The 2.5 Shevatim
The 2.5 Shevatim: The Story (ends and) Begins
Midrashic tradition suggests that the tribes on the east side of the Jordan River were exiled first – and that it was their fault, for reasons dating going all the way back to the day they asked to settle there. Yet, if the request was inherently flawed, why did Moshe grant it?
Through a close reading of the text of Numbers chapter 32, we will raise some questions and gain some insights into what was wrong, and right, and wrong, with that original request.
Our analysis will also prepare us for part two of this mini-series: exploring a near-disastrous episode from the “middle” of the tribal story arc, and how disaster was averted by the simplest of tactics.
The 2.5 Shevatim: The Middle: How a Civil War Was Averted
In Numbers 32, Moshe came to an agreement with the tribes of Reuven and Gad – and half of Menashe – according to which they would fight alongside the rest of the nation until the Promised Land was conquered and would then return to the land they’d claimed on the east side of the Jordan.
But what happens when the time comes? When the battles are fought and the land west of the Jordan portioned out, when it’s time to face the reality of a river running through them… What can the people do to maintain the ties that bind them, then and for always?
Is conflict between these different populations inevitable?
Sarah Rudolph is a freelance Jewish educator, writer, and editor. She has been sharing her passion for Jewish texts of all kinds for over 15 years, with students of all ages. Sarah’s essays have been published in a variety of internet and print media, including Times of Israel, Kveller, Jewish Action, OU Life, The Lehrhaus, TorahMusings, and more. She is Editor-At-Large, Deracheha: womenandmitzvot.org. Sarah lives in Cleveland with her husband and four children, but is privileged to learn online with students all over the world.