Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 22:10

When they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, a large altar in appearance.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Altar;   Gad;   Haste;   Motive;   Prudence;   Reubenites;   War;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Altars;   Gad, the Tribe of;   Reuben, the Tribe of;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Phinehas;   Reuben;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Altar;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Manasseh;   Testimony;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ed;   Jordan;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ed;   Geliloth;   Joshua;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Witness;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Altar;   Government of the Hebrews;   Stone;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ed;   Geliloth;   Joshua, Book of;   Manasseh (2);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Jordan, the;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The borders of Jordan, that are in - Canaan - This verse can never mean that they built the altar on the west side of Jordan, for this was not in their territories; nor could it be a place for the purpose of public worship to their own people, if built on the opposite side of Jordan; besides, the next verse says it was built over against the land of Canaan. It appears that when they came to the river they formed the purpose of building the altar; and when they had crossed it they executed their purpose.

A great altar to see to - A vast mass of earth, stones, etc., elevated to a great height, to serve as a memorial of the transactions that had already taken place. Probably it was intended also to serve as a kind of watchtower, being of a stupendous height, altare infinitae magnitudinis, an altar of an immense size, as the Vulgate terms it.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-22.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The two tribes and a half erected this altar in order to keep alive their claim to have the same interest as the other tribes had in the sanctuary of God, which was established on the west side of Jordan: and in order to forestall any assertion that the Jordan itself was a natural barrier of exclusion between them and the sanctuary, they built it on the west or Canaanite bank of the Jordan and not on the east.

The word rendered “borders” is noteworthy; it means circuits, arrondissements.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-22.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And when they came unto the region about the Jordan, that is 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 the Jordan, a great altar to look upon. 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 in the forefront of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that pertaineth to the children of Israel. 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 against them to war."

Now, what was so wrong about those eastern tribes building an altar near the Jordan that it precipitated a reaction in the rest of Israel that brought the threat of a war of extermination against them? There can be but one answer to that question, namely, that from the very beginning of the Mosaic religion, the principle of "only one sanctuary" for the entire nation had been understood and enforced among the Israelites. That "one sanctuary," of course, had been moved no less than forty-two times during the wilderness wanderings, and the removal of it to Shiloh from Gilgal here in the Book of Joshua does not mean that it had not, at one time or another, been located elsewhere. The "one sanctuary," therefore, was not tied to any place; but it was moveable. God had made that plain enough in the words, "Unto the place (any place) that Jehovah shall choose to put his name there" (Deuteronomy 12:1). (See the discussion of this under that reference.) The ridiculous notion that this means Jerusalem is frustrated and denied by the fact that the word "Jerusalem" is not even found in Deuteronomy. It was God's presence that identified the sanctuary, not some physical landmark.

As for the motivation of those eastern tribes that led to this near-disaster, "There was a sense of separation on the East Bank, and fear that the westerners might reject and disown them; also there was awareness that holy religion was not a characteristic of that eastern land."[10] "They erected this altar to keep alive their claim of having the same interest as the other tribes in the sanctuary of God, located at that time, in Shiloh."[11]

Regardless of all their good intentions, however, "This was a needless and presumptuous deed."[12] It almost plunged Israel into war; and, under slightly different circumstances, that war might have been impossible to avoid.

We should be aware of the part that public gossip, or rumor, had in this episode. It would have been quite easy for the leaders to have declared war on the basis of the gossip, rather than launching an investigation.

That such an altar was actually built has been long ago verified by the discovery of the site.[13] And, couldn't you have guessed it? "Lieutenant Conder denied it!"[14]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-22.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan,.... To the banks of it, or the sand heaps, some take the word to signify, which were thrown up to restrain the waters from overflowing; some by Geliloth understand a place so called; and JeromF7De loc. Heb. fol. 92. C. says it was near Jordan in the tribe of Benjamin: but rather the word signifies the meanders, windings, and turnings, of the riverF8Vid. Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 170, 573. Reland. Palestin. Illustrat. tom. 1. l. 1. c. 43. p. 274, 279. ; and such circuits and compasses it fetched near Jericho, as the same writerF9Ut supra, (De loc. Heb. fol. 92.) G. observes, where we may suppose these tribes went over, and at a place where the river jetted out into the land of Canaan:

the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, built there an altar by Jordan; or "then"; that is, when they had passed over the river into their own country, for which Josephus is expressF11Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 26. ; and certain it is, that the altar was built not on the Canaan side of Jordan, but on the opposite side, as is clear from Joshua 22:11, and indeed they had no right to build on any other ground than their own; and they pitched upon a spot where the river jetted out into the land of Canaan, as most proper to erect it on, to be a witness, that though separated from the rest of the Israelites by the river Jordan, yet were a part of them, and had a right to join them in the service of God, and bring their sacrifices to the altar of God in the tabernacle, as more fully appears in some after verses:

a great altar to see to; built up very high, so that it might be seen at a great distance.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-22.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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 f there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.

(f) That is, beyond Jordan: for sometime the whole country on both sides of Jordan is referred to as Canaan.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-22.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Joshua 22:10. They build the Altar of Testimony on their journey.

when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben  …  built there an altar by Jordan — This altar was probably an immense pile of stones and earth. The generality of our translators supposes 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 border between us and you,” etc. [Joshua 22:24, Joshua 22:25 ]. 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.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-22.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

No doubt, the object for which they erected this altar, was with an eye to God's glory. Perhaps their minds began to fear, that now, separated as they were from the other tribes, they should be led to forget sometimes that they were Israelites, and therefore took this method to perpetuate their origin and connection with the God of Jacob. And that the motive was pure, however mistaken it might be, seems evident from hence, that they did not erect a memorial of the wars of Joshua; but to perpetuate the glory of God. Blessed Lord! wherever I am, or however engaged, enable me to set up in my heart, rather than in any outward building, an Ebenezer to the praise of thy grace. Jesus! do thou live there in unceasing remembrance!

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/joshua-22.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Built an altar — About that time when they came to them, they designed it, and as soon as they were got over Jordan, which was in a very little time, they effected and perfected it. They built it, no doubt, on their own side of the water: for how could they build on other men's land, without their consent? And it is said, in the following verse, to be over against the land of Jordan. Nor would there have been cause to suspect that it was designed for sacrifice, if they had not built it among themselves.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-22.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

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.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-22.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 10. And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan From the first reading of these words, one would conceive that the sacred writer means to say, that the Israelites built the altar, of which he proceeds to speak, on this side Jordan, before they had repassed the river; but, from what follows, we shall soon be convinced that this cannot be the sense of the historian. Had the Israelites of the two tribes and a half built an altar on the west side of the river, they would not have executed their own design, which was, to shew by this monument that, though separated from their brethren, and from the altar of the Lord, by Jordan, they still made but one and the same people with them. Besides, is it likely that they would have ventured to erect this pile upon the territory of the other tribes? And even were this the case, how, in the verse following, could the altar in question be said to have been built over-against the land of Canaan? we must, therefore, necessarily suppose the author to have expressed himself here in such brief terms as leave something to be made out by the reader. It was evidently his intention to say, that the Israelites, on their coming up to the bank of the Jordan on the side of the land of Canaan, crossed that river, and built the altar beyond it in their own country. See Josephus. Hist. Jud. lib. v. cap. 1. and Rabb. in Seder.—Olam. c. xii. p. 32. We may add, that the Hebrew Geliloth, rendered in our version borders, may very probably be in this verse the proper name of a place situate on the side of the Jordan. The Vulgate translates, on the heights of Jordan; but the Vatican manuscript of the LXX has it Gilead or Geliloth; understanding it of a place near that where the Israelites crossed over the Jordan. The question then is, where Geliloth stood: if we understand by it the country of Gilead, the whole is clear; and then the Israelites, without any doubt, reared the altar after having passed the river. Le Clerc understands the matter very naturally, namely, that the Israelites came to Jordan, which bounds the land of Canaan, and, having crossed it, built there (i.e. on the other side,) the altar in question. This altar, we read, was of a remarkable size; such as might be perceived from afar. It was the work, not of an individual, but of a whole body of people, who thought they could not build it too magnificently. It was a heap of earth or stones. Bacchus, Hercules, Semiramis, Cyrus, and Alexander the Great, in after times, made others like it upon various occasions, to eternize the memory of their victories and travels. See Pliny, lib. 6: cap. 16, 17. Philostrat. Vit. Apollon. lib. 2: ad fin. See also Calmet and Le Clerc. By the stateliness and magnificence of this altar, it was rendered so different from that which Moses had dedicated to divine worship, that it is probable these Israelites thought it would therefore administer less occasion to their brethren to suspect that it was intended for sacrifice, or to rival the other.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-22.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Or, built then, as this particle is elsewhere used; and so learned interpreters understand it, Psalms 14:5 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.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-22.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

THE ALTAR OF WITNESS AT THE JORDAN, Joshua 22:10-34.

10.By Jordan — Most commentators believe that the altar was on the western bank of the Jordan, because the language of the narrative is, when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan. But in the next verse we read that the altar was built “over against the land of Canaan.” The purpose of the altar was to answer the taunting insinuation that they were aliens, by exhibiting within their own borders a facsimile of the altar at Shiloh as a proof of their Hebrew nationality and of their conformity to their brethren in religious worship. Josephus says, that the two and a half tribes “crossed the river and built an altar on the bank of the Jordan as a token of their affinity with those on the other side.” This altar, constructed by so large a body of men, was probably a vast heap of earth and stones.

A great altar to see to — Conspicuously located, and huge in its dimensions. That this mound has not been found by any traveller is not strange, when we consider the almost total neglect of Eastern Palestine by all modern explorers; and, besides, this great altar may long ago have been destroyed.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-22.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

And when they came to the region about Jordan, that is 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 look to.’

This building of a memorial altar, in the land of Canaan west of Jordan, was imitated by Gideon later (Judges 6:24). The intention of it was in order that it might be a reminder that the Transjordan tribes were one with those in the land of Canaan and shared in the tribal covenant. It was a gesture of praise to God and of unity with their brother tribes. In a sense this was their possession in Canaan. As they looked at it across the Jordan it would be a reminder that they were one people in the covenant, sharing God’s land.

“The region about Jordan.” Or more literally ‘the circles (geliloth) of Jordan’, thus a specifically recognised district, possibly based on the circular twisting of the river like a serpent at this point. Possibly by building the altar in a place where the Jordan wound round it on three sides they saw it as on joint territory. Compare Genesis 13:10 where the southern part of the Jordan Rift valley is called ‘the circuit (kikkar) of Jordan’.

“A great altar to see to.” The altar was large so that it could be seen at some distance, and is purpose was so that it could be looked at from Transjordan. It was built on the pattern of the altar in the Tabernacle (Joshua 22:28).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-22.html. 2013.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 22:10. When they came — Or, They came (for the word when is not in the Hebrew) to the borders of Jordan — It is thought by many that גלילות, Geliloth, here rendered borders, was the name of a place. The children of Reuben built there an altar — This seems, at first sight, to import, that they built this altar before they went over Jordan, in the land of Canaan; but the Hebrew particle שׁם, sham, relates to time as well as place, and may be translated then as well as there. Examples of which may be found in Proverbs 8:27, compared with Joshua 22:30; Ecclesiastes 3:17; and Isaiah 48:16. And thus it is here to be interpreted, that before they went any farther, while they were yet on the bank of Jordan, they erected this altar on the borders of their own country; for so the next verse teaches us to expound the passage, and will admit of no other sense, where it is said they had built this altar, not in, but over against the land of Canaan. Indeed it is not likely that they would have ventured to erect it in the territory of the other tribes. Nor would it have answered their intention to have built it there, which was to show, by this monument, that Jordan made no such separation between them and their brethren, but that they were one people with those in Canaan, where the altar of God was in Shiloh. See Joshua 22:28. Nor would there have been cause to suspect, as it appears there was from the following verses, that it was designed for sacrifice, if they had not built it among themselves. A great altar to see to — Which made a very conspicuous appearance, being very high, and consequently visible afar off.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-22.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Banks. Hebrew Goliluth, which is (chap. xiii. 2, &c.) rendered Galilee, Galgal, "limits," &c. (Haydock) --- Chanaan, consequently on the western banks. Vatable, however, says that the eastern country went sometimes by this name, on account of the Amorrhites having dwelt in it. Josephus ([Antiquities?] v. 1.) and the Jews affirm, that the altar was built on that side; and it seems natural that these tribes would erect it in their own territories, for the benefit of their children. (Calmet) --- The effect would nevertheless have been equal, on which side soever it appeared, as the Jordan was not so broad but they might see over. (Haydock) --- Immensely. Hebrew, "a great altar to be seen," like those heaps which Bacchus and Alexander raised to perpetuate the memory of their victories. (Pliny, [Natural History?] vi. 16.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-22.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

borders = windings or hendings.

to see to = to look at, i.e. in appearance.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-22.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-22.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(10) The borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan.—As far as these words go, the site of the altar might be either east or west of Jordan; but it seems to be more probable that it was on the east bank. And thus the phrase above would be a reminder of the very thing the altar was intended to enforce, viz., the fact that both borders of Jordan are part of the promised land. But Kurn Surtabeth, twenty miles north of Jericho, on the west side of Jordan, has been thought to be the place.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-22.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
the children
This verse should probably be rendered, "And when they came to 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, Then built an altar by (or beyond, al) Jordan, a great altar to the view." It would appear, that when they came to the river, they formed the purpose of building the altar; and when they crossed it they put that purpose into execution. It is evident that they did not build it west of the Jordan, for that was not in their territories, and the next verse expressly says that it was built over against the land of Canaan.
built
25-28; 4:5-9; 24:26,27; Genesis 28:18; 31:46-52
Reciprocal: Joshua 22:27 - a witness;  Judges 6:24 - built;  Isaiah 19:19 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-22.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

10.And when they came unto the borders, etc The history here is particularly deserving of notice, when the two tribes and half-tribe, intending to erect a memorial of common faith and fraternal concord, allowed themselves from inconsiderate zeal to adopt a method which was justly suspected by their brethren. The ten tribes, thinking that the worship of God was violated with impious audacity and temerity, were inflamed with holy wrath, and took up arms to use them against their own blood; nor were they appeased till they had received full satisfaction. The motive for erecting the altar was right in itself. For the object of the children of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, was to testify that though they were separated from their brethren by the intervening stream, they were, however, united with them in religion, and cherished a mutual agreement in the doctrine of the Law. Nothing was farther from their intention than to innovate in any respect in the worship of God. But they sinned not lightly in attempting a novelty, without paying any regard to the high priest, or consulting their brethren, and in a form which was very liable to be misconstrued.

We know how strictly the Law prohibited two altars, (Exodus 20:24) for the Lord wished to be worshipped in one place only. Therefore, when on the very first blush of the case, all were at once led to think that they were building a second altar, who would not have judged them guilty of sacrilege in framing a ritual of a degenerate description, at variance with the Law of God? Seeing, then, that the work might be deemed vicious, they ought, at least, in so great and so serious a matter, to have made their brethren sharers in their counsel; more especially were they in the wrong in neglecting to consult the high priest, from whose lips the divine will was to be ascertained. They were, therefore, deserving of blame, because, as if they had been alone in the world, they considered not what offence might arise from the novelty of the example. Wherefore, let us learn to attempt nothing rashly, even should it be free from blame, and let us always give due heed to the admonition of St. Paul, (1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 10:23) that it is necessary to attend not only to what is lawful, but to what is expedient; more especially let us sedulously beware of disturbing pious minds (182) by the introduction of any kind of novelty.

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 22:10". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-22.html. 1840-57.