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CHAPTER 32 Apr. 13 
Reuben and Gad Seek Immediate Inheritance
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. 2The 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, 3Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Sebam, and Nebo, and Beon, 4the land which Yahweh struck before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock. 5They 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. 6Moses said to the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brothers go to the war, and shall you sit here? 7Why do you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which Yahweh has given them? 8Your fathers did so when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to see the land. 9For 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. 10Yahweh’s anger was kindled in that day, and He swore, saying, 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 - 12except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, because they have followed Yahweh completely’. 13Yahweh’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. 14Behold, you have risen up in your fathers’ place, an increase of sinful men, to augment yet the fierce anger of Yahweh toward Israel. 15For if you turn away from after Him, He will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and you will destroy all this people. 16They came near to him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones; 17but 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. 18We will not return to our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance. 19For 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. 20Moses said to them, If you will do this thing, if you will arm yourselves to go before Yahweh to the war, 21and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before Yahweh, until He has driven out His enemies from before Him, 22and 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. 23But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against Yahweh; and be sure your sin will find you out. 24Build cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which has proceeded out of your mouth. 25The children of Gad and the children of Reuben spoke to Moses, saying, Your servants will do as my lord commands. 26Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our livestock, shall be there in the cities of Gilead; 27but your servants will pass over, every man who is armed for war, before Yahweh to battle, as my lord says. 28So 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. 29Moses 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; 30but if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan. 31The children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered saying, As Yahweh has said to your servants, so will we do. 32We will pass over armed before Yahweh into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan. 33Moses 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. 34The children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer, 35and Atrothshophan, and Jazer, and Jogbehah, 36and Beth Nimrah, and Beth Haran: fortified cities, and folds for sheep. 37The children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kiriathaim, 38and Nebo, and Baal Meon, (their names being changed), and Sibmah; and they gave other names to the cities which they built. 39The children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and took it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were therein. 40Moses gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh, and he lived therein. 41Jair the son of Manasseh went and took his towns, and called them Havvoth Jair. 42Nobah went and took Kenath, and its villages, and called it Nobah, after his own name.


32:3 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.
32:5 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.
32:7 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.).
32:15 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.
32:17 Until we have brought them to their place- 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.
32:38 Their names being changed- 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.