Joshua 22:1-34

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

INTRODUCTION:

 

We have already seen the invasion of Canaan in Joshua 1:1-5:12 and the conquest of Canaan in Joshua 5:13-12:24 .

 

We have also already seen the division of the land to the twelve tribes in Joshua 13-21 .

We come to the –

 IV.     Conclusion – 22:1 - 24:33

 

The first thing we see in the conclusion, which nearly starts a civil war, is –

            A.  A border dispute – 22:1-34

 

We begin with –

                        1.   The admonition of Joshua – 22:1-8

 

Joshua 22:1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,

 

Joshua 22:2 And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:

 

To see what Moses commanded them we need to look again at Numbers 32 .

 

Numbers 32:1-7 – Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle; 2 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying, 3 Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon, 4 Even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle: 5 Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan. 6 And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? 7 And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?

 

Numbers 32:16-3316 And they [i.e. the children of Gad and the children of Reuben] came near unto him [i.e. Moses], and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones: 17 But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land. 18 We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance. 19 For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward. 20 And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war, 21 And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, 22 And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. 23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. 24 Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth [i.e. what you have said]. 25 And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spake unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth. 26 Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gilead: 27 But thy servants will pass over, every man armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord saith. 28 So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel: 29 And Moses said unto them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over Jordan, every man armed to battle, before the LORD, and the land shall be subdued before you; then ye shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession: 30 But if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan. 31 And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, As the LORD hath said unto thy servants, so will we do. 32 We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be ours. 33 And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, with the cities thereof in the coasts [i.e. the land with its cities within the borders], even the cities of the country round about.

 

In Joshua 1 Joshua reminds the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh of their commitment –

Joshua 1:12-1712 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, 13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; 15 Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD’S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising. 16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. 17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.

 

Move on to Joshua 4 where we see that about 40,000 of the warriors from Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh were involved –

Joshua 4:11-1311 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the LORD passed over [i.e. over the Jordan River], and the priests, in the presence of the people. 12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them: 13 About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

 

Although 108,250 men were available, it seems like only about 40,000 went. Somehow all the possible warriors from Reuben, Gad, and eastern Manasseh did not go at the same time. Some may never have gone; others may have rotated in and out. According to Numbers 2 , the possible warriors numbered 32,200 from Manasseh of which about half would come from the eastern half of Manasseh, 46,500 from Reuben, and 45,650 from Gad. Figuring only half of Manasseh’s total and all of Reuben’s and Gad’s totals would make a total military force of 108,250 warriors from the two and one half tribes.

 

Back to Joshua 22

Joshua 22:3 Ye [i.e. you warriors from Reuben, Gad, and eastern Manasseh] have not left your brethren [i.e. the Israelites from the nine and one half tribes who received allotments on the west side of the Jordan River] these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God. [Based on the statement of Caleb’s age being 85 years when he received his inheritance (in chapter 14), this suggests that these warriors had stayed away from their own inheritance while fighting for the tribes west of the Jordan River for a minimum of five years.]

 

Joshua 22:4 And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents [i.e. go home], and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan [i.e. the east side of the Jordan River].

 

Joshua 22:5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

 

Joshua 22:6 So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents [i.e. they went home].

 

Joshua 22:7 Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: but unto the other half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan westward. And when Joshua sent them away also unto their tents [i.e. sent them home], then he blessed them,

 

Joshua 22:8 And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents [i.e. return home with much riches], and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.

 

The admonition of Joshua is followed by –

                        2.   The symbolic action of the Eastern tribes – 22:9-11

 

Joshua 22:9 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, whereof they were possessed [i.e. which they had obtained (or possessed)], according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.

 

Joshua 22:10 And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to [i.e. a large altar in appearance].

 

Joshua 22:11 And the children of Israel heard say [i.e. heard it said, heard someone say], Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against [i.e. at the frontier of] the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan [i.e. in the region of the Jordan], at the passage of the children of Israel [i.e. on the children of Israel’s side of the river].

 

22:10-11 – The 2½ tribes unwisely, but innocently, built an altar on the west side of the Jordan before crossing over, to serve as a witness that they too shared in the inheritance of the Lord, It was a needless act, for God had ordained that all the males should appear at the sanctuary three times each year . . . in order to preserve the unity of the tribes. [Note on Ex. 23:14 – (RSB) Attendance at the Tabernacle was required of all men for three festivals each year: unleavened bread . . .; harvest, or Pentecost . . .; and ingathering, or Tabernacles. . . .]

 

Learn a lesson. Don’t knowingly do things which are not necessary which others will likely misunderstand.

 

Learn another lesson. When you hear something from someone else, you want to be certain to check out its accuracy before you take drastic action based on it. Lots of untrue rumors have spread like wildfire.

 

The symbolic action of the eastern tribes results in –

                        3.   The threat of war – 22:12-20

 

Joshua 22:12 And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them [i.e. against the 2½ eastern tribes].

 

Joshua 22:13 And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,

 

Joshua 22:14 And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.

 

22:12-20 – The other tribes, ready to go to war over the matter of the altar, wisely sent a delegation headed by Phinehas (v. 13) to investigate first.

 

Joshua 22:15 And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spake with them, saying,

 

Joshua 22:16 Thus saith the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass [i.e. treachery, sin] is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the LORD? [It was incorrectly assumed that their building this altar was an act of rebellion against the LORD even though it wasn’t. Although there may be more than one explanation, have you noticed that people typically assume the worst?]

 

Joshua 22:17 Is the iniquity of Peor [Peor is a mountain to which Balak took Balaam in order that Balaam might curse Israel] (Is the iniquity of Peor) too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD,

 

We read about the iniquity of Peor –

Numbers 25 – And Israel abode in Shittim [i.e. the last Israelite settlement on the east side of the Jordan River], and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.

 

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:14 indicates that Balaam was responsible for what happened in verse 2 –

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:14 But I have a few things against thee (i.e. the church at Pergamos), because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

 

3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor [i.e. Baal of Peor – A Moabite god – it suggests the particular Baal worshiped on that mountain]: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people [i.e. leaders of the people involved in this Baal worship], and hang them up before the LORD against the sun [i.e. out in the sun], that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. 5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor. 6 And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation [i.e. he did this to openly flaunt his defiance of God’s instruction]. 7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; 8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. 9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand. 10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 11 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. 12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: 13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel. 14 Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince [i.e. a leader] of a chief house among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian. 16 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 17 Vex [i.e. Harass or Be hostile toward] the Midianites, and smite them: 18 For they vex [i.e. harass or are hostile toward] you with their wiles [i.e. schemes], wherewith they have beguiled [i.e. seduced, deceived] you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor’s sake.

 

The iniquity of Peor was idolatry and disobedience.

 

25:3 – Baal-peor. The local, heathen god Baal that was worshiped at Peor. Prostitution (cf. v. 1) was part of that worship.

 

Back to Joshua 22:17

Joshua 22:17 Is the iniquity of Peor [Peor is a mountain to which Balak took Balaam in order that Balaam might curse Israel] too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until [i.e. even until] this day [i.e. it sounds like they were still experiencing some result from the iniquity of Peor], although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD,

 

Joshua 22:18 But that ye must turn away this day from following the LORD? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the LORD, that to morrow he will be wroth [i.e. angry] with the whole congregation of Israel.

 

Joshua 22:19 Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, wherein the LORD’S tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the LORD our God.

 

Joshua 22:20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity [i.e. Achan was not the only man who died for his sin.].

 

An all-out civil war is averted by the –

                        4.   The defense of the eastern tribes – 22:21-29

 

Joshua 22:21 Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered, and said unto the heads of the thousands of Israel,

 

Joshua 22:22 The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the LORD, (save us not this day,)

 

Joshua 22:23 That we have built us an altar to turn from following the LORD, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering, or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the LORD himself require it;

 

Joshua 22:24 And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?

 

Joshua 22:25 For the LORD hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no part in the LORD: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the LORD.

 

Joshua 22:26 Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice:

 

Joshua 22:27 But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.

 

Joshua 22:28 Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you.

 

Joshua 22:29 God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat [i.e. grain] offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.

 

The defense of the eastern tribes results in –

                        5.   The reconciliation of the tribes – 22:30-34

 

Joshua 22:30 And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spake, it pleased them.

 

Joshua 22:31 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the LORD is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the LORD: now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD [i.e. you have kept the LORD from judging Israel].

 

Joshua 22:32 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again.

 

Joshua 22:33 And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.

 

Joshua 22:34 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God.

 

Why Ed?

 

22:34 – Ed (in this verse) is the Hebrew word translated “witness” in verses 27-28.