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21 Then the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered Phinehas and the heads of the clans of Israel:
Leaders of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh: 22 The Eternal One, God of gods! The Eternal One, God of gods! He knows the truth, and Israel should know, too. If it was out of rebellion against Him or faithlessness against Him, then devote us to destruction today! 23 If we have built this altar to renounce our allegiance to Him, or to present burnt offerings or grain offerings or peace offerings on it, then may the Eternal Himself take vengeance on us!
24 No, we were afraid that someday, years from now, your sons and daughters might say to our sons and daughters, “Who are you? What connection do you have with the Eternal God of Israel? 25 Didn’t He set the river Jordan between us, the Reubenites and the Gadites, as a boundary? You have no share in the Eternal One.” So your sons and daughters might prevent ours from worshiping Him. 26-28 And we thought, should that day ever come, we could point to this altar and say, “Look, this constructed altar dedicated to Him was not set up to sacrifice on, but to be a witness here at the border between us that we serve the same God so that your children will not accuse our children of following other gods.”
29 It was the farthest thing from our minds to build an altar so that we could turn away from the Eternal God or to present burnt offerings or grain offerings or peace offerings on anything but the altar that stands in front of His congregation tent, the place of revelation.
30 When the priest Phinehas, and the leaders of the congregation and the heads of the clans of Israel who accompanied him, heard the reply from the people of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, they were satisfied.
Phinehas (to the people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh): 31 We know now that the Eternal is among us. Because you have not committed some treachery against Him, you have saved all of the Israelites from punishment at His hands.
32 So Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, and the leaders left the people of Reuben and Gad in the land of Gilead and returned to the assembly at Shiloh to tell them what they had heard. 33 Their report pleased the Israelites, and they stopped talking about going to war or destroying the people of Reuben and Gad. 34 The people of Reuben and Gad called the altar “Witness.”
Tribes of Reuben and Gad: We have built this altar as a witness between us that the Eternal is the True God.
In this final section of this book (chapters 23–24), Joshua’s speeches recap the story of their exodus from Egypt, remind the Israelites (and us) that God has been faithful in keeping all His promises, and call the people of Israel to accountability and faithfulness. It is this last charge that they will fail to keep—and that failure will cause the people of Israel so much trouble in the generations to come.
23 After Israel had taken possession of their inheritances and the Eternal had given them peace for many years and when Joshua was very old, 2 he summoned all of Israel, their judges and officers and leaders.
Joshua: I am an old man. 3 You have seen everything the Eternal One, your True God, did to these nations for you; the Eternal One, your True God, fought for you. 4 I have allotted as your tribes’ inheritances the territories of those people who still remain, as well as all the nations I captured from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. 5 The Eternal your God will push them out of their lands and out of your sight and you will live in their lands, just as He promised you. 6 So be firm and unswerving, observing all that is written in the law of Moses without deviation. 7 That will ensure that you don’t start to blend in with the other nations around you or call upon their gods or worship them or serve them. 8 Just hold tightly to the Eternal One, your True God, as you always have, 9 for He has driven out great and powerful nations before you like leaves in the wind, and you know that no one has ever been able to stand against you. 10 One of you can pursue a thousand because it is He who fights for you, just as He promised.
11 So always be careful to love the Eternal One, your God. 12 If you turn away from Him and toward those left of the foreign nations among you—if your women marry them and their women marry you— 13 you can be sure that the Eternal will turn from you. He won’t remove the nations around you, but instead He will let them be a snare for you to be caught in, a wound in your sides, and thorns in your eyes until you perish from this good land that He has given you.
14 The time has come for me to die and return to the earth. But I want to leave you with these thoughts: Think back and you will know without a doubt that not one single good thing that the Eternal One, your God, promised you has been left undone. Not a single one.
15 But in the same way the Eternal One, your True God, has fulfilled all these blessings, you can be sure that if you turn away from Him, He will fulfill the curses until the Eternal has obliterated you from this good land He gave you. 16 If you break the commandments that He has laid upon you and turn from Him to serve and worship other gods, then His anger will flare white-hot against you, and you will quickly be wiped from the face of this good land He has given you.
27 Another group came to test Him—this time from the Sadducees, a rival party of the Pharisees, who believe that there is no resurrection.
Sadducees: 28 Teacher, Moses wrote in the Hebrew Scriptures that a man must marry his brother’s wife and the new couple should bear children for his brother if his brother dies without heirs.[a] 29 Well, once there were seven brothers, and the first took a wife and then died without fathering children. 30 The second [took her as his wife and then he died childless,][b] 31 and then the third, and so on through the seven. They all died leaving no children. 32 Finally the woman died too. 33 Here’s our question: in the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since all seven had her for a while? Will she be the wife of seven men at once?
Jesus: 34 The children of this era marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain the resurrection of the dead in the coming era do not marry and are not given in marriage. 36 They are beyond mortality; they are on the level of heavenly messengers; they are children of God and children of the resurrection. 37 Since you brought up the issue of resurrection, even Moses made clear in the passage about the burning bush that the dead are, in fact, raised. After all, he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.[c] 38 By Moses’ time, they were all dead, but God isn’t God of the dead, but of the living. So all live to God.
Religious Scholars: 39 Teacher, that was a good answer.
40 After this no one had the courage to ask Him any more questions. 41 But He asked them a question.
Jesus: How is it that people say the Anointed One is David’s descendant? 42 Don’t you remember how David himself wrote in the psalms,
The Master said to my master:
“Sit here at My right hand,
in the place of honor and power.
43 And I will gather Your enemies together,
lead them in on hands and knees,
and You will rest Your feet on their backs.”[d]
44 Did you hear that? David calls his son “Lord.” Elders don’t defer to those who are younger in that way. How is David’s son also “Lord”?
45 Jesus turned to His disciples, speaking loudly enough for the others to hear.
Jesus: 46 Beware of the religious scholars. They like to parade around in long robes. They love being greeted in the marketplaces. They love taking the best seats in the synagogues. They adore being seated around the head table at banquets. 47 But in their greed they rob widows of their houses and cover up their greed with long pretentious prayers. Their condemnation will be all the worse because of their hypocrisy.
14 Your rule is rooted deeply in justice and righteousness—
unfailing love and truth lead from the way ahead of You.
15 How happy are those who have learned how to praise You;
those who journey through life by the light of Your face.
16 Every hour of the day, they rejoice at the sound of Your name.
They are lifted up and encouraged by Your righteousness.
17 For You are the beauty of their strength.
On account of Your favor, our strength, our horn, is increased.
18 For our shield of protection comes from the Eternal,
and the Holy One of Israel has given us our king.
19 Long ago You spoke through a vision to Your faithful followers, saying,
“I have given help to a warrior;
I have chosen a hero from among My people.
20 I have found David, My servant.
With My holy oil, I have anointed him king.
21 My strong hand will stay with him and sustain him, regardless of trial or foe.
My mighty arm will be his strength and shield.
22 The deceit of his enemies will not outwit him.
The wicked will not defeat him.
23 I will pound his enemies right in front of him.
I will strike down all those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and unfailing love will never leave him;
through My name, strength and power will be his.
25 I will extend his rule over the oceans,
his right hand will control the rivers.
26 He will cry out to Me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’
27 I will make him My firstborn;
no earthly king shall be greater.
28 My unfailing love will always be with him, protecting him;
My covenant with him will never be broken.
29 I will ensure his family’s future forever;
his dynasty will last as long as the heavens.
30 If his children turn away from Me and forsake My law,
if they refuse to walk according to My judgments,
31 If they disobey My instructions
and ignore My commandments,
32 Then I will use the rod to punish their sins
and stripes to deal with their iniquity.
33 And yet My unfailing love of him will remain steadfast and strong.
I will not be unfaithful to My promise.
34 I will not violate My covenant,
nor will I alter even one word of what My lips have spoken.
35 These words I have pledged in My holiness once and for all,
and I will not lie to David.
36 As long as the sun lights the day before Me, his descendants will continue to rule.
His kingdom will last forever.
37 His dynasty will stand firm for all time like the moon,
the faithful witness that stands watch in the night sky.”
17 An untrustworthy messenger stirs up trouble,
but a faithful emissary is curative balm.
18 A person who turns from correction faces poverty and shame,
but one who regards constructive criticism is well respected.
19 A dream fulfilled is the sweetness of life,
but abandoning evil is repulsive to fools.