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2014-07-31

After having the fear of God put back in them, and some more tongue-lashing from Moses, the Reubenites and Gadites finally agree to be part of the invasion force that will annihilate Canaan, but since that won’t occur for another few decades, they ask to remain in Gilead (wasn’t it Jazer?) where their animals can eat and their families can live. After all, they just murdered the previous inhabitants, so the city is vacant, and only a little effort will be needed to build it back up to reasonable standards.

Moses agrees that this is suitable, but only if the Reubenites and Gadites promise to continue helping the Israelites until all the Canaanites have successfully been driven out of their homeland. Only then will they be allowed to cross back over the Jordan River to the homes they create here in Gilead. For some reason, Moses also forces them to share Gilead with the Tribe of Manasseh. This is sort of out of the blue, because there is no mention of anyone from this tribe wanting to leave prematurely.

It’s a little easier to make sense of these oddities when you remember that, even though the story says that these events happened before the invasion of Canaan, historians say that the majority of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy wasn’t written until after the Israelites had already settled in Canaan. That means that these stories aren’t eye-witness accounts, but rather retcons to make sense of a long forgotten past. When this is kept in mind, problems with continuity are not just forgivable, they’re expected, like the one’s we’ll see tomorrow.

Anyway, Moses orders Eleazar to annex Gilead to the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassites provided they keep their promise, otherwise, they’ll be stuck living as neighbors among the Israelites in Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey! Is that supposed to be a punishment? Actually, if my choices were to either live in a barely hospitable desert or a magical lush paradise populated by murderous psychopaths, I’d have to side with the Reubenites and Gadites!

 

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Oh the irony!