Division of the Land East of the Jordan

Wendy Blight

Day: 3 | Plan: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading: Deuteronomy 3

Deuteronomy 3:18 (NIV) “I commanded you at that time: ‘The LORD your God has given you this land to take possession of it. But all your able-bodied men, armed for battle, must cross over ahead of the other Israelites.’”

Has someone you loved and respected ever questioned your motives, especially when you were doing the right thing? Some of the Israelites found themselves in this dilemma with Moses.

In Deuteronomy 3, Moses addresses and reviews land settlement east of the Jordan River. While most of the Israelites would settle west of the Jordan River, the Reubenites, Gadites and half of the tribe of Manasseh asked to settle east of it (the Transjordan region).

The Reubenites and Gadites were descendants of Jacob’s eldest sons, Reuben and Gad, by Leah (wife) and Zilpah (concubine). The tribe of Manasseh descended from Jacob’s favored son, Joseph. Jacob adopted Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which is why they are named among the 12 tribes of Israel. (Genesis 48:5-6)

These Transjordan tribes owned very large herds and flocks. They requested permission to settle in the Transjordan region due to the topography of the land. That area, filled with plains and plateaus, was perfectly suited for raising livestock. (Numbers 32:1-2)

Initially their request angered Moses. Not because it was sinful (it was well within the boundaries God promised), but because Moses interpreted it as an abandonment of the other tribes and a refusal to fight with them for Canaan, the remainder of the Promised Land. The tribal leaders assured him that was not the case. They committed to arm themselves and lead the other tribes into battle to fight for their land. (Numbers 32:16-19) This pleased Moses, and he granted their land request.

Moses now reminds the Transjordan tribes of their promise to not only fight but also lead the charge. This pledge was significant because it tested not only their love for the other tribes but also their loyalty. They had secured the Transjordan. The battle for their allotment was over. The scene was set for them to live safe and secure from their enemies in the land God had promised them. Yet, they had committed to fight “until the LORD gives rest to your fellow Israelites as he has to you ….” (Deuteronomy 3:20). Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 3:18 reminded them that rest had not been secured for the other tribes. And none of the tribes could rest until all could rest.

So these men honored their word and left behind their wives, children and livelihoods for an undetermined amount of time to ensure their fellow Israelites also attained God’s promised rest. And they left fully confident in God’s provision for their families, because their recent conquest of Sihon and Og provided them with abundant livestock to support their families for as long as they were gone. (Deuteronomy 3:1-11)

We find tucked in this story a beautiful lesson on obedience. These tribes honored their word and their fellow tribes. They fought to the end to ensure the other tribes conquered their enemies and took over the land that was rightfully theirs. When we are faithful to carry through with our promises—when we walk in obedience to God’s Word and His promises—He is faithful to provide.

Prayer: Father, thank You for going before us. You make a way when it seems like there is no way. When we walk in obedience to Your plan and not ours, You bless us and will do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ever ask or imagine. I come before You today with a heart of thanksgiving and praise. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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