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The Tribes of Reuben and Gad Request Land East of the Jordan River

32 The tribes of Reuben and Gad had a large number of livestock. They saw that the regions of Jazer and Gilead were a good place for livestock. So they came to Moses, the priest Eleazar, and the leaders of the community, and said to them, “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, the land that Yahweh won for the community of Israel, is a good place for livestock. Gentlemen, we have livestock. Please give us this land as our property. Don’t make us cross the Jordan River.”

Moses asked the tribes of Gad and Reuben, “Are you going to stay here while the rest of the Israelites go to war? That might discourage them from entering the land Yahweh has given them. That’s what your ancestors did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to take a look at the land. They went as far as the Eshcol Valley and saw the land. But then they discouraged the rest of the Israelites from entering the land that Yahweh had given them. 10 That day Yahweh became angry and swore this oath, 11 ‘None of the people 20 years old or older, who came from Egypt, will see the land I promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with an oath. This is because they didn’t wholeheartedly follow me.’ 12 Only Caleb (son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite) and Joshua (son of Nun) will get to see the land. This is because they wholeheartedly followed Yahweh. 13 Since Yahweh was angry with the Israelites, he made them wander in the desert for 40 years until the whole generation of those who had done evil in Yahweh’s presence was gone.

14 “You’re just like your parents! You’re a bunch of sinners trying to make Yahweh angry with Israel again. 15 If you turn away from him, he will abandon all these people in the desert. You would be responsible for their destruction.”

16 Then the tribes of Gad and Reuben came up to Moses and said, “Allow us to build stone fences for our livestock and cities for our families here. 17 Then we’ll be ready to march in battle formation[a] ahead of the other Israelites until we have brought them to their land. Meanwhile our families will live in walled cities, safe from the other people who live here. 18 We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has received his own land. 19 We won’t take possession of any land on the other side of the Jordan River, to the west and beyond. We already have our land here, east of the Jordan.”

20 Moses answered, “Do what you have said. In Yahweh’s presence have all your armed men get ready for battle. 21 Have them cross the Jordan, and fight until Yahweh forces out his enemies 22 and the land is conquered. Then you may come back. You will have fulfilled your military duty to Yahweh and Israel. This land will be your own property in Yahweh’s presence.

23 “If you don’t do all these things, you will be sinning against Yahweh. You can be sure that you will be punished for your sin. 24 Build cities for your families and stone fences for your flocks, but do what you have promised.”

25 Then the tribes of Gad and Reuben said to Moses, “Sir, we will do as you command. 26 Our children, our wives, our livestock, and all our other animals will stay here in the cities of Gilead. 27 But in Yahweh’s presence we will all get ready for battle and go with you, as you have said.”

28 So Moses gave orders about them to the priest Eleazar, Joshua (son of Nun), and the family heads of the tribes of Israel. 29 Moses told them, “If the tribes of Gad and Reuben get ready for battle in Yahweh’s presence and cross the Jordan River with you and you conquer the land, give them Gilead as their own property. 30 If they don’t get ready for battle and go with you, the land they will take possession of must be in Canaan with yours.”

31 The tribes of Gad and Reuben answered, “Sir, we will do as Yahweh has said. 32 We will enter Canaan as armed troops in Yahweh’s presence, but the land we will take possession of is here, east of the Jordan.”

33 So Moses gave the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half of the tribe of Manasseh, son of Joseph, the kingdoms of King Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan—the whole land with its cities and its surrounding territory.

34 The tribe of Gad rebuilt the cities of Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth Nimrah, and Beth Haran as walled cities. They also built stone fences for their flocks.

37 The tribe of Reuben rebuilt the cities of Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, Baal Meon (whose names were changed), and Sibmah. These are the names they gave the cities they rebuilt.

39 The descendants of Machir, son of Manasseh, went to Gilead, captured it, and forced out the Amorites who were there. 40 So Moses gave Gilead to the people of Machir (the descendants of Manasseh), and they lived there. 41 Then Jair, a descendant of Manasseh, captured the settlements in Gilead. He called them Havvoth Jair [Settlements of Jair]. 42 Nobah captured Kenath and its villages. He named it Nobah after himself.


  1. Numbers 32:17 Greek, Latin; Masoretic Text “ready to march ahead quickly.”

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