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Numbers 32:1-5

Context
The Petition of the Reubenites and Gadites

32:1 1 Now the Reubenites and the Gadites possessed a very large number of cattle. When they saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were ideal for cattle, 2  32:2 the Gadites and the Reubenites came and addressed Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders of the community. They said, 32:3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, 3  Nebo, and Beon, 4  32:4 the land that the Lord subdued 5  before the community of Israel, is ideal for cattle, and your servants have cattle.” 32:5 So they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, 6  let this land be given to your servants for our inheritance. Do not have us cross 7  the Jordan River.” 8 

1 sn While the tribes are on the other side of Jordan, the matter of which tribes would settle there has to be discussed. This chapter begins the settlement of Israel into the tribal territories, something to be continued in Joshua. The chapter has the petitions (vv. 1-5), the response by Moses (vv. 6-15), the proposal (vv. 16-27), and the conclusion of the matter (vv. 28-42). For literature on this subject, both critical and conservative, see S. E. Loewenstein, “The Relation of the Settlement of Gad and Reuben in Numbers 32:1-38, Its Background and Its Composition,” Tarbiz 42 (1972): 12-26; J. Mauchline, “Gilead and Gilgal, Some Reflections on the Israelite Occupation of Palestine,” VT 6 (1956): 19-33; and A. Bergmann, “The Israelite Tribe of Half-Manasseh,” JPOS 16 (1936): 224-54.

2 tn Heb “the place was a place of/for cattle.”

3 tc Smr and the LXX have Sibmah. Cf. v. 38.

4 tn Cf. Baal-meon in v. 38.

5 tn The verb is the Hiphil perfect of נָכָה (nakhah), a term that can mean “smite, strike, attack, destroy.”

6 tn Heb “eyes.”

7 tn The verb is the Hiphil jussive from עָבַר (’avar, “to cross over”). The idea of “cause to cross” or “make us cross” might be too harsh, but “take across” with the rest of the nation is what they are trying to avoid.

8 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.



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