1 Now the tribes of Reuben and Gad owned vast numbers of livestock. So when they saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were ideally suited for their flocks and herds,
2 they came to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the other leaders of the people. They said,
3 "Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon--
4 the LORD has conquered this whole area for the people of Israel. It is ideally suited for all our flocks and herds.
5 If we have found favor with you, please let us have this land as our property instead of giving us land across the Jordan River."
6 "Do you mean you want to stay back here while your brothers go across and do all the fighting?" Moses asked the Reubenites and Gadites.
7 "Are you trying to discourage the rest of the people of Israel from going across to the land the LORD has given them?
8 This is what your ancestors did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land.
9 After they went up to the valley of Eshcol and scouted the land, they discouraged the people of Israel from entering the land the LORD was giving them.
10 Then the LORD was furious with them, and he vowed,
11 `Of all those I rescued from Egypt, no one who is twenty years old or older will ever see the land I solemnly promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for they have not obeyed me completely.
12 The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they have wholeheartedly followed the LORD.'
13 "The LORD was furious with Israel and made them wander in the wilderness for forty years until the whole generation that sinned against him had died.
14 But here you are, a brood of sinners, doing exactly the same thing! You are making the LORD even angrier with Israel.
15 If you turn away from him like this and he abandons them again in the wilderness, you will be responsible for destroying this entire nation!"
16 But they responded to Moses, "We simply want to build sheepfolds for our flocks and fortified cities for our wives and children.
17 Then we will arm ourselves and lead our fellow Israelites into battle until we have brought them safely to their inheritance. Meanwhile, our families will stay in the fortified cities we build here, so they will be safe from any attacks by the local people.
18 We will not return to our homes until all the people of Israel have received their inheritance of land.
19 But we do not want any of the land on the other side of the Jordan. We would rather live here on the east side where we have received our inheritance."
20 Then Moses said, "If you keep your word and arm yourselves for the LORD's battles,
21 and if your troops cross the Jordan until the LORD has driven out his enemies,
22 then you may return when the land is finally subdued before the LORD. You will have discharged your duty to the LORD and to the rest of the people of Israel. And the land on the east side of the Jordan will be your inheritance from the LORD.
23 But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the LORD, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.
24 Go ahead and build towns for your families and sheepfolds for your flocks, but do everything you have said."
25 Then the people of Gad and Reuben replied, "We are your servants and will follow your instructions exactly.
26 Our children, wives, flocks, and cattle will stay here in the towns of Gilead.
27 But, sir, all who are able to bear arms will cross over to fight for the LORD, just as you have said."
28 So Moses gave orders to Eleazar, Joshua, and the tribal leaders of Israel.
29 He said, "If all the men of Gad and Reuben who are able to fight the LORD's battles cross the Jordan with you, then when the land is conquered, you must give them the land of Gilead as their property.
30 But if they refuse to cross over and march ahead of you, then they must accept land with the rest of you in the land of Canaan."