SHARES IN THE VENTURE

The Lord gave Moses instructions to divide the spoils of war: 

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of beast, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the congregation:  And divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation:  And levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep:  Take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the LORD.  And of the children of Israel’s half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.  And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.  Num 31:25-31 (KJV) 

The fighting men got the same portion as everyone else, plus a share of the other half of the spoil.  Their combat pay was a good profit.  There is a portion of both halves given to the Levites, assessed more heavily on the general population again.  There was plenty to go around.  This is the breakdown: 

And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep,  And threescore and twelve thousand beeves,  And threescore and one thousand asses,  And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.  And the half, which was the portion of them that went out to war, was in number three hundred thousand and seven and thirty thousand and five hundred sheep:  And the LORD’S tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen.  And the beeves were thirty and six thousand; of which the LORD’S tribute was threescore and twelve.  And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred; of which the LORD’S tribute was threescore and one.  And the persons were sixteen thousand; of which the LORD’S tribute was thirty and two persons.  And Moses gave the tribute, which was the LORD’S heave offering, unto Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses.  And of the children of Israel’s half, which Moses divided from the men that warred,  (Now the half that pertained unto the congregation was three hundred thousand and thirty thousand and seven thousand and five hundred sheep,  And thirty and six thousand beeves,  And thirty thousand asses and five hundred,  And sixteen thousand persons;)  Even of the children of Israel’s half, Moses took one portion of fifty, both of man and of beast, and gave them unto the Levites, which kept the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.  Num 31:32-47 (KJV)

These warriors noted than none were killed in battle, and offered an additional offering in gratitude to God. 

And the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses:  And they said unto Moses, Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us.  We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD.  And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of them, even all wrought jewels.  And all the gold of the offering that they offered up to the LORD, of the captains of thousands, and of the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels.  (For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.)  And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of the congregation, for a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD.  Num 31:48-54 (KJV) 

Some of the clans noticed the wealth of the conquered land, and considered it well suited to their normal farming skills.  They expressed interest in the land on this near side of the Jordan River to Moses. 

Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle;  The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying,  Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon,  Even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle:  Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.  Num 32:1-5 (KJV) 

It may have seemed a reasonable request, but they did not mention joining the battle ahead on the other side of the Jordan River. 

And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?  And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?  Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadeshbarnea to see the land.  For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them.  Num 32:6-9 (KJV) 

The witness of the spies was brought up again as Moses questioned their courage to cross into battle with their brethren.   

And the LORD’S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying,  Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:  Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.  And the LORD’S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.  And, behold, ye are risen up in your fathers’ stead, an increase of sinful men, to augment yet the fierce anger of the LORD toward Israel.  For if ye turn away from after him, he will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and ye shall destroy all this people.  Num 32:10-15 (KJV) 

This passage is a little unclear if Moses or the Lord is speaking, but God’s anger is clear here.  It would seem that God did detect a little reluctance in the hearts of these tribes to enter the battle ahead.  It was not just a suspicion among the other tribes or Moses. 

And they came near unto him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones:  But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land.  We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance.  For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward.  Num 32:16-19 (KJV)

If they were guilty, they were at least wise enough to repent and do the right thing.  They recognized the mercy of god that we have in Christ today.  We should be willing to listen to the slightest suggestion of God’s will, and repent if needed.  How often do we become stubborn like Balaam and become more foolish than his ass?  They find grace in this offer. 

And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,  And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him,  And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.  But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.  Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth.  And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spake unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth.  Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gilead:  But thy servants will pass over, every man armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord saith.  Num 32:20-27 (KJV) 

So this arrangement is accepted and agreed on.  But the warning is clear, and Israel will not give this land to them unless they join the battle on the other side of the Jordan.  They have to go ahead into this new land and it’s battles with their brethren.   

So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel:  And Moses said unto them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over Jordan, every man armed to battle, before the LORD, and the land shall be subdued before you; then ye shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession:  But if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.  Num 32:28-30 (KJV) 

So Rueben and Gad built their cities for their families.  Sons of Manasseh also took and built cities on this side.   

And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, As the LORD hath said unto thy servants, so will we do.  We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be ours.  And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, with the cities thereof in the coasts, even the cities of the country round about.  And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer,  And Atroth, Shophan, and Jaazer, and Jogbehah,  And Bethnimrah, and Bethharan, fenced cities: and folds for sheep.  And the children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kirjathaim,  And Nebo, and Baalmeon, (their names being changed,) and Shibmah: and gave other names unto the cities which they builded.  And the children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead, and took it, and dispossessed the Amorite which was in it.  And Moses gave Gilead unto Machir the son of Manasseh; and he dwelt therein.  And Jair the son of Manasseh went and took the small towns thereof, and called them Havothjair.  And Nobah went and took Kenath, and the villages thereof, and called it Nobah, after his own name.  Num 32:31-42 (KJV)

Israel was now ready to cross the river Jordan.  The Promised Land awaits them.

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