Eastern Tribes Return to Their Lands
1Then Joshua called the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, 2and said to them: “You have kept #Num. 32:20–22; Deut. 3:18all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, #Josh. 1:12–18and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you. 3You have not left your brethren these many days, up to this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God. 4And now the Lord your God has given #Josh. 21:44rest to your brethren, as He promised them; now therefore, return and go to your tents and to the land of your possession, #Num. 32:33which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. 5But #Deut. 6:6, 17; 11:22; Jer. 12:16take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, #Deut. 10:12; 11:13, 22to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” 6So Joshua #Gen. 47:7; Ex. 39:43; Josh. 14:13; 2 Sam. 6:18; Luke 24:50blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents.
7Now to half the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan, #Josh. 17:1–13but to the other half of it Joshua gave a possession among their brethren on this side of the Jordan, westward. And indeed, when Joshua sent them away to their tents, he blessed them, 8and spoke to them, saying, “Return with much riches to your tents, with very much livestock, with silver, with gold, with bronze, with iron, and with very much clothing. #Num. 31:27; 1 Sam. 30:24Divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.”
9So the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to #Num. 32:1, 26, 29the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, which they had obtained according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
An Altar by the Jordan
10And when they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan—a great, impressive altar. 11Now the children of Israel #Deut. 13:12–18; Judg. 20:12, 13heard someone say, “Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan—on the children of Israel’s side.” 12And when the children of Israel heard of it, #Josh. 18:1; Judg. 20:1the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go to war against them.
13Then the children of Israel #Deut. 13:14; Judg. 20:12sent #Ex. 6:25; Num. 25:7, 11–13Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, 14and with him ten rulers, one ruler each from the chief house of every tribe of Israel; and #Num. 1:4each one was the head of the house of his father among the divisions of Israel. 15Then they came to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, to the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them, saying, 16“Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord: ‘What #Deut. 12:5–14treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the Lord, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, #Lev. 17:8, 9that you might rebel this day against the Lord? 17Is the iniquity #Num. 25:1–9; Deut. 4:3of Peor not enough for us, from which we are not cleansed till this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the Lord, 18but that you must turn away this day from following the Lord? And it shall be, if you rebel today against the Lord, that tomorrow #Num. 16:22He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel. 19Nevertheless, if the land of your possession is unclean, then cross over to the land of the possession of the Lord, #Josh. 18:1where the Lord’s tabernacle stands, and take possession among us; but do not rebel against the Lord, nor rebel against us, by building yourselves an altar besides the altar of the Lord our God. 20#Josh. 7:1–26Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.’ ”
21Then the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh answered and said to the heads of the divisions of Israel: 22“The Lord #Deut. 4:35; 10:17; Is. 44:8; 45:5; 46:9; (1 Cor. 8:5, 6)God of gods, the Lord God of gods, He #(Job 10:7; 23:10; Jer. 12:3; 2 Cor. 11:11, 31)knows, and let Israel itself know—if it is in rebellion, or if in treachery against the Lord, do not save us this day. 23If we have built ourselves an altar to turn from following the Lord, or if to offer on it burnt offerings or grain offerings, or if to offer peace offerings on it, let the Lord Himself #Deut. 18:19; 1 Sam. 20:16require an account. 24But in fact we have done it for fear, for a reason, saying, ‘In time to come your descendants may speak to our descendants, saying, “What have you to do with the Lord God of Israel? 25For the Lord has made the Jordan a border between you and us, you children of Reuben and children of Gad. You have no part in the Lord.” So your descendants would make our descendants cease fearing the Lord.’ 26Therefore we said, ‘Let us now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering nor for sacrifice, 27but that it may be #Gen. 31:48; Josh. 22:34; 24:27a witness between you and us and our generations after us, that we may #Deut. 12:5, 14perform the service of the Lord before Him with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your descendants may not say to our descendants in time to come, “You have no part in the Lord.” ’ 28Therefore we said that it will be, when they say this to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say, ‘Here is the replica of the altar of the Lord which our fathers made, though not for burnt offerings nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between you and us.’ 29Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn from following the Lord this day, #Deut. 12:13, 14to build an altar for burnt offerings, for grain offerings, or for sacrifices, besides the altar of the Lord our God which is before His tabernacle.”
30Now when Phinehas the priest and the rulers of the congregation, the heads of the divisions of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and the children of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them. 31Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and the children of Manasseh, “This day we perceive that the Lord is #Ex. 25:8; Lev. 26:11, 12; 2 Chr. 15:2; Zech. 8:23among us, because you have not committed this treachery against the Lord. Now you have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the Lord.”
32And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the rulers, returned from the children of Reuben and the children of Gad, from the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought back word to them. 33So the thing pleased the children of Israel, and the children of Israel #1 Chr. 29:20; Neh. 8:6; Dan. 2:19; Luke 2:28blessed God; they spoke no more of going against them in battle, to destroy the land where the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.
34The children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar, Witness, “For it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.”