Reuben and Gad Settle in Gilead

Now the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad had very large herds of cattle, and they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead [on the east side of the Jordan River], and indeed, the place was suitable for raising livestock. So the sons of Gad and of Reuben came and spoke to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the leaders of the congregation, saying, “[The country around] Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, the land which the Lord conquered before the congregation of Israel, is a land [suitable] for livestock, and your servants have [very large herds of] livestock.” They 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 [River].”

But Moses said to the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here? Now why are you discouraging the hearts of the Israelites from crossing over into the land which the Lord has given them? This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land! For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the hearts of the Israelites so that they did not go into the land which the Lord had given them. 10 And the Lord’s anger was kindled on that day and He swore an oath, saying, 11 ‘None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not followed Me completely, 12 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed the Lord completely.’ 13 So the Lord’s anger was kindled against the sons of Israel (Jacob) 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 look, you [the tribes of Reuben and Gad] have risen up in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinful men, to add still more to the fierce anger of the Lord against Israel. 15 For if you turn back from following Him [completely], He will once again leave them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all these people.”

16 But the people of Reuben and Gad approached Moses and said, “We will build sheepfolds here for our flocks and [walled] cities for our children, 17 but we will be armed and ready to go to war before the [other tribes of the] Israelites, until we have brought them to their place, while our children 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 [other] sons of Israel has taken possession of his inheritance. 19 For we will not inherit with them on the west side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has come to us on this side of the Jordan [River] toward the east.”

20 Moses replied, “If you will do as you say, if you will arm yourselves before the Lord for war, 21 and every armed man of yours will cross the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven out His enemies before Him, 22 and the land [west of the Jordan] is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you shall return and be blameless [in this matter] before the Lord and before Israel, and this land [east of the Jordan] shall be yours as a possession before the Lord. 23 But if you do not do this, behold, you will have sinned against the Lord; and be sure that your sin will find you out. 24 Build yourselves cities for your children, and folds for your sheep, and do that of which you have spoken.”

25 Then the descendants of Gad and of Reuben said to Moses, “Your servants will do just as my lord commands. 26 Our children, our wives, our livestock, and all our cattle shall be there in the cities of Gilead. 27 But your servants will cross over, every man armed for war, before the Lord to the battle, just as my lord says.”

28 So Moses gave the command concerning them to Eleazar the priest, and to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the leaders of the fathers’ households of the tribes of the Israelites. 29 Moses said to them, “If the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben will cross over the Jordan with you, every man armed for battle before the Lord, and the land is subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead [east of the Jordan River] as a possession; 30 but if they will not cross over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan [and surrender their right to their land east of the Jordan River].” 31 The sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben answered, “As the Lord has said to your servants, so will we do. 32 We will cross over armed before the Lord into the land of Canaan, so that the possession of our inheritance on [the east] side of the Jordan may be ours.”

33 So Moses gave to them, to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Reuben and to the half-tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon, the king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og, the king of Bashan, the land with its cities and territories, the cities of the surrounding land. 34 The sons of Gad built Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth-nimrah, and Beth-haran, fortified (walled) cities, and sheepfolds for sheep. 37 The sons of Reuben built Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, and Baal-meon (their names being changed) and Sibmah; and they gave other names to the cities which they built. 39 The sons of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and took it, and drove out the Amorites who were in it. 40 So Moses gave Gilead to [the tribe of] Machir the son of Manasseh, and they settled in it. 41 [The sons of] Jair the son of Manasseh went and took its towns (tent villages) and called them Havvoth-jair. 42 Nobah went and took Kenath and its villages, and called it Nobah after his own name.