Joshua 22:21-23:16Contemporary English Version (CEV)
21 The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh answered:
22 The Lord is the greatest God! We ask him to be our witness, because he knows whether or not we were rebellious or unfaithful when we built that altar. If we were unfaithful, then we pray that God won’t rescue us today. Let us tell you why we built that altar, 23 and we ask the Lord to punish us if we are lying. We didn’t build it so we could turn our backs on the Lord. We didn’t even build it so we could offer animal or grain sacrifices to please the Lord or ask his blessing.
24-25 We built that altar because we were worried. Someday your descendants might tell our descendants, “The Lord made the Jordan River the boundary between us Israelites and you people of Reuben and Gad. The Lord is Israel’s God, but you’re not part of Israel, so you can’t take part in worshiping the Lord.”
Your descendants might say that and try to make our descendants stop worshiping and obeying the Lord. 26 That’s why we decided to build the altar. It isn’t for offering sacrifices, not even sacrifices to please the Lord.[a] 27-29 To build another altar for offering sacrifices would be the same as turning our backs on the Lord and rebelling against him. We could never do that! No, we built the altar to remind us and you and the generations to come that we will worship the Lord. And so we will keep bringing our sacrifices to the Lord’s altar, there in front of his sacred tent. Now your descendants will never be able to say to our descendants, “You can’t worship the Lord.”
But if they do say this, our descendants can answer back, “Look at this altar our ancestors built! It’s like the Lord’s altar, but it isn’t for offering sacrifices. It’s here to remind us and you that we belong to the Lord, just as much as you do.”
30-31 Phinehas and the clan leaders were pleased when they heard the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh explain why they had built the altar. Then Phinehas told them, “Today we know that the Lord is helping us. You have not been unfaithful to him, and this means that the Lord will not be angry with us.”
32 Phinehas and the clan leaders left Gilead and went back to Canaan to tell the Israelites about their meeting with the Reuben and Gad tribes. 33 The Israelites were happy and praised God. There was no more talk about going to war and wiping out the tribes of Reuben and Gad.
34 The people of Reuben and Gad named the altar “A Reminder to Us All That the Lord Is Our God.”[b]
Joshua’s Farewell Speech
23 The Lord let Israel live in peace with its neighbors for a long time, and Joshua lived to a ripe old age. 2 One day he called a meeting of the leaders of the tribes of Israel, including the old men, the judges, and the officials. Then he told them:
I am now very old. 3 You have seen how the Lord your God fought for you and helped you defeat the nations who lived in this land. 4-5 There are still some nations left, but the Lord has promised you their land. So when you attack them, he will make them run away. I have already divided their land among your tribes, as I did with the land of the nations I defeated between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
6 Be sure that you carefully obey everything written in The Book of the Law[c] of Moses and do exactly what it says.
7 Don’t have anything to do with the nations that live around you. Don’t worship their gods or pray to their idols or make promises in the names of their gods. 8 Be as faithful to the Lord as you have always been.
9 When you attacked powerful nations, the Lord made them run away, and no one has ever been able to stand up to you. 10 Any one of you can defeat a thousand enemy soldiers, because the Lord God fights for you, just as he promised. 11 Be sure to always love the Lord your God. 12-13 Don’t ever turn your backs on him by marrying people from the nations that are left in the land. Don’t even make friends with them. I tell you that if you are friendly with those nations, the Lord won’t chase them away when you attack. Instead, they’ll be like a trap for your feet, a whip on your back, and thorns in your eyes. And finally, none of you will be left in this good land that the Lord has given you.
14 I will soon die, as everyone must. But deep in your hearts you know that the Lord has kept every promise he ever made to you. Not one of them has been broken. 15-16 Yes, when the Lord makes a promise, he does what he has promised. But when he makes a threat, he will also do what he has threatened. The Lord is our God. He gave us this wonderful land and made an agreement with us that we would worship only him. But if you worship other gods, it will make the Lord furious. He will start getting rid of you, and soon not one of you will be left in this good land that he has given you.
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