Numbers 32 (CEV)
Land East of the Jordan River Is Settled
Israel had conquered the Moabites and the Midianites, and the ideal grazing lands on the east side of the Jordan River were laid out before them. The tribal leaders of Reuben and Gad were content with these lands, and asked to be given them as their tribal inheritance.
Moses feared that the attitude of the tribes of Reuben and Gad would keep the other tribes from going into the Promised Land. Their attitude said, “We’ve fought enough and suffered enough already. Let’s just settle down where we’re at.” Moses wanted them to know that there was a battle to fight and that they were all in it together. Just because these tribes were content with where they were at did not relieve them of the responsibility to keep the battle going.
The tribal leaders of Reuben and Gad offer to send their troops to help conquer the land west of the Jordan River. None of the tribes would envy Reuben or Gad, resting in ease, while the rest of them are battling for their lands. The men of Reuben and Gad would fight right beside them.
1The tribes of Reuben and Gad owned a lot of cattle and sheep, and they saw that the regions of Jazer and Gilead had good pastureland.
2So they went to Moses, Eleazar, and the other leaders of Israel and said, 3-4” The LORD has helped us capture the land around the towns of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon. That’s good pastureland, and since we own cattle and sheep, 5would you let us stay here east of the Jordan River and have this land as our own?”
You mean you’d stay here while the rest of the Israelites go into battle? 7If you did that, it would discourage the others from crossing over into the land the LORD promised them. 8This is exactly what happened when I sent your ancestors from Kadesh-Barnea to explore the land. 9They went as far as Eshcol Valley, then returned and told the people that we should not enter it. 10The LORD became very angry. 11And he said that no one who was twenty years or older when they left Egypt would enter the land he had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not one of those people believed in the LORD’s power, 12except Caleb and Joshua. They remained faithful to the LORD, 13but he was so angry with the others that he forced them to wander around in the desert forty years. By that time everyone who had sinned against him had died. 14Now you people of Reuben and Gad are doing the same thing and making the LORD even angrier. 15If you reject the LORD, he will once again abandon his people and leave them here in the desert. And you will be to blame!
16The men from Reuben and Gad replied:
Let us build places to keep our sheep and goats, and towns for our wives and children, 17where they can stay and be safe. Then we’ll prepare to fight and lead the other tribes into battle. 18We will stay with them until they have settled in their own tribal lands. 19The land on this side of the Jordan River will be ours, so we won’t expect to receive any on the other side.
You promised that you would be ready to fight for the LORD. 21You also agreed to cross the Jordan and stay with the rest of the Israelites, until the LORD forces our enemies out of the land. If you do these things, 22then after the LORD helps Israel capture the land, you can return to your own land. You will no longer have to stay with the others. 23But if you don’t keep your promise, you will sin against the LORD and be punished.
Numbers 32:23 (King James Version)
Be sure your sin will find you out.
This was one of my mother’s favorite verses as she raised her children, and I confess that my own personal experience bears testimony to the truth of this Scripture!
24Go ahead and build towns for your wives and children, and places for your sheep and goats. Just be sure to do what you have promised.
25The men from Reuben and Gad answered:
Sir, we will do just what you have said. 26Our wives and children and sheep and cattle will stay here in the towns in Gilead. 27But those of us who are prepared for battle will cross the Jordan and fight for the LORD.
28Then Moses said to Eleazar, Joshua, and the family leaders, 29” Make sure that the tribes of Gad and Reuben prepare for battle and cross the Jordan River with you. If they do, then after the land is in your control, give them the region of Gilead as their tribal land. 30But if they break their promise, they will receive land on the other side of the Jordan, like the rest of the tribes.”
31The tribes of Gad and Reuben replied, ” We are your servants and will do whatever the LORD has commanded. 32We will cross the Jordan River, ready to fight for the LORD in Canaan. But the land we will inherit as our own will be on this side of the river.”
HERE is “Home on the Range” sung first by Roy Rogers and then by Gene Autry. Now when last did you hear this song?!
33So Moses gave the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half of Manasseh (see map above) the territory and towns that King Sihon the Amorite had ruled, as well as the territory and towns that King Og of Bashan had ruled. 34The tribe of Gad rebuilt the towns of Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35Atroth-Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36Beth-Nimrah, and Beth-Haran. They built walls around them and also built places to keep their sheep and goats.
37The tribe of Reuben rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38Sibmah, as well as the towns that used to be known as Nebo and Baal-Meon. They renamed all those places.
39The clan of Machir from the tribe of East Manasseh went to the region of Gilead, captured its towns, and forced out the Amorites. 40So Moses gave the Machirites the region of Gilead, and they settled there.
41Jair from the Manasseh tribe captured villages and renamed them ” Villages of Jair.” 42Nobah captured the town of Kenath with its villages and renamed it Nobah.
And another tribe — actually, half the tribe of Manasseh — were likewise content to settle on the lands east of the Jordan River. So, in total, two and one-half tribes never took possession of land west of the Jordan River.
Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society