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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 32

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-42


Land for two and a half tribes (32:1-42)

Two and a half tribes (Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh) asked permission not to cross Jordan and settle in Canaan with the rest of Israel, but to settle in the good pasture lands that Israel had taken control of east of Jordan (32:1-5,33; see notes on 21:21-22:1). Moses replied that the loss of two and a half tribes from Israel’s fighting force might discourage the people from attacking Canaan. It would be a repetition of what happened almost forty years previously. On that occasion lack of faith prevented Israel from taking the promised land, with the result that the whole adult population was destroyed in the wilderness (6-15).
The two and a half tribes responded by putting a compromise plan to Moses. They would leave their families and flocks east of Jordan, but their fighting men would go with the rest of Israel to conquer Canaan. When the conquest was over, they would return to settle east of Jordan (16-19). Moses agreed to the plan, but warned of the consequences if they did not keep their promise (20-32). Some of the Manasseh group seized additional territory to that which Israel had already won (33-42).

Later, when the time arrived to cross Jordan and conquer Canaan, the two and a half tribes kept their promise (Joshua 22:1-34). Their land was one of the finest parts of the region and was an enrichment to Israel (Song of Song of Solomon 4:1; Jeremiah 8:22; Micah 7:14). But it was without natural frontiers, and the other tribes often had to rescue it from enemy invaders (1 Samuel 11:1-11; 1 Kings 22:1-4; 1 Kings 22:1-4; 2 Kings 8:28; 2 Kings 8:28). When Israel was eventually conquered by Assyria, the territories of the eastern tribes were among the first to fall, and their inhabitants among the first to be taken into captivity (2 Kings 15:29).


Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Numbers 32". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/numbers-32.html. 2005.
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