Numbers 32

The Transjordan Tribes

1 The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock.
2 So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said,
3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon—
4 the land the LORD subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock.
5 If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”
6 Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, “Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here?
7 Why do you discourage the Israelites from crossing over into the land the LORD has given them?
8 This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to look over the land.
9 After they went up to the Valley of Eshkol and viewed the land, they discouraged the Israelites from entering the land the LORD had given them.
10 The LORD’s anger was aroused that day and he swore this oath:
11 ‘Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—
12 not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the LORD wholeheartedly.’
13 The LORD’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.
14 “And here you are, a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the LORD even more angry with Israel.
15 If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction.”
16 Then they came up to him and said, “We would like to build pens here for our livestock and cities for our women and children.
17 But we will arm ourselves for battle[a] and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. Meanwhile our women and children will live in fortified cities, for protection from the inhabitants of the land.
18 We will not return to our homes until each of the Israelites has received their inheritance.
19 We will not receive any inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan, because our inheritance has come to us on the east side of the Jordan.”
20 Then Moses said to them, “If you will do this—if you will arm yourselves before the LORD for battle
21 and if all of you who are armed cross over the Jordan before the LORD until he has driven his enemies out before him—
22 then when the land is subdued before the LORD, you may return and be free from your obligation to the LORD and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the LORD.
23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.
24 Build cities for your women and children, and pens for your flocks, but do what you have promised.”
25 The Gadites and Reubenites said to Moses, “We your servants will do as our lord commands.
26 Our children and wives, our flocks and herds will remain here in the cities of Gilead.
27 But your servants, every man who is armed for battle, will cross over to fight before the LORD, just as our lord says.”
28 Then Moses gave orders about them to Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun and to the family heads of the Israelite tribes.
29 He said to them, “If the Gadites and Reubenites, every man armed for battle, cross over the Jordan with you before the LORD, then when the land is subdued before you, you must give them the land of Gilead as their possession.
30 But if they do not cross over with you armed, they must accept their possession with you in Canaan.”
31 The Gadites and Reubenites answered, “Your servants will do what the LORD has said.
32 We will cross over before the LORD into Canaan armed, but the property we inherit will be on this side of the Jordan.”
33 Then Moses gave to the Gadites, the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan—the whole land with its cities and the territory around them.
34 The Gadites built up Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer,
35 Atroth Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah,
36 Beth Nimrah and Beth Haran as fortified cities, and built pens for their flocks.
37 And the Reubenites rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh and Kiriathaim,
38 as well as Nebo and Baal Meon (these names were changed) and Sibmah. They gave names to the cities they rebuilt.
39 The descendants of Makir son of Manasseh went to Gilead, captured it and drove out the Amorites who were there.
40 So Moses gave Gilead to the Makirites, the descendants of Manasseh, and they settled there.
41 Jair, a descendant of Manasseh, captured their settlements and called them Havvoth Jair.[b]
42 And Nobah captured Kenath and its surrounding settlements and called it Nobah after himself.

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 83

  • 1. ver 24,36; Judges 5:16
  • 2. S Numbers 21:32
  • 3. S Genesis 31:21
  • 4. Exodus 12:38
  • 5. Leviticus 4:22; Numbers 27:2
  • 6. ver 34; Joshua 16:2,7; Joshua 18:13
  • 7. ver 34; S Numbers 21:30
  • 8. ver 1
  • 9. ver 36; Joshua 13:27
  • 10. Numbers 21:25
  • 11. ver 37; Isaiah 15:4; Isaiah 16:9; Jeremiah 48:34
  • 12. Joshua 13:19; Isaiah 16:8,9; Jeremiah 48:32
  • 13. Numbers 33:47; Deuteronomy 32:49; Deuteronomy 34:1; 1 Chronicles 5:8
  • 14. ver 38; Joshua 13:17; Ezekiel 25:9
  • 15. Numbers 21:34
  • 16. Exodus 12:38
  • 17. S Numbers 13:29
  • 18. Nu 13:27-14:4
  • 19. Numbers 13:3,26; Deuteronomy 1:19-25
  • 20. Numbers 13:23; Deuteronomy 1:24
  • 21. Numbers 11:1
  • 22. S Numbers 14:20-23
  • 23. S Exodus 30:14
  • 24. Numbers 1:1
  • 25. S Numbers 14:23
  • 26. Numbers 14:28-30
  • 27. Numbers 14:24,30; Deuteronomy 1:36; Psalms 63:8
  • 28. S Exodus 4:14
  • 29. Numbers 14:28-35; Numbers 26:64,65
  • 30. S ver 10; Deuteronomy 1:34; Psalms 78:59
  • 31. Deuteronomy 30:17-18; 2 Chronicles 7:20
  • 32. ver 24,36; 1 Samuel 24:3; Psalms 50:9; Psalms 78:70
  • 33. Exodus 12:38; Deuteronomy 3:19
  • 34. Deuteronomy 3:18; Joshua 4:12,13
  • 35. S Numbers 22:4; Deuteronomy 3:20
  • 36. Joshua 22:1-4
  • 37. ver 22,29
  • 38. Numbers 21:33; Joshua 12:1; Joshua 22:7
  • 39. ver 17; Deuteronomy 3:18
  • 40. ver 17
  • 41. Joshua 22:4
  • 42. S Leviticus 14:34
  • 43. Deuteronomy 3:18-20
  • 44. S Genesis 4:7; S Isaiah 3:9; Isaiah 44:16; Isaiah 59:12
  • 45. S ver 1,16
  • 46. Numbers 30:2
  • 47. ver 29; Joshua 1:16,18; Joshua 22:2
  • 48. ver 16,24; Joshua 1:14; Joshua 12:2; Joshua 22:9; 2 Samuel 2:9; 1 Chronicles 5:9
  • 49. ver 17,21
  • 50. ver 29; Deuteronomy 3:18-20; Joshua 1:13
  • 51. Numbers 11:28
  • 52. Numbers 1:16
  • 53. S Numbers 22:4
  • 54. S ver 19
  • 55. ver 23
  • 56. ver 29,32
  • 57. ver 29
  • 58. ver 17
  • 59. S ver 30; Joshua 12:6
  • 60. Joshua 13:24-28; 1 Samuel 13:7
  • 61. Joshua 1:12
  • 62. Numbers 21:21; Deuteronomy 2:26
  • 63. S ver 19; S Joshua 12:5
  • 64. S Numbers 21:24; Numbers 34:14; Deuteronomy 2:36; Joshua 12:6
  • 65. Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:12; Deuteronomy 4:48; Joshua 12:2; Joshua 13:9; Judges 11:26; 1 Samuel 30:28; 1 Chronicles 5:8; Jeremiah 48:19
  • 66. ver 3
  • 67. Judges 8:11
  • 68. S ver 3
  • 69. S ver 1
  • 70. Numbers 21:25
  • 71. S ver 3
  • 72. Joshua 13:19; 1 Chronicles 6:76; Jeremiah 48:1,23; Ezekiel 25:9
  • 73. S ver 3; Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:1,22
  • 74. S ver 3
  • 75. S Genesis 50:23
  • 76. Numbers 26:29; Deuteronomy 2:36
  • 77. S Genesis 10:16
  • 78. S Genesis 50:23; Deuteronomy 3:15; Joshua 17:1
  • 79. 1 Kings 4:13
  • 80. Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 13:30; Judges 10:4; 1 Chronicles 2:23
  • 81. 1 Chronicles 2:23
  • 82. Judges 8:11
  • 83. 1 Samuel 15:12; 2 Samuel 18:18; Psalms 49:11; Isaiah 22:16; Isaiah 56:5

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Septuagint; Hebrew "will be quick to arm ourselves"
  • [b]. Or "them the settlements 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

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