Joshua Chapter 22

When the tribes of Israel had conquered the land on the eastern side of the Jordan, across from Jericho, they took some time to encamp there. It was a good land for cattle and herds, and the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh, decided they would like that land for their inheritance. The Lord allowed them to have what they wanted, as long as the promised to help the rest of the children of Israel in gaining the land of their inheritance. They agreed and left their families in their lands while they helped fight. Now that all of Israel had found rest, these tribes had fulfilled their promise.

1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
2 And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:
3 Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God.
4 And now the Lord your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side Jordan.
5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
6 So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, were released from their service and told to return to their homes in their own land. They were given instruction to heed the commandments of the Lord, which Moses had given to them. Then they were given a blessing by Joshua and left to go home.

I think that the instruction given to them here is so important. They were not just told to keep the commandments, but were told to “take diligent heed to do”. The word diligent is defined as “careful and persistent work or effort”, and the word heed means “careful attention”. They were being instructed to be carefully persistent in their attention to the law and commandments. The Lord knew that they would need to be actively engaged every day of their lives, if they were going to remain faithfully His people. Likewise, we must be watchful every day, and be persistent in living the gospel of the Lord. One decision can put us on the path that leads away from God and our own promised blessings. If we take diligent heed to follow the commandments, we will be greatly blessed and have the honor of being called the people of the Lord.

7 Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: but unto the other half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan westward. And when Joshua sent them away also unto their tents, then he blessed them,
8 And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.

The remainder of the tribe of Manasseh, was also given a blessing by Joshua and told them to share the spoil from their enemies.

9 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, whereof they were possessed, according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
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.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, had obeyed the Lord and served their brethren by fighting for a long time. They had left their homes and families to do this, and had not returned, even though I am sure the temptation was there for some. They had faithfully fulfilled their oath to the tribes of Israel and were only now being able to return to their homes. They returned to their lands on the eastern side of the Jordan. On their way, they stopped by the Jordan and built and altar.

11 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 over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel.
12 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 to war against them.
13 And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,
14 And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.

The other tribes of Israel, heard about the altar that they built, and prepared to fight against these tribes for it. They believed that these tribes had chosen to go against the commandments of the Lord. Phinehas, Eleazar’s son, was sent with ten of the princes of Israel.

It would have been so destructive, if they were indeed building an altar in order to perform sacrifices, because it would have been directly against the word of the Lord. Many of the host of Israel, had been destroyed for this type of disobedience, in their journey to the promised land. It was the duty of the rest of Israel, to get rid of any such disobedience among them.

15 And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spake with them, saying,
16 Thus saith the whole congregation of the Lord, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the Lord, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the Lord?
17 Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the Lord,
18 But that ye must turn away this day from following the Lord? and it will be, seeing ye rebel to day against the Lord, that to morrow he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.
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.
20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.

These men went to the tribes who had built the altar and asked why they had trespassed against the Lord by building the altar. They accused them of coming out in open rebellion against God. They supposed that if they did not repent of this thing, the Lord would bring his anger against the entire host of Israel, as had been done in the past when one man or group had trespassed against the Lord.

21 Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered, and said unto the heads of the thousands of Israel,
22 The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the Lord, (save us not this day,)
23 That we have built us an altar to turn from following the Lord, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering, or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the Lord himself require it;
24 And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the Lord God of Israel?
25 For the Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no part in the Lord: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the Lord.
26 Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice:
27 But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the Lord before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the Lord.
28 Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of the Lord, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you.
29 God forbid that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn this day from following the Lord, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the Lord our God that is before his tabernacle.

They responded by telling them that this altar was not made for burnt offerings or sacrifice, but to witness that they were children of the Lord as well, even though the Jordan separated them from the rest of Israel. They knew that they could not make an altar for sacrifice when the altar at the tabernacle had been dedicated for that purpose. They also knew that God would know what the purpose was, and they were well aware that He would not let them live, if they did this things against Him.

30 And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spake, it pleased them.
31 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the Lord is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the Lord: now ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the Lord.

Phinehas and the princes, were pleased with this explanation and agreed that they had not trespassed against the Lord. They knew this was right, because they could tell that the presence of the Lord was still with the host of Israel. When we are doing what is right, we can also have this confirmation. I am reminded now, of the times when I have suspected one of my children has been dishonest with me, and I confront them because I feel the withdrawal of the spirit. Quite often, I confront them based on these feelings, and once they confess and apologize, I can feel the presence of the spirit, letting me know that things are right among us. Feeling the impressions and companionship of the spirit, is a very important tool to knowing that we are doing what the Lord would have us do.

32 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again.
33 And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.
34 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the Lord is God.

They returned to Canaan and told the rest of the host of Israel what had been done. The desire to fight was gone, and the host of Israel blessed God instead.

When our own lives are affected by the actions of others or the circumstances that they might put us in, it is our duty, as it was for the tribes of Israel, to make what we can right. In the areas, in which we can make changes or influence for good, we should do so. This is the only way for us to continue to have the influence of the spirit of God in our lives. If we allow ourselves to be denied the influence of God, because of what someone else has done, we choose to separate ourselves from God and the blessings He has in store for us. I am grateful, every day, for the companionship of the spirit. I thank God for His presence in my life and for the confirmation that even though I make mistakes, I am still on the right path and can be a more righteous person with His help.


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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.


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