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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 22

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-34

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:

Joshua 22:3 Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God.

Joshua 22:3 “many days” Comments - The phrase “many days” was a period of about five years. Joshua was eighty years old when he took over the leadership after the death of Moses (Joshua 14:7), and he was eighty-five when the land was allotted out to the twelve tribes (Joshua 14:10).

Joshua 14:7, “Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.”

Joshua 14:10, “And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years , even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.”

Joshua 22:8 And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, 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.

Joshua 22:8 “Return with much riches unto your tents” - Comments - By the time of the book of Judges, the Israelites had lost much of their wealth to the other oppressive nations (Judges 6:6). This poverty was a result of their disobedience to God.

Judges 6:6, “And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.”

Joshua 22:8 “with brass, and with iron” - Comments - During the time of the conquest, the Israelites were wealthy with brass and iron. The Israelites had worked with these metals to build the Tabernacle. Yet, by the time of King Saul, the Israelites did not have enough metal to make swords, neither did they have skilled craftsmen to forge their metal (1 Samuel 13:19-22).

1 Samuel 13:19-22, “Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock. Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.”

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.

Joshua 22:10 Comments - God had commanded the children of Israel to build a rough, stone altar by the Jordan River at their first crossing as a memorial of this miraculous crossing (Joshua 4:1-24). In a similar manner, Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh build an altar by the Jordan as a memorial of their tribal heritage with the Israelites west of the Jordan. This altar was built as a replica of the burnt altar of the Tabernacle, with the intent it would not be used for sacrificial offerings (Joshua 22:28).

Joshua 22:16 Thus saith the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass 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?

Joshua 22:16 Comments - Why was this act of building an altar unto the Lord a sin? The answer lies in the fact that the Lord forbade the children of Israel from building any other altar of worship other than the one in the Tabernacle (Leviticus 17:8-9, Deuteronomy 12:5-7). The reason was so that the Israelites would not fall into idolatry. The Lord has commanded the children of Israel to destroy the idolatrous Israelite cities that worshiped at these foreign altars (Deuteronomy 13:12-18).

Leviticus 17:8-9, “And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.”

Deuteronomy 12:5-7, “But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks. And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.”

Deuteronomy 13:14-15, “Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.”

Joshua 22:17 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,

Joshua 22:17 “the iniquity of Peor” - Comments - This incident is recorded in Numbers 25:1-9 when the Israelites built an altar and worshiped the gods of the Moabites. As a result, the Lord killed 24,000 of the children of Israel.

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.

Joshua 22:34 Comments - The word “Ed” is not in the original Hebrew text. Some modern English versions keep the word “Ed” ( ASV, RSV). Others drop this word, and rephrase the statement ( NIV, YLT).

NIV, “And the Reubenites and the Gadites gave the altar this name: A WITNESS BETWEEN US THAT THE LORD IS GOD.

YLT, “And the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad proclaim concerning the altar, that ‘it is a witness between us that Jehovah is God.’”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Joshua 22". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/joshua-22.html. 2013.
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