GOD’S WORD Translation
Joshua Blesses the Tribes That Live East of the Jordan River
22 Joshua summoned the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh. 2 He said to them, “You have done everything the Lord’s servant Moses commanded you. You have also obeyed me in everything I commanded you. 3 All this time, to this day, you have never deserted your relatives. You have carefully kept the commands of the Lord your God.
4 “Now the Lord your God has given your relatives peace, as he promised them. So return home, to the land that is your own possession. It is the land that the Lord’s servant Moses gave you east of the Jordan River. 5 Carefully follow the commands and teachings that the Lord’s servant Moses gave you. Love the Lord your God, follow his directions, and keep his commands. Be loyal to him, and serve him with all your heart and soul.” 6 Then Joshua blessed them. He sent them on their way, and they went to their homes.
7 Moses had given land in Bashan as an inheritance to half of Manasseh, and Joshua had given the other half of the tribe their land with their relatives west of the Jordan. When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them. 8 He also said to them, “Return to your homes with your vast wealth, large herds of livestock, silver, gold, bronze, iron, and loads of clothing. Divide the loot from your enemies with your relatives.”
An Altar for the Lord Is Built East of the Jordan River
9 So the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh left the rest of the Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan. They returned to Gilead. This was their own possession which they had captured as the Lord had instructed them through Moses. 10 Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh came to the region of the Jordan that was still in Canaan. They built an altar by the Jordan River. The altar was very large and highly visible. 11 The rest of the Israelites heard about it and said, “See there! Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar at the border of Canaan. It’s in the region near the Jordan River on Israel’s side.” 12 When the people of Israel heard about it, the whole congregation of Israel gathered at Shiloh. They intended to wage war against them.
13 The Israelites sent Phinehas, son of the priest Eleazar, to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh in Gilead. 14 Ten leaders, one from each tribe in Israel, went with him. Each man was a leader of a household and head of a family division in Israel. 15 When they arrived these leaders said to the people of Gilead, 16 “All of the Lord’s congregation is asking, ‘What is this faithless act you have committed against the God of Israel?’ Today you have turned away from following the Lord by building an altar for yourselves. Today you have rebelled against the Lord! 17 Does the sin we committed at Peor mean nothing to us anymore? Didn’t we cleanse ourselves from it? Because of that sin there was a plague on the Lord’s congregation! 18 You have turned away from following the Lord! Today you rebel against the Lord, and tomorrow he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel. 19 If your land is unclean,[a] come over here to the Lord’s land. The Lord’s tent is standing here. Take some property for yourselves among us. Don’t rebel against the Lord or against us by building an altar for yourselves in addition to the altar of the Lord our God. 20 Didn’t Achan, son of Zerah, act faithlessly with the things claimed by the Lord? Didn’t the Lord become angry with the whole congregation of Israel? Achan wasn’t the only one who died because of his sin.”
21 Then the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh answered the heads of the divisions of Israel. 22 They said, “The Lord is the only true God! The Lord is the only true God! He knows, so let Israel know! If our act is rebellious or unfaithful to the Lord, 23 don’t spare us today. If we built an altar with the intention of no longer following him, and if we built it for making burnt offerings, grain offerings, or fellowship offerings, let the Lord punish us.
24 “We were worried because of the situation we’re in. We thought sometime in the future your children might say to our children, ‘What relationship do you have with the Lord God of Israel? 25 The Lord has made the Jordan River a dividing line between us and you, the descendants of Reuben and Gad. You have no connection with the Lord!’ So your descendants would stop our descendants from worshiping the Lord. 26 Then we said, ‘Let’s build an altar for ourselves. It will not be for burnt offerings or sacrifices, 27 but it will stand as a witness between us for generations to come. It will stand as a witness that we may worship in the presence of the Lord with our burnt offerings, sacrifices, and fellowship offerings.’ Then your descendants cannot say to our descendants, ‘You have no connection with the Lord!’ 28 So we thought, if this statement is made to us or to our descendants in the future, we will answer, ‘Look at the model of the Lord’s altar our ancestors made. They didn’t make it for burnt offerings or sacrifices but to stand as a witness between us.’ 29 It would be unthinkable for us to rebel against the Lord or to turn back today from following the Lord by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings, or sacrifices in addition to the altar of the Lord our God that is in front of his tent.”
30 When the priest Phinehas, the leaders of the congregation, and the heads of the divisions of Israel heard what the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh said, they were satisfied. 31 Then Phinehas, son of the priest Eleazar, said to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, “Today we know the Lord is among us, because you did not commit an unfaithful act against the Lord. Now you have rescued the people of Israel from the Lord’s punishment.”
32 Then Phinehas (son of the priest Eleazar) and the leaders returned from Reuben and Gad in Gilead to Israel in Canaan and gave them the report. 33 The people of Israel were satisfied with the report. So they praised God and didn’t talk anymore about going to war against Reuben and Gad and destroying the land where they were living.
34 The tribes of Reuben and Gad gave the altar a name: Witness Between Us That the Lord Is the Only True God.
- Joshua 22:19 “Unclean” refers to anything that Moses’ Teachings say is not presentable to God.
New International Version
Eastern Tribes Return Home
22 Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh 2 and said to them, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded,(A) and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. 3 For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you. 4 Now that the Lord your God has given them rest(B) as he promised, return to your homes(C) in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan.(D) 5 But be very careful to keep the commandment(E) and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord(F) your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands,(G) to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.(H)”
6 Then Joshua blessed(I) them and sent them away, and they went to their homes. 7 (To the half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given land in Bashan,(J) and to the other half of the tribe Joshua gave land on the west side(K) of the Jordan along with their fellow Israelites.) When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them,(L) 8 saying, “Return to your homes with your great wealth—with large herds of livestock,(M) with silver, gold, bronze and iron,(N) and a great quantity of clothing—and divide(O) the plunder(P) from your enemies with your fellow Israelites.”
9 So the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh(Q) in Canaan to return to Gilead,(R) their own land, which they had acquired in accordance with the command of the Lord through Moses.
10 When they came to Geliloth(S) near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar(T) there by the Jordan. 11 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, 12 the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh(U) to go to war against them.
13 So the Israelites sent Phinehas(V) son of Eleazar,(W) the priest, to the land of Gilead—to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 14 With him they sent ten of the chief men, one from each of the tribes of Israel, each the head of a family division among the Israelite clans.(X)
15 When they went to Gilead—to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh—they said to them: 16 “The whole assembly of the Lord says: ‘How could you break faith(Y) with the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the Lord and build yourselves an altar in rebellion(Z) against him now? 17 Was not the sin of Peor(AA) 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! 18 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(AB) of Israel. 19 If the land you possess is defiled, come over to the Lord’s land, where the Lord’s tabernacle(AC) stands, and share the land with us. But do not rebel against the Lord or against us by building an altar(AD) for yourselves, other than the altar of the Lord our God. 20 When Achan son of Zerah was unfaithful in regard to the devoted things,[a](AE) did not wrath(AF) come on the whole community(AG) of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.’”(AH)
21 Then Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh replied to the heads of the clans of Israel: 22 “The Mighty One, God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God,(AI) the Lord!(AJ) He knows!(AK) And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the Lord, do not spare us this day. 23 If we have built our own altar to turn away from the Lord and to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings,(AL) or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it, may the Lord himself call us to account.(AM)
24 “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? 25 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.
26 “That is why we said, ‘Let us get ready and build an altar—but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.’ 27 On the contrary, it is to be a witness(AN) 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.(AO) Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no share in the Lord.’
28 “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 ancestors built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness(AP) between us and you.’
29 “Far be it from us to rebel(AQ) 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.(AR)”
30 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. 31 And Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, said to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, “Today we know that the Lord is with us,(AS) because you have not been unfaithful to the Lord in this matter. Now you have rescued the Israelites from the Lord’s hand.”
32 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.(AT) 33 They were glad to hear the report and praised God.(AU) And they talked no more about going to war against them to devastate the country where the Reubenites and the Gadites lived.
34 And the Reubenites and the Gadites gave the altar this name: A Witness(AV) Between Us—that the Lord is God.
- Joshua 22:20 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.