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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 32

Verses 1-42

Allotment of Territory to the Tribes of Gad and Reuben and the Halftribe of Manasseh

1-5. The tribes of Reuben and Gad request that the land of Gilead lying on the E. side of the Jordan be assigned to them, on the ground that it is very fertile and therefore particularly well adapted to their large flocks and herds. These two tribes were associated as neighbours in the camp and on the march (Num 2:10-16), hence their desire to be settled near each other.

1. Gilead lay to the S. and W. of Bashan, and shared the characteristic fertility of that region: see on Numbers 21:33-35.

6-15. Moses understands their request as indicating a disinclination on the part of these two tribes to enter the promised land. He reminds them that their fathers suffered the penalty of a similar faintheartedness at Kadesh (Numbers 14:0) and, fearing that the example of Beuben and Gad may discourage the rest of the people, he refuses their request.

16-33. The two tribes assure Moses that they will not separate themselves at present from the rest of the people, but will go over Jordan with them, and assist in the conquest of Canaan. After that they will return and settle on the E. side. Moses is satisfied with this assurance, and enjoins Eleazar and Joshua to see that the two tribes fulfil their promise before receiving the inheritance they desire.

28. Moses lays this injunction on Joshua his successor, as he himself will not live to pass over Jordan: see Numbers 27:12-23.

33. The half tribe of Manasseh is not said to have made any request similar to that of the Reubenites and Gadites; but, seeing that they had been specially engaged in the conquest of Gilead (Num 32:30), a place was assigned to them also in that district: cp. Deuteronomy 3:13-15.

34-42. These vv. are inserted here by way of anticipation. The building, or rather the repairing of these cities, for some of them at least are mentioned as already existing (Numbers 21:30; Num 33:8), took place after the conquest of Canaan: cp. Num 32:41 with Judges 10:3, Judges 10:4. In Jos 22:1-9 we read that, after fulfilling their promise, the two and a half tribes were dismissed to their inheritance by Joshua with his blessing. Owing to their position on the eastern frontier of the holy land they were the first to be carried into captivity by the king of Assyria (1Ch 5:26), so that it was not an unmitigated advantage to them to obtain this fertile district.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Numbers 32". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/numbers-32.html. 1909.