The Petition of the Reubenites and Gadites
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, the Gadites and the Reubenites came and addressed Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders of the community. They said, “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, the land that the Lord subdued before the community of Israel, is ideal for cattle, and your servants have cattle.” So they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for our inheritance. Do not have us cross the Jordan River.”
Moses said to the Gadites and the Reubenites, “Must your brothers go to war while you remain here? Why do you frustrate the intent of the Israelites to cross over into the land which the Lord has given them? Your fathers did the same thing when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to see the land. When they went up to the Eshcol Valley and saw the land, they frustrated the intent of the Israelites so that they did not enter the land that the Lord had given them. So the anger of the Lord was kindled that day, and he swore, ‘Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old and upward who came from Egypt will see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’ So the Lord’s anger was kindled against the Israelites, and he made them wander in the wilderness for forty years, until all that generation that had done wickedly before the Lord was finished. Now look, you are standing in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinners, to increase still further the fierce wrath of the Lord against the Israelites. For if you turn away from following him, he will once again abandon them in the wilderness, and you will be the reason for their destruction.”
The Offer of the Reubenites and Gadites
Then they came very close to him and said, “We will build sheep folds here for our flocks and cities for our families, but we will maintain ourselves in armed readiness and go before the Israelites until whenever we have brought them to their place. Our descendants will be living in fortified towns as a protection against the inhabitants of the land. We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has his inheritance. For we will not accept any inheritance on the other side of the Jordan River and beyond, because our inheritance has come to us on this eastern side of the Jordan.”
Then Moses replied, “If you will do this thing, and if you will arm yourselves for battle before the Lord, and if all your armed men cross the Jordan before the Lord until he drives out his enemies from his presence and the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you may return and be free of your obligation to the Lord and to Israel. This land will then be your possession in the Lord’s sight.
“But if you do not do this, then look, you will have sinned against the Lord. And know that your sin will find you out. So build cities for your descendants and pens for your sheep, but do what you have said you would do.”
So the Gadites and the Reubenites replied to Moses, “Your servants will do as my lord commands. Our children, our wives, our flocks, and all our livestock will be there in the cities of Gilead, but your servants will cross over, every man armed for war, to do battle in the Lord’s presence, just as my lord says.”
So Moses gave orders about them to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua son of Nun, and to the heads of the families of the Israelite tribes. Moses said to them: “If the Gadites and the Reubenites cross the Jordan with you, each one equipped for battle in the Lord’s presence, and you conquer the land, then you must allot them the territory of Gilead as their possession. But if they do not cross over with you armed, they must receive possessions among you in Canaan.” Then the Gadites and the Reubenites answered, “Your servants will do what the Lord has spoken. We will cross armed in the Lord’s presence into the land of Canaan, and then the possession of our inheritance that we inherit will be ours on this side of the Jordan River.”
So Moses gave to the Gadites, the Reubenites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph the realm of King Sihon of the Amorites, and the realm of King Og of Bashan, the entire land with its cities and the territory surrounding them. The Gadites rebuilt Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, Atroth Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, Beth Nimrah, and Beth Haran as fortified cities, and constructed pens for their flocks. The Reubenites rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, Nebo, Baal Meon (with a change of name), and Sibmah. They renamed the cities they built.
The descendants of Machir son of Manasseh went to Gilead, took it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were in it. So Moses gave Gilead to Machir, son of Manasseh, and he lived there. Now Jair son of Manasseh went and captured their small towns and named them Havvoth Jair. Then Nobah went and captured Kenath and its villages and called it Nobah after his own name.