Joshua 22

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1 Then Joshua calleth for the Reubenite, and for the Gadite, and for the half of the tribe of Manasseh,

2 and saith unto them, `Ye -- ye have kept the whole of that which Moses, servant of Jehovah, commanded you, and ye hearken to my voice, to all that I have commanded you;

3 ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, and have kept the charge -- the command of Jehovah your God.

4 `And, now, Jehovah your God hath given rest to your brethren, as He spake to them; and now, turn ye, and go for yourselves to your tents, unto the land of your possession, which Moses, servant of Jehovah, hath given to you beyond the Jordan.

5 Only, be very watchful to do the command and the law which Moses, servant of Jehovah, commanded you, to love Jehovah your God, and to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commands, and to cleave to Him, and to serve Him, with all your heart, and with all your soul.'

6 And Joshua blesseth them, and sendeth them away, and they go unto their tents.

7 And to the half of the tribe of Manasseh hath Moses given, in Bashan, and to its [other] half hath Joshua given with their brethren beyond the Jordan westward; and also when Joshua hath sent them away unto their tents, then he doth bless them,

8 and speak unto them, saying, `With great riches turn ye back 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 sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and the half of the tribe of Manasseh, turn back and go from the sons of Israel out of Shiloh, which [is] in the land of Canaan, to go unto the land of Gilead, unto the land of their possession, in which they have possession, according to the command of Jehovah, by the hand of Moses;

10 and they come in unto the districts of the Jordan, which [are] in the land of Canaan, and the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and the half of the tribe of Manasseh, build there an altar by the Jordan -- a great altar for appearance.

11 And the sons of Israel hear, saying, `Lo, the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and the half of the tribe of Manasseh, have built the altar over-against the land of Canaan, on the districts of the Jordan, at the passage of the sons of Israel.'

12 And the sons of Israel hear, and all the company of the sons of Israel is assembled at Shiloh, to go up against them to war;

13 and the sons of Israel send unto the sons of Reuben, and unto the sons of Gad, and unto the half of the tribe of Manasseh -- unto the land of Gilead -- Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest,

14 and ten princes with him, one prince, one prince, for a house of a father, for all the tribes of Israel, and each of them a head of a house of their fathers, for the thousands of Israel.

15 And they come in unto the sons of Reuben, and unto the sons of Gad, and unto the half of the tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and speak with them, saying,

16 `Thus said all the company of Jehovah, What [is] this trespass which ye have trespassed against the God of Israel, to turn back to-day from after Jehovah, by your building for you an altar, for your rebelling to-day against Jehovah?

17 Is the iniquity of Peor little to us, from which we have not been cleansed till this day -- and the plague is in the company of Jehovah,

18 that ye turn back to-day from after Jehovah? and it hath been -- ye rebel to-day against Jehovah -- and to-morrow against all the company of Israel He is wroth.

19 `And surely, if the land of your possession is unclean, pass over for you unto the land of the possession of Jehovah, where the tabernacle of Jehovah hath tabernacled, and have possession in our midst; and against Jehovah rebel not, and against us rebel not, by your building for you an altar, besides the altar of Jehovah our God.

20 Did not Achan son of Zerah commit a trespass in the devoted thing, and on all the company of Israel there was wrath? and he alone expired not in his iniquity.'

21 And the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and the half of the tribe of Manasseh, answer and speak with the heads of the thousands of Israel:

22 `The God of gods -- Jehovah, the God of gods -- Jehovah, He is knowing, and Israel, he doth know, if in rebellion, and if in trespass against Jehovah (Thou dost not save us this day!)

23 [we are] building for ourselves an altar to turn back from after Jehovah, and if to cause to go up on it burnt-offering and present, and if to make on it peace-offerings -- Jehovah Himself doth require [it].

24 `And if not, from fear of [this] thing we have done it, saying, Hereafter your sons do speak to ours sons, saying, What to you and to Jehovah God of Israel?

25 for a border hath Jehovah put between us and you, O sons of Reuben, and sons of Gad -- Jordan; ye have no portion in Jehovah -- and your sons have caused our sons to cease, not to fear Jehovah.

26 `And we say, Pray let us prepare for ourselves to build the altar -- not for burnt-offering nor for sacrifice --

27 but a witness it [is] between us and you, and between our generations after us, to do the service of Jehovah before Him with our burnt-offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace-offerings, and your sons do not say hereafter to our sons, Ye have no portion in Jehovah.

28 `And we say, And it hath been, when they say [so] unto us, and unto our generations hereafter, that we have said, See the pattern of the altar of Jehovah, which our fathers made -- not for burnt-offering nor for sacrifice -- but a witness it [is] between us and you.

29 `Far be it from us to rebel against Jehovah, and to turn back to-day from after Jehovah, to build an altar for burnt-offering, for present, and for sacrifice, apart from the altar of Jehovah our God, which [is] before His tabernacle.'

30 And Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the company, and the heads of the thousands of Israel, who [are] with him, hear the words which the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, and the sons of Manasseh have spoken, and it is good in their eyes.

31 And Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest saith unto the sons of Reuben, and unto the sons of Gad, and unto the sons of Manasseh, `To-day we have known that Jehovah [is] in our midst, because ye have not committed against Jehovah this trespass -- then ye have delivered the sons of Israel out of the hand of Jehovah.'

32 And Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, turn back from the sons of Reuben, and from the sons of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, unto the sons of Israel, and bring them back word;

33 and the thing is good in the eyes of the sons of Israel, and the sons of Israel bless God, and have not said to go up against them to war, to destroy the land which the sons of Reuben, and the sons of Gad, are dwelling in.

34 And the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad proclaim concerning the altar, that `it [is] a witness between us that Jehovah [is] God.'

  

Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 22      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua 22: The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half Manasseh return.

With the land of Canaan now settled by Israel, the time had come for the men of Reuben, Gad, and one half of Manasseh to return to the other side of the Jordan, where their wives, children, cattle and sheep were left. The men of these two and a half tribes had been ordered to fight alongside the other tribes of Israel, and only then to return home.

They left, and when they came to the banks of the River Jordan, they built a large altar to the Lord. When the rest of Israel caught word of this, they wanted to go to war with these tribes, because they felt the altar was a sacrilege - Israel had the tabernacle for its worship of the Lord. They sent Phineas the priest to ask why they had built the altar. These tribes across the Jordan replied that in the future, the people of Israel may move against them, and reject them. They said the altar would serve as a witness to their worship of the Lord, just as the Israelites in Canaan worshiped. This answer pleased the priest, and when he told the leaders of Israel, it pleased them too.

The spiritual meaning of this episode is a very important one for us. The tribes living on the other side of the River Jordan stand for the worldly activities of our outward life, which in themselves are a very important part of our spiritual life. These actions make up the external part of spiritual life, in which we are able to do good (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 9824[2]).

The tribes building an altar to God portrays our understanding that all the good we do, and all the use we provide, is possible because of the Lord. He is the giver of all good, which is why we must serve the Lord. Without use, spiritual thoughts and beliefs do not have a foundation (Arcana Caelestia 9473[3]).

Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh said that the people of Israel might cut them off in the future. In spiritual terms, this would be to separate spiritual life and external life in daily living. This would result in such things as hypocrisy, and faith without charity, both of which are a threat to our spiritual well-being (see Swedenborg’s work, Doctrine of Life 4).

The altar, which was built on Canaan’s side of the Jordan before these tribes crossed over, was to stand as a witness to the union between the tribes within Canaan and the tribes across the Jordan, as one nation before the Lord (Arcana Caelestia 9714).

This unity means that we must be equally present in three areas of life: in the depths of our heart, in our worship and adoration of the Lord; in our mind, in our understanding and delight in the Lord’s Word with all its truth; and in our outward actions, where our acknowledgement of the Lord as our God leads us to be sincere, just, moral, fair, compassionate and dedicated to the service of God.

The answer from the three tribes pleased the priest and, in turn, the leaders of Israel. This reception represents our affirmation that ‘being spiritual’ does not take the place of helping others, but really demands that we serve the Lord in our daily actions (see Swedenborg’s work, Apocalypse Explained 325[4]).

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