Numbers 32

Listen to Numbers 32

Reuben and Gad Settle in Gilead

1 Now the people of Reuben and the people of Gad had a very great number of livestock. And they saw the land of 1Jazer and the land of Gilead, and behold, the place was a place for livestock.
2 So the people of Gad and the people of Reuben came and said to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the chiefs of the congregation,
3 2"Ataroth, 3Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, 4Nebo, and Beon,
4 the land 5that the LORD struck down before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock."
5 And they said, "If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan."
6 But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, "Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here?
7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the LORD has given them?
8 Your fathers did this, 6when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land.
9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the LORD had given them.
10 7And the LORD's anger was kindled on that day, and he swore, saying,
11 'Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, 8from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give 9to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me,
12 none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the 10Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for 11they have wholly followed the LORD.'
13 And the LORD's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them 12wander in the wilderness forty years, until 13all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone.
14 And behold, you have risen in your fathers' place, a brood of sinful men, to increase still more the fierce anger of the LORD against Israel!
15 For if you 14turn away from following him, he will again abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all this people."
16 Then they came near to him and said, 15"We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones,
17 but 16we will take up arms, ready to go before the people of Israel, until we have brought them to their place. And our little ones shall live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land.
18 17We will not return to our homes until each of the people of Israel has gained his inheritance.
19 For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, 18because our inheritance has come to us on this side of the Jordan to the east."
20 So 19Moses said to them, "If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the LORD for the war,
21 and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the LORD, until he has 20driven out his enemies from before him
22 and the land is subdued before the LORD; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and 21this land shall be your possession before the LORD.
23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and 22be sure your sin will find you out.
24 23Build cities for your little ones and folds for your sheep, and do what you have promised."
25 And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben said to Moses, "Your servants will do as my lord commands.
26 24Our little ones, our wives, our livestock, and all our cattle shall remain there in the cities of Gilead,
27 25but your servants will pass over, every man who is 26armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord orders."
28 So 27Moses gave command concerning them to Eleazar the priest and to 28Joshua the son of Nun and to the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel.
29 And Moses said to them, "If the people of Gad and the people of Reuben, every man who is armed to battle before the LORD, will pass with you over the Jordan and the land shall be subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession.
30 However, if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan."
31 And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben answered, "What the LORD has said to your servants, we will do.
32 We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan."
33 And 29Moses gave to them, to the people of Gad and to the people 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 and its cities with their territories, the cities of the land throughout the country.
34 And the people of Gad built 30Dibon, 31Ataroth, 32Aroer,
35 Atroth-shophan, 33Jazer, Jogbehah,
36 34Beth-nimrah and Beth-haran, 35fortified cities, and folds for sheep.
37 And the people of Reuben built 36Heshbon, 37Elealeh, Kiriathaim,
38 38Nebo, and 39Baal-meon (40their names were changed), and 41Sibmah. And they gave other names to the cities that they built.
39 And the sons of 42Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and captured it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were in it.
40 And Moses 43gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh, and he settled in it.
41 And 44Jair the son of Manasseh went and captured their villages, and called them Havvoth-jair.[a]
42 And Nobah went and captured Kenath and its villages, and called it Nobah, after his own name.

Numbers 32 Commentary

Chapter 32

The tribes of Reuben and Gad request an inheritance on the east of Jordan. (1-5) Moses reproves the Reubenites and Gadites. (6-15) They explain their views, Moses consents. (16-27) They take possession of the land to the east of Jordan. (28-42)

Verses 1-5 Here is a proposal made by the Reubenites and Gadites, that the land lately conquered might be allotted to them. Two things common in the world might lead these tribes to make this choice; the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. There was much amiss in the principle they went upon; they consulted their own private convenience more than the public good. Thus to the present time, many seek their own things more than the things of Jesus Christ; and are led by worldly interests and advantages to take up short of the heavenly Canaan.

Verses 6-15 The proposal showed disregard to the land of Canaan, distrust of the Lord's promise, and unwillingness to encounter the difficulties and dangers of conquering and driving out the inhabitants of that land. Moses is wroth with them. It will becomes any of God's Israel to sit down unconcerned about the difficult and perilous concerns of their brethren, whether public or personal. He reminds them of the fatal consequences of the unbelief and faint-heartedness of their fathers, when they were, as themselves, just ready to enter Canaan. If men considered as they ought what would be the end of sin, they would be afraid of the beginning of it.

Verses 16-27 Here is the good effect of plain dealing. Moses, by showing their sin, and the danger of it, brought them to their duty, without murmuring or disputing. All men ought to consider the interests of others as well as their own; the law of love requires us to labour, venture, or suffer for each other as there may be occasion. They propose that their men of war should go ready armed before the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, and that they should not return till the conquest of Canaan was ended. Moses grants their request, but he warns them of the danger of breaking their word. If you fail, you sin against the Lord, and not against your brethren only; God will certainly reckon with you for it. Be sure your sin will find you out. Sin will surely find out the sinner sooner or later. It concerns us now to find our sins out, that we may repent of them, and forsake them, lest they find us out to our ruin.

Verses 28-42 Concerning the settlement of these tribes, observe, that they built the cities, that is, repaired them. They changed the names of them; probably they were idolatrous, therefore they should be forgotten. A spirit of selfishness, of seeking our own, not the things of Christ, when each one ought to assist others, is as dangerous as it is common. It is impossible to be sincere in the faith, sensible of the goodness of God, constrained by the love of Christ, sanctified by the power of the Holy Ghost, and yet be indifferent to the progress of religion, and the spiritual success of others, through love of ease, or fear of conflict. Let then your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Cross References 44

  • 1. ver. 3, 35; See Numbers 21:32
  • 2. ver. 34
  • 3. ver. 34; See Numbers 21:30
  • 4. ver. 38; Numbers 33:47; Deuteronomy 32:49; 1 Chronicles 5:8; Isaiah 15:2; Isaiah 46:1; Jeremiah 48:1, 22
  • 5. Numbers 21:24, 34; [ver. 33]
  • 6. See Numbers 13:3, 21-33; Deuteronomy 1:22-28
  • 7. For ver. 10-12, see Deuteronomy 1:34-36
  • 8. Numbers 14:29
  • 9. See Genesis 50:24
  • 10. Joshua 14:6; Joshua 15:17
  • 11. Numbers 14:24; Deuteronomy 1:36; Joshua 14:8, 9
  • 12. See Numbers 14:33-35
  • 13. Numbers 26:64, 65
  • 14. [Deuteronomy 30:17; Joshua 22:16, 18; 2 Chronicles 7:19, 20; 2 Chronicles 15:2]
  • 15. ver. 24
  • 16. Joshua 4:12, 13
  • 17. Joshua 22:4
  • 18. ver. 33; Joshua 12:1; Joshua 13:8
  • 19. Deuteronomy 3:18; Joshua 1:13, 14; Joshua 4:12, 13
  • 20. Numbers 33:52
  • 21. Deut. 3:12, 15, 16, 18; Joshua 1:15; Joshua 13:8, 32; Joshua 22:4, 9
  • 22. [Genesis 44:16; Isaiah 59:12]
  • 23. ver. 16; See ver. 34-38
  • 24. Joshua 1:14
  • 25. Joshua 4:12, 13
  • 26. Numbers 31:5
  • 27. Joshua 1:13
  • 28. Numbers 27:18
  • 29. Deuteronomy 29:8; Joshua 12:6; Joshua 13:8; Joshua 22:4; See Deuteronomy 3:12-17
  • 30. ver. 3
  • 31. ver. 3
  • 32. See Deuteronomy 2:36
  • 33. ver. 1; See Numbers 21:32
  • 34. [ver. 3]
  • 35. ver. 17
  • 36. ver. 3; Numbers 21:27
  • 37. [See ver. 34 above]
  • 38. See ver. 3
  • 39. [ver. 3; Joshua 13:17; Jeremiah 48:23]
  • 40. [Exodus 23:13; Joshua 23:7]
  • 41. [See ver. 36 above]
  • 42. Genesis 50:23; 1 Chronicles 7:14, 15
  • 43. Deuteronomy 3:13, 15; Joshua 13:31; Joshua 17:1
  • 44. Deuteronomy 3:14; See 1 Chronicles 2:21-23

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Havvoth-jair means the villages of Jair

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates, how that the tribes of Gad and Reuben requested a settlement in the country of Jazer and Gilead, being fit for the pasturage of their cattle, Nu 32:1-5 at which Moses at first was very much displeased, as being unreasonable, and tending to discourage the rest of the people; and as acting a part like that their fathers had done before them, which brought the wrath of God upon them, so that they all but two perished in the wilderness; and this he suggests would be the case again, if such measures were taken, Nu 32:6-15 upon which they explain themselves, and declare they had no intention of forsaking their brethren, but were willing to leave their children and cattle to the care of divine Providence, and go armed before Israel, until they were brought into, and settled in the land of Canaan; nor did they desire any part or inheritance in it, Nu 32:16-19, this satisfied Moses, and he agreed to it, that the land they requested should be their possession, provided the conditions were fulfilled by them, which they proposed, Nu 20:20-24, and which they again agreed unto, and promised to perform, Nu 32:25-27, wherefore Moses gave orders to Eleazar, Joshua, and the chief fathers of the tribes, to put them in possession of the land of Gilead on those conditions, Nu 32:28-30 and which were again promised that they would observe, Nu 32:31,32, and at the same time Moses made a grant of the kingdoms of Sihon and of Og to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, Nu 32:33 and the chapter is closed with an account of the cities built or repaired by the children of Gad and Reuben, Nu 32:34-38 and of the cities in Gilead taken and possessed by the children of Machir, and by Jair, who were of the tribe of Manasseh, Nu 32:39-42.

Numbers 32 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.