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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Joshua 22

Verses 1-34

In chapter 22 (verses 1-6) we learn that these warriors had done their part faithfully. Although they speak of those who prefer to settle down on the borders of the world rather than to enter in and possess in fullness all that God has for them, nevertheless, according to the light which they seemed to have, they were true and faithful to the promise they had given to Moses and so they were now entitled to return to Bashan and Gilead and adjoining districts east of the Jordan to settle down with their families and care for their flocks and herds.

On their way to their homes an incident occurred which is very suggestive and might well be kept in mind by us today-we who are so apt to misunderstand one another’s motives and to judge each other wrongly because we do not know what is going on in the heart. It is against this that our Lord warns us when He says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.”

In Joshua 22:0, verse 10 we read:

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 word got abroad regarding the building of this altar, those who had their inheritances west of the Jordan immediately jumped at the conclusion that their brethren were setting up some separate kind of worship and so were making a breach in Israel. Without sending messengers to make proper inquiry, word was sent to all the nine and one-half tribes that a rebellion against the Word of the Lord had begun and they were summoned together to quell it. Led by that devoted man Phineas, the son of Eleazar the priest, they charged their brethren with trespass against the Lord, and reminding them how judgment had fallen upon them because of previous iniquities, they warned them of what they might expect if they continued to rebel against God by setting up some other center of worship than that which He had already established at Shiloh. But when thus charged by their excited brethren, the two and one-half tribes, through their leader, made it clear that they had no such thought whatever.

On the other hand, the altar they had built was in order to remind their children and the children of the nine and one-half tribes that they were one nation and that together they worshiped the one true and living God. When the facts of the case came out clearly, Phineas and the host following him were sat- isfied, and they thanked God that division was averted. The altar that the children of Reuben and of Gad had built was simply a replica of that which was set up at the tabernacle and was designed to keep in mind the unity of the nation rather than to foment division. Thus what might have been a very serious breach between brethren was avoided. How often through the centuries have Christians attacked one another and separated one from another on even less provocation, simply because they acted in haste and did not take time to acquaint themselves with one another’s motives!

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Joshua 22". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.