#317. Was Gilead conquered during the Transjordanian conquest OR during its allotment to the children of Machir?
#318. Who conquered Gilead: the Israelites OR the Machirites? (Num 21:31-35, 32:1-5; Deut 2:32-37, 3:4-10 vs Num 32:39-42)


Continuing from the previous entry (#315-316), there are other contradictions created in Numbers 32 when the Machirite tradition (Num 32:33-42) was appended onto the end of this chapter—a chapter that had up until this point not spoken of nor known about the allotment of land to the half-tribe of Manasseh, the children of Machir.

Another new and contradictory element that this passage brings to the now composite text of the Torah is its insistence that Gilead was only conquered now and uniquely by the children of Machir.

And the children of Machir, son of Manasseh, went to Gilead and captured it and dispossessed the Amorite who was in it. And Moses gave Gilead to Machir, son of Manasseh, and they lived in it. (Num 32:39-40)

This stands in sharp contrast to the claims made earlier in Numbers 21, when all the Israelites in general—not uniquely the Machirites—conquered all the land that the Amorites lived in. This tradition is most clearly and explicitly expressed in Deuteronomy. This is what Moses renarrates as having transpired during the Transjordanian conquest (that is the events of Num 21):

And we [all Israelites] captured all his [Sihon’s] cities at that time, and we put every city to complete destruction: men and women and infants. We didn’t leave a remnant. Only the animals we despoiled for ourselves and the spoil of the cities that we captured. From Aroer on the edge of the Wadi Arnon and the city that is in the Wadi to Gilead, there wasn’t a town that was too high for us. Yahweh, our god, put it all before us. (Deut 2:14-36)

And we [all Israelites] captured all his [Og’s] cities at that time. There wasn’t a town that we didn’t take from them—sixty cities, all the region of Argob, Og’s kingdom in Bashan. All of these were fortified walled cities. And we completely destroyed them as we did to Sihon, king of Heshbon, completely destroying every city: men, women, and infants. And we despoiled all the animals and the spoil of the cities for ourselves. And at that time we took the land from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites that was across the Jordan, from the Wadi Arnon to Mount Hermon, all the cities of the plain and all of Gilead and all of Bashan as far as Salcah and Edrei, cities of Og’s kingdom in Bashan. (Deut 3:4-10)

These traditions that claim the total conquest of all the land of the Gilead, Bashan, and the plains of northern Moab, and all the destruction of the Amorites who lived in this land at the time of the Transjordanian conquest (Num 21) clearly contradict the claim made in Num 32:39 that only “the children of Machir son of Manasseh went to Gilead and captured it and dispossessed the Amorite who was in it” at the time of the allotment of the land! For according to these other traditions (Num 21 & Deut 2-3), this had already been achieved!

I still have 1 more entry on Gilead and that directly deals with two variant traditions or stories that were written by two different scribes to legitimate Israelite possession of Gilead! What type of stories do you think ancient scribes wrote when laying claim to disputed territory? For review, look at the Moabite stela and how a Moabitean scribe legitimated their claim to northern Moab, and conversely how the Yahwist scribe did the same thing with respect to Iasraelite claims to the same territory in Numbers 21. See #282-285.

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