The tribes of Reuben and Gad owned vast numbers of livestock. So when they saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were ideally suited for their flocks and herds, they came to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the other leaders of the community. They said, “Notice the towns of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sibmah, Nebo, and Beon. The Lord has conquered this whole area for the community of Israel, and it is ideally suited for all our livestock. If we have found favor with you, please let us have this land as our property instead of giving us land across the Jordan River.”
“Do you intend to stay here while your brothers go across and do all the fighting?” Moses asked the men of Gad and Reuben. “Why do you want to discourage the rest of the people of Israel from going across to the land the Lord has given them?
Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh wanted to live east of the Jordan River on land they had already conquered even though God had promised them land across the river. The other tribes were slated to live west of the river, where they still had to fight for their land. Moses immediately assumed these three tribes were trying to avoid helping the others fight for the land across the river. But Moses jumped to the wrong conclusion (see Numbers 32:16-17).
In dealing with people, it’s wise to learn all the facts before making up our minds. We shouldn’t automatically assume that their motives are wrong, even if their plans sound suspicious.
You can avoid wrong conclusions by asking further questions and gaining more information. Questions can help generate a discussion about the issues at hand, provide more details to fill in the picture, and gain time to consider the best reaction to a situation.