Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh.
He said to them, "You obeyed everything that Moses the LORD's servant commanded you. You have also obeyed me in everything that I have commanded you.
During these many years, you never once deserted your fellow Israelites. You faithfully obeyed the command of the LORD your God.
The LORD your God has now given rest to your fellow Israelites, exactly as he promised them. So turn around and go back home. Go to the land where you hold property, which Moses the LORD's servant gave you on the other side of the Jordan.
Just be very careful to carry out the commandment and Instruction that Moses the LORD's servant commanded you. Love the LORD your God. Walk in all his ways and obey his commandments. Hold on to him and serve him with all your heart and being."
Then Joshua blessed them. He sent them away, and they went home.
Moses had provided for half of the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. But Joshua provided for the other half on the west side of the Jordan along with their fellow Israelites. When he sent them back home, Joshua also blessed them.
He said to them, "Return home with great wealth and many cattle, with silver, gold, bronze, and iron, and with much clothing. Divide the spoil taken from your enemies among your own people."
So the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh went back. They left the Israelites at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. They went to the land of Gilead, to the land that they owned. They had settled there at the LORD's command given by Moses.
They came to the districts of the Jordan that are in the land of Canaan. The people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, an altar that appeared to be immense.
Then the Israelites heard a report: "Look. The people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar at the far edge of the land of Canaan. It lies in the districts of the Jordan on the Israelite side!"
When the Israelites heard this, the entire Israelite community assembled at Shiloh to go up to war against them.
Then the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest to the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh in the land of Gilead.
They sent with him ten leaders, one leader from each important family among the tribes of Israel. Each was the head of an important family among the military units of Israel.
They came to the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh in the land of Gilead and spoke with them.
They said, "Here is what the LORD's entire community says: ‘What's this disrespectful thing that you've done to the God of Israel? Today you've turned away from following the LORD by building yourselves an altar as an act of rebellion against the LORD.
Wasn't the offense of Peor enough for us? Even today we still haven't cleansed ourselves from that sin, when there was a plague on the LORD's community!
Today you are turning away from following the LORD. If you rebel against the LORD today, he will be angry with the entire community of Israel tomorrow.
If your own property is unclean land, then cross over into the land of the LORD's property and settle among us. That's where the dwelling of the LORD stands. But don't rebel against the LORD. And don't involve us in rebellion by building an altar for yourselves other than the altar of the LORD our God.
Didn't Achan, Zerah's son, do such a disrespectful thing with the items reserved for God? Wrath came on the entire community of Israel. And he wasn't the only one to die for his crime.'"
Then the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh answered the heads of the military units of Israel:
"The LORD is God of gods! The LORD is God of gods! He already knows, and now let Israel also know it! If we acted in rebellion or in disrespect against the LORD, don't spare us today.
If we've built ourselves an altar to turn away from following the LORD or to offer on it an entirely burned offering or gift offering, or to perform well-being sacrifices on it, let the LORD himself seek punishment.
No! The truth is we did this out of concern for what might happen. In the future your children might say to our children, ‘What have you got to do with the LORD, the God of Israel?
The LORD has set the Jordan as a border between us and you people of Reuben and Gad. You have no portion in the LORD!' So your children might make our children stop worshipping the LORD.
As a result we said, ‘Let's protect ourselves by building an altar. It isn't to be for an entirely burned offering or for sacrifice.'
But it is to be a witness between us and you and between our descendants after us. It witnesses that we too perform the service of the LORD in his presence through our entirely burned offerings, sacrifices, and well-being offerings. So in the future your children could never say to our children, ‘You have no portion in the LORD.'
We thought, If in the future they ever say this to us or to our descendants, we could say, ‘Look at this replica of the altar of the LORD that our ancestors made. It isn't for entirely burned offerings or for sacrifice but to be a witness between us and you.'
God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD and turn away today from following the LORD by building an altar for an entirely burned offering, gift offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his dwelling!"
Phinehas the priest, the leaders of the community, and the heads of the military units of Israel who were with him heard the words that the people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh spoke and approved them.
So Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, "Today we know that the LORD is among us, because you haven't done a disrespectful thing against the LORD. Now you've delivered the Israelites from the power of the LORD."
Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest and the leaders left the people of Reuben and Gad in the land of Gilead and came back to the Israelites in the land of Canaan. They brought word back to them.
The Israelites agreed and blessed God. They no longer spoke of going to war against them to destroy the land where the people of Reuben and Gad were living.
The people of Reuben and Gad referred to the altar in this way: "It is a witness between us that the LORD is God."
A long time passed. The LORD had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua had grown very old.
Joshua summoned all Israel, their elders, their heads, their judges, and their officers. He said to them, “I've grown very old.
You've seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you. It is the LORD your God who fights for you.
Look. I've allotted to you these remaining nations as a legacy for your tribes, along with all the nations I have destroyed. They stretch from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.
The LORD your God will force them out before you and remove them from you. Then you will take over their land, exactly as the LORD your God has promised you.
Be very strong. Carefully obey everything written in the Instruction scroll from Moses. Don't deviate a bit from it either to the right or to the left.
Don't have anything to do with these nations that remain with you. Don't invoke the names of their gods or take oaths by them. Don't serve them or worship them.
Hold on to the LORD your God instead, exactly as you've done right up to today.
“The LORD has removed great and powerful nations before you. To this day, no one has stood up to you.
A single one of you puts a thousand to flight. This is because the LORD your God fights for you, exactly as he promised you.
For your own sake, be very careful to love the LORD your God.
But if you should turn away and join the rest of these nations that remain with you, intermarry with them, and associate with each other,
then know for certain that the LORD your God won't keep on removing these nations before you. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap for you. They will be a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you vanish from this fertile land that the LORD your God has given you.
"Look. I'm now walking on the road to death that all the earth must take. You know with all your heart and being that not a single one of all the good things that the LORD your God promised about you has failed. They were all fulfilled for you. Not a single one of them has failed.
But in the same way that every good thing that the LORD your God promised about you has been fulfilled, so the LORD could bring against you every bad thing as well. He could wipe you out from this fertile land that the LORD your God has given you.
If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you to keep, and go on to serve other gods and worship them, then the LORD will be furious with you. You will quickly vanish from the fertile land that he has given you."
Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders of Israel, its leaders, judges, and officers. They presented themselves before God.
Then Joshua said to the entire people, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors lived on the other side of the Euphrates. They served other gods. Among them was Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor.
I took Abraham your ancestor from the other side of the Euphrates. I led him around through the whole land of Canaan. I added to his descendants and gave him Isaac.
To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave Mount Seir to Esau to take over. But Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.
Then I sent Moses and Aaron. I plagued Egypt with what I did to them. After that I brought you out.
I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. The Egyptians chased your ancestors with chariots and horses to the Reed Sea.
Then they cried for help to the LORD. So he set darkness between you and the Egyptians. He brought the sea down on them, and it covered them. With your own eyes you saw what I did to the Egyptians. You lived in the desert for a long time.
“Then I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They attacked you, but I gave them into your power, and you took over their land. I wiped them out before you.
Then Moab's King Balak, Zippor's son, set out to attack Israel. He summoned Balaam, Beor's son, to curse you.
But I wasn't willing to listen to Balaam, so he actually blessed you. I rescued you from his power.
Then you crossed over the Jordan. You came to Jericho, and the citizens of Jericho attacked you. They were Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites. But I gave them into your power.
I sent the hornet before you. It drove them out before you and did the same to the two kings of the Amorites. It wasn't your sword or bow that did this.
I gave you land on which you hadn't toiled and cities that you hadn't built. You settled in them and are enjoying produce from vineyards and olive groves that you didn't plant.
“So now, revere the LORD. Serve him honestly and faithfully. Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the LORD.
But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the LORD."
Then the people answered, "God forbid that we ever leave the LORD to serve other gods!
The LORD is our God. He is the one who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. He has done these mighty signs in our sight. He has protected us the whole way we've gone and in all the nations through which we've passed.
The LORD has driven out all the nations before us, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God."
Then Joshua said to the people, "You can't serve the LORD, because he is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won't forgive your rebellion and your sins.
If you leave the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn around and do you harm and finish you off, in spite of having done you good in the past."
Then the people said to Joshua, "No! The LORD is the one we will serve."
So Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD." They said, "We are witnesses!"
"So now put aside the foreign gods that are among you. Focus your hearts on the LORD, the God of Israel."
The people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and will obey him."
On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people and established just rule for them at Shechem.
Joshua wrote these words in God's Instruction scroll. Then he took a large stone and put it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the LORD.
Joshua said to all the people, "This stone will serve here as a witness against us, because it has heard all the LORD's words that he spoke to us. It will serve as a witness against you in case you aren't true to your God."
Then Joshua sent the people away to each one's legacy.
After these events, Joshua, Nun's son, the LORD's servant, died. He was 110.
They buried him within the border of his own legacy, in Timnath-serah in the highlands of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash.
Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had known every act the LORD had done for Israel.
The Israelites had brought up the bones of Joseph from Egypt. They buried them at Shechem in the portion of field that Jacob had purchased for one hundred qesitahs from the descendants of Hamor the father of Shechem. They became a legacy of the descendants of Joseph.
Eleazar son of Aaron died. They buried him at Gibeah, which belonged to his son Phinehas. It had been given to him in the highlands of Ephraim.