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In this Chapter the history of Israel is pursued. Here is an account of the desire of the Reubenites, and Gadites, to settle on this side Jordan: Moses reproves the thought; as if they wished to withdraw from the conquest of Canaan. They explain their intention, with which Moses is satisfied: and the lands of the kingdom of Sihon and Og, are conditionally appointed to them and their descendants.
There can be no question but that those plains of Moab were most fruitful and desirable situations. But alas! what are the plains of Moab to the land of Judah, which is the glory of all lands. In like manner, in a spiritual sense, what are the pleasant things brought forth by the sun, or the pleasant things put forth by the moon, to the good-will of him that dwelleth in the bush. Deu_33:14; Deu_33:16 . Reader! is not every man by nature a Reubenite, who desires to set up his resting place on this side the land of promise?
We may in some measure account for the feelings of the man of GOD. He had earnestly requested that he might see the good land, and that the LORD would give him to enjoy it. And the Reubenites, and the Gadities, were indifferent about. Deuteronomy 3:23-25 .
I include the whole of these verses in one view, because they include the terms of agreement between Moses and the Reubenites and Gadites. The representation, which is here given of them, serves to raise the people somewhat higher in our view; but certainly their choice of setting up their rest on this side Jordan, had in it much of a worldly, carnal spirit. Reader! never forget what the HOLY GHOST hath said, by the mouth of the Prophet: Arise ye and depart for this is not your rest, because it is polluted. Micah 2:10 .
Observe, Moses having foreknowledge from the word of the LORD, that he himself should not live to see the event, leaves the business in charge with his successors. So faithful ministers commit the concerns of the church to faithful men. 2 Timothy 2:2 .
The terms are again, as it were, ratified and confirmed on both sides, and the LORD himself is considered as looking on. It is well when all church concerns are thus arranged and settled under the great Head of his church. Matthew 28:20 .
Observe, the children of half the tribe of Manasseh are here included in this grant.
The reason of the change of names was most probably to observe that precept, that the children of Israel should not make mention of the names of the gods of the heathen about them; and their cities were called in honour of their gods: see Exodus 23:13 . And hence, in after ages, the LORD promised to take away the names of Baalim out of the mouths of his people. Hosea 2:17 .
REMARK, my soul, in the case of those Reubenites and Gadites, how injurious to the pilgrimage state in thy pursuit of Canaan, is a love of worldly ease and settlement. Alas! what have we, who profess ourselves to be strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and are supposed to be seeking a better country, that is an heavenly, what have we to do with the things of time and sense? But how true is that saying of the apostle's; All seek their own, not the things of JESUS CHRIST. Precious Redeemer! do thou so endear thyself to my view, that I may esteem it my chief happiness to endure affliction, if need be, with the people of GOD, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; and like thy servant of old, esteem the reproach of CHRIST greater riches than all the treasures on this side Jordan.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 32". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/