Joshua 22

1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh
2 and said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the slave of the LORD commanded you and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you.
3 Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God.
4 And now the LORD your God has given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them; therefore now return and go to your tents and unto the land of your possessions which Moses the slave of the LORD gave you on the other side of the Jordan.
5 Only that with diligence ye keep yourselves doing the commandment and the law, which Moses, the slave of the LORD, charged you: to love the LORD your God and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cleave unto him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
6 So Joshua, blessing them, sent them; and they went unto their tents.
7 Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh, Moses had given possession in Bashan; but unto the other half Joshua gave inheritance among their brethren on this side of the Jordan to the west. And Joshua also sent these to their tents, after having blessed them,
8 And he spoke unto them, saying, Return with great riches unto your tents and with a great amount of cattle with silver, with gold, with brass, with iron, and with very much clothing; divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.
9 And the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, departing from the sons of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, of which they were the possessors, according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
10 And when they came unto the borders of the Jordan, which is in the land of Canaan, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built an altar there next to the Jordan, a great altar to look upon.
11 And the sons of Israel heard it said, Behold, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of the Jordan, at the passage of the sons of Israel.
12 And when the sons of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the sons of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.
13 And the sons of Israel sent unto the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half tribe of Manasseh into the land of Gilead, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest,
14 and with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was the head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.
15 And they came unto the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the half tribe of Manasseh unto the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them, saying,
16 Thus saith the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD in that ye have built an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the LORD?
17 Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, for which there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD?
18 And ye turn away this day from following the LORD; and it will be, seeing ye rebel today against the LORD, that tomorrow he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel.
19 If the land of your possession seems unto you to be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, in which the LORD’s tabernacle dwells and take possession among us; but do not rebel against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building yourselves an altar in addition to the altar of the LORD our God.
20 Peradventure did Achan, the son of Zerah, not commit a trespass in the anathema, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.
21 Then the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered and said unto the heads of the thousands of Israel,
22 The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he knows and let Israel also know; if it is in rebellion, or if in transgression against the LORD (save us not this day)
23 that we have built us an altar to turn from following the LORD or if to offer thereon burnt offering or present or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the LORD himself require it;
24 likewise, if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, Peradventure tomorrow your children shall speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?
25 The LORD has put the Jordan for a border between us and you, O sons of Reuben and sons of Gad; ye have no part in the LORD, so shall your sons make our sons cease from fearing the LORD.
26 Therefore we said, Let us now work to build us an altar, not for burnt offering nor for sacrifice,
27 but that it may be a witness between us and you and our generations after us, to do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings and with our sacrifices and with our peace offerings that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.
28 Therefore we said, that it shall be, if they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may reply, Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings nor for sacrifices, but it is a witness between us and you.
29 Let it never happen that we should rebel against the LORD or that we should turn today from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for presents, or for sacrifices, in addition to the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.
30 And when Phinehas the priest and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the sons of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them.
31 And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, said unto the sons of Reuben and to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the LORD is among us because ye have not intended to trespass against the LORD. Now ye have delivered the sons of Israel from the wrath of the LORD.
32 And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the sons of Reuben and from the sons of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the sons of Israel and brought them word again.
33 And the thing pleased the sons of Israel; and the sons of Israel blessed God and did not speak again of going up against them in battle to destroy the land in which the sons of Reuben and Gad dwelt.
34 And the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad called the altar Ed; for it is a witness between us that the LORD is God.

Joshua 22 Commentary

Chapter 22

Reuben and Gad, with the half tribe of Manasseh, dismissed to their homes. (1-9) They build an altar of testimony, The congregation offended thereat. (10-20) The answer of the Reubenites. (21-29) The children of Israel satisfied. (30-34)

Verses 1-9 Joshua dismisses the tribes with good counsel. Those who have the commandment have it in vain, unless they do the commandment; and it will not be done aright unless we take diligent heed. In particular to love the Lord our God, as the best of beings, and the best of friends; and as far as that principle rules in the heart, there will be constant care and endeavour to walk in his ways, even those that are narrow and up-hill. In every instance to keep his commandments. At all times, and in all conditions, with purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord, and to serve him and his kingdom among men, with all our heart, and with all our soul. This good counsel is given to all; may God give us grace to take it!

Verses 10-20 Here is the care of the separated tribes to keep their hold of Canaan's religion. At first sight it seemed a design to set up an altar against the altar at Shiloh. God is jealous for his own institutions; we should be so too, and afraid of every thing that looks like, or leads to idolatry. Corruptions in religion are best dealt with at first. But their prudence in following up this zealous resolution is no less commendable. Many an unhappy strife would be prevented, or soon made up, by inquiries into the matter of the offence. The remembrance of great sins committed formerly, should engage us to stand on our guard against the beginnings of sin; for the way of sin is down-hill. We are all concerned to reprove our neighbour when he does amiss, lest we suffer sin upon him, ( Leviticus 19:17 ) . The offer made that they should be welcome to come to the land where the Lord's tabernacle was, and settle there, was in the spirit of true Israelites.

Verses 21-29 The tribes took the reproofs of their brethren in good part. With solemnity and meekness they proceeded to give all the satisfaction in their power. Reverence of God is expressed in the form of their appeal. This brief confession of faith would remove their brethren's suspicion that they intended to worship other gods. Let us always speak of God with seriousness, and mention his name with a solemn pause. Those who make appeals to Heaven with a careless "God knows," take his name in vain: it is very unlike this. They express great confidence of their own uprightness in the matter of their appeal. "God knows it," for he is perfectly acquainted with the thoughts and intents of the heart. In every thing we do in religion, it highly concerns us to approve ourselves to God, remembering that he knows the heart. And if our sincerity be known to God, we should study likewise to let others know it by its fruits, especially those who, though they mistake us, show zeal for the glory of God. They disdained the design of which they were suspected to be guilty, and fully explained their true intent in building this altar. Those who have found the comfort and benefit of God's ordinances, cannot but desire to preserve them to their seed, and to use all possible care that their children may be looked upon as having a part in him. Christ is the great Altar that sanctifies every gift; the best evidence of our interest in him is the work of his Spirit in our hearts.

Verses 30-34 It is well that there was on both sides a disposition to peace, as there was a zeal for God; for quarrels about religion, for want of wisdom and love, often prove the most fierce and difficult to be made up. Proud and peevish spirits, when they have passed any unjust blame on their brethren, though full evidence be brought of its unfairness, can by no means be persuaded to withdraw it. But Israel was not so prejudiced. They looked upon their brethren's innocence as a token of God's presence. Our brethren's zeal for the power of godliness, and faith and love, notwithstanding the fears of their breaking the unity of the church, are things of which we should be very glad to be satisfied. The altar was called ED, a witness. It was a witness of their care to keep their religion pure and entire, and would witness against their descendants, if they should turn from following after the Lord. Happy will it be when all professed Christians learn to copy the example of Israel, to unite zeal and steady adherence to the cause of truth, with candour, meekness, and readiness to understand each other, to explain and to be satisfied with the explanations of their brethren. May the Lord increase the number of those who endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace! may increasing grace and consolation be with all who love Jesus Christ in sincerity!

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JOSHUA 22

The war with the Canaanites being ended, Joshua called to him the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, who came over Jordan with him to assist in it, and commended them for their obedience to Moses and to himself, and to God by them; and then dismissed them, with some instructions to keep the ways and worship of God, and with his blessing upon them, Jos 22:1-8; upon which they returned to their country, and when they came to the borders of it set up an altar by Jordan, Jos 22:9,10; which, when the children of Israel heard of, it gave them great offence, they fearing they were going to make a revolt from the pure worship of God, and therefore sent a deputation of princes to them, with the son of the high priest, to inquire into the matter, and expostulate with them about it, who did, Jos 22:11-20; and who received from them a very satisfactory answer, Jos 22:21-31; with which they returned and reported to the children of Israel, and which gave them pleasure, Jos 22:32-34.

Joshua 22 Commentaries

The Jubilee Bible

(from the Scriptures of the Reformation)

edited by Russell M. Stendal

Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2010