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Numbers Chapter 32
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Deuteronomy

The Petition of Reuben and Gad
32:1 The descendants of Reuben and Gad had an extremely large number of animals, and they saw that the Ya'azer and Gilead areas were good for livestock.
32:2 The descendants of Gad and Reuben therefore came and presented the following petition to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the community princes:
32:3 'Ataroth, Divon, Ya'azer, Nimrah, Cheshbon, El'aleh, Sevam, Nebo and Be'on
32:4 [in] the land that God struck down before the Israelite community is livestock land - and what we have is livestock.'

Moses Objects to the Petition
32:5 They said, 'If you would grant us a favor, let this land be given to us as our permanent property, and do not bring us across the Jordan.'
32:6 Moses said to the descendants of Gad and Reuben, 'Why should your brothers go out and fight while you stay here?
32:7 Why are you trying to discourage the Israelites from crossing over to the land that God has given them?
32:8 'This is the same thing your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to see the land.
32:9 They went as far as Cluster Valley to see the land, but then they discouraged the Israelites from coming to the land that God gave them.
32:10 God displayed His anger that day and swore,
32:11 'None of the men over 20 years old who left Egypt will see the land that I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, since they did not follow Me wholeheartedly.
32:12 The only exceptions shall be Caleb son of Yefuneh the Kenizite and Joshua son of Nun, because they followed God wholeheartedly.
32:13 God displayed anger against Israel, and He made them wander forty years in the desert, until the generation that had done evil in God's eyes had died out.
32:14 'Now you are trying to take your fathers' places as a band of sinners, and bring yet more of God's wrath against Israel.

A Pledge of Aid by Reuben and Gad
32:15 You will dissuade them from following Him, and He will once again leave us in the desert. Then you will have destroyed this nation completely!'
32:16 [The Reubenites and Gaddites] approached [Moses] and said, 'We will build enclosures for our sheep here and cities for our children.
32:17 But we will then arm ourselves and go as an advance guard before the [other] Israelites, [fighting] until we have brought them to their homeland. Because of the area's inhabitants, our children will remain in fortified cities,
32:18 but we ourselves will not return home until every Israelite has taken possession of his hereditary property.
32:19 We, however, will not take possession with them on the far side of the Jordan, since our inheritance shall come to us on the Jordan's eastern bank.'

Moses' Conditions; Conquests
32:20 Moses said to them, 'If you do that and go forth as a special force ahead of your brothers, [your petition will be granted].
32:21 Your entire special force must cross the Jordan before God, [and fight] until He has driven His enemies before Him.
32:22 When the land is then conquered before God, you may return [home], and you will be free of any obligation before God and Israel. This land will then be yours as your permanent property before God.
32:23 'But if you do not do that, you will have sinned to God, and you must realize that your sin will be your undoing.
32:24 Now build yourself cities for your children and folds for your sheep - but keep your promise!'
32:25 The descendants of Gad and Reuben said to Moses, 'We will do as you have ordered.
32:26 Our children, wives, property and livestock will remain here in the cities of Gilead.
32:27 Meanwhile, all our special forces shall cross over for battle before God, as you have said.'
32:28 Moses then gave instructions to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the paternal heads of the Israelite tribes.
32:29 Moses said to them, 'If the entire special force of the Gaddites and Reubenites crosses the Jordan to fight with you, then when the land is conquered, you shall give them the Gilead area as their permanent property.
32:30 But if they do not go as a special force before you, then they shall have their property alongside you in the land of Canaan.'
32:31 The descendants of Gad and Reuben responded, 'We will do whatever God has told us.
32:32 We will cross over as a special force to the land of Canaan, and we shall then have our permanent hereditary property on [this] side of the Jordan.'
32:33 To the descendants of Gad and Reuben, and to half the tribe of Manasseh (son of Joseph), Moses then gave the kingdom of Sichon (king of the Amorites) and the kingdom of Og (king of the Bashan). [He gave them] the land along with the cities along its surrounding borders.
32:34 The descendants of Gad built up Divon, Ataroth, Aro'er,
32:35 Atroth Shofan, Ya'azer, Yagbehah,
32:36 Beth Nimrah, and Beth Haran. [These were built] into fortress cities and enclosures for flocks.
32:37 The descendants of Reuben built up Cheshbon, Elaleh, Kiryathaim,
32:38 Nebo, Baal Meon (these names had been changed), and Sivmah. They gave these cities the names that they had when they were built.
32:39 The sons of Makhir (son of Manasseh) went to Gilead and captured it, expelling the Amorites who were there.
32:40 Moses gave the Gilead to Makhir son of Manasseh, and he lived there.
32:41 Ya'ir, a grandson of Manasseh, went and conquered the villages [in this district], and he named them Ya'irs Villages (Chavvoth Ya'ir).
32:42 Novach went and captured Kenath and its surrounding towns, and he gave [the area] his own name, Novach.



Commentary:

Ya'azer
  See Numbers 21:32. This most probably denotes the land to the east of the Jordan and Dead Sea and to the south of the Jabbok River.

Gilead
  See Genesis 31:21. The area to the east of the Jordan to the north of the Jabbok. See Numbers 32:39

Ataroth
  This was later built up by Gad (Numbers 32:34). This is identified with the modern Attaruth, 7 miles east of the Dead Sea, 8 miles north of the Arnon, and 8 miles n.n.w. of Divon. Although it was built up by Gad, it eventually became part of Reuben's territory; see next note.

Divon
  See Numbers 21:30. Although it was built up by Gad (Numbers 32:34), it eventually became part of Reuben's territory (Joshua 13:17).

Ya'azer
  See Numbers 21:32. It was built up by Gad (Numbers 32:35), and became the border of their territory (Joshua 13:25) and a Levitical city (Joshua 21:37; 1 Chronicles 6:66).

Nimrah
  Or Beth Nimrah. This was built by Gad (Numbers 32:35), and became part of their territory (Joshua 13:27). It was also known as Nimrim (Isaiah 15:6, Jeremiah 48:35). In Roman times, it was called Bethennabris (Septuagint on Joshua 13:27; Eusebius), and in Talmudic times, Beth Nimrin (Targum) or Beth Namar (Peah 4:5). It is the modern Tel el-Bleibil or Tel Nimrin, on the Nimrin River near the modern Shunath Nimrin, 11 miles east of Jericho.

Cheshbon
  The capital of Sichon; Numbers 21:25.

El'aleh
  A city built up by Reuben (Numbers 32:27), and part of the Reubenite territory. It is the present el-Al, around 2 miles northeast of Cheshbon (Eusebius; cf. Isaiah 15:4, 16:9, Jeremiah 48:34).

Sevam
  Also known as Sivmah (cf. Septuagint), a city built by the Reubenites (Numbers 32:38), and part of their territory (Joshua 13:19). A town near Cheshbon (cf. Isaiah 16:8,9; also see Jeremiah 48:32).

Nebo
  N'bho in Hebrew. This was the mountain upon which Moses died (Deuteronomy 32:49; Targum). See Numbers, 27:12. It is the modern Neba at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea. It was built up by Reuben (Numbers 32:38).

Be'on
  Changed to Baal Meon and built by the Reubenites (Numbers 32:38), and known as Beth Baal Meon, part of their territory (Joshua 13:17). It is the modern Ma'in, 6 miles south of Mount Nebo (cf. 1 Chronicles 5:8), and midway between Nebo and Kiryathaim (cf. Jeremiah 48:23, Ezekiel 25:9). The Septuagint (on Ezekiel 25:9) translates it as 'Fountain City.'

grant us a favor
  Literally, 'if we have found grace in your eyes.' See note on Genesis 47:29.

Kadesh Barnea
  See Numbers, 13:26, Deuteronomy 1:19, 9:23. See note on Numbers 13:3.

Cluster Valley
  Nachal Eshkol. See Numbers, 13:23. From here, it appears that this is as far as they went.

Kenizite
  See Joshua 14:6,14; also note on 13:6. He was called a Kenizite because he was the stepson of Kenaz, that is, the son of Kenaz's wife (Rashi here and Sotah 11b, end). He was thus the step-brother of Othniel; cf. Joshua 15:17, Judges 1:13, 1 Chronicles 4:13. Also see Genesis 15:19, 36:11. The Septuagint translates Kenizi as 'the one set apart,' or 'the independent one.' On the basis of Semitic roots, Kenizi denotes a hunter or lone warrior.

advance guard
  (Septuagint). Or, literally, 'quickly' (Rashi; Saadia; Ibn Ezra).

free of any obligation
  Or, literally, 'innocent.'

half of the tribe of Manasseh
  Some say that although the original request came from Gad and Reuben, they did not have enough population to occupy the land, and therefore invited Manasseh to join them (Ramban; Abarbanel). The rest of Manasseh took land by lot with the other tribes (Joshua 17:2). According to others, however, Manasseh was involved in the original request (Josephus, Antiquities 4:7:3). See Numbers 32:39-42.

Sichon
  See Numbers 21:21

Og
  Numbers, 21:33

the land...
  Literally, 'the land to its cities, in the cities and the cities on its surrounding borders' (Septuagint; cf. Abarbanel).

Divon, Ataroth
  See Numbers, 32:3.

Aro'er
  The modern Ara'ir, just north of the Arnon, some 13 miles east of the Dead Sea (cf. Deuteronomy 2:36, etc.). It formed the southern boundary of Sichon's kingdom (Joshua 12:2), and of Reuben (Joshua 13:16), although it was actually in Gad's territory (Joshua 13:25).

Atroth Shofan
  Unknown. The Septuagint has Shefer; see Numbers 33:23.

Ya'azer
  See Numbers 32:3

Yagbehah
  Or Yogbehah. A place name (Targum), cf. Judges 8:11. This is a city some 19 miles east of the Jordan, 18 miles north of the Dead Sea, the modern Jubeihat. The Septuagint, however, translates this, 'and raised it (Ya'azer) up.'

Beth Nimrah
  Also known as Nimrah, see Numbers 32:3.

Beth Haran
  Also known as Beth Haram. It was in the Abu Araba valley, half way between Cheshbon and the Jordan (cf. Joshua 13:27). In Roman times it was known as Betharamptha and Livias, and Herod renamed it Julias (Josephus, Antiquities 18:2:1). It is the site of the modern Tel Iktanu. See Genesis 11:26.

Cheshbon, Elaleh
  See Numbers 32:3

Kiryathaim
  In the mountain leading to the valley (Joshua 13:19). See Genesis 14:5. It is the modern el Qereiyat, 7 miles north of the Arnon, and 8 miles east of the Dead Sea.

Nebo
  See Numbers 32:3.

Baal Meon
  Be'on in Numbers 32:3. Some say that this was Balak's capital (Targum Yonathan).

these names have been changed
  By Sichon when he took this territory from Moab (Ramban; Chizzkuni). Or by the Israelites when they conquered the territory (Rashi). Or, a proper name, 'Musaboth Shem,' so named because its heroes' names were engraved on its surrounding walls (Targum Yonathan). Or, 'Baal Meon, surrounded with walls' (Septuagint).

Sivmah
  This is Sevam in Numbers 32:3 (Rashi).

They gave these cities...
  (Ramban; Ralbag). Or, 'they gave [new] names to the cities that they built' (Rashi; Saadia); or, 'they named these cities after their builders.' (Targum Yonathan; cf. Septuagint).

Makhir
  See Numbers 26:29. The sons involved were probably Peresh and Sheresh (1 Chronicles 7:16).

Gilead
  See Numbers, 32:1. It is possible that Gilead was named after Makhir's son. According to some, Gilead had died by now (Midrash Aggadah).

Ya'ir, a grandson of Manasseh
  Actually a great-grandson. Chetzron (son of Peretz and grandson of Judah), married a daughter of Makhir and had a son Seguv, who was Ya'ir's father (1 Chronicles 2:22; Ibn Ezra; Ramban).

villages
  Chavoth in Hebrew. Consisting of small clusters of houses (Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim, s.v. Chayah). These were in the Argov region, to the south of the Yarmok (Deuteronomy 3:14). There were a total of 23 villages (1 Chronicles 2:23).

in this district
  Literally, 'their villages.' Or, 'villages of Ham,' see Genesis 14:5.

Chavvoth Ya'ir
  See Deuteronomy 3:14, Joshua 13:30, 1 Kings 4:13. Some say that he named the area after himself because he had no sons, only daughters (Midrash Aggadah).

Novach
  A descendant of Manasseh (Chizzkuni). He had been born in Egypt (Seder Olam Rabbah 9).

Kenath
  See 1 Chronicles 2:23. This is the modern Qanawat, some 42 miles east of the Kinnereth. In Roman times, it was known as Canatha (Josephus, Wars 1:19:2; Ptolemy, Geography 5:15, p. 139; Pliny 5:16).

Novach
  See Judges 8:11. This name, however, did not stick (Ruth Rabbah 5:5; Rashi). Some say that he gave it this name because he only had daughters, and no sons to carry his name (Midrash Aggadah).





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