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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Joshua 22

 

 

Verse 1

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

Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh. The general war of invasion being ended, and the enemy being in so dispirited and isolated a condition that each tribe, by its own resources, or with the aid of its neighbouring tribe, was able to repress any renewed hostilities, the auxiliary Israelites from the eastern side of the Jordan were now discharged from service. Joshua dismissed them with high commendations of their fidelity, and earnest admonitions to cultivate perpetual piety in life. The redundancy of the language is remarkable, and shows how important, in the judgment of the venerable leader, a stedfast observance of the divine law was to personal happiness as well as national prosperity.


Verse 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:

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 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.

Ye have not left your brethren these many days - for the space of 7 years.


Verse 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, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.

Get you unto your tents - i:e., home; because their families had been left in fortified towns (Numbers 32:17).


Verses 5-7

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 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.

Much riches - in cattle, clothes, and precious metals.

Divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren - (see the note at Numbers 31:25-39.)


Verse 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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 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.

When they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan. This altar was probably an immense pile of stones and earth. The generality of our commentators suppose that it was reared on the banks of the Jordan, within the limits of Canaan proper. But a little closer examination seems to make the conclusion irresistible that its position was on the eastern side of the river; for these two reasons-first, because it is said (Joshua 22:11) to have been built "over against," or in the sight of, the land of Canaan-not within it; and secondly, because the declared motive of the trans-Jordanic Israelites in erecting it was to prevent their brethren in Canaan ever saying, "in time to come, What have ye to do with the Lord God of Israel? For the Lord hath made Jordan a barrier between us and you," etc. Such a taunt would be obviously prevented or confuted by the two tribes and a half having on the eastern side of Jordan, within their own land, a facsimile of the altar at Shiloh, as a witness that they acknowledged the same God and practiced the same rites of worship as the brethren in Canaan.


Verse 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.

And the children of Israel heard say. Fame speedily spread intelligence of what the trans-Jordanic tribes had done. The act being suspected of some idolatrous design, "the whole congregation - i:e., not the whole nation, but only the representatives-repair to the tabernacle at Shiloh, resolved to declare war against the two tribes and a half as apostates from God. On calmer and more mature considerations, however, they determined, in the first instance, to send a deputation, consisting of the son of the high priest and 10 eminent persons from each tribe, to make inquiry into this rumoured rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 13:13-15). The quality of the deputies evinced the deep solicitude that was felt on the occasion to maintain the purity of the divine worship throughout Israel. In the presumptive belief that the two tribes and a half had really built an altar, the deputies expressed astonishment at their so soon falling into such a heinous crime as that of violating the unity of divine worship (Exodus 20:24; Leviticus 17:8-9; Deuteronomy 12:5-13), reminded their eastern brethren of the disastrous consequences that were entailed on the nation at large by the apostasy at Peor, and by the sin of Achan, and finally exhorted them, if they felt the want of the tabernacle and altar, and repented of their rash choice in preferring worldly advantages to religious privileges, to remove to the western side of the Jordan, where the whole tribes would form a united and obedient community of worshippers.


Verses 12-20

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 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, Then the children of Reuben ... answered - repudiating in the strongest terms the alleged crime, and deponing that, so far from entertaining the intention imputed to them, their only object was to perpetuate the memory of their alliance with Israel, and their adherence to the worship of Israel's God.


Verses 22-24

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,)

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 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.

For the Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ... The country west of Jordan was, strictly speaking, he promised inheritance, the holy land. And, according, a remarkable difference was created in the feelings, as well as the language, of the Hebrews in regard to the country which lay east, and that which was situated on the west of the Jordan. The latter was always considered more sacred even by the eastern tribes themselves.


Verses 26-29

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

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 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.

It pleased them. The explanation not only gave perfect satisfaction to the deputies, but elicited from them expressions of unbounded joy and thankfulness. "This day we perceive that the Lord is among us" - i:e., by His gracious presence and preventing goodness, which has kept you from falling into the suspected sin, and rescued the nation from the calamity of a fratricidal war or providential judgments. This episode reflects honour upon all parties, and shows that piety and zeal for the honour and worship of God animated the people that entered Canaan to an extent far beyond what was exemplified in many other periods of the history of Israel.

 


Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 22:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-22.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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