Joshua Chapter 22 |
1Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 2and said to them, “You have observed all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed me in everything that I commanded you. 3You have not forsaken your kinsmen through the long years down to this day, but have faithfully observed the Instruction of the Lord your God. 4Now the Lord your God has given your kinsmen rest, as He promised them. Therefore turn and go to your homes, to the land of your holdings beyond the Jordan that Moses the servant of the Lord assigned to you. 5But be very careful to fulfill the Instruction and the Teaching that Moses the servant of the Lord enjoined upon you, to love the Lord your God and to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments and hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and soul.” 6Then Joshua blessed them and dismissed them, and they went to their homes.
7To the one half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had assigned territory in Bashan, and to the other Joshua assigned [territory] on the west side of the Jordan, with their kinsmen.
Furthermore, when Joshua sent them off to their homes, he blessed them 8and said to them, “Return to your homes with great wealth—with very much livestock, with silver and gold, with copper and iron, and with a great quantity of clothing. Share the spoil of your enemies with your kinsmen.” 9So the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh, in the land of Canaan, and made their way back to the land of Gilead, the land of their own holding, which they had acquired by the command of the Lord through Moses. 10When they came to the region of the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, a great conspicuous altar.
11A report reached the Israelites: “The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar opposite the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan, across from the Israelites.” 12When the Israelites heard this, the whole community of the Israelites assembled at Shiloh to make war on them. 13But [first] the Israelites sent the priest Phinehas son of Eleazar to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh in the land of Gilead, 14accompanied by ten chieftains, one chieftain from each ancestral house of each of the tribes of Israel; they were every one of them heads of ancestral houses of the contingents of Israel. 15When they came to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh in the land of Gilead, they spoke to them as follows:
16“Thus said the whole community of the Lord: What is this treachery that you have committed this day against the God of Israel, turning away from the Lord, building yourselves an altar and rebelling this day against the Lord! 17Is the sin of Peor, which brought a plague upon the community of the Lord, such a small thing to us? We have not cleansed ourselves from it to this very day; 18and now you would turn away from the Lord! If you rebel against the Lord today, tomorrow He will be angry with the whole community of Israel. 19If it is because the land of your holding is unclean, cross over into the land of the Lord’s own holding, where the Tabernacle of the Lord abides, and acquire holdings among us. But do not rebel against the Lord, and do not rebel against us by building for yourselves an altar other than the altar of the Lord our God. 20When Achan son of Zerah violated the proscription, anger struck the whole community of Israel; he was not the only one who perished for that sin.”
21The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh replied to the heads of the contingents of Israel: They said, 22“God, the Lord God! God, the Lord God! He knows, and Israel too shall know! If we acted in rebellion or in treachery against the Lord, do not vindicate us this day! 23If we built an altar to turn away from the Lord, if it was to offer burnt offerings or meal offerings upon it, or to present sacrifices of well-being upon it, may the Lord Himself demand [a reckoning]. 24We did this thing only out of our concern that, in time to come, your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25The Lord has made the Jordan a boundary between you and us, O Reubenites and Gadites; you have no share in the Lord!’ Thus your children might prevent our children from worshiping the Lord. 26So we decided to provide [a witness] for ourselves by building an altar—not for burnt offerings or [other] sacrifices, 27but as a witness between you and us, and between the generations to come—that we may perform the service of the Lord before Him with our burnt offerings, our sacrifices, and our offerings of well-being; and that your children should not say to our children in time to come, ‘You have no share in the Lord.’ 28We reasoned: should they speak thus to us and to our children in time to come, we would reply, ‘See the replica of the Lord’s altar, which our fathers made—not for burnt offerings or sacrifices, but as a witness between you and us.’ 29Far be it from us to rebel against the Lord, or to turn away this day from the Lord and build an altar for burnt offerings, meal offerings, and sacrifices other than the altar of the Lord our God which stands before His Tabernacle.”
30When the priest Phinehas and the chieftains of the community—the heads of the contingents of Israel—who were with him heard the explanation given by the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the Manassites, they approved. 31The priest Phinehas son of Eleazar said to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the Manassites, “Now we know that the Lord is in our midst, since you have not committed such treachery against the Lord. You have indeed saved the Israelites from punishment by the Lord.”
32Then the priest Phinehas son of Eleazar and the chieftains returned from the Reubenites and the Gadites in the land of Gilead to the Israelites in the land of Canaan, and gave them their report. 33The Israelites were pleased, and the Israelites praised God; and they spoke no more of going to war against them, to ravage the land in which the Reubenites and Gadites dwelt.
34The Reubenites and the Gadites named the altar [“Witness”], meaning, “It is a witness between us and them that the Lord is [our] God.”