Now the family heads of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the other tribal families of Israel
at Shiloh in Canaan and said to them, "The LORD commanded through Moses that you give us towns to live in, with pasturelands for our livestock."
So, as the LORD had commanded, the Israelites gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own inheritance:
The first lot came out for the Kohathites, clan by clan. The Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest were allotted thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin.
The rest of Kohath's descendants were allotted ten towns from the clans of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan and half of Manasseh.
The descendants of Gershon were allotted thirteen towns from the clans of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.
The descendants of Merari, clan by clan, received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun.
So the Israelites allotted to the Levites these towns and their pasturelands, as the LORD had commanded through Moses.
From the tribes of Judah and Simeon they allotted the following towns by name
(these towns were assigned to the descendants of Aaron who were from the Kohathite clans of the Levites, because the first lot fell to them):
They gave them Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), with its surrounding pastureland, in the hill country of Judah. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.)
But the fields and villages around the city they had given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession.
So to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Libnah,
Ain, Juttah and Beth Shemesh, together with their pasturelands--nine towns from these two tribes.
And from the tribe of Benjamin they gave them Gibeon, Geba,
Anathoth and Almon, together with their pasturelands--four towns.
All the towns for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, were thirteen, together with their pasturelands.
The rest of the Kohathite clans of the Levites were allotted towns from the tribe of Ephraim:
In the hill country of Ephraim they were given Shechem (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Gezer,
Kibzaim and Beth Horon, together with their pasturelands--four towns.
Also from the tribe of Dan they received Eltekeh, Gibbethon,
Aijalon and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands--four towns.
From half the tribe of Manasseh they received Taanach and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands--two towns.
All these ten towns and their pasturelands were given to the rest of the Kohathite clans.
The Levite clans of the Gershonites were given: from the half-tribe of Manasseh, Golan in Bashan (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Be Eshtarah, together with their pasturelands--two towns;
from the tribe of Issachar, Kishion, Daberath,
Jarmuth and En Gannim, together with their pasturelands--four towns;
from the tribe of Asher, Mishal, Abdon,
Helkath and Rehob, together with their pasturelands--four towns;
from the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Hammoth Dor and Kartan, together with their pasturelands--three towns.
All the towns of the Gershonite clans were thirteen, together with their pasturelands.
The Merarite clans (the rest of the Levites) were given: from the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam, Kartah,
Dimnah and Nahalal, together with their pasturelands--four towns;
from the tribe of Reuben, Bezer, Jahaz,
Kedemoth and Mephaath, together with their pasturelands--four towns;
from the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Mahanaim,
Heshbon and Jazer, together with their pasturelands--four towns in all.
All the towns allotted to the Merarite clans, who were the rest of the Levites, were twelve.
The towns of the Levites in the territory held by the Israelites were forty-eight in all, together with their pasturelands.
Each of these towns had pasturelands surrounding it; this was true for all these towns.
So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there.
The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them.
Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh
and said to them, "You have done all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded.
For a long time now--to this very day--you have not deserted your brothers but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you.
Now that the LORD your God has given your brothers rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side of the Jordan.
But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul."
Then Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their homes.
(To the half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given land in Bashan, and to the other half of the tribe Joshua gave land on the west side of the Jordan with their brothers.) When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them,
saying, "Return to your homes with your great wealth--with large herds of livestock, with silver, gold, bronze and iron, and a great quantity of clothing--and divide with your brothers the plunder from your enemies."
So the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan to return to Gilead, their own land, which they had acquired in accordance with the command of the LORD through Moses.
When they came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar there by the Jordan.
And when the Israelites heard that they had built the altar on the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side,
the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them.
So the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to the land of Gilead--to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
With him they sent ten of the chief men, one for each of the tribes of Israel, each the head of a family division among the Israelite clans.
When they went to Gilead--to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh--they said to them:
"The whole assembly of the LORD says: 'How could you break faith with the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the LORD and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now?
Was not the sin of Peor enough for us? Up to this very day we have not cleansed ourselves from that sin, even though a plague fell on the community of the LORD!
And are you now turning away from the LORD? " 'If you rebel against the LORD today, tomorrow he will be angry with the whole community of Israel.
If the land you possess is defiled, come over to the LORD's land, where the LORD's tabernacle stands, and share the land with us. But do not rebel against the LORD or against us by building an altar for yourselves, other than the altar of the LORD our God.
When Achan son of Zerah acted unfaithfully regarding the devoted things, did not wrath come upon the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.' "
Then Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh replied to the heads of the clans of Israel:
"The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the LORD, do not spare us this day.
If we have built our own altar to turn away from the LORD and to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it, may the LORD himself call us to account.
"No! We did it for fear that some day your descendants might say to ours, 'What do you have to do with the LORD, the God of Israel?
The LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you--you Reubenites and Gadites! You have no share in the LORD.' So your descendants might cause ours to stop fearing the LORD.
"That is why we said, 'Let us get ready and build an altar--but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.'
On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, 'You have no share in the LORD.'
"And we said, 'If they ever say this to us, or to our descendants, we will answer: Look at the replica of the LORD's altar, which our fathers built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you.'
"Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle."
When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the community--the heads of the clans of the Israelites--heard what Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had to say, they were pleased.
And Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, said to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, "Today we know that the LORD is with us, because you have not acted unfaithfully toward the LORD in this matter. Now you have rescued the Israelites from the LORD's hand."
Then Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, and the leaders returned to Canaan from their meeting with the Reubenites and Gadites in Gilead and reported to the Israelites.
They were glad to hear the report and praised God. And they talked no more about going to war against them to devastate the country where the Reubenites and the Gadites lived.
And the Reubenites and the Gadites gave the altar this name: A Witness Between Us that the LORD is God.