In response to Reuven and Gad's request to settle on the east side of Jordan, Moses includes part of the tribe of Menashe to join them, as it says:

Numbers 32:33:

וַיִּתֵּ֣ן לָהֶ֣ם ׀ מֹשֶׁ֡ה לִבְנֵי־גָד֩ וְלִבְנֵ֨י רְאוּבֵ֜ן וְלַחֲצִ֣י ׀ שֵׁ֣בֶט ׀ מְנַשֶּׁ֣ה בֶן־יוֹסֵ֗ף אֶת־מַמְלֶ֙כֶת֙ סִיחֹן֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ הָֽאֱמֹרִ֔י וְאֶת־מַמְלֶ֔כֶת ע֖וֹג מֶ֣לֶךְ הַבָּשָׁ֑ן הָאָ֗רֶץ לְעָרֶ֙יהָ֙ בִּגְבֻלֹ֔ת עָרֵ֥י הָאָ֖רֶץ סָבִֽיב׃

And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto the half-tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, according to the cities thereof with their borders, even the cities of the land round about.

Did any people from the tribe request to be included? If so, why? Or, did Moses force this upon them? Why specifically the tribe of Menashe? How was the division decided (i.e., who should go and who should join the other tribes on the west of Jordan?)

  • 1
    I think it was answered in last week's sedra Devarim. Jair Ben Menashe had helped conquered some of them.
    – CashCow
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 16:58
  • @CashCow See if you can locate / link something and place as an answer
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 16:59
  • Devarim 3: 12-18
    – CashCow
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 17:01
  • Closely related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8997
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 18:16

3 Answers 3


An aish.com article titled "Half of Menashe" offers a number of answers:

The first two tribes, Reuven and Gad, were involved in the negotiations with Moshe from the outset. How did the tribe or part of the tribe of Menashe get themselves involved in this? The text itself is silent; therefore the commentaries feel free to offer different interpretations.

The Ibn Ezra provides a quantitative explanation, theorizing that they did not merit mention until this point because they were so few- even though they were involved in this request from the outset. When one looks at the numbers involved, it becomes clear that the term "half the tribe of Menashe" is imprecise: Of eight families of Menashe, two joined Reuven and Gad in Transjordan while the other six entered the Land of Israel.

Similarly, the Ramban suggests that these two families of Menashe became involved only at this point: When they saw the deal that had been negotiated by the other tribes they jumped on the proverbial bandwagon, hoping to negotiate similar terms. The Ramban explains that numerically they were the smallest group in the tribe of Menashe, and thought that on the other side of the Jordan they would get larger tracts of land. Despite the practical temptation of remaining on the captured side of the Jordan, we cannot help but be surprised when the tribe of Menashe joins the ranks of the "expatriates". After all, they are the children of Yosef, the one leader of a tribe who asked that his remains be returned for burial in the Land of Israel.(9) Furthermore, in last week's parsha, we saw how the women of Menashe, the daughters of Zelaphchad, fought for their right to inherit the Land. It seems strange that the tribe with such a strong bond with the Land of Israel would prefer to remain in trans-Jordan.

Perhaps they never did ask to remain. The Torah does not record such a request; only Moshe's directive is recorded. One could postulate that it was for this precise reason that Moshe requested that they stay behind with the two "secessionist" tribes: Because of their particularly strong love for the Land, perhaps they could serve as a role model for the tribes of Reuven and Gad.

The Netziv suggested that the tribe of Menashe was not interested in staying outside Israel. Rather, Moshe asked them to do so because he knew that the other tribes would need Torah leadership. Menashe's inheritance east of the Jordan was not allotted to them in response to their own request. Moshe initiated the move in an attempt to insure the integrity and continuity of the other two tribes.


I heard an awesome answer in a Dvar Torah given at our shul awhile ago: The idea starts from the selling of Yosef into slavery: The Yishmaelim who took part in the deal were said to be

"...a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels bearing gum, balm, and ladanum to be taken to Egypt." (Genesis 37:25)

Gilad is significant to the story as it was apparently a center for slave-trafficking (unfortunately I don't remember if a source was brought for this part and I couldn't find anything...).

Later on in the Torah, it is said that Yosef lived to see his grandchildren through Machir, son of Menashe:

"...the children of Machir son of Manasseh were likewise born upon Joseph’s knees." (Genesis 50:23)

Who were these descendants of Yosef that were "born upon [his] knees"? One was Machir, who was apparently named after the Mechirah, the sale of Yosef. Another was Gilad, son of Machir and father of Chefer, who was apparently named after the city of Gilad. These two, among the other descendants of Yosef, grew up hearing his story of the sale, his life's story. If Gilad wasn't a center for slave-trade, perhaps he wouldn't have been sold into slavery and wouldn't have had to endure all of those hardships. At his deathbed, Yosef told them not to forget what evil came from the Gilad and to make sure to rectify it. Machir and Gilad received their names so that the Tribe would never forget. That's why Menashe's descendants go out and capture the Gilad without prompt or permission from anyone - it was always a given that this was a personal mission for the Tribe of Menashe that had to be accomplished:

"The descendants of Machir son of Manasseh went to Gilead and captured it, dispossessing the Amorites who were there." (Numbers 32:39)

and that's why Moshe readily gave them the land:

"So Moses gave Gilead to Machir son of Manasseh, and he settled there." (Numbers 32:40)

Having fulfilled Yosef's dying wish and clearing out the evils of the Gilad, they proceeded to settle there.

Another answer is brought by Da'at Mikra in their introduction to Divrei Hayamim, pg. 65-66 (my translation):

"And explained the author of the ancient commentary to Divrei Hayamim, known as "Student of Rasag"...that this whole portion in Bamidbar, end of ch. 32 (and afterwards also in Devarim 3, 13-15), in the lands of the families called "the sons of Menashe", who set out and conquer large territories in the north of the Gilad and the Bashan and naming them after themselves...are "ancient tales" (i.e., stories from the past). As he says:

"And Machir, his mother's father, was the head and chief of Gilad, and Yair conquered the Gilad after him, therefore he was named after his mother's father and after the name of the territory that they conquered during the reign of Yosef who was king over all of the land. And when Yosef and his brothers died, the nations grew stronger and Geshur and Aram who were nations took Chavot Yair etc - and for this the sons of Machir desired to dwell in the land of Gilad, and per the conquests of their forefather, Moshe gave it to them...and know that those things...of Machir and Yair and Novach are ancient tales, because Machir and Yair and Novach did not capture anything [during their time] in the desert..."

And that is also the view of Rabbi Yehudah Hachassid (in his commentary on the Torah, Shemot 1:7)...:

"My father would prove from Divrei Hayamim, that in the duration of Yisrael's settlement in Egypt, they would sometimes go to the land of Yisrael, the ground [owned by] our forefather Yaakov, and would build there cities. And I believe, that specifically the descendants of Yosef would do this, and they had permission from Pharaoh, because out of the respect he had for Yosef, Pharaoh honored them by letting them repair and strengthen their inheritance, and they would settle there tenants and would collect from them taxes...therefore, that She'erah who lived well for six generations prior to [Yehoshua]...must be that it was during the time they were in Egypt."


Jair Ben Menashe had been responsible for conquering the territory and was given it by Moshe. (In particular the land of Bashan that had been previously ruled by Og). And therefore it was offered to him.

This section of Devarim 3: 12-18 explains how the tribe of Menashe got involved, my source linked here:


12And this land, which we possessed at that time; from Aro'er, which is by the brook of Arnon, and half of Mount Gilead and its cities, I gave to the Reubenites and to the Gadites. יבוְאֶת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת יָרַשְׁנוּ בָּעֵת הַהִוא מֵעֲרֹעֵר אֲשֶׁר עַל נַחַל אַרְנֹן וַחֲצִי הַר הַגִּלְעָד וְעָרָיו נָתַתִּי לָראוּבֵנִי וְלַגָּדִי: 13And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to the half tribe of Manasseh; all the territory of Argob, all of Bashan; that is called the land of Rephaim. יגוְיֶתֶר הַגִּלְעָד וְכָל הַבָּשָׁן מַמְלֶכֶת עוֹג נָתַתִּי לַחֲצִי שֵׁבֶט הַמְנַשֶּׁה כֹּל חֶבֶל הָאַרְגֹּב לְכָל הַבָּשָׁן הַהוּא יִקָּרֵא אֶרֶץ רְפָאִים: 14Jair the son of Manasseh took all the territory of Argob to the boundaries of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and he called them, even Bashan, after his own name, villages of Jair, to this day. ידיָאִיר בֶּן מְנַשֶּׁה לָקַח אֶת כָּל חֶבֶל אַרְגֹּב עַד גְּבוּל הַגְּשׁוּרִי וְהַמַּעֲכָתִי וַיִּקְרָא אֹתָם עַל שְׁמוֹ אֶת הַבָּשָׁן חַוֹּת יָאִיר עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה: 15And to Machir I gave Gilead. טווּלְמָכִיר נָתַתִּי אֶת הַגִּלְעָד: 16And to the Reubenites and to the Gadites I gave from Gilead to the brook of Arnon, the midst of the brook and the border, until the brook of Jabbok, which is the boundary of the children of Ammon, טזוְלָראוּבֵנִי וְלַגָּדִי נָתַתִּי מִן הַגִּלְעָד וְעַד נַחַל אַרְנֹן תּוֹךְ הַנַּחַל וּגְבֻל וְעַד יַבֹּק הַנַּחַל גְּבוּל בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן: 17the plain, the Jordan and the border thereof, from Kinnereth to the sea of the plain the Sea of Salt, under the waterfalls of Pisgah, eastward. יזוְהָעֲרָבָה וְהַיַּרְדֵּן וּגְבֻל מִכִּנֶּרֶת וְעַד יָם הָעֲרָבָה יָם הַמֶּלַח תַּחַת אַשְׁדֹּת הַפִּסְגָּה מִזְרָחָה: 18And I commanded you at that time saying, "The Lord, your God, has given you this land to possess it; pass over, armed, before your brothers, the children of Israel, all who are warriors. יחוָאֲצַו אֶתְכֶם בָּעֵת הַהִוא לֵאמֹר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם נָתַן לָכֶם אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת לְרִשְׁתָּהּ חֲלוּצִים תַּעַבְרוּ לִפְנֵי אֲחֵיכֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּל בְּנֵי חָיִל:

  • The question was why Moshe Rabbeinu did this and was it at the request of the families of Menashe or not. The quote from the Chumash shows what was done but does not show why. Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 17:46
  • If you are trying to make the point mentioned in your comment here, this answer would be improved my including that explicitly (I think you make an interesting point, actually). Simply quoting the verses leaves the reader to draw his own conclusions that may or may not accord with your intent.
    – Fred
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 21:46
  • My (O.P.) concur with above 2 comments.
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 20:26

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