Numbers 32: 1Now the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad had an exceedingly large number of livestock. So when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that it was indeed a place suitable for livestock, 2the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben came and spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the congregation, saying, 3“Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon, 4the land which the LORD conquered before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” 5They said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan.”
6But Moses said to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here? 7“Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the LORD has given them?
Sometimes things may look good to us, but do not really line up with God’s plan. Here, a very good choice for a new homeland appears to the sons of Gad and Reuben, but it is not where the Lord wants His people to go. In this case, perhaps the Lord wanted all the Israelites to go in to the Promised Land together, to give them strength in numbers. Perhaps there was even better land for their livestock across the river. One of the most quoted verses in the Book of Proverbs tells us “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Indeed, this very story from Mosaic times may have been in Solomon’s thoughts as he put down the verse in Proverbs.
The Slaughter of Midian
1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Take full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites; afterward you will be gathered to your people.” 3Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD’S vengeance on Midian. 4“A thousand from each tribe of all the tribes of Israel you shall send to the war.” 5So there were furnished from the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. 6Moses sent them, a thousand from each tribe, to the war, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war with them, and the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand. 7So they made war against Midian, just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed every male. 8They killed the kings of Midian along with the rest of their slain: Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the five kings of Midian; they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword. 9The sons of Israel captured the women of Midian and their little ones; and all their cattle and all their flocks and all their goods they plundered. 10Then they burned all their cities where they lived and all their camps with fire. 11They took all the spoil and all the prey, both of man and of beast. 12They brought the captives and the prey and the spoil to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest and to the congregation of the sons of Israel, to the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by the Jordan opposite Jericho.
13Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the congregation went out to meet them outside the camp. 14Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15And Moses said to them, “Have you spared all the women? 16“Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD. 17“Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. 18“But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. 19“And you, camp outside the camp seven days; whoever has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves, you and your captives, on the third day and on the seventh day. 20“You shall purify for yourselves every garment and every article of leather and all the work of goats’ hair, and all articles of wood.”
21Then Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who had gone to battle, “This is the statute of the law which the LORD has commanded Moses: 22only the gold and the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin and the lead, 23everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean, but it shall be purified with water for impurity. But whatever cannot stand the fire you shall pass through the water. 24“And you shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and be clean, and afterward you may enter the camp.”
Division of the Booty
25Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 26“You and Eleazar the priest and the heads of the fathers’ households of the congregation take a count of the booty that was captured, both of man and of animal; 27and divide the booty between the warriors who went out to battle and all the congregation. 28“Levy a tax for the LORD from the men of war who went out to battle, one in five hundred of the persons and of the cattle and of the donkeys and of the sheep; 29take it from their half and give it to Eleazar the priest, as an offering to the LORD. 30“From the sons of Israel’s half, you shall take one drawn out of every fifty of the persons, of the cattle, of the donkeys and of the sheep, from all the animals, and give them to the Levites who keep charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.” 31Moses and Eleazar the priest did just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
32Now the booty that remained from the spoil which the men of war had plundered was 675,000 sheep, 33and 72,000 cattle, 34and 61,000 donkeys, 35and of human beings, of the women who had not known man intimately, all the persons were 32,000.
36The half, the portion of those who went out to war, was as follows: the number of sheep was 337,500, 37and the LORD’S levy of the sheep was 675; 38and the cattle were 36,000, from which the LORD’S levy was 72; 39and the donkeys were 30,500, from which the LORD’S levy was 61; 40and the human beings were 16,000, from whom the LORD’S levy was 32 persons. 41Moses gave the levy which was the LORD’S offering to Eleazar the priest, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
42As for the sons of Israel’s half, which Moses separated from the men who had gone to war— 43now the congregation’s half was 337,500 sheep, 44and 36,000 cattle, 45and 30,500 donkeys, 46and the human beings were 16,000— 47and from the sons of Israel’s half, Moses took one drawn out of every fifty, both of man and of animals, and gave them to the Levites, who kept charge of the tabernacle of the LORD, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
48Then the officers who were over the thousands of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, approached Moses, 49and they said to Moses, “Your servants have taken a census of men of war who are in our charge, and no man of us is missing. 50“So we have brought as an offering to the LORD what each man found, articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces, to make atonement for ourselves before the LORD.” 51Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from them, all kinds of wrought articles. 52All the gold of the offering which they offered up to the LORD, from the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, was 16,750 shekels. 53The men of war had taken booty, every man for himself. 54So Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it to the tent of meeting as a memorial for the sons of Israel before the LORD.
Reuben and Gad Settle in Gilead
1Now the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad had an exceedingly large number of livestock. So when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that it was indeed a place suitable for livestock, 2the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben came and spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the congregation, saying, 3“Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon, 4the land which the LORD conquered before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” 5They said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan.”
6But Moses said to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here? 7“Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the LORD has given them? 8“This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9“For when they went up to the valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the sons of Israel so that they did not go into the land which the LORD had given them. 10“So the LORD’S anger burned in that day, and He swore, saying, 11‘None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; for they did not follow Me fully, 12except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed the LORD fully.’ 13“So the LORD’S anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the LORD was destroyed. 14“Now behold, you have risen up in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinful men, to add still more to the burning anger of the LORD against Israel. 15“For if you turn away from following Him, He will once more abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all these people.”
16Then they came near to him and said, “We will build here sheepfolds for our livestock and cities for our little ones; 17but we ourselves will be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, while our little ones live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. 18“We will not return to our homes until every one of the sons of Israel has possessed his inheritance. 19“For we will not have an inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has fallen to us on this side of the Jordan toward the east.”
20So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will arm yourselves before the LORD for the war, 21and all of you armed men cross over the Jordan before the LORD until He has driven His enemies out from before Him, 22and the land is subdued before the LORD, then afterward you shall return and be free of obligation toward the LORD and toward Israel, and this land shall be yours for a possession before the LORD. 23“But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out. 24“Build yourselves cities for your little ones, and sheepfolds for your sheep, and do what you have promised.”
25The sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben spoke to Moses, saying, “Your servants will do just as my lord commands. 26“Our little ones, our wives, our livestock and all our cattle shall remain there in the cities of Gilead; 27while your servants, everyone who is armed for war, will cross over in the presence of the LORD to battle, just as my lord says.”
28So Moses gave command concerning them to Eleazar the priest, and to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers’ households of the tribes of the sons of Israel. 29Moses said to them, “If the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben, everyone who is armed for battle, will cross with you over the Jordan in the presence of the LORD, and the land is subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession; 30but if they will not cross over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.” 31The sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben answered, saying, “As the LORD has said to your servants, so we will do. 32“We ourselves will cross over armed in the presence of the LORD into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us across the Jordan.”
33So Moses gave to them, to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Reuben and to the half-tribe of Joseph’s son Manasseh, the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og, the king of Bashan, the land with its cities with their territories, the cities of the surrounding land. 34The sons of Gad built Dibon and Ataroth and Aroer, 35and Atroth-shophan and Jazer and Jogbehah, 36and Beth-nimrah and Beth-haran as fortified cities, and sheepfolds for sheep. 37The sons of Reuben built Heshbon and Elealeh and Kiriathaim, 38and Nebo and Baal-meon—their names being changed—and Sibmah, and they gave other names to the cities which they built. 39The sons of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and took it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were in it. 40So Moses gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh, and he lived in it. 41Jair the son of Manasseh went and took its towns, and called them Havvoth-jair. 42Nobah went and took Kenath and its villages, and called it Nobah after his own name.
Review of the Journey from Egypt to Jordan
1These are the journeys of the sons of Israel, by which they came out from the land of Egypt by their armies, under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. 2Moses recorded their starting places according to their journeys by the command of the LORD, and these are their journeys according to their starting places. 3They journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the next day after the Passover the sons of Israel started out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, 4while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn whom the LORD had struck down among them. The LORD had also executed judgments on their gods.
5Then the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses and camped in Succoth. 6They journeyed from Succoth and camped in Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness. 7They journeyed from Etham and turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zephon, and they camped before Migdol. 8They journeyed from before Hahiroth and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness; and they went three days’ journey in the wilderness of Etham and camped at Marah. 9They journeyed from Marah and came to Elim; and in Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there. 10They journeyed from Elim and camped by the Red Sea. 11They journeyed from the Red Sea and camped in the wilderness of Sin. 12They journeyed from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah. 13They journeyed from Dophkah and camped at Alush. 14They journeyed from Alush and camped at Rephidim; now it was there that the people had no water to drink. 15They journeyed from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. 16They journeyed from the wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah.
17They journeyed from Kibroth-hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth. 18They journeyed from Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah. 19They journeyed from Rithmah and camped at Rimmon-perez. 20They journeyed from Rimmon-perez and camped at Libnah. 21They journeyed from Libnah and camped at Rissah. 22They journeyed from Rissah and camped in Kehelathah. 23They journeyed from Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher. 24They journeyed from Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah. 25They journeyed from Haradah and camped at Makheloth. 26They journeyed from Makheloth and camped at Tahath. 27They journeyed from Tahath and camped at Terah. 28They journeyed from Terah and camped at Mithkah. 29They journeyed from Mithkah and camped at Hashmonah. 30They journeyed from Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth. 31They journeyed from Moseroth and camped at Bene-jaakan. 32They journeyed from Bene-jaakan and camped at Hor-haggidgad. 33They journeyed from Hor-haggidgad and camped at Jotbathah. 34They journeyed from Jotbathah and camped at Abronah. 35They journeyed from Abronah and camped at Ezion-geber. 36They journeyed from Ezion-geber and camped in the wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh. 37They journeyed from Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, at the edge of the land of Edom.
38Then Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the command of the LORD, and died there in the fortieth year after the sons of Israel had come from the land of Egypt, on the first day in the fifth month. 39Aaron was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.
40Now the Canaanite, the king of Arad who lived in the Negev in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the sons of Israel.
41Then they journeyed from Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah. 42They journeyed from Zalmonah and camped at Punon. 43They journeyed from Punon and camped at Oboth. 44They journeyed from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, at the border of Moab. 45They journeyed from Iyim and camped at Dibon-gad. 46They journeyed from Dibon-gad and camped at Almon-diblathaim. 47They journeyed from Almon-diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo. 48They journeyed from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho. 49They camped by the Jordan, from Beth-jeshimoth as far as Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab.
Law of Possessing the Land
50Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho, saying, 51“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places; 53and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. 54‘You shall inherit the land by lot according to your families; to the larger you shall give more inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give less inheritance. Wherever the lot falls to anyone, that shall be his. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. 55‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live. 56‘And as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you.’”
Security of Those Who Trust in the Lord, and Insecurity of the Wicked.
A Psalm of David.
1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
2 For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
9 For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.
10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.