Bamidbar (Numbers): Matot > Ch 32

Descendants of Reuben & Gad decide to live in the land east of Jordan river, and give up their inheritance in the Promised Land

  • The descendants of Reuben and Gad had an abundance of livestock very numerous and they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, and behold, the place was a place for livestock. The descendants of Gad and the descendants of Reuben came, and they spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the kohen and to the princes of the community, saying,
  • "Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, and Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, the land that the Lord struck down before the congregation of Israel is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock." They said, "If it pleases you, let this land be given to your servants as a heritage; do not take us across the Jordan."


Moses tells says that it would be a sin for them not to fight for the Promised Land

  • [Thereupon,] Moses said to the descendants of Gad and the descendants of Reuben, "Shall your brethren go to war while you stay here? Why do you discourage the children of Israel from crossing over to the land which the Lord has given them? This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh barnea to explore the Land. They went up to the Valley of Eshkol and saw the land, and they discouraged the children of Israel from crossing into the land which the Lord has given them. The anger of the Lord flared on that day, and He swore, saying, 'None of the men from the age of twenty years and over who came out of Egypt will see the land that I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, for they did not follow Me wholeheartedly, except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.' The anger of the Lord flared against Israel, and He made them wander in the desert for forty years until the entire generation who had done evil in the eyes of the Lord had died out. And behold, you have now risen in place of your fathers as a society of sinful people, to add to the wrathful anger of the Lord against Israel. If you turn away from following Him, He will leave you in the desert again, and you will destroy this entire people."


Descendants of Reuben & Gad promise to join in the fight for the Promised Land

  • They approached him and said, "We will build sheepfolds for our livestock here and cities for our children. We will then arm ourselves quickly [and go] before the children of Israel until we have brought them to their place. Our children will reside in the fortified cities on account of the inhabitants of the land. We shall not return to our homes until each of the children of Israel has taken possession of his inheritance. For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has come to us on the east bank of the Jordan."
  • Moses said to them, "If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves for battle before the Lord, and your armed force crosses the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven out His enemies before Him, and the Land will be conquered before the Lord, afterwards you may return, and you shall be freed [of your obligation] from the Lord and from Israel, and this land will become your heritage before the Lord. But, if you do not do so, behold, you will have sinned against the Lord, and be aware of your sin which will find you. So build yourselves cities for your children and enclosures for your sheep, and what has proceeded from your mouth you shall do."
  • The descendants of Gad and the descendants of Reuben spoke to Moses, saying, "Your servants will do as my master commands. Our children and our wives, our livestock and our cattle will remain there, in the cities of Gilead. But your servants will cross over all who are armed for combat before the Lord, for the battle, as my master has spoken." Moses commanded Eleazar the kohen and Joshua the son of Nun and all the paternal heads of the tribes of the children of Israel concerning them. Moses said to them, "If the descendants of Gad and Reuben cross the Jordan with you before the Lord, and the Land is conquered before you, you shall give them the land of Gilead as a heritage. But if they do not cross over with you armed [for battle], they shall receive a possession among you in the land of Canaan." The descendants of Gad and the descendants of Reuben answered, saying, "We shall do as the Lord has spoken to your servants. We shall cross over in an armed force before the Lord to the land of Canaan, and then we shall have the possession of our inheritance on this side of the Jordan."


Moses gives descendants of Reuben & Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh, the kingdoms of Sihon, Og and Bashan. They build 15 cities there and they conquered Gilead and Kenath.

  • Moses gave the descendants of Gad and the descendants of Reuben and half the 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 together with its cities within borders, the cities of the surrounding territory.
  • The descendants of Gad built: Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, Atroth Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, Beth Nimrah and Beth Haran, fortified cities and sheepfolds.
  • The descendants of Reuben built Heshbon, Elealeh, and Kirjathaim, Nebo and Baal Meon, their names having been changed, and Sibmah.
  • The children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and conquered it, driving out the Amorites who were there. Moses gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh, and he settled in it. Jair the son of Manasseh went and conquered their hamlets, and called them the hamlets of Jair. Nobah went and conquered Kenath and its surrounding villages, and called it Nobah, after his name.


 
Rashi Commentary

  • Nebo and Baal-Meon, their names having been changed Nebo and Baal Meon were names of pagan deities, and the Amorites named their towns after their deities, and the descendants of Reuben changed their names to other names. This is the meaning of “their names having been changed” -Nebo and Baal-Meon, changed to another name.


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