Joshua 22:10-34 Good News Translation (GNT)
The Altar by the Jordan
10 When the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh arrived at Geliloth, still on the west side[a] of the Jordan, they built a large, impressive altar there by the river. 11 The rest of the people of Israel were told, “Listen! The people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh have built an altar at Geliloth, on our side of the Jordan!” 12 When the people of Israel heard this, the whole community came together at Shiloh to go to war against the eastern tribes.
13 Then the people of Israel sent Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, to the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh in the land of Gilead. 14 Ten leading men went with Phinehas, one from each of the western tribes and each one the head of a family among the clans. 15 They came to the land of Gilead, to the people of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh, 16 and speaking for the whole community of the Lord, they said to them, “Why have you done this evil thing against the God of Israel? You have rebelled against the Lord by building this altar for yourselves! You are no longer following him! 17 Remember our sin at Peor, when the Lord punished his own people with an epidemic? We are still suffering because of that. Wasn't that sin enough? 18 Are you going to refuse to follow him now? If you rebel against the Lord today, he will be angry with everyone in Israel tomorrow. 19 Now then, if your land is not fit to worship in, come over into the Lord's land, where his Tent is. Claim some land among us. But don't rebel against the Lord or make rebels out of us by building an altar in addition to the altar of the Lord our God. 20 Remember how Achan son of Zerah refused to obey the command about the things condemned to destruction; the whole community of Israel was punished for that. Achan was not the only one who died because of his sin.”
21 The people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh answered the heads of the families of the western tribes: 22 “The Mighty One is God! He is the Lord! The Mighty One is God! He is the Lord! He knows why we did this, and we want you to know too! If we rebelled and did not keep faith with the Lord, do not let us live any longer! 23 If we disobeyed the Lord and built our own altar to burn sacrifices on or to use for grain offerings or fellowship offerings, let the Lord himself punish us. 24 No! We did it because we were afraid that in the future your descendants would say to ours, ‘What do you have to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 He made the Jordan a boundary between us and you people of Reuben and Gad. You have nothing to do with the Lord.’ Then your descendants might make our descendants stop worshiping the Lord. 26 So we built an altar, not to burn sacrifices or make offerings, 27 but instead, as a sign for our people and yours, and for the generations after us, that we do indeed worship the Lord before his sacred Tent with our offerings to be burned and with sacrifices and fellowship offerings. This was to keep your descendants from saying that ours have nothing to do with the Lord. 28 It was our idea that, if this should ever happen, our descendants could say, ‘Look! Our ancestors made an altar just like the Lord's altar. It was not for burning offerings or for sacrifice, but as a sign for our people and yours.’ 29 We would certainly not rebel against the Lord or stop following him now by building an altar to burn offerings on or for grain offerings or sacrifices. We would not build any other altar than the altar of the Lord our God that stands in front of the Tent of his presence.”
30 Phinehas the priest and the ten leading men of the community who were with him, the heads of families of the western tribes, heard what the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh had to say, and they were satisfied. 31 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, said to them, “Now we know that the Lord is with us. You have not rebelled against him, and so you have saved the people of Israel from the Lord's punishment.”
32 Then Phinehas and the leaders left the people of Reuben and Gad in the land of Gilead and went back to Canaan, to the people of Israel, and reported to them. 33 The Israelites were satisfied and praised God. They no longer talked about going to war to devastate the land where the people of Reuben and Gad had settled.
34 The people of Reuben and Gad said, “This altar is a witness to all of us that the Lord is God.” And so they named it “Witness.”
Joshua 22:10-34 New International Version (NIV)
10 When they came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar 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 to go to war against them.
13 So the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar, 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.
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 with the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the Lord and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now? 17 Was not the sin of Peor 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 of Israel. 19 If the land you possess is defiled, come over to the Lord’s land, where the Lord’s tabernacle stands, and share the land with us. But do not rebel against the Lord or against us by building an altar 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] did not wrath come on the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.’”
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, the Lord! He knows! 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, or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it, may the Lord himself call us to account.
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 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. 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 between us and you.’
29 “Far be it from us to rebel 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.”
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, 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. 33 They were glad to hear the report and praised God. 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 Between Us—that the Lord is God.