King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Numbers 32

The tribes of Reuben and Gad request an inheritance on the east of Jordan. (1-5) Moses reproves the Reubenites and Gadites. (6-15) They explain their views, Moses consents. (16-27) They take possession of the land to the east of Jordan. (28-42)

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The tribes of Reuben and Gad request an inheritance on the east of Jordan

1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle;

2 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying,

3 Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon,

4 Even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle:

5 Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.

Moses reproves the Reubenites and Gadites

6 And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?

7 And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?

8 Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadeshbarnea to see the land.

9 For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them.

10 And the LORD’S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying,

11 Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:

12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.

13 And the LORD’S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.

14 And, behold, ye are risen up in your fathers’ stead, an increase of sinful men, to augment yet the fierce anger of the LORD toward Israel.

15 For if ye turn away from after him, he will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and ye shall destroy all this people.

They explain their views, Moses consents

16 And they came near unto him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones:

17 But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land.

18 We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance.

19 For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward.

20 And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,

21 And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him,

22 And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.

23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.

24 Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth.

25 And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spake unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth.

26 Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gilead:

27 But thy servants will pass over, every man armed for war, before the Lord to battle, as my lord saith.

They take possession of the land to the east of Jordan

28 So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel:

29 And Moses said unto them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over Jordan, every man armed to battle, before the LORD, and the land shall be subdued before you; then ye shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession:

30 But if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.

31 And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, As the LORD hath said unto thy servants, so will we do.

32 We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be our’s.

33 And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, with the cities thereof in the coasts, even the cities of the country round about.

34 And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer,

35 And Atroth, Shophan, and Jaazer, and Jogbehah,

36 And Bethnimrah, and Bethharan, fenced cities: and folds for sheep.

37 And the children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kirjathaim,

38 And Nebo, and Baalmeon, (their names being changed,) and Shibmah: and gave other names unto the cities which they builded.

39 And the children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead, and took it, and dispossessed the Amorite which was in it.

40 And Moses gave Gilead unto Machir the son of Manasseh; and he dwelt therein.

41 And Jair the son of Manasseh went and took the small towns thereof, and called them Havothjair.

42 And Nobah went and took Kenath, and the villages thereof, and called it Nobah, after his own name.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 3. Saban, and Nebo. These towns were afterwards retaken by the Moabites. Isai. xv. 2. 8. — Beon. Perhaps the same with Mehon, or Beth Baal Mehon. Jos. xiii. 17. C.

Ver. 5. Jordan. They are a figure of those who would possess heaven without labour. But none is crowned, except he strive lawfully. 2 Tim. ii. 5. W.

Ver. 7. Overturn. Heb. nua, “to discourage,” (H.) break, dissolve, &c. v. 9. M. — The same history is mentioned, (Deut. iii. 12. 18,) but without these reproaches. C.

Ver. 11. If, &c. They shall not see Chanaan. M. — In Scripture, odious things are not fully expressed, particularly in oaths. Ps. lxxxviii. 36. and cxxxi. 2. C. — Heb. “surely none…shall see…because they have not perfectly followed me.” Grot. H.

Ver. 12. Cenezite. His father was either called Cenez, or a part of the country of the Cenezites, being promised to Caleb at Cades-barne, he assumed his title. Jos. xiv. 6.

Ver. 13. Led, &c. Sept. “he rolled them over,” to denote their afflictions. H.

Ver. 15. Of all. Heb. “if, or because you will not follow after him. He will stop them in the desert, and you will destroy all the people.” Sept. “because you will turn away from him, to abandon him again in the desert, and you will sin against all this congregation.” God had decreed that all should go together to the conquest of the promised land; so that, if these children of Ruben and of Gad should refuse to comply, Moses was afraid that all might be ruined. Perceiving that his discourse turned on this subject, they approached with greater confidence, and shewed their readiness to fight for their brethren. Upon which Moses was satisfied. H.

Ver. 17. Cities, which in the space of two months they would repair sufficiently, so that their children might be protected against the Amorrhites, &c. They left strong garrisons, very prudently, to keep possession of the conquered country: 70,580 remained in the cities; while 40,000 went before their brethren. See C. xxvi. 7. 18. and Jos. iv. 13.

Ver. 19. Jordan. Heb. adds, “or forward,” any where, in case fresh conquests be made. C.

Ver. 20. Lord, or the ark, under the guidance and protection of God.

Ver. 21. Man, that may be required: Josue only took 40,000 for the vanguard. H.

Ver. 25. Ruben. No mention is made of those of the half tribe of Manasses. Perhaps they only joined the rest afterwards. C. v. 33. They occupied the northern parts. H. — The Heb. has here a solecism, “the sons of Gad he said;” to avoid which, Onkelos adds, the tribe, &c. Houbig.

Ver. 26. Galaad. Only a small part of the territory properly went by that name, v. 39. C.

Ver. 30. With you. Sept. “armed for war before the Lord; take by force their baggage, wives and cattle, before you, into Chanaan, and let them have shares with you in Chanaan.” H.

Ver. 34. Built, or repaired; for they had been cities of the Amorrhites before. — Aroer was occupied by the Moabites after the Israelites were led into captivity. Jerem. xlviii. 1. 19.

Ver. 35. Sophan. Some believe that this is the same city with Etroth, and that it took its name from Saphon, the son of Gad. C. xxvi. 15. — Jegbaa perhaps the Beon, v. 3. See Judg. viii. 11.

Ver. 36. Betharan, which Herod enlarged, and called Livias, south of Hesebon. C.

Ver. 38. Nabo. Probably the same as Nebo and Nobe. — Baalmeon. This city had a variety of names, v. 3. 35. Those who rebuilt these cities gave them their own names, v. 42. Heb. Targum of Jerus. Yet they were often known by their former appellations. C. — The rebuilders chiefly objected to the names of idols, Baal, &c. which were joined with these cities. M.

Ver. 40. In it, by means of his descendants. For Machir must have been above 250 years old, if he were still alive. Many children are attributed to Machir and his father, Manasses, who were not their immediate offspring. The latter had only Machir, who survived him; Ezriel was probably a grandson of Machir, as he is styled the son of Galaad. C. xxvi. 31. Jos. xvii. 2. See 1 Par. vii. Adoptive and legal children are often confounded with those who are really born of a person, as also those places which are inhabited by his posterity. C.

Ver. 41. Jair was born of Segub, the son of Esron, by a daughter of Machir, 1 Par. i. 21. He did not remain in the tribe of Juda, but dwelt in that of his mother, (C.) or perhaps he married a descendant of Machir, and obtained these villages. Seld. Suc. c. xviii. — Havoth, means “a circle of cabins or shepherds’ huts,” in Arabic. Bochart.

Ver. 42. Canath. This town is reckoned among those of Jair, (1 Par. ii. 23,) either because Nobe conquered it under his banners, or because it fell to the share of Jair, after the death of Nobe. C.