Numbers 32:20-42

Talks for Growing Christians

Permission for 2 1/2 Tribes to Settle on the East Side of the Jordan River

Numbers 32:20-42

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Lesson Number 36

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. It is possible to practice partial obedience.
  2. There is a price to pay for partial obedience.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t sin by breaking your agreement.


  1. Did the land God promised to Israel extend east of the Jordan River?
  2. Who were the two-and-a-half tribes?
  3. Why was it wrong for the two-and-a-half tribes to request to settle on the east side of the Jordan?
  4. How did the two-and-a-half tribes practice partial obedience?
  5. What were the negative results of the partial obedience of the two-and-a-half tribes?


  1. Yes, Deuteronomy 3:27-28 describes the land boundaries as west, north, south, and east of Mount Pisgah, on the east side of the Jordan River.
  2. The tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and half of the tribe of Manesseh
  3. God desired His people to be united and centered together on the west side of the Jordan in the heart of the land. They were to conquer the land east of the Jordan as an expansion of that.
  4. They did not forsake the Lord or His people. They still wanted to be part of Israel. They were willing to fight to conquer the Promised Land. But for selfish reasons they were not fully committed to the will of the Lord.
  5. They caused a huge misunderstanding with the other tribes, which almost prompted a civil war (Joshua 22). These tribes were also the first to be taken into captivity.


  1. Practicing partial obedience has negative consequences. Discuss the partial obedience of the two-and-a-half tribes. These “border land believers” had only half-hearted faith. Compare them to Lot who also made choices based on what he wanted for himself. These are examples of worldly believers who practice partial obedience. Discuss how partial obedience is really disobedience. Read 1 Samuel 15:22.
  2. The two-and-a-half tribes that remained on the east side of the Jordan did not see the importance of living together with the other tribes on the west side of the Jordan. Living together as a nation would provide protection and unity. Relate this to the principle of Hebrews 10:25. What are the negative consequences of neglecting weekly fellowship with fellow believers?


  1. Breaking an agreement you have made with another person is a sin. Have you made an agreement to help out in a ministry? Keep that commitment.

Key Verses

  • “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23
  • “We will cross over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, but the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us on this side of the Jordan.” Numbers 32:32

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