Joshua 22International Children’s Bible (ICB)
Three Tribes Go Home
22 Then Joshua called a meeting of all the people from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh. 2 He said to them, “You have obeyed everything Moses told you to do. He was a servant of the Lord. And also, you have obeyed all my commands. 3 All this time you have supported all the other Israelites. You have been careful to obey all the commands the Lord your God gave you. 4 The Lord your God promised to give the Israelites peace. Now he has kept his promise. Now you may go back to your homes. You may go to the land that Moses, the Lord’s servant, gave you. It is the land on the east side of the Jordan River. 5 But continue to obey the teachings Moses gave you. That law is to love the Lord your God and obey his commands. Continue to follow him and serve him the very best you can.”
6 Then Joshua said good-bye to them, and they left. They went away to their homes. 7 Moses had given the land of Bashan to the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh. Joshua gave land on the west side of the Jordan River to the western half-tribe of Manasseh. And he sent them to their homes. He blessed them. 8 He said, “Go back to your homes and your riches. You have many animals, silver, gold, bronze and iron. And you have many beautiful clothes. Also, you have taken many things from your enemies. You should divide these among yourselves.”
9 So the people from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh left the other Israelites. They left Shiloh in Canaan and went back towards Gilead. This was their own land. Moses gave it to them as the Lord had commanded.
10 The people of Reuben, Gad and the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh traveled to Geliloth. This was near the Jordan River in the land of Canaan. There they built a beautiful altar. 11 But the other Israelites still at Shiloh heard about the altar these three tribes had built. They heard that the altar was at the border of Canaan at Geliloth. It was near the Jordan River on Israel’s side. 12 All the Israelites became very angry at these three tribes. They met together and decided to fight them.
13 So the Israelites sent some men to talk to the people of Reuben, Gad and the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh. The leader of these men was Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest. 14 They also sent one leader of each of the ten tribes at Shiloh. Each of these men was a leader of his family group of Israelites.
15 So these men went to Gilead. They went to talk to the people of Reuben, Gad and the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh. The men said to them: 16 “All the Israelites ask you: ‘Why did you turn against the God of Israel? Why did you build an altar for yourselves? You know that this is against God’s law. 17 Remember what happened at Peor? We still suffer today because of that sin. Because of it, God caused many of the Israelites to become very sick. 18 And now are you doing the same thing? Are you turning against the Lord? Will you refuse to follow the Lord?
“‘If you don’t stop what you’re doing, the Lord will be angry with everyone in Israel. 19 Your land may not be a good enough place to worship. If not, come over into our land. The Lord’s Tent is in our land. You may have some of our land and live there. But don’t turn against the Lord by building another altar. We already have the altar of the Lord our God. 20 Remember Achan son of Zerah. He refused to obey the command about what must be completely destroyed. That one man broke God’s law, but all the Israelites were punished. Achan died because of his sin. But many other people also died.’”
21 The people from Reuben, Gad and the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh answered them. They said: 22 “The Lord is our God! Again we say that the Lord is our God! God knows why we did this. We want you to know also. You can judge what we did. If you believe we have done something wrong, you may kill us. 23 If we broke God’s law, we ask the Lord himself to punish us. Do you think we built this altar to offer burnt offerings? And did we build it to use for offerings of grain and fellowship?
24 “No! We did not build it for that reason. We feared that some day your people would not accept us as part of your nation. Then they might say, ‘You cannot worship the Lord, the God of Israel. 25 God gave you land on the other side of the Jordan River. It separates us from you people of Reuben and Gad. You cannot worship the Lord.’ So we feared that your children might make our children stop worshiping the Lord.
26 “So we decided to build this altar. But we did not plan to use it for burning sacrifices and making offerings. 27 It was really to show our people that we worship the same God as you. This altar is proof to you and us. And it will prove to all our children who will come after us that we worship the Lord. We give our whole burnt offerings, grain and fellowship offerings to the Lord. This was to keep your children from saying that our children could not worship the Lord.
28 “In the future your children might say that we do not belong to Israel. Then our children could say, ‘Look! Our fathers who lived before us made an altar. It is exactly like the Lord’s altar. We do not use it for sacrifices. This altar shows that we are part of Israel.’
29 “Truly, we don’t want to be against the Lord. We don’t want to stop following him. We know the only true altar is the one in front of the Holy Tent. It belongs to the Lord our God.”
30 Phinehas the priest and the ten leaders heard these things. They listened to the people of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. And they were pleased. 31 So Phinehas, son of Eleazar the priest, spoke. He said, “Now we know the Lord is with us. And we know you didn’t turn against him. We’re happy that the Israelites will not be punished by the Lord.”
32 Then Phinehas and the leaders went home. They left the people of Reuben and Gad in Gilead. And they went back to Canaan. There they told the Israelites what had happened. 33 They were also pleased. They were happy and thanked God. And they decided not to fight against the people of Reuben and Gad. They decided not to destroy those lands.
34 And the people of Reuben and Gad gave the altar a name. They called it Proof that We Believe that the Lord Is God.
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