1998The children of Israel are preparing for the big day. They are about to begin their conquest of the Holy Land. Here they are ready to begin that which they have been destined to do and the sons of the tribes of Re'uven and Gad decide that they can have a better life on the land that precedes their conquest of Israel. Moshe masterfully negotiates with them and then publicly announces his agreement with them to the whole of Israel. There is much to learn from the way Moshe handles this situation. Please read Numbers Chapter 32 carefully.
Bringing the Best Out of Your Community
Tanach - Numbers Chapter 32
1 Now many livestock had the Sons of Re'uven and the Sons of Gad, an exceedingly mighty (amount); and they saw the land of Ya'zer in the land of Gil'ad: here, the place was a place (fit) for livestock.
2 So the Sons of Re'uven and the Sons of Gad came and said to Moshe, to El'azar the priest and to the leaders of the community, saying:
3 Atarot and Divon, Ya'zer and Nimra, Heshbon and El'aleh, Sevam, Nevo and Be'on,
4 the land that YHWH has struck before the community of Israel-- it is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.
5 And they said: If we have found favor in your eyes, let this land be given to your servants as a holding; do not make us cross the Jordan!
6 Moshe said to the Sons of Gad and to the Sons of Re'uven: Should your brothers go out to war, and you, you stay here?
7 Why would you constrain the will of the Children of Israel from crossing into the land that YHWH has given them?
8 Thus did your fathers, when I sent them out of Kadesh Barne'a to see the land:
9 they went up as far as Wadi Eshkol and saw the land, then they constrained the will of the Children of Israel so they did not come into the land that YHWH had given them.
10 And the anger of YHWH flared up on that day, and he swore, saying:
11 If they should see, the men who went up from Egypt, --from the age of twenty and upward-- the soil about which I swore to Avraham, to Yitzhak and to Yaakov?! For they did not follow-fully after me,
12 excepting Calev son of Yefunne, the Kenizzite, and Yehoshua son of Nun, for they followed-fully after YHWH.
13 And the anger of YHWH flared up against Israel, and he had them wander in the wilderness, for forty years, until it came-to-an-end, that whole generation that was doing what was ill in the eyes of YHWH.
14 Now here, you have arisen in place of your fathers, a brood of sinning men, to add further to the flaming anger of YHWH against Israel.
15 If you turn away from him, he will add further to leave them in the wilderness, and you will bring-ruin-upon this whole people!
16 They came close to him and said: Sheep fences we will build, for our livestock here, and towns for our little-ones;
17 and as for us, we shall be drafted hastily before the Children of Israel, until we have brought them to their region. But our little-ones will stay in towns fortified against the inhabitants of the land.
18 We will not return to our houses until the Children of Israel have inherited each-man his inheritance.
19 For we will not take-inheritance with them across the Jordan and further (on), for our inheritance has become ours across the Jordan, toward sunrise.
20 Moshe said to them: If you do this thing, if you are drafted before YHWH for war,
21 and you cross the Jordan, every hand-picked man, before YHWH, until he has dispossessed his enemies from before him,
22 and the land is subdued before YHWH, afterward you may return,and (then) you will be clear (of obligation) before YHWH and before Israel; this land will be for you as a holding before YHWH.
23 But if you do not do thus: here: you will have sinned against YHWH, and know your sin--that (it) will overtake you!
24 Build yourselves towns for your little-ones and fences for your flocks, and what has gone out of your mouths, do!
25 Then said the Sons of Gad and the Sons of Re'uven to Moshe, saying: Your servants will do as my lord commands:
26 our little-ones, our wives, our livestock and all our animals will stay there in the towns of Gil'ad;
27 your servants will cross over, every drafted (member) of the armed-forces, before YHWH, in war, as my lord has spoken.
28 So Moshe commanded El'azar the priest concerning them and Yehoshua son of Nun and the heads of the Fathers of the tribes of the Children of Israel,
29 and Moshe said to them: If the Sons of Gad and the Sons of Re'uven cross over the Jordan with you, everyone drafted for war, before YHWH, and the land is subdued before you, you may give them the land of Gil'ad as an inheritance.
30 But if the drafted (warriors) do not cross over with you, they will receive-holdings with you in the land of Canaan.
31 The Sons of Gad and the Sons of Re'uven answered, saying: What YHWH has spoken to your servants, thus will we do:
32 we ourselves will cross over, as drafted men, before YHWH, into the land of Canaan, (remaining) with us (will be) our inherited holding, across the Jordan.
Your Torah Navigator
1. How does Moshe respond to their proposition at first?
2. What is Moshe' counter proposal?
3. After the two tribes agree to Moshe' proposal, how does Moshe rephrase that proposal to Joshua?
4. Is it different than Moshe original proposal?
5. Does Moshe ever give them the option of leaving the community? Why not?