The descendants of Reuben and Gad had an abundance of livestock, very numerous . . . and they spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the kohen and to the princes of the community, saying . . . “The land that the L‑rd struck down before the congregation of Israel is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” They said, “If it pleases you, let this land be given to your servants as a heritage; do not take us across the Jordan.” (Numbers 32:1–5)

The tribes of Reuben and Gad asked Moses if they could remain and settle on the eastern side of the Jordan because it had abundant pasture for cattle. Moses response was fraught with anger, as he called upon them to cross over with the rest of the people to fight. They responded that they would leave their cattle and families behind, and proceed into Israel with the other tribes to conquer the land. The painting captures the royal colors of the tribes on the eastern side of the Jordan bracing themselves to go to war, vowing that only after all the land had been conquered would they cross back over to the other side of the Jordan. The Midrash reflects the negative side of their action, saying that they loved their wealth and money more than the Land of Israel.

In contrast to the lack of desire of these tribes to cross over the Jordan are the many pleas of Moses who prayed repeatedly to cross over to the other side—to the good Land of Israel, depicted here with a large glowing sun. Crossing over to the other side of the Jordan is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible. Here in the painting, the other side of the Jordan is radiating with golden light reflecting the positive vision of the future.