The Tribes East of the Jordan
1The tribes of Reuben and Gad owned vast numbers of livestock. So when they saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were ideally suited for their flocks and herds, 2they came to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the other leaders of the community. They said, 3“Notice the towns of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sibmah, Nebo, and Beon. 4The Lord has conquered this whole area for the community of Israel, and it is ideally suited for all our livestock. 5If we have found favor with you, please let us have this land as our property instead of giving us land across the Jordan River.”
6“Do you intend to stay here while your brothers go across and do all the fighting?” Moses asked the men of Gad and Reuben. 7“Why do you want to discourage the rest of the people of Israel from going across to the land the Lord has given them? 8Your ancestors did the same thing when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land. 9After they went up to the valley of Eshcol and explored the land, they discouraged the people of Israel from entering the land the Lord was giving them. 10Then the Lord was very angry with them, and he vowed, 11‘Of all those I rescued from Egypt, no one who is twenty years old or older will ever see the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for they have not obeyed me wholeheartedly. 12The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they have wholeheartedly followed the Lord.’
13“The Lord was angry with Israel and made them wander in the wilderness for forty years until the entire generation that sinned in the Lord’s sight had died. 14But here you are, a brood of sinners, doing exactly the same thing! You are making the Lord even angrier with Israel. 15If you turn away from him like this and he abandons them again in the wilderness, you will be responsible for destroying this entire nation!”
16But they approached Moses and said, “We simply want to build pens for our livestock and fortified towns for our wives and children. 17Then we will arm ourselves and lead our fellow Israelites into battle until we have brought them safely to their land. Meanwhile, our families will stay in the fortified towns we build here, so they will be safe from any attacks by the local people. 18We will not return to our homes until all the people of Israel have received their portions of land. 19But we do not claim any of the land on the other side of the Jordan. We would rather live here on the east side and accept this as our grant of land.”
20Then Moses said, “If you keep your word and arm yourselves for the Lord’s battles, 21and if your troops cross the Jordan and keep fighting until the Lord has driven out his enemies, 22then you may return when the Lord has conquered the land. You will have fulfilled your duty to the Lord and to the rest of the people of Israel. And the land on the east side of the Jordan will be your property from the Lord. 23But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. 24Go ahead and build towns for your families and pens for your flocks, but do everything you have promised.”
25Then the men of Gad and Reuben replied, “We, your servants, will follow your instructions exactly. 26Our children, wives, flocks, and cattle will stay here in the towns of Gilead. 27But all who are able to bear arms will cross over to fight for the Lord, just as you have said.”
28So Moses gave orders to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders of the clans of Israel. 29He said, “The men of Gad and Reuben who are armed for battle must cross the Jordan with you to fight for the Lord. If they do, give them the land of Gilead as their property when the land is conquered. 30But if they refuse to arm themselves and cross over with you, then they must accept land with the rest of you in the land of Canaan.”
31The tribes of Gad and Reuben said again, “We are your servants, and we will do as the Lord has commanded! 32We will cross the Jordan into Canaan fully armed to fight for the Lord, but our property will be here on this side of the Jordan.”
33So Moses assigned land to the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph. He gave them the territory of King Sihon of the Amorites and the land of King Og of Bashan—the whole land with its cities and surrounding lands.
34The descendants of Gad built the towns of Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36Beth-nimrah, and Beth-haran. These were all fortified towns with pens for their flocks.
37The descendants of Reuben built the towns of Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38Nebo, Baal-meon, and Sibmah. They changed the names of some of the towns they conquered and rebuilt.
39Then the descendants of Makir of the tribe of Manasseh went to Gilead and conquered it, and they drove out the Amorites living there. 40So Moses gave Gilead to the Makirites, descendants of Manasseh, and they settled there. 41The people of Jair, another clan of the tribe of Manasseh, captured many of the towns in Gilead and changed the name of that region to the Towns of Jair. 42Meanwhile, a man named Nobah captured the town of Kenath and its surrounding villages, and he renamed that area Nobah after himself.