Two-and-a-half tribes (Reuben, Gad and half of Menasseh) had land on "the other side" of the Jordan river, allocated to them by Moses in Bemidbar 32, and made conditional on their participation in the conquest of the rest.

At what point did that land become part of the land of Israel? Was it immediate? Or was it only once the rest of the land had been conquered and was ready to be parceled out to the other tribal leaders?

I am asking because I want to know the status of the land on which Moses stood at the time that he was standing on it. Did Moses get to "enter" the land of Israel, or didn't he? The text says that he didn't, but he was standing on ground that we consider part of the land of Israel.

  • "that we consider part of the land of Israel" I don't think that's true. Why do you think it ever became part of the land of Israel? For instance, there's no shmitta over there nor biblical tithes.
    – Double AA
    Jul 9, 2018 at 1:35
  • @ShimonbM I am curious to know if the answer below satisfied your question?
    – mbloch
    Jul 10, 2018 at 8:38
  • @mbloch Respectfully, no... I appreciate that those tribes didn’t gain possession of their land until a certain time had elapsed, but want to know whether the land itself was sacred. The territory of Judah, for example, or Dan didn’t pass to those tribes until they conquered them either, but they were certainly already part of “the land” itself before then.
    – Shimon bM
    Jul 10, 2018 at 10:29
  • @ShimonbM first of all feedback is great - takes time to answer questions so want to make sure it helps. If it doesn't then happy to think further. This being said the core of your question text is "At what point did that land become part of the land of Israel?" which I tried to answer. But it feels now what you really want to know is when the land became sacred? Isn't that after Joshua's conquest? See details of the areas in MT Terumot 1:2 and ff - is that what you are asking about?
    – mbloch
    Jul 10, 2018 at 12:04
  • @mbloch - I’ll give you a +1 if you like. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question, I just don’t think you did. All you’ve done is show me that those regions didn’t become the property of those tribes until after the conquest, but that’s an open verse. It’s not really what I’m asking. None of the land became the property of any of the tribes until after the conquest!
    – Shimon bM
    Jul 10, 2018 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


I believe the answer is only after the rest of the land was conquered but before the land was allocated, and all this happened after the death of Moshe.

See Bamidbar 32:29 where Moshe instructs Eleazar and Joshua to give the land

Moses said to them [Eleazar and Joshua], “If every shock-fighter among the Gadites and the Reubenites crosses the Jordan with you to do battle, at the instance of the LORD, and the land is subdued before you, you shall give them the land of Gilead as a holding. But if they do not cross over with you as shock-troops, they shall receive holdings among you in the land of Canaan.”

Artscroll quotes Abarbanel that, although Gad and Reuven were ready to stay in Israel "mainland" until it was allocated to individual Jews, Moshe declined the offer and said that they need remain only until the wars were over (which took seven years) but before the other seven years for the allocation of land).

From the language in Joshua 13:8 and following (e.g., 13:15), it appears that Moshe assigned the land that was promised to them, it was then occupied by women and children but it became their formal possession only after the wars. Indeed I have now seen that artscroll on these verses quotes Lev Aharon: "the tribes on the east bank did not acquire full ownership of their territories until Eretz Israel proper was in Jewish hands. See also Joshua 22.

On the question raised in comments of whether these territories were part of Eretz Israel, the gemara in Arachin 32b mentions that when the tribe of Reuven, Gad and half of Menasheh was exiled, the Yovels were suspended (since they apply only wen every one of the 12 tribes is settled in Eretz Israel in their respective places) which I think proves these tribe territories were in Eretz Israel (see here for further discussion).

  • "Thus it was not until Joshua apportioned the land that the 2.5 tribes assumed title to their inheritance". A nuance that may need to be clarified - Moshe requested that the tribes just fight with the rest of them. The tribes volunteered to remain until the land was fully apportioned. I.e., they volunteered and did more than requested. That questions whether the land was theirs immediately after the wars were won (I.e., Moshe's request) or after they fulfilled what they volunteered to do. Refer to the verse that you cited.
    – DanF
    Jul 9, 2018 at 14:26
  • @DanF I agree with all you write - my first sentence is indeed the land became theirs after the wars ended and before the land was fully apportioned. I meant to replace the sentence you quote by the one before - but forgot. I will remove it now with thanks to you
    – mbloch
    Jul 9, 2018 at 20:16

The Netziv in Haamak Davar on this passuk, (Bamidbar 33:51) says

כי אתם עוברים את הירדן וגו׳. אבל כ״ז שלא עברו את הירדן לא״י לא הוזהרו להאביד ע״ז בעה״י. דאזהרה זו היא משום קדושת הארץ. ואין עה״י מתקדש אלא אחר שנתקדש א״י כמו לענין ערי מקלט שאינן קולטות עד שיהיו נגמר גם בא״י משום דערי מקלט תלוי בקדושת הארץ בזמן שהיובל נוהג. ויובל תלוי בזמן שכל ישראל על אדמתם וע׳ להלן ל״ה י׳ ומש״ה לא הוזהרו לבער ע״ז מעה״י עד שיטהרו מא״י:

When you cross. As long as they had not yet crossed the Yardein into Eretz Yisroel, they were not ordered to destroy the idol worship on the other side of the Yardein. This commandment depended on the holiness of the Land of Israel; the other side of the Yardein did not become sanctified until Eretz Yisroel was sanctified. This is similar to the concept of the Cities of Refuge that did not take in accidental murderers until those in Eretz Yisroel would also be sanctified, because the activation of the Cities of Refuge depends on the holiness of Eretz Yisroel which in turn is only when the Jubilee year is being observed.

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