21 The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh answered:
22 The Lord is the greatest God! We ask him to be our witness, because he knows whether or not we were rebellious or unfaithful when we built that altar. If we were unfaithful, then we pray that God won’t rescue us today. Let us tell you why we built that altar, 23 and we ask the Lord to punish us if we are lying. We didn’t build it so we could turn our backs on the Lord. We didn’t even build it so we could offer animal or grain sacrifices to please the Lord or ask his blessing.
24-25 We built that altar because we were worried. Someday your descendants might tell our descendants, “The Lord made the Jordan River the boundary between us Israelites and you people of Reuben and Gad. The Lord is Israel’s God, but you’re not part of Israel, so you can’t take part in worshiping the Lord.”
Your descendants might say that and try to make our descendants stop worshiping and obeying the Lord. 26 That’s why we decided to build the altar. It isn’t for offering sacrifices, not even sacrifices to please the Lord.[a]27-29 To build another altar for offering sacrifices would be the same as turning our backs on the Lord and rebelling against him. We could never do that! No, we built the altar to remind us and you and the generations to come that we will worship the Lord. And so we will keep bringing our sacrifices to the Lord’s altar, there in front of his sacred tent. Now your descendants will never be able to say to our descendants, “You can’t worship the Lord.”
But if they do say this, our descendants can answer back, “Look at this altar our ancestors built! It’s like the Lord’s altar, but it isn’t for offering sacrifices. It’s here to remind us and you that we belong to the Lord, just as much as you do.”
22.26sacrifices to please the Lord: See the note at 8.30-32.
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