Moses, Gad, and Reuben.
(photo credit: Pepe fainberg)
Though no longer well-known, the symbol of the pre-state Jewish underground
group, the Irgun, included a map of what is now both Israel and Jordan. This was
designed to highlight the Jews’ ancestral claim to both sides of the Jordan
River. Yet correct as this claim may have been, Transjordan – a territory known
by its relationship to Israel (Transjordan means across the Jordan) – has always
had a problematic place in Jewish history.The territory east of the
Jordan was not designated as part of the original Promised Land. It was not
where the forefathers sojourned, nor was it inhabited by the seven nations that
God wanted to expel. Rather, it became part of the Jewish homeland through a
rather unusual turn of events. The land’s inhabitants were vanquished after
trying to attack the Jews. The default expectation was that the Jews would
continue to their own homeland to the west and leave this territory to other
nations. Instead, the tribes of Gad and Reuben requested that it be given to
them, ostensibly to find ample grazing for their numerous livestock.