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Sunday, April 06, 2008

God's care for the tribes East of Jordan

Numbers 32:16 Then they came near to him and said, “We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones, 17 but we will take up arms, ready to go before the people of Israel, until we have brought them to their place. And our little ones shall live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. 18 We will not return to our homes until each of the people of Israel has gained his inheritance. (ESV)

These are spokesmen for the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and part of the tribe of Manasseh, speaking to Joshua. They are volunteering to go and fight on the West side of the Jordan, while leaving their wives, their flocks, their children, and most of their possessions on the East side, in the land they have chosen for themselves, until the rest of the tribes have conquered the peoples inhabiting their inheritances. That's a remarkable statement they have made. God's provision for their wives, children, and flocks is even more remarkable. The wives and children must have done the work of caring for the animals, and God must have protected them from attack by enemies.

In Joshua 22, these fighters finally returned home, after they had helped subdue 31 different kingdoms. This commentary, by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, says that these conquests took seven years! Even allowing for the possibility that some or all of these men from the two and a half tribes may have gone back for brief periods from time to time, that was remarkable commitment on their part, and remarkable provision by God. (The seven years probably comes from Joshua 14, where Caleb, gives Joshua a chronology, in a speech.)

I noticed this passage as a consequence of following the ESV on-line Bible reading for a day in March. Thanks for reading.

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