Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Joshua 22

Verse 25


‘The Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you.’

Joshua 22:25

The special subject of the Lesson is the readiness with which the two-and-a-half tribes met and responded to the claims of the brotherhood. In this setting us an example of ‘not looking only on our own things, but looking also on the things of others.’ We may, however, give attention to the whole incident connected with their settlement east of Jordan.

I. Were the two-and-a-half tribes right or wrong in interfering with the Mosaic arrangement?—In thinking this out, we must make due account of the following points:—(1) The land given by God to the children of Israel was not limited to the west bank of Jordan. (2) The north-eastern limit being the river Euphrates, suggests the occupation of the country east of Jordan. (3) Moses naturally thought of getting the people into the ordinarily recognised Canaan. (4) Divine Providence worked out a larger thought than Moses cherished. (5) These particular tribes, keeping to their earlier custom of feeding animals, were more fitted for a wide pastoral country, than for land which must be highly farmed because so sub-divided. (6) The narrative gives no sign of their making their request in a bad spirit. So we may say that, though this idea had not been thought of by Moses, it was in the plan of God, and brought about by the overrulings of Divine Providence.

II. Did they estimate the dangers involved in their choice?—Probably not. Honestly intending to be faithful to the nation, and to Jehovah, they could not realise how the practical separation would influence later generations. Nor could they see how exposed they would be to surrounding foes, when the kingdom across the Jordan became unfaithful, and so became disunited and weak. Close association with religious people, and religious worship, is a more important help to the godly life than we usually estimate. It is perilous work to ‘forsake the assembling of ourselves together.’

III. How did their choice of territory prove to be for the good of their brethren?—They became a protecting border country. The tribes that were accustomed to make inroads into Canaan had to approach Canaan through the territory of these tribes.

IV. Explain the moral test applied to these two and-a-half tribes by Moses.—Did they want to separate themselves from responsibility and privilege, or were they willing still to link their fortunes with God’s people? That could be seen by their consenting to take a fair share of the fatigue and danger of the enterprise that was before them. See how character was tested, and how well it stood the test. These men were not wanting to secure some special good for themselves, and shirk their duty. In good judgment they fixed on the countries unexpectedly seized from Sihon and Og; and in a thoroughly honourable way asked for it. We may never get for ourselves save upon due consideration of the claims others may have upon us. Those who are in any way advanced beyond others are bound to help the others on. These tribes gained their homes first, then they were bound to help their brethren to secure their homes as speedily as possible. The worldly idea is, Get the best you can, and let others do the best they can. The unworldly idea is, Make your own success the means of helping others on. Show the danger of the self-seeking spirit. From the Christian point of view, ‘my brother’ stands before, or at least, close up alongside, ‘I myself.’


(1) ‘The one bond that knits all divisions of God’s people together, however different their modes of life and thought, is the similarity of relation to God. They are one in a common faith, a common love, a common obedience. Wider waters than Jordan part them. Graver differences of tasks and outlooks than separated these two sections of Israel part them. But all are one who love and obey the one Lord. The closer we cleave to Him the nearer we shall be to all the tribes.’

(2) ‘He that knows all things and hates all evil things would not punish the worst of criminals, but He would first go down and see ( Genesis 18:21). Many an unhappy strife would be prevented or soon taken up by an impartial and favourable inquiry into that which is the matter of the offence. The rectifying of mistakes and misunderstandings and the setting of misconstrued words and actions in a true light, would be the most effectual way to accommodate both private and public quarrels, and bring them to a happy period.’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Joshua 22". The Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.