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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 32

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2552. B.C. 1452.

The request of Reuben and Gad for an inheritance on this side Jordan, Numbers 32:1-5 . Moses’s misconstruction of it, Numbers 32:6-15 . Their explication of it, Numbers 32:16-19 . The grant of their petition, Numbers 32:20-42 .

Verse 1

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.

Verse 4

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 21:0.

Verses 5-7

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.

Verses 12-14

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.

Verse 15

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.

Verse 17

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.

Verse 18

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.

Verse 20

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.

Verse 23

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.

Verses 30-31

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.

Verse 34

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.

Verse 38

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.

Verses 40-42

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.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 32". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/numbers-32.html. 1857.
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