The Torah says that the land was handed to two AND A HALF tribes (Num 32:33):

וַיִּתֵּן לָהֶם מֹשֶׁה לִבְנֵי־גָד וְלִבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן וְלַחֲצִי שֵׁבֶט מְנַשֶּׁה בֶן־יוֹסֵף אֶת־מַמְלֶכֶת סִיחֹן׃

So Moses assigned to them — to the Gadites, the Reubenites, and to the half-tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph—the kingdom of Sihon

I understand that a [whole] tribe was a legitimate unit for inheriting the lands, but not parts of it.

What kind of an Administrative unit "half the tribe" was? Was the tribe divided into two halves by families or number of people?

Could those lands be exchanged within the tribe between family's that got the land outside Israel and families inside Israel?

  • 1
    My assumption would be that each tribe was a whole unit and that they could exchange land between them, as there is no source to my knowledge that says otherwise. The tribe of Dan also had two portion (although both within the land of Israel) and they are both considered to belong to the whole tribe.
    – AKayser
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 10:13
  • @AKayser In this case, the land should be given to the whole tribe, so people can exchange lands, but the Torah says - "TO the half tribe" like it was a unit on its own. Weird...
    – Al Berko
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 10:27
  • good question, I was always puzzled by this
    – intuit
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 14:28
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    @AlBerko some suggest that it was only Reuven and Gad who desired to settle in the Transjordan region, and the half tribe of Menashe was added later at the request of Moshe. He did this in order to ensure that Reuven and Gad would have adequate Torah leadership and Menashe was very qualified at providing this (see Netziv - Ha'Emek Davar Devarim 3:16). Another reason he chose Menashe might be to keep Reuven and Gad connected to the Land - think of daughters of Tzelofechad from tribe of Menashe fought to inherit the land, or Yosef who requested to be buried in Shchem.
    – AKayser
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 8:54
  • @AKayser That's fine, but it still doesn't answer if it was given to "half a tribe" as a unit or it was given to the whole tribe of Menashe. נ"מ would be swapping the lands between Menashe families.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 11:15


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