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Three Tribes Go Home

22 Then Joshua called a meeting of all the people from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh. Joshua said to them, “Moses was the Lord’s servant. You obeyed everything that Moses told you to do. And you also obeyed all of my commands. All this time you have supported all the other Israelites. You carefully obeyed all the commands that the Lord your God gave you. The Lord your God promised to give the Israelites peace. And now, he has kept his promise, so now you can go home. The Lord’s servant Moses gave you the land on the east side of the Jordan River. Now you can go home to that land. But remember—continue to obey the law that the Lord’s servant Moses gave you. You must love the Lord your God and obey his commands. You must continue to follow him and serve him the very best that you can.”

Then Joshua said goodbye to them, and they left and went home. Moses had given the land of Bashan to half of the Manasseh tribe. Joshua gave land on the west side of the Jordan River to the other half of the Manasseh tribe. Joshua blessed them and sent them home. He said, “You have become very rich. You have many animals. You have gold, silver, and expensive jewelry. You have many beautiful clothes. You have taken many things from your enemies. Go home and divide these things among yourselves.”

So the people from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh left the other Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan. They went back home to Gilead. This was their own land, the land that Moses gave them, as the Lord had commanded.

10 They went to the place called Geliloth, near the Jordan River in the land of Canaan. There they built a beautiful altar. 11 But the other Israelites who were still at Shiloh heard about the altar that these three tribes built. They heard that the altar was at the border of Canaan at the place called Geliloth. It was near the Jordan River on Israel’s side. 12 All the Israelites became very angry with these three tribes. They met together and decided to fight against them.

13 So the Israelites sent some men to talk to the people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. The leader of these men was Phinehas, son of Eleazar the priest. 14 They also sent ten of the leaders of the tribes there. There was one man from each family group of Israel who was at Shiloh.

15 So these eleven men went to Gilead. They went to talk to the people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. The eleven men said to them, 16 “All the Lord’s people sent us to ask you this: ‘Why did you do this thing against the God of Israel? Why did you stop following the Lord? Why did you build an altar for yourselves? You know that this is against the Lord’s command. 17 Remember what happened at Peor? Was the sin we committed there not bad enough? Because of that sin, the Lord punished his people with a terrible sickness. And we are still suffering from that sin. 18 And now you are doing the same thing. You are turning against the Lord. Will you refuse to follow the Lord? If you don’t stop what you are doing, he will be angry with everyone in Israel.

19 “‘If your land is not a good place to worship God, come over to the Lord’s land. This is where the Lord’s Tent is. You can have some of the land and live here. But don’t turn against the Lord or against us by building another altar. We already have the altar of the Lord our God at the Meeting Tent.

20 “‘Remember how Achan son of Zerah refused to obey the command about things that must be destroyed. That one man broke God’s law, but all the Israelites were punished. Achan died because of his sin, but also many other people died.’”

21 The people from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh answered the eleven men. They said, 22 “The Lord is our God![a] Again we say that the Lord is our God! And God knows why we did this thing. We want you to know also. You can judge what we did. If you think we did it because we are against the Lord or refuse to obey him, you can kill us today. 23 Do you think we built our own altar because we want to turn away from the Lord? Do you think we built another altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings, and fellowship offerings? If that is why we built this altar, we ask the Lord himself to punish us. 24 But that is not why we built it. We built it because we were afraid that in the future your descendants might not accept us as part of God’s people. So your children might say to our children, ‘You people have no reason to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. 25 The Lord separated you people of Reuben and Gad from us by giving you the land on the other side of the Jordan River. So you are not part of the Lord’s people.’ If your children said that, it 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 offerings and sacrifices. 27 The real reason we wanted our altar was to show our people that we worship the same God you do. This altar will be the proof to you and us and to all our future children that we worship the Lord. We give our sacrifices, grain offerings, and fellowship offerings to the Lord. We wanted your children to grow up and know that we are also Israelites like yourselves. 28 In the future, if it happens that your children say that we don’t belong to Israel, then our children can say, ‘Look, our fathers who lived before us made an altar. That altar is exactly like the Lord’s altar at the Holy Tent. We don’t use this altar for sacrifices—this altar is proof that we are part of Israel.’

29 “The truth is, we don’t want to be against the Lord. We don’t want to stop following him now. We know that the only true altar is the one that is in front of the Holy Tent. That altar belongs to the Lord our God.”

30 Phinehas the priest and the leaders with him heard what the people from Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh said. They were satisfied that they were telling the truth. 31 So Phinehas the priest said, “Now we know that the Lord is with us and that you did not turn against him. We are happy that the Israelites will not be punished by the Lord.”

32 Then Phinehas and the leaders left that place and went home. They left the people of Reuben and Gad in the land of Gilead and went back to Canaan. They went back to the Israelites and told them what had happened. 33 The Israelites were also satisfied. They were happy and thanked God. They decided not to go and fight against the people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. They decided not to destroy the land where those people live.

34 The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar “Proof That We Believe the Lord is God.”

Joshua Encourages the People

23 The Lord gave Israel peace from their enemies around them. He made Israel safe. Many years passed, and Joshua became very old. At this time Joshua called a meeting of all the older leaders, heads of families, judges, and officers of the Israelites. Joshua said, “I have grown very old. You have seen what the Lord did to our enemies. He did this to help us. The Lord your God fought for you. Remember that I told you that your people could have the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. I promised to give you that land, but you don’t control it yet. I have taken the land away from those nations, but they are still living there. But the Lord your God will force the people living there to leave. You will take that land. The Lord will force them to leave, just as he promised.

“You must be careful to obey every command written in the Book of the Law[b] of Moses. Never turn away from that law. There are still some people living among us who are not Israelites. They worship their own gods. Don’t become friends with them. Don’t serve or worship their gods. You must continue to follow the Lord your God. You have done this in the past, and you must continue to do it.

“The Lord helped you defeat many great and powerful nations. He forced them to leave. No nation has been able to defeat you. 10 With his help, one man from Israel could defeat 1000 enemy soldiers, because the Lord your God fights for you, as he promised. 11 So you must continue to love the Lord your God.

12 “Never stop following him. Don’t become friends with those people who did not leave when you took the land. They are not part of Israel. Don’t marry any of their people. If you become friends with those people, 13 the Lord your God will not help you defeat your enemies. They will become like a trap for you. They will cause you pain—like smoke and dust in your eyes. And you will be forced to leave this good land. The Lord your God gave you this land. But you can lose it if you don’t obey this command.

14 “It is almost time for me to die. You know and really believe that the Lord has done many great things for you. You know that the Lord your God has not failed in any of his promises. He has kept every promise that he has made to us. 15 Every good promise that the Lord your God made to us has come true. But in the same way, the Lord will make his other promises come true: If you do wrong, bad things will happen to you. You will be forced to leave this good land that the Lord your God has given to you. 16 This will happen if you refuse to keep your agreement with the Lord your God. You will lose this land if you go and serve other gods. You must not worship those other gods. If you do, the Lord will become very angry with you. Then you will quickly be forced to leave this good land that he gave you.”

Joshua Says Goodbye

24 Joshua called all the tribes of Israel to meet together at Shechem. Then Joshua called the older leaders, heads of the families, judges, and the officers of Israel. These men stood before God.

Then Joshua spoke to all the people. He said, “I am telling you what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you: ‘A long time ago, your ancestors lived on the other side of the Euphrates River. I am talking about men like Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor. At that time they worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham out of the land on the other side of the River. I led him through the land of Canaan and gave him many children. I gave Abraham his son Isaac. And I gave Isaac two sons, Jacob and Esau. To Esau, I gave the land around the mountains of Seir. Jacob and his sons did not live there. They went to live in the land of Egypt.

“‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron to Egypt. I wanted them to bring my people out of Egypt. I caused many terrible things to happen to the people of Egypt. Then I brought your people out of Egypt. When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, they came to the Red Sea, and the men of Egypt were chasing them. There were chariots and men on horses. So the people asked me, the Lord, for help. And I caused great trouble to come to the men of Egypt. I caused the sea to cover them. You yourselves saw what I did to the army of Egypt.

“‘After that you lived in the desert for a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, east of the Jordan River. Those people fought against you, but I allowed you to defeat them. I gave you the power to destroy them, and you took control of that land.

“‘Then Balak, the son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against the Israelites. The king sent for Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I refused to listen to Balaam’s prayer. So he asked me to bless you, and I saved you from the enemy.

11 “‘Then you went across the Jordan River to the city of Jericho. The people in Jericho fought against you. Also, the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites fought against you. But I allowed you to defeat them all. 12 As your army went forward, I sent the Hornet[c] ahead of them and made the people leave the land, as I did to the two Amorite kings.[d] It was not your swords and bows that brought you victory!

13 “‘I, the Lord, gave that land to you. You didn’t work for that land—I gave it to you. You did not build those cities—I gave them to you. And now you live in that land and in those cities. You have vineyards and olive trees, but you did not have to plant those gardens.’”

14 Then Joshua said to the people, “Now you have heard the Lord’s words. So you must respect the Lord and sincerely serve him. Throw away the false gods that your ancestors worshiped. That was something that happened a long time ago on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Now you must serve only the Lord.

15 “But maybe you don’t want to serve the Lord. You must choose for yourselves today. Today you must decide who you will serve. Will you serve the gods that your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River? Or will you serve the gods of the Amorites who lived in this land? You must choose for yourselves. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “We will never stop following the Lord. We will never serve other gods! 17 We know that it was the Lord God who brought our people out of Egypt. We were slaves in that land, but he did great things for us there. He brought us out of that land and protected us while we traveled through other lands. 18 The Lord helped us defeat the people living in these lands. He helped us defeat the Amorites who lived in this land where we are now. So we will continue to serve the Lord, because he is our God.”

19 Then Joshua said, “You will not be able to continue serving the Lord. God is holy. And God hates his people worshiping other gods. He will not forgive you if you turn against him like that. 20 If you leave the Lord and serve other gods, he will cause terrible things to happen to you. He will destroy you. He has been good to you, but if you turn against him he will destroy you.”

21 Then the people said to Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”

22 Then Joshua said, “Look around at yourselves and the people with you. Do you all know and agree that you have chosen to serve the Lord? Are you all witnesses to this?”

The people answered, “Yes, it is true. We all see that we have chosen to serve the Lord.”

23 Then Joshua said, “So throw away the false gods that you have among you. Love the Lord, the God of Israel, with all your heart.”

24 Then the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him.”

25 So that day Joshua made an agreement for the people. He made this agreement at the town called Shechem. It became a law for them to follow. 26 Joshua wrote these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he found a large stone to be the proof of this agreement. He put the stone under the oak tree near the Lord’s Holy Tent.

27 Then Joshua said to all the people, “This stone will help you remember what we said today. This stone was here when the Lord was speaking to us today. So this stone will be something that helps you remember what happened today. The stone will be a witness against you. It will stop you from turning against your God.”

28 Then Joshua told the people to go home. So everyone went back to his own land.

Joshua Dies

29 After that the Lord’s servant Joshua son of Nun died. He was 110 years old. 30 Joshua was buried on his own land at Timnath Serah, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

31 The Israelites served the Lord during the time Joshua was living. After Joshua died, the people continued to serve the Lord while their leaders were alive. These were the leaders who had seen what the Lord had done for Israel.

Joseph Comes Home

32 When the Israelites left Egypt, they carried the bones from the body of Joseph with them. They buried the bones of Joseph at Shechem on the land that Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of the man named Shechem. Jacob had bought that land for 100 pieces of pure silver. This land belonged to Joseph’s children.

33 Aaron’s son, Eleazar, died and was buried at Gibeah in the hill country of Ephraim. Gibeah had been given to Eleazar’s son Phinehas.


  1. Joshua 22:22 The Lord is our God Or “Yahweh is the true God!” Literally, “El Elohim Yahweh!”
  2. Joshua 23:6 Law Or “Teachings.”
  3. Joshua 24:12 Hornet A stinging insect like a large wasp or bee. Here, it probably means God’s angel or his great power.
  4. Joshua 24:12 The Hebrew text here is hard to understand, but it may refer to the events described in Num. 21:21-35 and Deut. 2:24-3:10.

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