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Inheritance of Reuben and Gad

Published on:

18 May 2023

Please read this Bible Passage Numbers 32:1-42

In the passage we just read, we can see that the request of the Tribes of Reuben and Gad points out to us that self-centeredness did not begin with this age. It has been the problem of humanity in all generations. Self-centeredness arose out of the fall of man at the beginning. At times we know the will of God for our lives, but we still go after what we want. Thereby we put our self-centered and narrow-minded desires above the blessed will and purposes of God concerning our lives. We remember that God covenanted with Abraham to give the land to his off-spring. God appointed Moses to lead Israelites to the Promised Land. They ought to have followed the appointed leadership of God to the land of Canaan, possessed before they demand for their portion of the inheritance. We shall analyze the implications of the request, the reaction of Moses the servant of God and also the way they finally resolved the issue.


These two tribes were motivated because of what they saw. They saw a well-watered land for rearing cattle and they pressed for their inheritance. They saw abundance of wealth. Unlike present day age, a large bank account is what we called wealth. In their own time, a lot of cattle, a well-watered environment and abundant of grazing field for the animals was their gold-mine. They chose to walk by sight instead of walking by faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

The Reubenites and Gadites, by their request, altered the God’s prescribed formula for sharing their inheritance which was to be by casting a lot. (Numbers 26:52-55)

They did not put their brethren into consideration in their request. They did not consider the effect that their decision and request would have on the whole congregation. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Philippians 2:4)

They discarded the corporate goal in order to pursue their selfish goal. In the forty-year journey in the wilderness, they did not focus on God’s purposeful goal. Their eyes were on what they could gain from the congregation. They are like a people that come to church because of what the church can do for them and never think about what they can do for the church.

By selfishness, they chose a location and by their choice, they alienated themselves from the primary goal of worshiping. By choosing to dwell on the other side of Jordan, they  distant themselves from the tabernacle of God that was established in the Promised Land.

This decision was the first division of the nation of Israel and it was caused by the lust of the eyes. Recount what motivated Lot to choose Sodom and Gomorrah. Think about the ultimate consequence of Lot’s narrow-minded choice.


As expected, Moses reacted with holy indignation. Verses 6-7 He really felt bad. It was like Gad and Reuben had pulled the carpet out from under the leadership of Moses. The laudable purpose of his ministry to God was about to fail.

  • He rebuked the two tribes for their selfishness and lack of brotherly consideration.
  • He pointed out to them that their attitude constituted to rebellion in that they chose their inheritance before they possess the Land of Promise. Even worse, they made a choice that was not in line with the time table made through Moses and acted outside the approval of his leadership.
  • He let them understand that their action was tantamount to discouragement to the rest of the tribe making them to feel reluctant to cross over the Jordan to possess their inheritance.
  • He was disappointed by their betrayal in that, the armed soldiers of Reuben and Gad and half of Manasseh that joined them was 110580. If these soldiers pulled out, the population of the army will become depleted and this could spell doom for them in the land of Canaan. However, In Joshua 4:12-13 “The armed warriors from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh led the Israelites across the Jordan, just as Moses had directed. These armed men—about 40,000 strong—were ready for battle, and the Lord was with them as they crossed over to the plains of Jericho”
  • He let them understand that their selfish attitude can trigger off unhealthy competition and rivalry among the rest of the tribe which could trigger off a tribal war between them.


In humility, the leaders of the two tribes approached Moses and made peace with him. They promised to make the armed men available to fight along with the other tribes in the land of promise so that others can possess their inheritance. They also promised that they will not partake in the inheritance of the rest of the tribes on the other side. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.” (Proverbs 25:15)

The humble approach of the two tribes turned off the anger of Moses. But he made them to understand that if they failed to uphold integrity of their decision to cross over Jordan to fight with their brethren so that they too can possess their land, it means they sinned against God.

Number 32:20-23

Symbolically, the Promised Land represented Heaven. There can be pain and pangs on the way. It is expected that we focus on the journey and never look back until we get there. If we can recount the miracle of crossing River Jordan under the leadership of Joshua, it will be very sad if the warriors in the tribes of Ruben and Gad and half of Manasseh could deny their spouses and children the divine encounter of crossing the River Jordan to the Promised Land. Think of the memorial stones laid in the middle of River Jordan; think of the memorial stones stacked upon each other in Gilgal when they got to the Promised Land. These stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel.

Symbolically, the two tribes acted like a man or a woman that struggled all throughout their lives along the narrow road and do everything within their power to reach the open gates of heaven. Yet they could not go in because at the last second the thick veil of lust for wealth covered their spiritual eyes, and they were weighed down and entangled by worldliness. Their hope of eternity became dashed!

  • They experienced the beginning of the provision manna for them in the wilderness, but they did not know when it was ceased in Gilgal on the other side in the Promised Land
  • They missed the circumcision that God commanded Israelites to do when they settled down in Gilgal. They also missed the pronouncement of blessing that God made upon them when He said, “Today the reproaches of Egyptians is rolled away from you.”
  • They did not see the wall of Jericho tumbling down in a miraculous victory for the children of God.
  • They did not witness the great miracle when Joshua said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:12-14).
  • They did not cross over and therefore they could not rejoice victoriously with other Israelites when Joshua defeated the 31 kingdoms of the Canaanites.
  • Even the warriors that crossed over Jordan to the Promised Land to fight with other Israelites, after they conquered the Canaanites, they crossed the Jordan again to join with their family at the other side of the Promised Land. It’s like someone that had tasted the sweetness of the Lord, and drew back like Demas. These selfish tribes never felt the impact of the spiritual blessing of the temple of God in the Promised Land, because they took themselves out of the equation of the blessing of God, out of the center of the great and mighty things that happened to the Israelites in the Promised Land.

Last word brethren, there are two places for the child of God to live today: You can live in the wilderness of this world and settle as a spiritual pauper. On the other hand, you can enter into the joy of spiritual blessing represented by the Land of Promise when you choose to go an extra mile with Christ to lead you to your inheritance. Joseph went an extra mile in the dungeon of Potiphar before the mercy of God located him and led him to His Promised Land as the Prime Minister in Egypt. Daniel and his colleagues went an extra mile in the Lord when they refused to defile themselves with the meat of the idolatry king in Babylon. God honored their upright minds and blessed them.

Prayer: O Lord, You have presented us a choice today and You, only, O Lord can help us. We do not want to settle for less. We want to possess our inheritance in full. We have made up our mind not draw back so that we wont be entangled in the worldliness of the world. We plead for your grace and help that you may lead us to our Promised Land, in Jesus name, Amen.


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