In Bemidbar 26:55, G-d tells Moshe that the land should be apportioned by lottery. I.e., no tribe was to know or choose its section of land, in advance.

Yet, we see that Moshe gives the tribes of Reuevn, Gad and 1/2 tribe of Menashe the land conquered from Sichon and Og on the east side of the Jordan river. (See Bemidbar 32:33).

Why was Moshe allowed to assign the portion of the land without obeying G-d's command that the land should be assigned to all the tribes by lottery? Was that command specific to only the land on the west side of the Jordan?


1 Answer 1


As pointed out in the Mas'ei 34:17-29 the princes of Reuven and Gad were not involved because they had given up their rights to the land in exchange for the land on the East side of the Yarden. The original statement in Pinchas 26:55 was before the request and referred to the ancestral land.

This land to the west of the Jordan is the land that was about to be given to Bnai Yisrael as promised to Avrohom and that he had traveled over. Note the meforshim as to why Avrohom stopped at Dan. It was only the land west of the Jordan that had been promised to the Patriarchs and therefore that was the land subject to the divine lottery.

Matos 32:5 explicitly makes the offer to exclude them from the lottery in exchange for land that would otherwise not have been in the lottery.

They said, "If it pleases you, let this land be given to your servants as a heritage; do not take us across the Jordan."

  • "It was only the land west of the Jordan that had been promised to the Patriarchs". This statement seems to contradict what is stated in Breishit 15:18, where it specifically says, "Until the Prat (Euphrates) river." That's on the east side of the Jordan. Compare the same idea found in Devarim 1:7, which is followed in v. 8 by the phrase "that G-d promised to your fathers."
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 19:35
  • @DanF I fixed the reference as it was only the land west of the Jordan was about to be given to Bnai Israel. Moav, Ammon, and Edom had been given other land which was not to be given at this time. See Rashi to 15:18 Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 2:24
  • @sabbahillel : Does that mean that the original lottery apportioned land [to the West of Jordan] to the tribes of Reueven, Gad and all of Menashe? If so, through what process was that land later divided among the other tribes?
    – user9806
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 19:41
  • The lottery was not actually carried out until after the complete conquest of the land. The initial division was spoken of in the Torah by Moshe before the tribes requested the land to the east of the Jordan. This stated that each tribe would (eventually) receive a portion to the west of the Jordan. Once Reuven and Gad requested the land in the east, they were removed from the lottery. Thus when Yehoshua actually divided the land, the 2.5 tribes were not included. @user9806 Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 22:23

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