The tribes of Reuben and Gad request to inherit the land on the east side of Jordan because of their great multitude of livestock. They approach Moses, Eleazar, and the leaders of the congregation saying, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.”
Moses responds, “Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here? Now why would you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord has given them?” Moses reminds them of what their fathers did when Moses first sent them to spy out the promised land; how ten of the twelve spies came back with a bad report and put fear in the heart of the people. Moses tells them that “The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in His sight was gone. And here you are, a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the Lord even more angry with Israel. If you turn away from following Him, He will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction.”
The tribes of Reuben and Gad agree to settle their livestock, little ones, and women in the land across the Jordan with the understanding that their men of war will cross the Jordan and fight with their brothers until each one of them inherits their land. So Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh settle in the land on the east side of the Jordan.
Then Moses documents the over forty moves the Israelites made during their wilderness journeys. Can you imagine moving that many times with over two million people and all that livestock?! The Lord is reminding His people how He was faithful during all of their wilderness journeys, and if He was faithful to them during their wilderness journeys, He will be faithful to them moving forward with the conquest of the land.
We end the reading with the Lord once again commanding the Israelites to drive the inhabitants out of the land and to destroy their false gods because He knows they will be a stumbling block to His people. God gives Israel a warning of what will happen if they disobey Him – “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.”
Will the Israelites obey the Lord? Keep reading to find out. (Numbers 32:1-33:56)