James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
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 32:1-34:29
GETTING READY FOR CANAAN
REUBEN AND GAD’S CHOICE (Numbers 32)
What was their choice of possessions, and on what ground was it made (Numbers 32:1-5)? What suspicion of their motive possessed Moses (Numbers 32:6-15)? What assurance is given him (Numbers 32:16-19)? How is the matter closed (Numbers 32:20-27)? What charge does Moses transmit to his successors (Numbers 32:28-32)?
REVIEW OF THE JOURNEY (Numbers 33)
This chapter may be said to form the winding-up of the history of the travels of the Israelites, for the following chapters relate to matters connected with the occupation and division of the land.
As several apparent discrepancies will be discovered on comparing the records here with Exodus, and the occasional notices of places in Deuteronomy, it is probably that his itinerary comprises a list of only the most important stations in their journeys; those where they formed prolonged encampments, and whence they dispersed their flocks and herds to pasture on the plains till the surrounding herbage was exhausted. The catalogue extends from their departure out of Egypt to their arrival on the plains of Moab.
At whose authorization was this record made (Numbers 33:2)? Thus was established the truth of history, thus a memorial of God’s marvelous work on Israel’s behalf preserved for all generations.
For additional light on Numbers 33:3-4 consult the Revised Version.
As there are no less then eighteen stations inserted between Hazeroth and Kadesh, and only eleven days were spent in performing that journey (Deuteronomy 1:2) the record here must refer to a different visit to Kadesh. The first was when they left Sinai in the second month (1:2; 13:20), and were in Kadesh in August (Deuteronomy 1:45), and “abode many days” in it, and murmuring at the report of the spies, were commanded to return into the desert “by the way of the Red Sea.” The arrival at Kadesh, mentioned in this catalogue, corresponds to the second sojourn at that place, being the first month, or April (20:1).
Between the two visits there intervened a period of thirty-eight years, during which they wandered hither and thither, often returning to the same spots, as the pastoral necessities of their flocks required.
When did Aaron die, and at what age (Numbers 33:38-39)? What command is renewed to Moses (Numbers 33:50-53)? What warning accompanies it (Numbers 33:55-56)?
THE BOUNDARIES (Numbers 34)
It is difficult to trace these boundary lines on the map, especially those on the south, and students must be referred to Bible dictionaries on the subject.
In the meantime, it is clear that Israel never entered on the possession of all this territory, even in the golden era of David and Solomon. That they will do so in the millennial age there can be no doubt.
1. How would you explain certain discrepancies between these chapters and other parts of the Pentateuch?
2. How is the truth of this history established?
3. What explanation might be given of the eighteen stations and only eleven journeys?
4. Has Israel ever entered on possession of all her territory?
5. Is she likely to do so?