Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle;Numbers 32:1. The land of Jazer — A city and country of the Amorites. Gilead — A mountainous country, famous for pasturage. These countries were lately taken from the two Amorite princes, Sihon and Og, (Numbers 21:24,) and were, by divine appointment, allowed to be inhabited by the Israelites, as well as the land of Canaan itself.
The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying,
Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon,
Even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle:Numbers 32:4. Which the Lord smote — That is, whose inhabitants we, by God’s peculiar aid, routed and destroyed: Deuteronomy 2:33, compared with the history of this victory, Numbers 21.
Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.Numbers 32:5-7. Bring us not over Jordan — To give us our possession there; but let this land, on this side Jordan, be our whole possession. Shall ye sit here? — In ease and peace, while your brethren are engaged in war. Wherefore discourage ye the heart of Israel — Their words were ambiguous, and Moses suspected that mere cowardice, and a love of ease, made them desire to stay where they were; which ill example might have disheartened the rest of their brethren.
And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?
And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?
Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadeshbarnea to see the land.
For when they went up unto 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.
And the LORD'S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying,
Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:
Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.Numbers 32:12-14. Caleb the Kenezite — So called from Kenaz, one of his eminent ancestors. An increase of sinful men — Succeeding your fathers, as in their places, so also in their sins; imitating the unbelieving spies, and distrusting God’s power and veracity to make good his promise of settling Israel in the land of Canaan.
And the LORD'S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.
And, behold, ye are risen up in your fathers' stead, an increase of sinful men, to augment yet the fierce anger of the LORD toward Israel.
For if ye turn away from after him, he will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and ye shall destroy all this people.Numbers 32:15. Ye shall destroy all this people — Who, being moved by your counsel and example, will refuse to go over Jordan and possess the land of Canaan. Thus all who rest satisfied with visible and temporal things, and evidently show by their conduct that they prefer earth to heaven, not only stop short themselves of the rest that remaineth for the people of God, but greatly discourage others in their journey thither, and lay stumbling-blocks in their way. Reader! Arise, depart, this is not thy rest, because it is polluted; it will destroy thee with a sore destruction.
And they came near unto him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones:
But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land.Numbers 32:17. We ourselves will go — Either all, or as many of us as shall be thought necessary, leaving only so many as may be requisite to provide for the support and defence of our wives and children. Because of the inhabitants of the land — The Moabites and Edomites, or other neighbouring people, together with such of the Amorites as had saved themselves by flight, and would watch all opportunities of seeking to reinstate themselves in their lost possessions. Accordingly we find that forty thousand of the Reubenites and Gadites went over with their brethren, ready armed for war, to the plains of Jericho, Deuteronomy 3:18; Joshua 4:12.
We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance.Numbers 32:18. We will not return to our houses, &c. — Herein they showed both faith in God and love to their brethren, thus to go in the front of the battle, and generously risk their lives against such powerful enemies, without any further benefit to themselves, leaving their weak families behind them to the divine protection.
For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward.
And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,Numbers 32:20. Before the Lord — Before the ark, which was the token of God’s presence. He alludes either to the order of the tribes in their march, whereby Reuben and Gad marched immediately before the ark, or to the manner of their passage over Jordan, wherein the ark went first into Jordan, and stood there while all the tribes marched over Jordan by and before it, and these among the rest, as is expressly noted in these very words, that they passed over before the Lord, Joshua 4:13.
And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him,
And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.
But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.Numbers 32:23. Your sin will find you out — The punishment of your sin. Sin will certainly find out the sinner, sooner or later. It concerns us therefore to find our sins out, that we may repent of them, lest our sins find us out to our confusion and destruction.
Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth.
And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spake unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth.
Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gilead:
But thy servants will pass over, every man armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord saith.
So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel:
And Moses said unto them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over Jordan, every man armed to battle, before the LORD, and the land shall be subdued before you; then ye shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession:
But if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.Numbers 32:30-31. They shall have possessions — They shall forfeit their possessions in Gilead, and be constrained to go over Jordan, and to seek possessions there among their brethren. As the Lord hath said — Either at this time, by thy mouth; or formerly, where he commanded us, as well as our brethren, to go into Canaan and possess it.
And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, As the LORD hath said unto thy servants, so will we do.
We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be ours.
And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the 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, with the cities thereof in the coasts, even the cities of the country round about.
And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer,Numbers 32:34. Built — Repaired and fortified. For they neither had need nor leisure as yet to do more, the old cities not being burned and ruined, as divers in Canaan were.
And Atroth, Shophan, and Jaazer, and Jogbehah,
And Bethnimrah, and Bethharan, fenced cities: and folds for sheep.
And the children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kirjathaim,
And Nebo, and Baalmeon, (their names being changed,) and Shibmah: and gave other names unto the cities which they builded.Numbers 32:38. Their names being changed — Conquerors of places have been wont to change their names. But as the Israelites were forbidden to mention the names of other gods, and as these places, it seems had their names from the false gods worshipped in them, (which was unquestionably the case with Nebo and Baal-meon,) the Israelites might judge it proper to change the names of these places, in order to abolish all footsteps of idolatry.
And the children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead, and took it, and dispossessed the Amorite which was in it.
And Moses gave Gilead unto Machir the son of Manasseh; and he dwelt therein.Numbers 32:40; Numbers 32:42. Moses gave Gilead unto Machir — Not to Machir himself, who doubtless was long since dead, but the family or posterity of Machir. Nobah — Who, though not elsewhere named, was doubtless an eminent person of the tribe of Manasseh. It is observable, that these tribes, as they were placed before the other tribes, so they were displaced before them. They were carried captive by the king of Assyria, some years before the other tribes. Such a proportion does Providence frequently observe in balancing prosperity and adversity.
And Jair the son of Manasseh went and took the small towns thereof, and called them Havothjair.
And Nobah went and took Kenath, and the villages thereof, and called it Nobah, after his own name.