The eastern tribes are sent home
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
G The Last message of Joshua
Joshua charges the people
1: And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age. 2: And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age: 3: And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is he that hath fought for you. 4: Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward. 5: And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you. 6: Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left; 7: That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them: 8: But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day. 9: For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day. 10: One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. 11: Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. 12: Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you: 13: Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. 14: And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof. 15: Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. 16: When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.
Joshua’s farewell at Shechem
1: And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. 2: And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. 3: And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. 4: And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. 5: I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. 6: And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. 7: And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season. 8: And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you. 9: Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: 10: But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand. 11: And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. 12: And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. 13: And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat. 14: Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15: And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. 16: And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; 17: For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: 18: And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God. 19: And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20: If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. 21: And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. 22: And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. 23: Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel. 24: And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. 25: So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26: And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. 27: And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God. 28: So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.
Joshua dies and is buried
29: And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 30: And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash. 31: And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel. 32: And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. 33: And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.
In chapter 22 we find that the tribes that settled first on the east of Jordan were the last to return home after the conquest of Canaan. ‘The first shall be last’ became true in this case. Then in Chapters 24 and 25 we have the last words of Joshua and the death of Joshua. All believers can learn something in chapter 22. The eastern tribes had no rest while their western brethren struggled with the enemy. There could be no rest until all found rest. It has been suggested that the book of Joshua is not only prophecy but it is also prophetic in the sense that the experience of Israel here is mirrored in the future of Israel. The eastern tribes are sent home with a solemn charge ‘to take diligent 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’. This is a summary of Jewish thinking and theology. The Half tribe of Manasseh were sent home with great rewards for their contribution. Riches in cattle, gold, silver, bronze, iron and clothing. When Reuben and Gad arrived at the Jordan they built an altar but the res of the brethren were very angry at this and set themselves at war against them and they sent Phineas and 10 princes (heads of the tribes) and they accused them of departing from the Lord by building an altar. The tribes saw this as a rival altar to the Tabernacle of the Lord. They answered that in innocence they built it, not to rival the Tabernacle but to be a memorial to future generations. And they said we did not build it to be a place of sacrifice but to be a memorial. Then the Princes and Phineas realized that this was a misunderstanding and that they had not rebelled against the Lord. How tragic it would have been to see complete against their real enemies but then to fight and destroy themselves. Often believers who have seen great blessing in their united efforts then give up mission begin to find fault with each other and tear each other apart. In Ch 23 we read the closing words of the life of Joshua. Eventually Joshua is finally stuck down by age and infirmity. The Lord had given him great victory in all that he did and there are none of the character flaws and mistakes of great men to ponder on. Joshua is amazingly free from sin and defeat. In this sense he is a type of Christ. So Joshua calls all the elders, judges, officers and chiefs of Israel to his blessing. He aid to them I am old and stuck down with age. Then he reminds them of all that the Lord had done for them. Even now there were a few lingering tribes that remained of their enemies in the land though they were not a cohesive fighting force. So he says be courageous to keep and do everything in the book of the law of Moses. Do not turn right or left but follow a straight path. He is particularly concerned that their heathen religion is not incorporated into Israel. He says do not serve or bow down to their gods but stick closely to the LORD your God. He reminds them that they have never found serious opposition to them all their lives even though they were mighty nations in the land. He says one of you will chase a thousand, because the Lord is fighting for you. He says be careful to love the Lord your God and destroy these people that remain because if you do not then they will be traps, snares, pains in your side and splinters in your eyes. Then he said look at me – I am going the way of all the earth and you know that the Lord has blessed you in everything you have done, Now he says do not be complacent the Lord can bring evil upon you as well as good things until he has wiped you off this good land which he gave you. And he will do this to you if you forsake him and sin against him. In the last chapter we have the farewell speech at Shechem. Joshua gathered all Israel at Shechem. First he recounts the whole story of Israel’s journeyt from the call of Abraham to the present day. Then he challenges Israel to fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and truth and to put away the gods which they served in the wilderness and Egypt which still cleave to them. He says Choose you this day who you will serve. The people answered God forbid that we should serve other gods. Then Joshua kept them to the point of challenge he said you cannot serve the Lord (if you forsake him and worship idols) because he is holy and jealous and he will not forgive your transgressions and sins (of idolatry). Joshua said, if you forsake the Lord and serve strange gods then he will turn from you and inflict harm on you and consume you. The people answered we are witnesses to your word. So Joshua said, put away the strange gods and listen to the LORD your God. The people answered we will serve him and obey his voice. So Joshua made a covenant with Israel that day and made it law in Shechem and he wrote it all in the book of the Law of God and he took a great stone and set it up there under an oak that was near the Tabernacle of the LORD. Then Joshua said this stone is a witness against you if you forsake the LORD. This long protracted challenge was Joshua’s closing legacy to Israel. After this Joshua died - being 110 years of age. They buried him on Mount Ephraim - his home. Israel served the Lord all the time of Joshua’s leadership – a very great achievement indeed and during the lifetime of his elders who outlived him. The bones of Joseph which the children of Israel brought out of Egypt were buried in Shechem in a portion of ground that Jacob purchased. Eventually Eleazar died - the son of Aaron and they buried him on Mount Ephraim.