your cattle" (Num. 32:16,24). Gad and co. put cattle before kids; God put kids before cattle. And how many times have we seen this come true- those who move away from fellowship with their brethren drift off to the world, they put cattle before kids, materialism before raising a Godly seed... And of course we can go far from our brethren in many ways other than geographically moving away from them; there can be a distance within us from them which is just the same. And time and again one sees the same nexus of thought playing itself out- people put their cattle, their materialism, before their children. And God wants it the other way around. Working mothers, late working fathers, kids in day care from babyhood- all so the family can live here and not there, have this car rather than that one, holiday here rather than stay at home, have the latest toys and gadgets... all, of course, in the name of 'for the sake of the kids'; when it's actually cattle before kids. Interestingly, the names of the towns which Reuben and Gad built, the territory they so desired, only occur in later Scripture in the context of their being part of Gentile territories (Is. 15:4; 16:8-9; Jer. 48:2, 45; 1 Chron. 19:7). So they never ultimately kept hold of that for which they sacrificed the promised inheritance of Canaan. God in His total love and grace was willing to go along with their weakness- He compromised, as it were, by saying they could have that coveted territory if they helped their brethren totally inherit their posessions West of Jordan. Ultimately this never happened, as not all the Canaanite territory was possessed; yet still God allowed Reuben and Gad to have their part of the deal which they never fully kept. And there's great grace in the way that Dt. 3:19 records God saying to them at this time: "I know that you have much cattle". God knew their weakness. He knew they'd never even seen the wonders of the promised land, which was far more fertile than the land East of Jordan. But He went along with them, so miuch did He thirst for relationship with them. And so it is with our cattle-before-kids materialism. God may not cast us off because of it in itself. His grace and love is too strong for that. But by permitting us the compromise, we find ourselves in a far harder situation and a path which long term won't lead to permanent inheritance of the promised land, just as it didn't for Reuben and Gad.


Num 32:17 but we ourselves will be ready armed to go before the children of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, and our little ones shall dwell in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land-
This contrasts favourably with their attitude that they were being brought to Canaan (:5). It could be argued from the positive attitude of the Gaddites and Reubenites (and the way in which things were resolved in Joshua 22) that actually they were brought around to a more spiritual attitude by Moses' challenge. Such spiritual success and response to challenge is rare, but perhaps at least that generation did positively respond. But their misjudgment still had a terrible effect upon future generations, because it's clear that the Israelite population soon effectively died out of the areas they were so keen to inherit.

They thought that their human strength would give Israel their inheritance, whereas God had promised that He and not they (“we”) would give the inheritance. Moses therefore corrects them by saying that God will drive out “His enemies from before Him” (:21). It was exactly because they failed to believe that God would do this that they preferred to stay the other side of Jordan and not enter Canaan; and they wished to share that attitude with others.


Num 32:18 We will not return to our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance-
The "houses" probably refer to their families. We too cannot enjoy our own "house" if we have paid no attention to the inheritance of others in God's Kingdom. Yet all too often, family is elevated to a status which means that the needs and inheritance of others is ignored.


Num 32:19 For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan, and forward, because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side of the Jordan eastward-
 Our inheritance is fallen to us on this side of the Jordan eastward
-This was how they wanted it, but God confirmed it. We to some extend can choose out our eternal inheritance, and yet in another sense God chooses it for us. This is the playful yet constructive tension which there is between freewill and predestination.


Num 32:20 Moses said to them, If you will do this thing, if you will arm yourselves to go before Yahweh to the war,-
 
v. 20-32 Moses had told the Reubenites and Gadites that they could return to their possessions when “the Lord have given rest unto your brethren, and they also possess the land” (Dt. 3:20). But Joshua tells them to go to their possessions simply because their brethren were now at “rest” (Josh. 22:4). He significantly omits the proviso that their brethren must also possess the land- because much of the land wasn’t possessed. Was this Joshua getting slack, thinking that the main thing was that people were living in peace, even though they weren’t possessing the Kingdom? Or is it a loving concession to human weakness? Indeed, the conditions of Dt. 3:20 were in their turn an easier form, a concession to, the terms of the initial agreement in Num. 32:20-32.


v. 32:20 Before Yahweh- Moses stresses four times (:20,21,27,29) that they should go over armed "before the Lord". The Hebrew translated "before" doesn't have to mean 'in front of', because :11 and :15 [see notes there] have spoken of the need to follow Yahweh into Canaan. The idea is rather of 'before the face of', i.e. 'in the presence of' (this is how it is used in :22 "a possession before Yahweh"). God was going to drive out His enemies from before Him, i.e. from His presence (:21), and if Israel were in God's presence, this meant that the tribes would be driven out from before them.

 


Num 32:21 and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before Yahweh, until He has driven out His enemies from before Him,-
 Armed man
- The Hebrew means 'prepared' rather than referring to men literally carrying military equipment. The tension is between them being armed / prepared, and then the later part of the verse which states that God would do the driving out of the Canaanite tribes. But what was required was a preparedness and willingness to be used in whatever capacity.


Num 32:22 and the land is subdued before Yahweh; then afterward you shall return, and be guiltless towards Yahweh, and towards Israel; and this land shall be to you for a possession before Yahweh-
 The land is subdued
- The same Hebrew words are found in Gen. 1:28, where the land / earth was to be "subdued" before man. It's as if it was God's intention to re-establish Eden in Israel; indeed, a case can be made that Eden was the geographical land promised to Abraham, or Canaan, although the flood changed the location of the rivers mentioned in early Genesis. The later casting of sinful Israel out of the land is likewise replete with reference to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden. Joshua 22 says that the deal was kept, and the men from these tribes were allowed to return. And yet the land was hardly subdued; "I will give you rest", the Angel had said (Ex. 33:11,14). But they did not enter that rest- Heb. 4:8,10. "Rest" was defined as the land being subdued before God with all the tribes driven out (Josh. 1:13,15; 1 Chron. 22:18). This being conditional on Israel's faithfulness, we conclude that when the Angel said "I will give thee rest" He was speaking of what was possible in prospect; or perhaps He over-estimated Israel's obedience, or was unaware of the degree to which their entering the rest was conditional on their obedience. Or perhaps simply by grace, the land was counted as being subdued and at rest when it was not.


Num 32:23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against Yahweh; and be sure your sin will find you out-
 Your sin will find you out
- The sense is more that you will know / find your sin. The LXX has "ye shall know your sin, when afflictions shall come upon you". We can willfully make ourselves ignorant of sin; but in suffering for it, we come to realize it. Therefore, Moses is saying, there's no point in pretending we don't see a problem with our behaviour. We will know it, when we suffer for it. We shall not be left ignorant of our sin, and so we shouldn't allow our own deceitful flesh to kid us that we are ignorant of it. Adam likewise confessed his sin as a result of God's questioning (Gen. 3:10). Realization of sin will finally be elicited (Ez. 6:9; Jude 15).

When they are appointed their portion with the hypocrites and there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, then shall the Kingdom be likened unto the five wise and five foolish virgins. Then the rejected will understand the principles of that parable, crystal clearly. Members of the ecclesia of Israel will say "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord"- but be rejected (how else to understand Mt. 23:39?). Likewise the Egyptians, fleeing in the mud from Yahweh as they vainly hoped against hope that the returning waters wouldn't somehow reach them...they came to know Yahweh (Ex. 14:18). It could well be that this knowing of Yahweh involves a desperate recounting of their sins, seeing that one of the purposes of condemnation is to make men aware of their sinfulness and the depth of God's grace. Num. 32:23 prophesied of Israel in their time of condemnation: "You will be sensible of your sin when evil overtakes you" (LXX).


Num 32:24 Build cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which has proceeded out of your mouth.
Num 32:25 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben spoke to Moses, saying, Your servants will do as my lord commands.
Num 32:26 Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our livestock, shall be there in the cities of Gilead;
Num 32:27 but your servants will pass over, every man who is armed for war, before Yahweh to battle, as my lord says.
Num 32:28 So Moses commanded concerning them to Eleazar the priest, and to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers’ households of the tribes of the children of Israel.
Num 32:29 Moses said to them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over the Jordan, every man who is armed to battle, before Yahweh, and the land shall be subdued before you; then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession-

The command to subject the animals in Eden [the land promised to Abraham?] corresponds to later commands to subject the tribes living in the land (Gen. 1:28 = Num. 32:22,29; Josh. 18:1). The “fear and dread” of humans which fell on the animals after the flood is clearly linkable with the “fear and dread” which was to come upon the inhabitants of Canaan due to the Israelites (Gen. 9:2 = Dt. 1:21; 3:8; 11:25).


Num 32:30 but if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan-
 But if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan
- The location and nature of their possession in the Kingdom depended upon them and their choices. And the same is true with us. This is an insight into the tremendous significance of life, our attitudes and decision making. We are affecting how we shall eternally be, the nature of our eternity and inheritance.


Num 32:31 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered saying, As Yahweh has said to your servants, so will we do.
Num 32:32 We will pass over armed before Yahweh into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan-
 And the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us
- The idea is [see AV] 'so that the possession...'. Our receipt of the inheritance is related to others receiving their inheritance; just as in Paul's shipwreck, all had to remain in the ship if all were to be saved. This apparently strange condition of salvation is surely to emphasize that whilst salvation is in one sense individual, it is in another sense collective. And that collective dimension to it cannot be simply ignored.


Num 32:33 Moses gave to them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and to the half-tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land according to its cities and borders, even the cities of the surrounding land-
 
v. 33-38 In later Scripture, every reference to the towns they settled in records those towns (Dibon, Ataroth, Heshbon etc.) as being in Gentile hands (Is. 15:4; 16:8-9; Jer. 48:2, 45; 1 Chron. 19:7); and it would seem from the 1 Chron. 5 genealogies that they went off into Assyria and assimilated into the tribes there. By choosing separation from God's people, they drifted off with the world.

 

It is often not appreciated that the extent of the area given to the two and a half tribes on the east of Jordan, as defined in Josh. 13:10-12, was roughly the same as the entire territory given to the nine and a half tribes on the west of Jordan. The two and a half tribes saw good pasture land and wanted it there and then, as a king of short cut to the Kingdom of God. But there are no short cuts to the Kingdom. The conditions they were given demanded even more faith from them. Their men had to leave their flocks and families unprotected on the east of Jordan whilst they fought in the front line vanguard of Joshua's army to secure the territory on the west of Jordan. And the territory they were asked to possess was huge, far larger than the pasture lands they initially coveted, and inhabited by giants (see on Josh. 13:30)- which they probably didn't realize at the time. 


Num 32:34 The children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer,
Num 32:35 and Atrothshophan, and Jazer, and Jogbehah,
Num 32:36 and Beth Nimrah, and Beth Haran: fortified cities, and folds for sheep.
Num 32:37 The children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kiriathaim,
Num 32:38 and Nebo, and Baal Meon, (their names being changed), and Sibmah; and they gave other names to the cities which they built-

There is no record at all of Israel's obedience to the commands to destroy the local idols of the land. Instead the historical record is full of evidence that they worshipped these gods. Although the name of Baal Meon had been changed in Num. 32:38, by the time of Josh. 13:17 the old name was still being used. Clearly Israel did not detest idolatry as they ought to have done. Just as the names of idols should not have passed the lips of Israel, so for us, the things of sexual impurity are not to be named amongst us (Eph. 5:3). The allusion shows how Paul understood such things to be the equivalent of idolatry in his day, and that remains a fair interpretation even in our age.   

Nebo and Baal were the names of Canaanite gods, and Yahweh forbad His people to even mention their names (Ex. 23:13; Hos. 2:17). The principle for us is that we shouldn’t surround ourselves with things which even suggest or stimulate the idea of being anything other than totally dedicated to the one true God, or which may trigger the idea of idolatry.


Num 32:39 The children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and took it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were therein.
Num 32:40 Moses gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh, and he lived therein.
Num 32:41 Jair the son of Manasseh went and took his towns, and called them Havvoth Jair-
 Son of Manasseh
- Some claim that the Bible doesn't recognize genealogy through women, and find some problem in the Lord Jesus being descended from Abraham and David through a woman. But there are Biblical examples of genealogy being reckoned through a woman. We have one here. Jair's father was of the tribe of Judah (1 Chron. 2:22); yet in Num. 32:41 he is described as "the son of Manasseh", showing that his mother must have been of the tribe of Manasseh. His descent was reckoned for some reason through his mother rather than his father.


Num 32:42 Nobah went and took Kenath, and its villages, and called it Nobah, after his own name.