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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 32


1 Now the Reubenites and Gadites had a very large number of livestock. Noticing that the land of Jazer and of Gilead was grazing country,


they came to Moses and the priest Eleazar and to the princes of the community and said,


2 "The region of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Baal-meon,


which the LORD has laid low before the community of Israel, is grazing country. Now, since your servants have livestock,"


they continued, "if we find favor with you, let this land be given to your servants as their property. Do not make us cross the Jordan."


But Moses answered the Gadites and Reubenites: "Are your kinsmen, then, to engage in war, while you remain here?


Why do you wish to discourage the Israelites from crossing to the land the LORD has given them?


That is just what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to reconnoiter the land.


They went up to the Wadi Eshcol and reconnoitered the land, then so discouraged the Israelites that they would not enter the land the LORD had given them.


At that time the wrath of the LORD flared up, and he swore,


'Because they have not followed me unreservedly, none of these men of twenty years or more who have come up from Egypt shall ever see this country I promised under oath to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob,


3 except the Kenizzite Caleb, son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, son of Nun, who have followed the LORD unreservedly.'


So in his anger with the Israelites the LORD made them wander in the desert forty years, until the whole generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD had died out.


And now here you are, a brood of sinners, rising up in your fathers' place to add still more to the LORD'S blazing wrath against the Israelites.


If you turn away from following him, he will make them stay still longer in the desert, and so you will bring about the ruin of this whole nation."


But they were insistent with him: "We wish only to build sheepfolds here for our flocks, and towns for our families;


but we ourselves will march as troops in the van of the Israelites, until we have led them to their destination. Meanwhile our families can remain here in the fortified towns, safe from attack by the natives.


We will not return to our homes until every one of the Israelites has taken possession of his heritage,


and will not claim any heritage with them once we cross the Jordan, so long as we receive a heritage for ourselves on this eastern side of the Jordan."


4 Moses said to them in reply: "If you keep your word to march as troops in the LORD'S vanguard


and to cross the Jordan in full force before the LORD until he has driven his enemies out of his way


and the land is subdued before him, then you may return here, quit of every obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this region shall be your possession before the LORD.


But if you do not do this, you will sin against the LORD, and you can be sure that you will not escape the consequences of your sin.


Build the towns, then, for your families, and the folds for your flocks, but also fulfill your express promise."


The Gadites and Reubenites answered Moses, "Your servants will do as you command, my lord.


While our wives and children, our herds and other livestock remain in the towns of Gilead,


all your servants will go across as armed troops to battle before the LORD, just as your lordship says."


Moses, therefore, gave this order in their regard to the priest Eleazar, to Joshua, son of Nun, and to the heads of the ancestral tribes of the Israelites:


"If all the Gadites and Reubenites cross the Jordan with you as combat troops before the LORD, you shall give them Gilead as their property when the land has been subdued before you.


But if they will not go across with you as combat troops before the LORD, you shall bring their wives and children and livestock across before you into Canaan, and they shall have their property with you in the land of Canaan."


To this the Gadites and Reubenites replied, "We will do what the LORD has commanded us, your servants.


We ourselves will go across into the land of Canaan as troops before the LORD, but we will retain our hereditary property on this side of the Jordan."


5 So Moses gave them (the Gadites and Reubenites, as well as half the tribe of Manasseh, son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og, king of Bashan,) the land with its towns and the districts that surrounded them.


The Gadites rebuilt the fortified towns of Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer,


Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah,


Beth-nimrah and Beth-haran, and they built sheepfolds.


The Reubenites rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim,


6 Nebo, Baal-meon (names to be changed!), and Sibmah. These towns, which they rebuilt, they called by their old names.


The descendants of Machir, son of Manasseh, invaded Gilead and captured it, driving out the Amorites who were there.


(Moses gave Gilead to Machir, son of Manasseh, and he settled there.)


Jair, a Manassehite clan, campaigned against the tent villages, captured them and called them Havvoth-jair.


Nobah also campaigned against Kenath, captured it with its dependencies and called it Nobah after his own name.



1 [1] Gilead: the name of the western part of the plateau east of the Jordan, sometimes signifying the whole region from the Yarmuk to the Jordan, sometimes only the northern part of this region, and sometimes, as here, only its southern part. Jazer lay to the east of southern Gilead.

2 [3] The places named in this verse, as well as the additional ones given in Numbers 32:34-38, were all in the former kingdom of Sihon, that is, in the region between the Jabbok and the Arnon. Cf Numbers 21:23, 24; Joshua 13:19-21, 24-27.

3 [12] Kenizzite: a member of the clan of Kenaz, which, according to Genesis 36:11, 15, 42, was Edomitic; hence, although Caleb belonged to the tribe of Judah ( Numbers 13:6; 34:19), he must have had Edomite blood in his veins; cf also Joshua 14:6, 14.

4 [20-22] Since the ark of the Lord was borne into battle with the Israelite army, the vanguard was said to march before the Lord.

5 [33] The preceding is concerned solely with the two tribes of Gad and Reuben and with the land of the former kingdom of Sihon; hence it seems probable that the sudden reference here to the half-tribe of Manasseh and to their territory in Bashan, the former kingdom of Og, is a later addition to the text.

6 [38] The phrase in brackets is a gloss, warning the reader either to change the order of the preceding names, or, more probably, to read some other word, such as bosheth, "shame," for Baal. They called by their old names: literally, "they called by their names" (see Textual Notes); however, some understand the current Hebrew text to mean, "they called by new names."

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