Tribes beyond Jordan Return
22 Then Joshua called the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 2 and said to them, “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have listened to and obeyed my voice in everything that I commanded you. 3 You have not deserted your brothers these many days to this day, but have [carefully] kept the obligation of the commandment of the Lord your God. 4 And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brothers, as He has promised them; so turn now and go to your tents, to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the [east side of the] Jordan. 5 Only be very careful and diligently observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord has commanded you to love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul [your very life].” 6 So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents.
7 Now to the one-half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan, but to the other half Joshua gave a possession on the west side of the Jordan among their brothers. So when Joshua sent them away to their tents, he blessed them, 8 and he said to them, “Return to your tents with great riches and with very much livestock, with silver, gold, bronze, iron, and with very many clothes; divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers (fellow tribesmen).” 9 So the sons (descendants) of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned home and departed from the [other] sons (western tribes) of Israel at Shiloh which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their own which they had possessed, in accordance with the command of the Lord through Moses.
The Offensive Altar
10 When they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, an altar that was great to behold. 11 And the [other] sons of Israel heard it said, “Look, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an [a]altar at the edge of the land of Canaan, in the region [west] of the Jordan, on the side belonging to the sons of Israel.” 12 When the sons of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.
13 Then the sons of Israel sent Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest to the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, 14 and with him ten leaders, one leader from each father’s household from each of the tribes of Israel; and each one was the head of his father’s household among the thousands of Israel. 15 They came to the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, and they said to them, 16 “This is what the entire congregation of the Lord says, ‘What is this disloyal and unfaithful act which you have committed against the God of Israel, so as to turn away from following the Lord this day, by building yourselves an altar, to rebel against the Lord this day? 17 Is the wrongdoing (idolatry) of Peor not enough for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, even though the affliction [in which twenty-four thousand died] came on the congregation of the Lord,(A) 18 that you would turn away this day from following the Lord? If you rebel against the Lord today, He will be angry with the entire congregation of Israel tomorrow. 19 If, however, the land of your possession is unclean, then cross into the land of the possession of the Lord, where the Lord’s tabernacle is situated, and settle down among us. But do not rebel against the Lord, or rebel against us by building an altar for yourselves, besides the altar of the Lord our God [at Shiloh]. 20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and [as a result God’s] wrath came on the entire congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his wrongdoing.’”(B)
21 Then the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered and said to the heads of the families of Israel, 22 “The Mighty One, God, the Lord, the Mighty One, God, the Lord! He knows, and may Israel itself know. If it was in rebellion, or if in an unfaithful act against the Lord, do not save us this day! 23 If we have built an altar for ourselves to turn away from following the Lord, or if [we did so] to offer a burnt offering or grain offering on it, or if to offer sacrifices of peace offerings on it, may the Lord Himself require it [of us and hold us responsible]. 24 But in truth we have done this out of concern, for a reason, saying, ‘In time to come your sons (descendants) may say to our sons, “What [b]claim do you have to the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 For the Lord has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you sons of Reuben and sons of Gad; you have no part in the Lord.” So your sons (descendants) may cause our sons to stop fearing the Lord.’
26 “So we said, ‘Let us prepare and build an altar, not for burnt offering or for sacrifice, 27 but to be a witness between us and you and between the generations after us, that we are to perform the service of the Lord before Him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices and with our peace offerings, so that your sons (descendants) will not say to our sons in time to come, “You have no part in the Lord.”’ 28 So we said, ‘If your descendants should say this to us or to our descendants in time to come, then we can reply, “See the copy of the altar of the Lord which our fathers made, not for burnt offering or for sacrifice, but rather it is a witness between us and you.”’ 29 Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord and turn away from following the Lord this day, by building an altar for burnt offering, for grain offering or for sacrifice, besides the altar of the Lord our God which is before His [c]tabernacle [in Shiloh].”
30 So when Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the congregation and heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the sons of Manasseh spoke, it [d]pleased them. 31 Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the sons of Manasseh, “Today we know that the Lord is among us, because you have not committed this unfaithful act against the Lord; indeed you have saved Israel from the hand of the Lord.”
32 Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest and the leaders returned from the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad, from the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the sons of Israel, and brought back word to them. 33 The report [e]pleased the sons of Israel, and the sons of Israel blessed God; and they said no more about going to battle against them to destroy the land in which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad were living. 34 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad called the altar Witness; “For it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.”
Joshua’s Farewell Address
23 A long time after that, when the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies [f]on every side, and Joshua had grown old and [g]advanced in years, 2 that Joshua called all Israel, their elders and their heads and their judges and their officers, and said to them, “I am old and advanced in years. 3 And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake; for the Lord your God is He who has been fighting for you.(C) 4 See, I have allotted to you these nations that remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan [on the east] to the Great [Mediterranean] Sea toward the setting sun. 5 The Lord your God will push them away from before you and drive them out of your sight and you will take possession of their land, just as the Lord your God [h]promised you. 6 Be steadfast and very determined to keep and to do everything that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, so that you do not turn aside from it to the right or the left, 7 so that you do not associate with these nations which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear [an oath by them], or serve them, or bow down to them. 8 But you are to cling to the Lord your God, just as you have done to this day. 9 For the Lord has driven out great and mighty nations from before you; and as for you, no man has been able to stand [in opposition] before you to this day. 10 One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who is fighting for you, just as He [i]promised you. 11 So be very careful and watchful of yourselves to [j]love the Lord your God. 12 For if you ever turn back and cling to the rest of these nations, these that are left among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know and understand with certainty that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.
14 “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God has promised concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. 15 It shall come about that just as every good word which the Lord your God spoke and promised to you has [k]been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you every bad thing [about which He warned you], until He has destroyed and eliminated you from this good land which the Lord your God has given you. 16 When you transgress (violate) the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you [to follow], and you go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you.”
Joshua Reviews Israel’s History
24 Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and for their judges and for their officers; they presented themselves before God. 2 Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, lived beyond the [Euphrates] River in ancient times; and they served other gods. 3 Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the [Euphrates] River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants, and I gave him Isaac. 4 To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau, and to Esau I gave [the hill country of] Mount Seir to possess; but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. 5 Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt by what I did in its midst; and afterward I brought you out. 6 Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. 7 When they cried out to the Lord [for help], He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them and covered them; and your own eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness [l]a long time (forty years).(D) 8 Then I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived on the other side of the Jordan, and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land and I destroyed them before you. 9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel, and he sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam. Therefore he had to bless you, so I saved you from Balak’s hand.(E) 11 You crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho; and the citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Girgashite, the Hivite and the Jebusite; and so I gave them into your hand. 12 I sent the hornet [that is, the terror of you] before you, which drove the two kings of the Amorites out before you; but it was not by your sword or by your bow.(F) 13 I gave you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you live in them; you eat from vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’
14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in truth; remove the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the [Euphrates] River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is unacceptable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
16 The people answered, “Far be it from us to abandon (reject) the Lord to serve other gods; 17 for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs (miracles) in our sight and kept us safe all along the way that we went and among all the peoples among whom we passed. 18 The Lord drove all the peoples out from before us, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”
19 Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the Lord [if you serve any other gods], for He is a holy God; He is a [m]jealous God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His]. He will not forgive your transgression [of His law] or your sins. 20 If you do abandon (reject) the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume and destroy you after He has done you good.” 21 The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve [only] the Lord.” 22 Joshua then said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the Lord, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 “Now then, remove the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your hearts toward the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and we will listen to and obey His voice.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance at Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was in [the courtyard of] the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 Joshua then said to all the people, “Look, this stone shall serve as a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us; so it shall be a witness against you, so that [afterward] you do not deny your God.” 28 Then Joshua sent the people away, each to [the territory of] his inheritance.
Joshua’s Death and Burial
29 It happened after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, at the age of a hundred and ten years. 30 They buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash.
31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, and had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.
32 Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the plot of land which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money; and it became the inheritance of the sons of Joseph. 33 And Eleazar [the priest], the son of Aaron died; and they buried him at Gibeah [on the hill] of Phinehas his son, which had been given to him in the hill country of Ephraim.
- Joshua 22:11 The immediate assumption of the Israelites was that this altar was an act of rebellion and was built to compete with the true altar of God in Shiloh.
- Joshua 22:24 Lit to you and to the Lord.
- Joshua 22:29 Lit dwelling place.
- Joshua 22:30 Lit was good in their eyes.
- Joshua 22:33 Lit was good in the eyes of.
- Joshua 23:1 Lit from round about.
- Joshua 23:1 Lit and he had entered days.
- Joshua 23:5 All through the time of Joshua’s leadership he kept giving as his statement of faith the fact that the Lord had spoken, the Lord had promised.
- Joshua 23:10 Lit spoke to.
- Joshua 23:11 The word love is sometimes used to express the covenant relationship between Israel and God. Everything depended on whether or not Israel would continue to be faithful to the covenant established by God. Joshua knew the trap the pagan nations would be to Israel, so he proposed three guidelines: first, there must be obedience to God’s word (23:6); second, there must be a diligent separation from the Canaanite nations (23:7); finally, there must be a dependence on the Lord with heartfelt love (23:8-11).
- Joshua 23:15 Lit come to.
- Joshua 24:7 Lit many days.
- Joshua 24:19 I.e. intolerant of unfaithfulness.