Numbers 32

1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock. When they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that behold, the place was a place for livestock; 2 the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and to the princes of the congregation, saying, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, 4 the land which the LORD struck before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock; and your servants have livestock.” 5 They said, “If we have found favour in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Don’t bring us over the Jordan.” 6 Moses said to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war, and shall you sit here? 7 Why do you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD has given them? 8 Your fathers did so when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them. 10 The LORD’s anger burnt in that day, and he swore, saying, 11 ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me, 12 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun; because they have followed the LORD completely.’ 13 The LORD’s anger burnt against Israel, and he made them wander back and forth in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, who had done evil in the LORD’s sight, was consumed. 14 “Behold, you have risen up in your fathers’ place, an increase of sinful men, to increase the fierce anger of the LORD towards Israel. 15 For if you turn away from after him, he will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and you will destroy all these people.” 16 They came near to him, and said, “We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones; 17 but we ourselves will be ready armed to go before the children of Israel, until we have brought them to their place. Our little ones shall dwell in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. 18 We will not return to our houses, until the children of Israel have each inherited their inheritance. 19 For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan, and forward; because our inheritance has come to us on this side of the Jordan eastward.” 20 Moses said to them, “If you will do this thing, if you will arm yourselves to go before the LORD to the war, 21 and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the LORD, until he has driven out his enemies from before him, 22 and the land is subdued before the LORD; then afterward you shall return, and be guiltless towards the LORD, and towards Israel; and this land shall be to you for a possession before the LORD. 23 “But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out. 24 Build cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which has proceeded out of your mouth.” 25 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben spoke to Moses, saying, “Your servants will do as my lord commands. 26 Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our livestock, shall be there in the cities of Gilead; 27 but your servants will pass over, every man who is armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord says.” 28 So Moses commanded concerning them to Eleazar the priest, and to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers’ households of the tribes of the children of Israel. 29 Moses said to them, “If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over the Jordan, every man who is armed to battle, before the LORD, and the land is subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession; 30 but if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions amongst you in the land of Canaan.” 31 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, “As the LORD has said to your servants, so will we do. 32 We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan.” 33 Moses gave to them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and to the half-tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, according to its cities and borders, even the cities of the surrounding land. 34 The children of Gad built Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atrothshophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth Nimrah, and Beth Haran: fortified cities, and folds for sheep. 37 The children of Reuben built Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, and Baal Meon, (their names being changed), and Sibmah. They gave other names to the cities which they built. 39 The children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead, took it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were therein. 40 Moses gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh; and he lived therein. 41 Jair the son of Manasseh went and took its villages, and called them Havvoth Jair. 42 Nobah went and took Kenath, and its villages, and called it Nobah, after his own name.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–5

Here is a proposal made by the Reubenites and Gadites, that the land lately conquered might be allotted to them. Two things common in the world might lead these tribes to make this choice; the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. There was much amiss in the principle they went upon; they consulted their own private convenience more than the public good. Thus to the present time, many seek their own things more than the things of Jesus Christ; and are led by worldly interests and advantages to take up short of the heavenly Canaan.

Verses 6–15

The proposal showed disregard to the land of Canaan, distrust of the Lord’s promise, and unwillingness to encounter the difficulties and dangers of conquering and driving out the inhabitants of that land. Moses is wroth with them. It will becomes any of God’s Israel to sit down unconcerned about the difficult and perilous concerns of their brethren, whether public or personal. He reminds them of the fatal consequences of the unbelief and faint-heartedness of their fathers, when they were, as themselves, just ready to enter Canaan. If men considered as they ought what would be the end of sin, they would be afraid of the beginning of it.

Verses 16–27

Here is the good effect of plain dealing. Moses, by showing their sin, and the danger of it, brought them to their duty, without murmuring or disputing. All men ought to consider the interests of others as well as their own; the law of love requires us to labour, venture, or suffer for each other as there may be occasion. They propose that their men of war should go ready armed before the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, and that they should not return till the conquest of Canaan was ended. Moses grants their request, but he warns them of the danger of breaking their word. If you fail, you sin against the Lord, and not against your brethren only; God will certainly reckon with you for it. Be sure your sin will find you out. Sin will surely find out the sinner sooner or later. It concerns us now to find our sins out, that we may repent of them, and forsake them, lest they find us out to our ruin.

Verses 28–42

Concerning the settlement of these tribes, observe, that they built the cities, that is, repaired them. They changed the names of them; probably they were idolatrous, therefore they should be forgotten. A spirit of selfishness, of seeking our own, not the things of Christ, when each one ought to assist others, is as dangerous as it is common. It is impossible to be sincere in the faith, sensible of the goodness of God, constrained by the love of Christ, sanctified by the power of the Holy Ghost, and yet be indifferent to the progress of religion, and the spiritual success of others, through love of ease, or fear of conflict. Let then your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

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