Joshua 22 International 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.
Joshua 22 New International Version (NIV)
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, 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 as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. 5 But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
6 Then Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their homes. 7 (To the half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given land in Bashan, and to the other half of the tribe Joshua gave land on the west side of the Jordan along with their fellow Israelites.) When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them, 8 saying, “Return to your homes with your great wealth—with large herds of livestock, with silver, gold, bronze and iron, and a great quantity of clothing—and divide the plunder from your enemies with your fellow Israelites.”
9 So the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan to return to Gilead, their own land, which they had acquired in accordance with the command of the Lord through Moses.
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.