Numbers 32

Chapter 32

Settling in Transjordan. 1 The Reubenites and the Gadites[a] had very large herds and flocks. They saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for herds and flocks, 2 so the Gadites and the Reubenites came and spoke to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the leaders of the assembly saying, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, 4 the land that the Lord has conquered before the people of Israel, are lands suitable for herds and flocks, and your servants have herds and flocks.” 5 They continued, “If we have found favor in your sight, then let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not bring us over the Jordan.”

Moses’ Response. 6 Moses said to the Gadites and the Reubenites, “Shall your brothers go to war while you rest here? 7 Why are you discouraging the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them? 8 This is what your fathers did when I sent them out from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 When they went up into the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the people of Israel so that they did not enter into the land that the Lord had given them. 10 The Lord’s anger blazed on that day and he swore, 11 ‘None of those who are twenty years and older and who came out of Egypt will see the land that I promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, for they have not followed me wholeheartedly. 12 Only Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua, the son of Nun, will see it for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’ 13 The Lord’s anger blazed against Israel and he made them wander in the desert for forty years until the entire generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was consumed. 14 Now, you brood of sinful men have risen up to take your fathers’ place, adding to the Lord’s blazing anger against Israel. 15 If you turn away from him again, he will leave you in the desert and you will have destroyed this entire people.”

16 Another Request. So they came up to him and said, “Let us build enclosures here for our herds and flocks and cities for our little ones. 17 We will still arm ourselves, going before the people of Israel, to bring them into their dwelling place. Our little ones will be sheltered from the inhabitants of the land in the fortified cities. 18 We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has received his inheritance. 19 We will not take an inheritance on the other side of the Jordan, for it has fallen to us to have an inheritance on this side of the Jordan, on the east.”

20 Settlement Reached. Then Moses said to them, “You are to do this: arm yourselves for the Lord’s war, 21 and have all your armed men go over the Jordan before the Lord until he has driven out his enemies before him 22 and the land is subdued before the Lord. Then after this, you can return and be blameless before the Lord and before Israel. This land will be your possession before the Lord. 23 But if you do not do this, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and be sure, your sin will catch up with you. 24 Build your cities for your little ones and your enclosures for your sheep, but then do what you have promised to do.”

25 The Gadites and the Reubenites said to Moses, “Your servants will do as our lord commands. 26 Our children and our wives, our flocks and our herds will remain here in the cities of Gilead. 27 But your servants will cross over, every one of them armed for battle, to fight, as my lord has proposed.”

28 Moses gave orders to Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the leaders of the ancestral tribes of the people of Israel. 29 Moses said to them, “If the Gadites and the Reubenites cross over the Jordan, every man armed for battle before the Lord, and the land is subdued before you, then you will give them the land of Gilead as a possession. 30 However, if they do not cross over armed, then they will have a possession among you in the land of Canaan.”

31 The Gadites and the Reubenites answered, saying, “We will do what the Lord has said to your servants. 32 We will cross over armed before the Lord into the land of Canaan. The possession of our inheritance will remain on this side of the Jordan.”[b]

33 So Moses gave to the Gadites and the Reubenites and to half of the tribe of Manasseh, the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og, the king of Bashan; he gave the land and its cities with their territory and the cities of the surrounding countryside. 34 The Gadites built Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth-nimrah, and Beth-haran as fortified cities with sheepfolds for the sheep.

37 The Reubenites built Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, Baal-meon[c] (whose names were changed) and Sibmah. They gave other names to the cities that they built.

39 The Machirites who were from Manasseh went to Gilead and took it, driving out the Amorites who were in it. 40 So Moses gave Gilead to Machir, the son of Manasseh, and he dwelt there. 41 Jair, the son of Manasseh, went and took its small towns and called them Havvoth-jair. 42 Then Nobah went and took Kenath and its villages. He called it Nobah after himself.


  1. Numbers 32:1 Reubenites and the Gadites: these two tribes seek permission to remain in the fertile area of the Transjordan instead of crossing with the other tribes.
  2. Numbers 32:32 To retain order and responsibility among the tribes, the leaders of Gad and Reuben promise to serve in the Lord’s army while leaving their women, children, and livestock behind.
  3. Numbers 32:38 Nebo, Baal-meon: the phrase in parenthesis that follows indicates that these two cities that carried the names of foreign gods should be changed.

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