Numbers 32 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? Your ancestors did the same thing when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land”… But they approached Moses and said, “We simply want to build pens for our livestock and fortified towns for our wives and children. Then we will arm ourselves and lead our fellow Israelites into battle until we have brought them safely to their land. Meanwhile, our families will stay in the fortified towns we build here, so they will be safe from any attacks by the local people. We will not return to our homes until all the people of Israel have received their portions of land. But we do not claim any of the land on the other side of the Jordan. We would rather live here on the east side and accept this as our grant of land”… So Moses gave orders to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders of the clans of Israel. He said, “The men of Gad and Reuben who are armed for battle must cross the Jordan with you to fight for the Lord. If they do, give them the land of Gilead as their property when the land is conquered. But if they refuse to arm themselves and cross over with you, then they must accept land with the rest of you in the land of Canaan”… So Moses assigned land to the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph. He gave them the territory of King Sihon of the Amorites and the land of King Og of Bashan—the whole land with its cities and surrounding lands.
Is it not wonderful to see how the heads of the tribes of Reuben and Gad wanted to provide for their flocks and families first and yet keep to their commitment of seeing Israel established in the land of Canaan. Why then does Moses tell them off? (more…)