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Jos 22:1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
Ver. 1. Then Joshua called the Reubenites. ] That he might disband and dismiss them, with due commendation and remuneration, as became a noble general.
Jos 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:
Ver. 2. Ye have kept all that Moses, &c. ] Christ, the Captain of our salvation, shall in like sort set forth and celebrate the virtues and praise worthy practices of his servants and soldiers in that great Panegyris at the last day, saying, "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations: and I appoint unto you a kingdom." Luk 22:28-29
Jos 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.
Ver. 3. Ye have not left your brethren these many days. ] Seven years at least; some say more, even twice seven: which long absence from their own families, friends, and estates, left in a land so lately conquered, and that upon such a difficult and dangerous undertaking, was an undoubted evidence of their singular constancy and fidelity toward their brethren.
Jos 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.
Ver. 5. But take diligent heed to do the commandment. ] He had commended them before for this, that they had "kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord their God," Jos 22:3 but he would have them to "abound more and more." 1 Thessalonians 4:1 1Jn 5:13
Jos 22:6 So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.
Ver. 6. So Joshua blessed them. ] That is, He besought God to bless them, and so took a friendly farewell of them: they had both his benediction and his valediction at parting. Courtesy may very well stand with piety, so it be real and heart sprung.
Jos 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, then he blessed them,
Ver. 7. Then he blessed them. ] See Joshua 22:6 .
Jos 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.
Ver. 8. Return with much riches. ] War is generally hateful - the poets fain that Mars, of all their gods, was most hated by Jupiter - and hurtful to mankind: yet the Hollanders are said to grow rich by it. These in the text did so, for a reward of their good service. "By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life." Pro 22:4
Divide the spoil, &c. ] Praecipit illis dilectionem proximi. Let those share with you, that, staying at home, tilled your grounds and safe-guarded your families. This was agreeable to a law made by Moses, Num 31:27 and revived by David. 1Sa 30:24-25
Jos 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, according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
Ver. 9. According to the word of the Lord, &c. ] Num 32:20-22 God yielded to their desires, though inordinate: but then they were afterwards, as is well observed, the first that were carried captive out of their land. 1Ch 5:25-26 Strong affections cause strong afflictions.
Jos 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.
Ver. 10. Built there an altar. ] After the pattern of that in the tabernacle, but for a civil use.
A great altar to see to. ] Magnificum et spectabilem; and this, of no ill intent, however misinterpreted.
Jos 22:11 And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel.
Ver. 11. And the children of Israel heard say. ] Fame had soon blown her trumpet: but is, mostly, a loud liar -
“ Tam ficti privique tenax quam nuncia veri. ” - Virg.
Jos 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.
Ver. 12. To go up to war against them. ] According to Deuteronomy 13:13 , &c., so blessedly blown up were they with a zeal for God - the Levites also and Manassites, though of the same tribe; howbeit this holy fire was not without some smoke.
Jos 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,
Ver. 13. And the children of Israel sent. ] As they had good reason, considering the mischief of civil war, which ever is utrinque triste: and if victory be gotten, yet no triumph, because it is like a golden fish hook, which lost or broken cannot be paid for with that it taketh. Plutarch observeth that the state of the Roman empire flourished so long as Romulus’s spear kept green and sappy; but decayed when it dried, which was about the beginning of the civil wars.
Phinehas the son of Eleazar. ] Who was one of a thousand; famous for his zeal, and no less eminent for his knowledge and wisdom, wherewith zeal must be tempered, or else all will be out of order: as the ancient philosophers supposed of the Primum Mobile, that if the motion thereof were not finely cooled and allayed by the Caelum Chrystallinum next to it, it would set all the orbs on fire.
Jos 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.
Ver. 14. Of each chief house. ] Of the half tribe of Manasseh for one; which is here reckoned for a tribe, because they had a stomach for God against those of their own flesh and blood.
Jos 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,
Ver. 15. And they spake with them, saying. ] Cuncta prius tentanda … Omne bellum sumitur facile: caeterum agerrime desinit, saith Sallust. a Therefore Philip of Macedon wrought more by treaties than by arms, as Polyaenus b observeth, and held it the far better way.
a Sal., in Jugur.
b ουκ ελαττω δι ομιλιας η δια μαχης κατειργαζετο . - Polyaen. Strat., lib. iv.
Jos 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?
Ver. 16. What trespass is this? ] Idolatry is a wickedness with a witness; and they that withdraw from God, do it to the perdition of their souls. Heb 10:39
In that ye have builded you an altar. ] Another besides that in the tabernacle: whereas God will have but one altar, for a figure of Christ’s cross, which was the only true altar.
That ye might rebel. ] Wilful disobedience is open rebellion, yea, it is blasphemy. Eze 20:27 But why were these good men, that found the fault, so faulty themselves in passing this rash and harsh censure upon a sinister suspicion, upon a mere mistake? Ea quemque ansa prehendamus quae commode teneri potest, saith Epictetus. If one action had a hundred faces, saith another, we should always cast our sight upon the fairest: "Charity hopeth all things, thinketh no evil"; 1 Corinthians 13:5 ; 1Co 13:7 holdeth that things are reverenter glossanda, as one said of the pontifician law, to have a reverent gloss put upon them. Quarrels grow many times upon mistakes. Cyril, and John, bishop of Antioch, excommunicated one another for heresy on each side objected: so did Cyril and Theodoret; yet afterwards they found that they held the same things, when once they grew to a right understanding of one another’s meaning. a
a Act. Conc. Ephesin.
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,
Ver. 17. Is the iniqity of Peor too little for us? ] But that by heaping up sin to sin, we must needs heap up more wrath, and not rather redeem our own sorrows? should we be thus ambitious of our own ruin? and have we not yet sufficiently smarted Oh, what bloody wails left God upon our backs at that time! and is all forgotten? Cur turbatis κοινωφελες ? Why bring ye the heavy hand of God upon us all by this your revolt? that he should now pay us home for the new and the old?
Jos 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 with the whole congregation of Israel.
Ver. 18. That tomorrow he will be wroth, ] i.e., Ere long: punishment treadeth upon the heels of sin. Peccantes sequitur ultor a tergo Deus.
Jos 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.
Ver. 19. Be unclean. ] In your opinion at least; for to the pure all things are pure: and God may be enjoyed in one place as well as another. 1Ti 2:3
And take possession among us. ] Though we have room little enough, yet better bear an inconvenience than a mischief: better we be distressed than God dishonoured, and the public hazarded to God’s hot and heavy displeasure.
Jos 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.
Ver. 20. Did not Achan, &c. ] This is the true use of history, - to be warned by it: God therefore hangeth some malefactors up in gibbets as it were: Cavebis autem, si pavebis.
And wrath fell on all. ] For that one: how much more for you many. One sinner destroyeth oft much good. Ecc 9:18 Achan perished not alone, but his whole family with him; besides those thirty slain by the men of Ai.
Jos 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,
Ver. 21. Answered, and said. ] They did not bristle and set up the crest, but sought to give satisfaction to their offended brethren. It must be our endeavour neither to give offence carelessly, nor to take offence causelessly: but to "show out of a good conversation our works with meekness of wisdom." Jam 3:13
Jos 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,)
Ver. 22. The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods. ] This repetition is very emphatical and pathetical, expressing "their carefulness, their apology, their indignation, their fear, their vehement desire, their zeal," 2Co 7:11 their utter detestation of such an abomination.
Save us not this day. ] Let God deprive us, if. guilty, of safety here, and salvation hereafter.
Jos 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];
Ver. 23. Let the Lord himself require it. ] So great is the confidence of a clear conscience. Gen 20:5 As for sedition, for aught that I know, methinks I should not need Christ, if I may so say, saith Latimer in a sermon of his before King Edward VI.
Jos 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?
Ver. 24. And if we have not rather done it. ] In communionis symbolum: to a quite contrary purpose. The ten tribes therefore were to blame for misconstruing them. Quid minus est non dico Oratoris sed hominis, quam id obiecere adversario quod si ille verbo negarit, ulterius progredi non possis? a Say the best of things.
Jos 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.
Ver. 25. So shall your children, &c. ] This their care of posterity’s spiritual good, was very commendable and imitable. But
“ Eργμασιν εν μεγαλοις πασιν αδειν χαλεπαν .”
Jos 22:26 Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice:
Ver. 26. To build us an altar, not for burnt offering, &c. ] This they often deny, and disclaim as a thing they abhorred. So John Baptist "confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ." Joh 1:20 He did it frequently, solemnly, Verbis non solum desertis sed et exsertis. he thrust away that honour with both hands earnestly, as knowing the danger of falling into the punishing hands of a just and jealous God.
Jos 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.
Ver. 27. But that it may be a witness. ] Of our care to hold communion with you in the sincere service of God, by our engraving some inscription upon it, or keeping in our treasury of monuments some public record, when, by whom, or to what end that altar was built.
Jos 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.
Ver. 28. But it is a witness. ] See Joshua 22:27 .
Jos 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 offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that [is] before his tabernacle.
Ver. 29. God forbid that we. ] As it is a folly to be hot in a cold matter, so it is a great fault to be cold in a hot. See Acts 17:16-17 , &c., "his spirit was stirred," he was in a holy fit, and he bestirred him accordingly.
Jos 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.
Ver. 30. It pleased them. ] Heb., It was good in their eyes; they showed themselves free from malignity and morosity: Rom 1:29 they were well satisfied, and well apaid that all was so well.
Jos 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.
Ver. 31. And Phinehas. ] Who here showed himself to be, as an ambassador should be, Vir bonus dicendi peritus; a good man and well spoken.
This day we perceive that the Lord is among us. ] Since we are all of one heart and one soul in his service, and you are not guilty of this apostasy. Of bees they say that stir and strife among them is a sign their queen is about to remove, to leave the hive, and to be gone. So God; dissension driveth him from a people, and lets in dissolution.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 22". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany