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Now in chapter twenty-two, after now the land has all been given and apportioned out,
Joshua called the men from Reuben, and Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh ( Joshua 22:1 ).
Now you remember these are the people who when they were on the east bank of the Jordan River had already established there. It was good grazing country, they said, "We're farmers this is great territory." We'd love to just stay over here and have our inheritance right here where we are.
So Moses said, "Providing you'll send your fighting forces over with us to conquer the land, when the land is all conquered then you can come back. You can leave your wives and children, your families here. You send your fighting men over with us to help take the land. Once the land is taken then you may come back, and you can dwell in the land here."
So they promised that they would do just that, that they would come over, and they kept their promise. Now the land has all been conquered, the tribes have all received their portion. So Joshua called this fighting brigade to him of the tribe of Reuben, and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh who wanted the land on the other side of the Jordan River.
He said, "You fellows have fulfilled your promise. You've fulfilled your bargain; you've done what you said you would do, and what was commanded by Moses, now you may return back to your families. Take with you all of the spoils of war."
For in conquering this land, of course, they conquered all these cities, and they actually had tremendous wealth, the spoils of war, the silver, the gold, the brass, the cattle, the sheep and all. He says, "Take them back and share them with the others within the tribes back on the other side of the Jordan. So you may return now." You know they were setting them free, they having fulfilled their portion of the deal, now they could go back and establish with their families on the other side of the Jordan River.
Now as they were going back, when they got to the Jordan River and they crossed it, they built a huge altar that you could see for miles. Word came back to the men of Israel and they gathered the princes in Shechem. They said, "They have built an altar to offer sacrifices and all." The whole house of Israel was ready to go over and attack them because they thought that they were already lapsing into idolatry. That they would dare to offer sacrifices to God in a place other than the tabernacle, the place that God had established.
So the princes of Israel got together, and they came over to the men of Reuben and Gad and Manasseh, and they said, "What are you doing? Did you forget already the problems that our fathers have had because of idolatry? What are you doing erecting this big altar to offer sacrifices and all this?"
"Wait a minute you've got it all wrong. We had no intention of making any sacrifices on this altar at all. We have no intention of making any burnt offerings or sin offerings, or anything on this. This is just a reminder that we belong to you because we're afraid that in another generation or so that your children will say to our children, 'Hey you guys live on the other side of the river. You don't have any part with us.'"
So this is a sign. It's a memorial to show that we are a part of You, that we worship the true and the living God and we have no intention of offering sacrifices here. This is just so that your kids can't say to our kids, "Hey because you live on the other side of the river, you don't belong to us." So the princes of Israel were satisfied with this. They went back and they told the people, "Hey, they're not committing idolatry. They're not trying to create a schism and pull away." But actually it's just a memorial and it's just so that they will be identified with us in the minds of the children as they grow up and all.
So it pleased all of the people of Israel, and they accepted then this memorial that was erected by these tribes there on the other side of the Jordan River. So that basically is the story that you get in the twenty-second chapter of Joshua.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Joshua 22". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19