That’s Not At All What We Meant!By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
At this point, the Jews had not yet crossed the Jordan River, so they had not yet entered the Promised Land. But they had conquered the land of the Midianites and it was theirs to do with as they pleased. The Tribes of Reuben and Gad thought the land was especially good for their flocks, so they approached Moshe with a request.
“This place is really good for us,” they said. “How about you let us have our portion on this side of the Jordan?”
Moshe was appalled. “You want your brethren to go fight the Canaanite nations while you sit here in comfort? That’s going to be real bad for morale! Don’t you remember what happened when the spies balked at entering the land? We ended up wandering this desert for four decades!”
“No, no, no, you got us all wrong!” the two Tribes insisted. “We’ll leave our families and flocks here and we’ll go fight the Canaanites along with everyone else. We won’t actually move in until everyone has been assigned their rightful portion!”