Joshua Sends Home the Eastern Tribes
1 Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh 2 and told them: “You have carried out all the instructions of Moses the Lord’s servant, and you have obeyed all I have told you.#tn Heb “You have kept all which Moses, the Lord’s servant, commanded you, and you have listened to my voice, to all which I commanded you.” 3 You have not abandoned your fellow Israelites#tn Heb “your brothers” (also in vv. 4, 7), but this does not refer to siblings or necessarily even to relatives. It refers to the Israelites of the remaining tribes. this entire time,#tn Heb “these many days.” right up to this very day. You have completed the task given you by the Lord your God.#tn Heb “you have kept the charge of the command of the Lord your God.” 4 Now the Lord your God has made your fellow Israelites secure,#tn Heb “has given rest to your brothers.” just as he promised them. So now you may turn around and go to your homes#tn Heb “tents.” in your own land#tn Heb “the land of your possession.” which Moses the Lord’s servant assigned to you east of the Jordan. 5 But carefully obey the commands and instructions Moses the Lord’s servant gave you. Love#tn Heb “But be very careful to do the commandment and the law which Moses, the Lord’s servant, commanded you, to love.” the Lord your God, follow all his instructions,#tn Heb “walk in all his paths.” obey#tn Or “keep.” his commands, be loyal to him,#tn Heb “hug him.” and serve him with all your heart and being!”#tn Or “soul.”
6 Joshua rewarded#tn Heb “blessed.” However, see v. 8, where rewards are given. them and sent them on their way; they returned to their homes.#tn Heb “and they went to their tents.” 7 (Now to one half-tribe of Manasseh, Moses had assigned land in Bashan; and to the other half Joshua had assigned land on the west side of the Jordan with their fellow Israelites.) When Joshua sent them home,#tn Heb “to their tents.” he rewarded#tn Heb “blessed.” them, 8 saying, “Take home#tn Heb “return to your tents with.” great wealth, a lot of cattle,#tn Heb “very many cattle.” silver, gold, bronze, iron, and a lot of#tn Heb “very much clothing.” clothing. Divide up the goods captured from your enemies with your brothers.” 9 So the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites in Shiloh in the land of Canaan and headed home to their own land in Gilead,#tn Heb “returned and went from the sons of Israel, from Shiloh which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their possession.” which they acquired by the Lord’s command through Moses.
Civil War is Averted
10 The Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan and built there, near the Jordan, an impressive altar.#tn Heb “and they went to Geliloth of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, and the sons of Reuben, the sons of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar near the Jordan, an altar great with respect to appearance.” 11 The Israelites received this report:#tn Heb “the sons of Israel heard, saying.” “Look, the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar at the entrance to#tn Heb “toward the front of.” the land of Canaan, at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side.” 12 When the Israelites heard this, the entire Israelite community assembled at Shiloh to launch an attack against them.#tn Heb “to go up against them for battle.”
13 The Israelites sent Phinehas, son of Eleazar, the priest, to the land of Gilead to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 14 He was accompanied by ten leaders, one from each of the Israelite tribes, each one a family leader among the Israelite clans.#tn Heb “ten leaders with him, one leader, one leader for a paternal house, for all the tribes of Israel, and each a head of the house of their father, they belong to the clans of Israel.” 15 They went to the land of Gilead to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and said to them: 16 “The entire community of the Lord says, ‘Why have you disobeyed the God of Israel by turning back today from following the Lord? You built an altar for yourselves and have rebelled today against the Lord.#tn Heb “What is this unfaithfulness with which you have been unfaithful against the God of Israel, turning today from after the Lord, when you built for yourselves an altar, rebelling today against the Lord?” 17 The sin we committed at Peor was bad enough. To this very day we have not purified ourselves; it even brought a plague on the community of the Lord.#tn Heb “Was the sin of Peor too insignificant for us, from which we have not made purification to this day? And there was a plague in the assembly of the Lord.” 18 Now today you dare to turn back#tn Heb “you are turning back.” from following the Lord! You are rebelling today against the Lord; tomorrow he may break out in anger against#tn Or “he will be angry with.” the entire community of Israel. 19 But if your own land#tn Heb “the land of your possession.” is impure,#sn The western tribes here imagine a possible motive for the action of the eastern tribes. T. C. Butler explains the significance of the land’s “impurity”: “East Jordan is impure because it is not Yahweh’s possession. Rather it is simply ‘your possession.’ That means it is land where Yahweh does not live, land which his presence has not sanctified and purified” (Joshua [WBC], 247). cross over to the Lord’s own land,#tn Heb “the land of the possession of the Lord.” where the Lord himself lives,#tn Heb “where the dwelling place of the Lord resides.”sn The phrase where the Lord himself lives refers to the tabernacle. and settle down among us.#tn Heb “and take for yourselves in our midst.” But don’t rebel against the Lord or us#tc Heb “and us to you rebel.” The reading of the MT, the accusative sign with suffix (וְאֹתָנוּ, vÿ’otanu), is problematic with the verb “rebel” (מָרַד, marad). Many Hebrew mss correctly read the negative particle אַל (’al) for the preposition אֶל (’el, “to”). by building for yourselves an altar aside from the altar of the Lord our God. 20 When Achan son of Zerah disobeyed the command about the city’s riches, the entire Israelite community was judged,#tn Heb “Is it not [true that] Achan son of Zerah was unfaithful with unfaithfulness concerning what was set apart [to the Lord] and against all the assembly of Israel there was anger?” though only one man had sinned. He most certainly died for his sin!’”#tn The second half of the verse reads literally, “and he [was] one man, he did not die for his sin.” There are at least two possible ways to explain this statement: (1) One might interpret the statement to mean that Achan was not the only person who died for his sin. In this case it could be translated, “and he was not the only one to die because of his sin.” (2) Another option, the one reflected in the translation, is to take the words וְהוּא אִישׁ אֶחָד (vÿhu’ ’ish ’ekhad, “and he [was] one man”) as a concessive clause and join it with what precedes. The remaining words (לֹא גָוַע בַּעֲוֹנוֹ, lo’ gava’ ba’avono) must then be taken as a rhetorical question (“Did he not die for his sin?”). Taking the last sentence as interrogative is consistent with the first part of the verse, a rhetorical question introduced with the interrogative particle. The present translation has converted these rhetorical questions into affirmative statements to bring out more clearly the points they are emphasizing. For further discussion, see T. C. Butler, Joshua (WBC), 240.
21 The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered the leaders#tn Heb “answered and spoke to the heads of.” of the Israelite clans: 22 “El, God, the Lord!#sn Israel’s God is here identified with three names: (1) אֵל (’el), “El” (or “God”); (2) אֱלֹהִים (’elohim), “Elohim” (or “God”), and (3) יְהוָה (yÿhvah), “Yahweh” (or “the Lord”). The name אֵל (’el, “El”) is often compounded with titles, for example, El Elyon, “God Most High.” El, God, the Lord! He knows the truth!#tn Heb “he knows.” Israel must also know! If we have rebelled or disobeyed the Lord,#tn Heb “if in rebellion or if in unfaithfulness against the Lord.” don’t spare us#tn Heb “do not save us.” The verb form is singular, being addressed to either collective Israel or the Lord himself. The LXX translates in the third person. today! 23 If we have built#tn Heb “by building.” The prepositional phrase may be subordinated to what precedes, “if in unfaithfulness…by building.” an altar for ourselves to turn back from following the Lord by making#tn Heb “or if to offer up.” burnt sacrifices and grain offerings on it, or by offering#tn Heb “or if to make.” tokens of peace#tn Or “peace offerings.” on it, the Lord himself will punish us.#tn Heb “the Lord, he will seek.” Perhaps this is a self-imprecation in an oath, “may the Lord himself punish us.” 24 We swear we have done this because we were worried that#tn Heb “Surely, from worry concerning a matter we have done this, saying.” in the future your descendants would say to our descendants, ‘What relationship do you have with the Lord God of Israel?#tn Heb “What is there to you and to the Lord God of Israel?” The rhetorical question is sarcastic in tone and anticipates a response, “Absolutely none!” 25 The Lord made the Jordan a boundary between us and you Reubenites and Gadites. You have no right to worship the Lord.’#tn Heb “You have no portion in the Lord.” In this way your descendants might cause our descendants to stop obeying#tn Heb “fearing.” the Lord. 26 So we decided to build this altar, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, 27 but as a reminder to us and you,#tn Heb “but it is a witness between us and you.” and to our descendants who follow us, that we will honor the Lord in his very presence#tn Heb “to do the service of the Lord before him.” with burnt offerings, sacrifices, and tokens of peace.#tn Or “peace offerings.” Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to our descendants, ‘You have no right to worship the Lord.’#tn Heb “You have no portion in the Lord.” 28 We said, ‘If in the future they say such a thing#tn The words “such a thing” are supplied in the translation for clarification. to us or to our descendants, we will reply, “See the model of the Lord’s altar that our ancestors#tn Heb “fathers.” made, not for burnt offerings or sacrifices, but as a reminder to us and you.”’#tn Heb “but it is a witness between us and you.” 29 Far be it from us to rebel against the Lord by turning back today from following after the Lord by building an altar for burnt offerings, sacrifices, and tokens of peace#tn Or “peace offerings.” aside from the altar of the Lord our God located in front of his dwelling place!”#sn The Lord’s dwelling place here refers to the tabernacle.
30 When Phinehas the priest and the community leaders and clan leaders who accompanied him heard the defense of the Reubenites, Gadites, and the Manassehites,#tn Heb “the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and the sons of Manasseh.” they were satisfied.#tn Heb “it was good in their eyes.” 31 Phinehas, son of Eleazar, the priest, said to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the Manassehites,#tn Heb “the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and the sons of Manasseh.” “Today we know that the Lord is among us, because you have not disobeyed the Lord in this.#tn Heb “because you were not unfaithful with this unfaithfulness against the Lord.” Now#tn On the use of אָז in a logical sense, see Waltke-O’Connor, Hebrew Syntax, 667. you have rescued the Israelites from the Lord’s judgment.”#tn Heb “the hand (i.e., power) of the Lord.”
32 Phinehas, son of Eleazar, the priest, and the leaders left the Reubenites and Gadites in the land of Gilead and reported back to the Israelites in the land of Canaan.#tn Heb “and Phinehas…returned from the sons of Reuben and from the sons of Gad, from the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the sons of Israel. And they brought back to them a word.” 33 The Israelites were satisfied with their report and gave thanks to God.#tn Heb “and the word was good in the eyes of the sons of Israel and the sons of Israel blessed God.” They said nothing more about launching an attack to destroy the land in which the Reubenites and Gadites lived.#tn Heb “and they did not speak about going up against them for battle to destroy the land in which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad were living.” 34 The Reubenites and Gadites named the altar, “Surely it is a Reminder to us#tn Heb “a witness between us.” that the Lord is God.”