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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Joshua 22



The two tribes and half are sent home with, a blessing, strict charge to fear the Lord, and great booty, Joshua 22:1-9.

They build an altar of testimony at the brink of Jordan, Joshua 22:10.

The Israelites are offended, and assemble to wage war against them, Joshua 22:11,Joshua 22:12.

They first send Phinehas and ten princes ambassadors to reprove them, Joshua 22:13-20.

They clear themselves; their brethren rest satisfied, Joshua 22:21-34.

Verse 3

These many days, i.e. for divers years together, so long as the war lasted. See Joshua 11:18; Joshua 14:10.

Verse 4

Unto your tents, i.e. to your settled habitations, as appears from Deuteronomy 22:8, which are oft called

tents, as Judges 19:9; 2 Samuel 17:17; Hosea 9:6; Malachi 2:12.

Verse 5

Take diligent heed; watch over yourselves and all your actions.

The commandment and the law; two words expressing the same thing, the law of commandments delivered by Moses.

With all your heart and with all your soul; with the whole strength of your minds, and wills, and affections.

Verse 8

i.e. With them who staid beyond Jordan for the defence of their land, and wives, and children, who therefore were to have a share, though not an equal share, with these. See Numbers 31:27. But for them, 1 Samuel 30:24, their share was equal, because their danger was equal.

Verse 10

Or, built then, as this particle is elsewhere used; and so learned interpreters understand it, Psalms 14:5; Psalms 36:12; Ecclesiastes 3:17; Hosea 2:15. And in the Latin tongue adverbs of place are sometimes put for adverbs of time: so I take it here. First, Because this best answers to the when in the beginning of the verse. Secondly, This seems to me to clear a great difficulty as to the place where the altar-was built, which though according to our translation it seems, and is generally thought by interpreters to have been, in the land of Canaan; yet if things be more narrowly examined, it may be thought to have been on the other side Jordan in Gilead; and that both, first, from Joshua 21:11, where it is said to have been built over against, or in the sight of the land of Canaan, therefore not in it. And secondly, from the reason they gave of the building of this altar, for fear lest the Israelites within Jordan and in Canaan should say unto their children dwelling beyond Jordan, The Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you, &c.; which jealousy would have been much confirmed by building the altar in Canaan, but would be satisfied and confuted by having on the other side of Jordan, and in their own land, a pattern of that altar at which God was served in the land of Canaan, as a witness that they owned the same God, and the same way of worship, with their brethren that lived in Canaan. But whether the Hebrew particle be rendered then or there, it is not to be taken too strictly: if then, the meaning is not, that they did this as soon as ever they came to the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan; but about that time when they came to them, that they thought and designed it, and as soon as ever they were got over Jordan, which was in a very little time, they effected and perfected it: if it be rendered there, it is not to be limited to the very same spot of ground mentioned before, as if it was built at that border of Jordan that was in the land of Canaan; but to be a little more largely understood; to be built at one or other of the borders of Jordan; or, in general,

by Jordan; which is here purposely added, for the explication of the word there, and to prevent the restraint of it to the border of Jordan, within Canaan.

Verse 11

Where they passed over Jordan, either at their first entrance into Canaan, or afterwards, and usually.

Verse 12

The children of Israel; not in their own persons, but by their elders, who used to transact all affairs of this kind in the name and stead of all the people.

To go up to war against them; as apostates from God, according to God’s command in that case, Deuteronomy 13:13, &c.

Verse 16

The whole congregation of the Lord, who do and are resolved to cleave unto that God from whom you have revolted, and who speak this to you in the name of the Lord.

What trespass is this? how heinous a crime is this! To turn away this day, i.e. so soon after God hath obliged you by such wonderful favours, and when God is now conducting you home to reap the fruits of all your pains and hazards.

That ye might rebel; with a design to revolt from and rebel against God, and against his express command of worshipping him at one only altar, Exodus 20:24; Leviticus 17:8,Leviticus 17:9; Deuteronomy 12:5,Deuteronomy 12:11,Deuteronomy 12:13.

Verse 17

The iniquity of Peor, i.e. of our worshipping of BaalPeer, Numbers 25:0.

From which we are not cleansed until this day; for though God had pardoned it, as to the national punishment of it, Numbers 25:11, yet they were not yet thoroughly purged from it; partly because the shame and blot of that filthy and odious practice was not yet wiped of; and partly because some of that corrupt leaven still remained among them, and though it smothered for a time, yet was ready to break forth upon all occasions. See Joshua 24:23. And God also took notice of these idolatrous inclinations in particular persons, and found out ways to punish them one time or other.

Verse 18

To-morrow, i.e. suddenly, as that word is oft used, as Matthew 6:30; 1 Corinthians 15:32.

He will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel; with you for doing so, and with us for suffering, or not punishing it.

Verse 19

If the land of your possession be clean; if you apprehend it to be so for want of the tabernacle and altar there, as the following words imply; if you now repent of your former choice in preferring the worldly commodities of that country before the advantage of God’s presence and favour, and more frequent opportunities of his service.

Take possession among us; we will readily resign part of our possessions to you for the prevention of this sin and mischief; wherein they show great zeal for God’s honour, and great pity and charity to their brethren.

Nor rebel against us; for all the tribes were united in one body politic, and made one commonwealth, and one church; and each tribe was subject to the laws and commands of the whole society, and of the chief ruler or rulers thereof; so its disobedience to their just commands was properly rebellion against them.

Verse 20

The son of Zerah, i.e. one of his posterity, Joshua 7:17,Joshua 7:18.

Perished not alone, but brought destruction upon his whole family, and part of our forces sent against Ai.

In his iniquity, or, for his sin; of which see Joshua 7:24.

Verse 21

Either, first, properly, each was a governor of a thousand; for there were among them divers rulers, some of tens, some of hundreds, and some of thousands; or rather, secondly, improperly, and indefinitely, i.e. of the people of Israel, which consist of so many thousands more than you, whose authority therefore you owe a reverence to. For by comparing Joshua 22:14, these seem to be greater persons than those that were rulers of thousands.

Verse 22

The Lord God of gods; that Jehovah whom we, no less than you, acknowledge and adore as the God of gods, infinitely superior to all that are called gods. The multiplying of his titles, and the repetition of these words, show their zeal and earnestness in this matter, and their abhorrency of the very thoughts of it. He knoweth; to him we appeal who knoweth all things, and the truth of what we are now saying. Israel he shall know; not only our present words, but our future and constant course shall satisfy all Israel of our perseverance in the true religion.

If it be; if this have been done by us with such design, or in such a manner.

Save us not this day; thou, O Lord, to whom we have appealed, and without whom we cannot be saved or preserved, save us not from any of our enemies, nor from the sword of our brethren. It is a sudden apostrophe to God, usual in such vehement speeches.

Verse 23

i.e. Call us to an account, and punish us for it; as that phrase is oft used, as Deuteronomy 18:19; 1 Samuel 20:16; Job 10:6; Psalms 10:13.

Verse 24

You have no relation to him, nor interest in him, or his worship.

Verse 25

A border between us and you, to shut you out of the Land. of Promise, and consequently from thee covenant made, between God and our father.

Ye have no part in the Lord; nothing to do with him; no right to serve him or expect favour from him. See the like phrase 2 Samuel 20:1; Ezra 4:3; John 13:8.

Verse 27

That we might do the service of the Lord before him; that we and ours may have and hold our privilege of serving and worshipping God, not upon this altar, but in the office of God’s presence, in your tabernacle, and upon your altar.

Verse 28

The pattern; an exact representation and resemblance.

A witness between us and you, that we both serve one God, and approve and make use of one and the same altar.

Verse 30

They were fully satisfied with this answer.

Verse 31

The Lord is among us, by his gracious presence and preventing goodness, in keeping you from so great an offence, and all of us from those dismal calamities that would have followed upon it.

Out of the hand of the Lord, i.e. from the wrath and dreadful judgments of God; by avoiding that sin which would have involved both you and us in a most bloody war, you have delivered us from the evils we feared. He that prevents an unexpected or approaching disease or mischief, doth as truly deliver a man from it, as he that cures or removes it after it hath been inflicted.

Verse 33

As they were by the law of God obliged to do, if they had been guilty and persisted therein; as afterwards they did they tribe of Benjamin for the same reason.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 22". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.