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Joshua 22:10-34

Context
Civil War is Averted

22:10 The Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan and built there, near the Jordan, an impressive altar. 1  22:11 The Israelites received this report: 2  “Look, the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar at the entrance to 3  the land of Canaan, at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side.” 22:12 When the Israelites heard this, the entire Israelite community assembled at Shiloh to launch an attack against them. 4 

22:13 The Israelites sent Phinehas, son of Eleazar, the priest, to the land of Gilead to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 22:14 He was accompanied by ten leaders, one from each of the Israelite tribes, each one a family leader among the Israelite clans. 5  22:15 They went to the land of Gilead to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and said to them: 22:16 “The entire community of the Lord says, ‘Why have you disobeyed the God of Israel by turning back today from following the Lord? You built an altar for yourselves and have rebelled today against the Lord. 6  22:17 The sin we committed at Peor was bad enough. To this very day we have not purified ourselves; it even brought a plague on the community of the Lord. 7  22:18 Now today you dare to turn back 8  from following the Lord! You are rebelling today against the Lord; tomorrow he may break out in anger against 9  the entire community of Israel. 22:19 But if your own land 10  is impure, 11  cross over to the Lord’s own land, 12  where the Lord himself lives, 13  and settle down among us. 14  But don’t rebel against the Lord or us 15  by building for yourselves an altar aside from the altar of the Lord our God. 22:20 When Achan son of Zerah disobeyed the command about the city’s riches, the entire Israelite community was judged, 16  though only one man had sinned. He most certainly died for his sin!’” 17 

22:21 The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered the leaders 18  of the Israelite clans: 22:22 “El, God, the Lord! 19  El, God, the Lord! He knows the truth! 20  Israel must also know! If we have rebelled or disobeyed the Lord, 21  don’t spare us 22  today! 22:23 If we have built 23  an altar for ourselves to turn back from following the Lord by making 24  burnt sacrifices and grain offerings on it, or by offering 25  tokens of peace 26  on it, the Lord himself will punish us. 27  22:24 We swear we have done this because we were worried that 28  in the future your descendants would say to our descendants, ‘What relationship do you have with the Lord God of Israel? 29  22:25 The Lord made the Jordan a boundary between us and you Reubenites and Gadites. You have no right to worship the Lord.’ 30  In this way your descendants might cause our descendants to stop obeying 31  the Lord. 22:26 So we decided to build this altar, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, 22:27 but as a reminder to us and you, 32  and to our descendants who follow us, that we will honor the Lord in his very presence 33  with burnt offerings, sacrifices, and tokens of peace. 34  Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to our descendants, ‘You have no right to worship the Lord.’ 35  22:28 We said, ‘If in the future they say such a thing 36  to us or to our descendants, we will reply, “See the model of the Lord’s altar that our ancestors 37  made, not for burnt offerings or sacrifices, but as a reminder to us and you.”’ 38  22:29 Far be it from us to rebel against the Lord by turning back today from following after the Lord by building an altar for burnt offerings, sacrifices, and tokens of peace 39  aside from the altar of the Lord our God located in front of his dwelling place!” 40 

22:30 When Phinehas the priest and the community leaders and clan leaders who accompanied him heard the defense of the Reubenites, Gadites, and the Manassehites, 41  they were satisfied. 42  22:31 Phinehas, son of Eleazar, the priest, said to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the Manassehites, 43  “Today we know that the Lord is among us, because you have not disobeyed the Lord in this. 44  Now 45  you have rescued the Israelites from the Lord’s judgment.” 46 

22:32 Phinehas, son of Eleazar, the priest, and the leaders left the Reubenites and Gadites in the land of Gilead and reported back to the Israelites in the land of Canaan. 47  22:33 The Israelites were satisfied with their report and gave thanks to God. 48  They said nothing more about launching an attack to destroy the land in which the Reubenites and Gadites lived. 49  22:34 The Reubenites and Gadites named the altar, “Surely it is a Reminder to us 50  that the Lord is God.”

1 tn Heb “and they went to Geliloth of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, and the sons of Reuben, the sons of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar near the Jordan, an altar great with respect to appearance.”

2 tn Heb “the sons of Israel heard, saying.”

3 tn Heb “toward the front of.”

4 tn Heb “to go up against them for battle.”

5 tn Heb “ten leaders with him, one leader, one leader for a paternal house, for all the tribes of Israel, and each a head of the house of their father, they belong to the clans of Israel.”

6 tn Heb “What is this unfaithfulness with which you have been unfaithful against the God of Israel, turning today from after the Lord, when you built for yourselves an altar, rebelling today against the Lord?”

7 tn Heb “Was the sin of Peor too insignificant for us, from which we have not made purification to this day? And there was a plague in the assembly of the Lord.”

8 tn Heb “you are turning back.”

9 tn Or “he will be angry with.”

10 tn Heb “the land of your possession.”

11 sn The western tribes here imagine a possible motive for the action of the eastern tribes. T. C. Butler explains the significance of the land’s “impurity”: “East Jordan is impure because it is not Yahweh’s possession. Rather it is simply ‘your possession.’ That means it is land where Yahweh does not live, land which his presence has not sanctified and purified” (Joshua [WBC], 247).

12 tn Heb “the land of the possession of the Lord.”

13 tn Heb “where the dwelling place of the Lord resides.”

sn The phrase where the Lord himself lives refers to the tabernacle.

14 tn Heb “and take for yourselves in our midst.”

15 tc Heb “and us to you rebel.” The reading of the MT, the accusative sign with suffix (וְאֹתָנוּ, vÿotanu), is problematic with the verb “rebel” (מָרַד, marad). Many Hebrew mss correctly read the negative particle אַל (’al) for the preposition אֶל (’el, “to”).

16 tn Heb “Is it not [true that] Achan son of Zerah was unfaithful with unfaithfulness concerning what was set apart [to the Lord] and against all the assembly of Israel there was anger?”

17 tn The second half of the verse reads literally, “and he [was] one man, he did not die for his sin.” There are at least two possible ways to explain this statement: (1) One might interpret the statement to mean that Achan was not the only person who died for his sin. In this case it could be translated, “and he was not the only one to die because of his sin.” (2) Another option, the one reflected in the translation, is to take the words וְהוּא אִישׁ אֶחָד (vÿhu’ ’ishekhad, “and he [was] one man”) as a concessive clause and join it with what precedes. The remaining words (לֹא גָוַע בַּעֲוֹנוֹ, logavabaavono) must then be taken as a rhetorical question (“Did he not die for his sin?”). Taking the last sentence as interrogative is consistent with the first part of the verse, a rhetorical question introduced with the interrogative particle. The present translation has converted these rhetorical questions into affirmative statements to bring out more clearly the points they are emphasizing. For further discussion, see T. C. Butler, Joshua (WBC), 240.

18 tn Heb “answered and spoke to the heads of.”

19 sn Israel’s God is here identified with three names: (1) אֵל (’el), “El” (or “God”); (2) אֱלֹהִים (’elohim), “Elohim” (or “God”), and (3) יְהוָה (yÿhvah), “Yahweh” (or “the Lord”). The name אֵל (’el, “El”) is often compounded with titles, for example, El Elyon, “God Most High.”

20 tn Heb “he knows.”

21 tn Heb “if in rebellion or if in unfaithfulness against the Lord.”

22 tn Heb “do not save us.” The verb form is singular, being addressed to either collective Israel or the Lord himself. The LXX translates in the third person.

23 tn Heb “by building.” The prepositional phrase may be subordinated to what precedes, “if in unfaithfulness…by building.”

24 tn Heb “or if to offer up.”

25 tn Heb “or if to make.”

26 tn Or “peace offerings.”

27 tn Heb “the Lord, he will seek.” Perhaps this is a self-imprecation in an oath, “may the Lord himself punish us.”

28 tn Heb “Surely, from worry concerning a matter we have done this, saying.”

29 tn Heb “What is there to you and to the Lord God of Israel?” The rhetorical question is sarcastic in tone and anticipates a response, “Absolutely none!”

30 tn Heb “You have no portion in the Lord.”

31 tn Heb “fearing.”

32 tn Heb “but it is a witness between us and you.”

33 tn Heb “to do the service of the Lord before him.”

34 tn Or “peace offerings.”

35 tn Heb “You have no portion in the Lord.”

36 tn The words “such a thing” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

37 tn Heb “fathers.”

38 tn Heb “but it is a witness between us and you.”

39 tn Or “peace offerings.”

40 sn The Lord’s dwelling place here refers to the tabernacle.

41 tn Heb “the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and the sons of Manasseh.”

42 tn Heb “it was good in their eyes.”

43 tn Heb “the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and the sons of Manasseh.”

44 tn Heb “because you were not unfaithful with this unfaithfulness against the Lord.”

45 tn On the use of אָז in a logical sense, see Waltke-O’Connor, Hebrew Syntax, 667.

46 tn Heb “the hand (i.e., power) of the Lord.”

47 tn Heb “and Phinehas…returned from the sons of Reuben and from the sons of Gad, from the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the sons of Israel. And they brought back to them a word.”

48 tn Heb “and the word was good in the eyes of the sons of Israel and the sons of Israel blessed God.”

49 tn Heb “and they did not speak about going up against them for battle to destroy the land in which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad were living.”

50 tn Heb “a witness between us.”



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