Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 22:19

If, however, the land of your possession is unclean, then cross into the land of the possession of the Lord , where the Lord's tabernacle stands, and take possession among us. Only do not rebel against the Lord , or rebel against us by building an altar for yourselves, besides the altar of the Lord our God.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Fear of God;   Government;   Haste;   Misjudgment;   Motive;   Phinehas;   Prudence;   Reproof;   Reubenites;   Uncharitableness;   War;   Zeal, Religious;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Gad, the Tribe of;   Rebellion against God;   Reuben, the Tribe of;   Tabernacle;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Phinehas;   Reuben;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Family Life and Relations;   Land (of Israel);   Easton Bible Dictionary - Manasseh;   Phinehas;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jordan;   Phinehas;   Holman Bible Dictionary - High Priest;   Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Joshua;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Phinehas ;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Phin'ehas;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Altar;   Government of the Hebrews;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - How;   Joshua, Book of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Apostasy and Apostates from Judaism;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

If the land of your possessions be unclean - The generous mind of Phinehas led him to form this excuse for them. If ye suppose that this land is impure, as not having been originally included in the covenant, and ye think that ye cannot expect the blessing of God unless ye have an altar, sacrifices, etc., then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the Lord, wherein the Lord's tabernacle dwelleth, the only legitimate place where sacrifices and offerings can be made. We will divide this land with you, and rather straiten ourselves than that you should conceive yourselves to be under any necessity of erecting a new altar besides the altar of the Lord our God.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-22.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Unclean - i. e. unholy because the sanctuary was not in it, but on the other side of Jordan.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-22.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean,.... That is, if it was judged to be so by them, because not cleansed from the sins of the former inhabitants of it by sacrifice, or because there was no altar in it to offer up sacrifice for the expiation of sin:

then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the Lord,

wherein the Lord's tabernacle dwelleth; if you repent of the choice you have made of a country to dwell in, quit it, and come over into the land of Canaan, which the Lord has taken possession of, and residence in, and where his tabernacle is fixed, the place of his presence and worship, and where an altar is erected to sacrifice upon:

and take possession among us; they were willing to quit possession of their own, and make room for them in each of their tribes, and even though they straitened themselves, and parted with much of their estates, rather than they should make a schism, or go into idolatrous practices; which was a brave, noble, spirit indeed, and showed their great concern for the honour and glory of God, and his worship, and their love to their brethren, and affectionate regard for their spiritual welfare, above their own private, personal, and temporal good:

but rebel not against the Lord: the Word of the Lord, as the Targum, either Christ the essential Word, the Angel of Jehovah's presence, or his word of command:

nor rebel against us; by breaking off from us, and setting up another religion or form of worship:

in building you an altar beside the altar of the Lord our God: which ought to be common to both, and no other to be set up against it, or used beside it.

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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 22:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-22.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession [be] k 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 l rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the LORD our God.

(k) In your judgment.

(l) To use any other service than God has appointed is to rebel against God, (1 Samuel 15:23).

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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-22.html. 1599-1645.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

And truly,” the speaker continued, “ if the land of your possession should be unclean,” sc., so that you think it necessary to have an altar in the neighbourhood to expiate your sins and wipe away your uncleanness, “ pass over into the land of Jehovah's possession, where His dwelling-place stands, and settle in the midst of us ('settle,' as in Genesis 34:10); but do not rebel against Jehovah nor against us, by building an altar beside the (one) altar of Jehovah our God .” מרד is construed first of all with בּ, and then with the accusative; the only other place in which the latter occurs is Job. Joshua 24:13.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/joshua-22.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Be unclean — 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 more frequent opportunities of his service.

Among us — We will readily resign part of our possessions to you for the prevention of this sin and mischief.

Against us — For all the tribes were united in one body politick, 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.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-22.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 22:19 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. [1 Timothy 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.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-22.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 19. Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean This fully justifies the piety, disinterestedness, and benevolent intentions of Phinehas: he even himself seeks out some plausible pretence for the step against which he inveighs. He supposes, that the Israelites beyond the river may have thought their land would be defiled; that it would not be a holy land, consecrated to God, and under his protection, unless they beheld there some token of his presence, some sacred edifice, which might publicly signify that the Lord was their God. And on this charitable supposition, he addresses them thus: "Did not you rear this altar, as thinking that the country in which you dwell would be an impure and profane land, unless this monument supplied the presence of the tabernacle and altar of the Lord at Shiloh, from which the Jordan divides you? If this be the case, come back, repass the river, and partake with us of our possessions. We would rather put ourselves to straits, by receiving you among us, than see you deviate into schism and revolt against God."

Note; (1.) Many a heavy charge is sometimes brought, where there is the purest innocence; and this even by those who have zeal for God. (2.) They who have smarted for sin, dread the thoughts of renewing their provocations. (3.) They who desire to recover their brethren from schism, must show their charity towards them, and readiness to yield every thing that they lawfully may to a tender conscience, lest by unchristian violence the rent be made worse.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". 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

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.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". 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

19.If the land of your possession be unclean — Not consecrated by the presence of the tabernacle and altar. “If ye think that God has not received your land into the same favour as ours, because he seems to dwell with us, and it is for that reason that ye are about to establish a worship of your own, change your abode and come over to us.” — Masius.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-22.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

However, if the land of your possession seems to you unclean, then pass you over to the land of the possession of YHWH, in which YHWH’s Dwellingplace (Tabernacle) abides, and take possession among us. But do not rebel against YHWH, nor rebel against us, in building yourselves an altar besides the altar of YHWH our God.”

It was probably the fact that the altar had been built on the side of the Jordan belonging to the land of Canaan that gave them the impression that the Transjordan tribes had done this because they thought that their own land was unclean, that is, not totally separated to YHWH, and not hallowed by YHWH’s presence. It was not ‘His land’. If that was their view (and it was probably the view of many of the Israelites who lived in Canaan) then they had only to come across the Jordan and allotment would be given to them so that they could live in the land that belonged to YHWH, where YHWH had His dwellingplace. But let them not rebel by building a false altar.

It was clear that they saw this altar as not one that YHWH had caused to be built by revelation, it was not in a place where YHWH had recorded His name. Thus it was a sacrilegious altar. The main altar of YHWH was that which accompanied the Tabernacle at the central sanctuary. Others could be built where YHWH revealed Himself and commanded it. These came within the definition of ‘the altar of YHWH our God’. But not this one where there was no suggestion of YHWH having spoken.

Note the stress on rebellion. They were rebelling against God because they were disobeying His command about building altars where He had not given a revelation, and they were rebelling against their brothers because they were setting up a rival altar to that of the central sanctuary and thus breaching the covenant unity.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "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 22:19. If the land of your possession be unclean — If you apprehend it to be so, and that it is not regarded by God for want of the tabernacle and altar there, but is like heathen lands; if you now repent of your former choice in preferring the worldly commodities of that country before the advantage of God’s presence, and more frequent opportunities of his service; pass ye over, and take possession among us — We will readily resign part of our possessions to you for the prevention of this sin and mischief. Thus Phinehas manifests his piety, disinterestedness, and benevolent intentions: “he even,” as Dr. Dodd observes, “himself seeks out some plausible pretence for the step against which he inveighs. He supposes that the Israelites beyond the river may have thought their land would be defiled, that it would not be a holy land, consecrated to God, and under his protection, unless they beheld there some token of his presence, some sacred edifice, which might publicly signify that the Lord was their God.” Rebel not against the Lord, nor against us — For as 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. The tribes appear here to have been possessed of a wonderful zeal for God and the common good, inasmuch as they were willing and desirous rather to put themselves to straits, and give up some of their own land to their brethren, than see them deviate into schism, and revolt against God.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-22.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Unclean, as being destitute of the ark, &c. The Israelites had the greatest veneration for the land which God had chosen for their habitation. Naaman loaded two mules with some of the earth. We cannot help admiring the zeal and the disinterestedness of Phinees. He proposes to abandon some of the possessions on the other side of the Jordan, rather than that his brethren should forsake God, or offend him.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-22.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

tabernacle. Habitation. Hebrew mishkan. App-40.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-22.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) If the land of your possession be unclean.—This suggests that they might have built the altar in it to sanctify it. But it would hardly be intelligible unless the altar was, as we supposed, on the eastern side.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-22.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
unclean
Exodus 15:17; Leviticus 18:25-28; Amos 7:17; Acts 10:14,15; 11:8,9
wherein
18:1; Leviticus 17:8,9; Deuteronomy 12:5,6; 2 Chronicles 11:13,16,17
Reciprocal: Leviticus 26:11 - I will;  Numbers 32:30 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 22:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-22.html.