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.”Read full chapter
- Joshua 22:22 The Lord is our God Or “Yahweh is the true God!” Literally, “El Elohim Yahweh!”