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Joshua

The transjordanic tribes return and set up a memorial altar.  Jos.22.1-34

1AT THAT TIME JOSHUA SUMMONED THE REUBENITES, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, 2and said to them, 'You have observed all the commands of Moses the servant of the LORD, and you have obeyed me in all the commands that I too have laid upon you. 3All this time you have not deserted your brothers; up to this day you have diligently observed the charge laid on you by the LORD your God. 4And now that the LORD your God has given your brothers security as he promised them, you may turn now and go to your homes in your own land, the land which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you east of the Jordan. 5But take good care to keep the commands and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God; to conform to his ways; to observe his commandments; to hold fast to him; to serve him with your whole heart and soul.' 6Joshua blessed them and dismissed them; and they went to their homes. 7 (7-8) He sent them home with his blessing, and with these words: 'Go to your homes richly laden, with great herds, with silver and gold, copper and iron, and with large stores of clothing. See that you share with your kinsmen the spoil you have taken from your enemies.'

Moses had given territory to one half of the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, and Joshua gave territory to the other half west of the Jordan among their kinsmen.

8 9So the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh left the rest of the Israelites and went from Shiloh in Canaan on their way into Gilead, the land which belonged to them according to the decree of the LORD given through Moses. 10When these tribes came to Geliloth by the Jordan prob. rdg, Heb adds which was in Canaan, they built a great altar there by the river for all to see. 11The Israelites heard that the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh had built the altar facing the land of Canaan, at Geliloth by the Jordan opposite the Israelite side. 12When the news reached them, all the community of the Israelites assembled at Shiloh to advance against them with a display of force. 13At the same time the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest into the land of Gilead, to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, 14and ten leading men with him, one from each of the tribes of Israel, each of them the head of a household among the clans of Israel. 15They came to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh in the land of Gilead, and remonstrated with them in these words: 16'We speak for the whole community of the LORD. What is this treachery you have committed against the God of Israel? Are you ceasing to follow the LORD and building your own altar this day in defiance of the LORD? 17Remember our offence at Peor, for which a plague fell upon the community of the LORD; to this day we have not been purifled from it. 18Was that offence so slight that you dare cease to follow the LORD today? If you defy the LORD today, then tomorrow he will be angry with the whole community of Israel. 19If the land you have taken is unclean, then cross over to the LORD's own land, where the Tabernacle of the LORD now rests, and take a share of it with us; but do not defy the LORD and involve us in your defiance by building an altar of your own apart from the altar of the LORD our God. 20Remember the treachery of Achan son of Zerah, who defied the ban and the whole community of Israel suffered for it. He was not the only one who paid for that sin with his life.'

21Then the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh remonstrated with the heads of the clans of Israel: 22'The LORD the God of gods, the LORD the God of gods, he knows, and Israel must know: if this had been an act of defiance or treachery against the LORD, you could not save us today. 23If we had built ourselves an altar meaning to forsake the LORD, or had offered whole-offerings and grain-offerings upon it, or had presented shared-offerings, the LORD himself would exact punishment. 24The truth is that we have done this for fear that the day may come when your sons will say to ours, "What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? 25The LORD put the Jordan as a boundary between our sons and your sons. You have no share in the LORD, you men of Reuben and Gad." Thus your sons will prevent our sons from going in awe of the LORD. 26So we resolved to set ourselves to build an altar, not for whole-offerings and sacrifices, 27but as a witness between us and you, and between our descendants after us. Thus we shall be able to do service before the LORD, as we do now, with our whole-offerings, our sacrifices, and our shared-offerings; and your sons will never be able to say to our sons that they have no share in the LORD. 28And we thought, if ever they do say this to us and our descendants, we will point to this copy of the altar of the LORD which we have made, not for whole-offerings and not for sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you. 29God forbid that we should defy the LORD and forsake him this day by building another altar for whole-offerings, grain-offerings, and sacrifices, in addition to the altar of the LORD our God which stands in front of his Tabernacle.'

30When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the community, the heads of the Israelite clans, who were with him, heard what the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the Manassites said, they were satisfied. 31Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest said to the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassites, 'We know now that the LORD is in our midst today; you have not acted treacherously against the LORD, and thus you have preserved all Israel from punishment at his hand.' 32Then Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest and the leaders left the Reubenites and the Gadites in Gilead and reported to the Israelites in Canaan. 33The Israelites were satisfied, and they blessed God and thought no more of attacking Reuben and Gad and ravaging their land. 34The Reubenites and Gadites said, 'The altar is a witness between us that the LORD is God', and they named it 'Witness'.


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