A number of issues can be raised regarding the text of the pesukim which describes the dialogue between Bnei Gad, Bnei Reuven and Moshe Rabbeinu. First, why is Reuven’s name mentioned prior to Gad’s in the opening statement of this parsha, although throughout the remaining pesukim Gad’s name precedes Reuven’s ? Second, the word, urnthu, “and they said,” is repeated in their dialogue. Why is there such an apparent redundancy ?
Horav Tzvi Hirsch Ferber, z.l., cites Horav Sapir who asserts that Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven were motivated by two disparate objectives, even though they were making the same statement. Bnei Reuven are mentioned first, since they were truly concerned about the welfare of their livestock. The Torah uses the term urnthu twice. The first reflects Bnei Reuven’s demand, while the second urnthu reflects Bnei Gad’s desire to remain on the other side of the Jordan. Bnei Gad were motivated by a desire to remain in the area where the remains of the quintessential leader of Klal Yisrael would be interred.
We may derive an important lesson from this distinction. Two people/groups may make the same request, but since their underlying motives are disparate, they are viewed from contrasting perspectives. Since Bnei Gad were inspired by a more noble intention, their name preceded Bnei Reuven. Hashem Yisborach, Who knows what goes on in the deep recesses of the mind, rewards us on a level commensurate with the nobility of our intentions.