Joshua sent for the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh.
He said to them, "You have done everything that Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded. You have also obeyed everything I commanded.
For a long time now you haven't deserted the other Israelites. Instead, you have done what the LORD your God sent you to do. You have obeyed him to this very day.
"Now the LORD your God has given the other tribes peace and rest. That's what he promised to do. So return to your homes. They are in the land that Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave you. It's on the east side of the Jordan River.
"Be very careful to obey the law that Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave you. He commanded you to love the LORD your God. He told you to live exactly as the LORD wants you to. He told you to obey the LORD's commands. He told you to remain true to the Lord. And he told you to serve the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul."
Joshua gave the eastern tribes his blessing. Then he sent them home. So they went.
Moses had given land in Bashan to half of the tribe of Manasseh. Joshua had given land to the other half of the tribe along with the other tribes on the west side of the Jordan River. When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them.
He said, "Return to your homes. Take your great wealth with you. Return with your large herds of livestock. Take your silver, gold, bronze and iron with you. Return with all of your clothes. Divide up the things you have taken from your enemies. Share them with your people."
So the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh went home. They left the other people of Israel at Shiloh in Canaan. They returned to Gilead. That was their own land. They had gotten it in keeping with the LORD's command through Moses.
The tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh came to Geliloth. It was near the Jordan River in the land of Canaan. They built a large altar there by the Jordan.
The rest of the people of Israel heard that they had built the altar. They heard that they had built it on the border of Canaan at Geliloth. It was near the Jordan River on the west side.
So the whole community of Israel gathered together at Shiloh. They decided to go to war against the eastern tribes.
The people of Israel sent the priest Phinehas to the land of Gilead. Phinehas was the son of Eleazar. They sent him to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh.
They sent ten of their leaders with him. There was one for each of the tribes of Israel. Each man was the leader of a family group among the larger family groups of Israel.
They went to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh in the land of Gilead. They said to them,
"We're speaking for the LORD's whole community. How could you disobey the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the Lord? How could you disobey him by building an altar for yourselves?
"Don't you remember how we sinned at Peor? The LORD struck us with a plague because of what we did. Up to this very day we're still suffering because of that sin.
Are you turning away from the LORD now? "Suppose you disobey the LORD today. If you do, he'll be angry with the whole community of Israel tomorrow.
"If your own land isn't 'clean,' come over to the LORD's land. It's where his holy tent stands. Share our land with us. But don't disobey the Lord. Don't turn against us by building an altar for yourselves. Don't build any altar other than the altar of the LORD our God.
"Remember Achan, the son of Zerah. Achan wasn't faithful to the Lord. He took the things that had been set apart to the LORD in a special way to be destroyed. Didn't the LORD's anger come on the whole community of Israel? And Achan wasn't the only one who died because of his sin."
Then the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh replied. They answered the leaders of the family groups of Israel.
They said, "The Mighty One, God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God, the Lord! He knows! And we want Israel to know! Have we opposed the Lord? Have we refused to obey him? If we have, don't spare us today.
"Have we built our own altar so we can turn away from the Lord? Have we built it to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings on it? Have we built it to sacrifice friendship offerings on it? If we have, may the LORD himself hold us accountable.
"No! We built it because we were afraid. Someday your children might speak to our children. We were afraid they might say, 'What do you have to do with the Lord? What do you have to do with the God of Israel?
The LORD has made the Jordan River a border between us and you. You people of Reuben! You people of Gad! You don't have anything to do with the Lord.' If your children say that, they might cause our children to stop worshiping the Lord.
"That's why we said to ourselves, 'Let's get ready and build an altar. But let's not build it to offer burnt offerings or sacrifices on it.'
"So just the opposite is true. The altar will be a witness between us and you. It will be a witness between our children and yours after us. It will also be a witness that we will worship the LORD at his sacred tent. We'll worship him there with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and friendship offerings. Then in days to come your children won't be able to say to ours, 'You don't have anything to do with the Lord.'
"So we said to ourselves, 'Suppose they say that to us sometime. Or suppose they say it to our children after us. Then we'll answer, "Look at this altar. It's exactly like the LORD's altar. Our people built it. They didn't build it to offer burnt offerings and sacrifices on it. Instead, they built it to be a witness between us and you." '
"We would never refuse to obey the Lord. We would never turn away from him now. We wouldn't build an altar to offer burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices on it. We wouldn't use any altar other than the altar of the LORD our God. That altar stands in front of his holy tent."
The priest Phinehas heard what the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had to say. The leaders of the family groups of the community of Israel heard it too. All of them were pleased with what they heard.
The priest Phinehas spoke to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. Phinehas was the son of Eleazar. He said, "Today we know that the LORD is with us. That's because you have been faithful to him in this matter. Now you have saved the people of Israel from the LORD's anger against them."
Then the priest Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, returned to Canaan. So did the leaders. All of them went back from their meeting with the tribes of Reuben and Gad in Gilead. They brought a report back to the people of Israel.
The people were glad to hear the report. They praised God. They didn't talk anymore about going to war against the eastern tribes. And they didn't talk anymore about destroying the country where the tribes of Reuben and Gad lived.
The tribes of Reuben and Gad gave the altar a name. They called it A Witness Between Us That the LORD Is God.
A long time had passed. The LORD had given Israel peace and rest from all of their enemies who were around them. By that time Joshua was very old.
So he sent for all of the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel. He said to them, "I'm very old.
You yourselves have seen everything the LORD your God has done. You have seen what he's done to all of those nations because of you. The LORD your God fought for you.
"Remember how I've given you all of the land of the nations that remain here. I've given each of your tribes a share of it. It's the land of the nations I won the battle over. It's between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea in the west.
The LORD your God himself will drive those nations out of your way. He will push them out to make room for you. You will take over their land, just as the LORD your God promised you.
"Be very strong. Be careful to obey everything that is written in the Scroll of the Law of Moses. Don't turn away from it to the right or the left.
"Don't have anything to do with the nations that remain among you. Don't use the names of their gods for any reason at all. Don't take oaths and make promises in their names. You must not serve them. You must not bow down to them.
You must remain true to the LORD your God, just as you have done until now.
"The LORD has driven out great and powerful nations to make room for you. To this very day no one has been able to fight against you and win.
One of you can chase a thousand away. That's because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised he would.
So be very careful to love the LORD your God.
"But suppose you turn away from him. You mix with the people who are left alive in the nations that remain among you. Later, you and they get married to each other. And you do other kinds of things with them.
Then you can be sure of what the LORD your God will do. He won't drive out those nations to make room for you anymore. Instead, they will become traps and snares for you. They will be like whips on your backs. They will be like thorns in your eyes. All of that will continue until you are destroyed. It will continue until you are removed from this good land. It's the land the LORD your God has given you.
"Now I'm about to die, just as everyone else on earth does. The LORD your God has kept all of the good promises he gave you. Every one of them has come true. Not one has failed to come true. And you know that with all your heart and soul.
"Every good promise of the LORD your God has come true. So you know that the LORD will bring on you all of the evil things he has warned you about. He'll do it until he has destroyed you. He'll do it until he has removed you from this good land. It's the land he has given you.
"Suppose you break the covenant the LORD your God made with you. He commanded you to obey it. But suppose you go and serve other gods. And you bow down to them. Then the LORD's anger will burn against you. You will quickly be destroyed. You will be removed from the good land he has given you."
Joshua gathered all of Israel's tribes together at Shechem. He sent for the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel. They came and stood there in the sight of God.
Joshua spoke to all of the people. He said, "The LORD is the God of Israel. He says, 'Long ago your people lived east of the Euphrates River. They worshiped other gods there. Your people included Terah. He was the father of Abraham and Nahor.
" 'I took your father Abraham from the land that is east of the Euphrates. I led him all through Canaan. I gave him many children and grandchildren. I gave him Isaac.
To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave the hill country of Seir to Esau. But Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.
" 'Then I sent Moses and Aaron. I made the people of Egypt suffer because of the plagues I sent on them. But I brought you out of Egypt.
" 'When I brought your parents out, they came to the Red Sea. The people of Egypt chased them with chariots and with men on horses. They chased them all the way to the sea.
But your people cried out to me for help. So I put darkness between you and the people of Egypt. I swept them into the sea. It completely covered them. Your own eyes saw what I did to them. After that, you lived in the desert for a long time.
" 'I brought you to the land of the Amorites. They lived east of the Jordan River. They fought against you. But I handed them over to you. I destroyed them to make room for you. Then you took over their land.
" 'Balak, the son of Zippor, prepared to fight against Israel. Balak was king of Moab. He sent for Balaam. He wanted him to put a curse on you. Balaam was the son of Beor.
But I would not listen to Balaam's curses. So he blessed you again and again. And I saved you from his power.
" 'Then you went across the Jordan River. You came to Jericho. Its people fought against you. So did the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites. But I handed them over to you.
" 'I sent hornets ahead of you. They drove your enemies out to make room for you. That included the two Amorite kings. You did not do that with your own swords and bows.
So I gave you a land you had never farmed. I gave you cities you had not built. You are now living in them. And you are eating the fruit of vineyards and olive trees you did not plant.'
"So have respect for the Lord. Serve him. Be completely faithful to him. Throw away the gods your people worshiped east of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord.
"But suppose you don't want to serve him. Then choose for yourselves right now whom you will serve. You can choose the gods your people served east of the Euphrates River. Or you can choose the gods the Amorites serve. After all, you are living in their land. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."
Then the people answered Joshua. They said, "We would never desert the Lord! We would never serve other gods!
The LORD our God himself brought us and our parents up out of Egypt. He brought us out of that land where we were slaves. With our own eyes, we saw those great and miraculous signs he did. He kept us safe on our entire journey. He kept us safe as we traveled through all of the nations.
He drove them out to make room for us. That included the Amorites. They also lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord. That's because he is our God."
Joshua spoke to the people. He said, "You aren't able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won't forgive you when you disobey him. He won't forgive you when you sin against him.
"Suppose you desert the Lord. Suppose you serve the gods that people in other lands serve. If you do, he will turn against you. He will bring trouble on you. He will destroy you, even though he has been good to you."
But the people spoke to Joshua. They said, "No! We will serve the Lord."
Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves. You have said that you have chosen to serve the Lord." "Yes. We are witnesses," they replied.
"Now then," said Joshua, "throw away the gods that are among you. People from other lands serve those gods. Give yourselves completely to the Lord, the God of Israel."
Then the people spoke to Joshua. They said, "We will serve the LORD our God. We will obey him."
On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people. There at Shechem he wrote down rules and laws for them.
He recorded those things in the Scroll of the Law of God. Then he got a large stone. He set it up in Shechem under the oak tree. It was near the place that had been set apart for the Lord.
"Look!" he said to all of the people. "This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all of the words the LORD has spoken to us. Suppose you aren't true to your God. Then the stone will be a witness against you."
Joshua sent the people away. He sent all of them to their own shares of land.
Then Joshua, the servant of the Lord, died. He was the son of Nun. He was 110 years old when he died.
His people buried his body at Timnath Serah on his own property. It's north of Mount Gaash in the hill country of Ephraim.
Israel served the LORD as long as Joshua lived. They also served him as long as the elders lived. Those were the elders who lived longer than Joshua did. They had seen for themselves everything the LORD had done for Israel.
The people of Israel had brought Joseph's bones up from Egypt. They buried his bones at Shechem in the piece of land Jacob had bought. He had bought it from the sons of Hamor. He had paid 100 pieces of silver for it. Hamor was the father of Shechem. That piece of land became the share that belonged to Joseph's children after him.
Aaron's son Eleazar died. His body was buried at Gibeah in the hill country of Ephraim. Gibeah had been given to Eleazar's son Phinehas.