Joshua 22:21, 22: The Answer of the Transjordanian Tribes, Part 1

Verse 21:[1] 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…

[To the prince of the legation of Israel] Hebrew: unto the heads of the thousands,[2] that is, of the Israelite people, which was exceedingly great in number (Vatablus).

The heads of the thousands of Israel: Either, first, properly, each was a governor of a thousand; for there were among them divers rulers, some of tens, some of hundreds, and some of thousands; or rather, secondly, improperly, and indefinitely, that is, of the people of Israel, which consist of so many thousands more than you, whose authority therefore you owe a reverence to. For by comparing verse 14, these seem to be greater persons than those that were rulers of thousands.


Verse 22:[3] The LORD (Deut. 10:17) God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he (1 Kings 8:39; Job 10:7; 23:10; Ps. 44:21; 139:1, 2; Jer. 12:3; 2 Cor. 11:11, 31) knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the LORD, (save us not this day)…

[God most mighty, etc., אֵל֩׀ אֱלֹהִ֙ים׀ יְהוָ֜ה] God of gods, the Lord (Jonathan, Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus), that is, who alone ought to be called God (Vatablus). Now, He is called the God of gods, that is, of Angels or Princes (Hebrews in Masius). There is πάθος/pathos in that Epizeuxis,[4] and in the name God of gods; that is to say, that highest and true God (Piscator). It is repeated for the greater confirmation (Vatablus). A collection of the three principal names of God, especially repeated, carries the greatest weight: as if by no speech are they sufficiently able to bring in God as a present witness of their intention, although they have an exceedingly great desire to do so (Masius). Now, these three names are suitable for this place, by which the three principal attributes of God are attested: 1. power; אֵל/El, that is, the powerful: 2. righteousness; אֶלוֹהִים/Elohim, that is, God the governor, judge, and defender of all: 3. majesty; יְהוָה/Jehovah, that is, being itself (or, the fount of being [Bonfrerius]). אֵל/El indicates that the power to punish their sins is not wanting to God: By the name אֶלוֹהִים/Elohim they acknowledge that they are in the eyes of God, and that they are not able to evade punishment before the most righteous Judge: By the third term they show that with respect to all their being they depend upon God, and that hence, if they swear falsely, they for good reason fear that He is going to take away their life and being (Bonfrerius). Therefore, they that address God with those names, and who then say, He knows, let Him avenge, think very highly of God. Undoubtedly he that professes these things briefly comprehends the sum of all Theology (Masius). The modesty of those that without any abuse calmly refute that most terrible charge is here to be admired. Would that Christians might imitate this moderation;[5] and that they might not take pleasure in cutting their adversaries with impious curses, but rather in modestly teaching, or certainly confuting, them with strong arguments. Moreover, an oath (which they employ here) is then lawful to employ, since the fact is otherwise uncertain, and lies shut up in the souls of men, Exodus 22:11, especially if the matter treated be great. For to appeal continually to God in the most trifling causes appears to be contrary to the majesty of God, and is not without danger of perjury (Masius).

The Lord God of gods; that Jehovah whom we, no less than you, acknowledge and adore as the God of gods, infinitely superior to all that are called gods. The multiplying of his titles, and the repetition of these words, show their zeal and earnestness in this matter, and their abhorrency of the very thoughts of it. He knoweth; to him we appeal who knoweth all things, and the truth of what we are now saying.

[And Israel shall also know] Namely, when they shall observe that they uphold the Religion of their ancestors with great constancy (Masius). This addition is not superfluous, since a great many, so that they evade the prompt judgment of other men concerning themselves, and avoid punishment, do not fear to appeal to God as witness, whose slowness in vengeance they despise (Masius).

Israel he shall know; not only our present words, but our future and constant course shall satisfy all Israel of our perseverance in the true religion.

[If with an intention of transgression, etc.,אִם־בְּמֶ֤רֶד וְאִם־בְּמַ֙עַל֙ בַּֽיהוָ֔ה אַל־תּוֹשִׁיעֵ֖נוּ] If in rebellion, or in transgression (supply, either, this was done [Tigurinus], or, we acted sinfully [Munster]) thou (supply, O Lord [Munster, Vatablus]) will not keep, or, keep not, us (Munster, similarly Masius, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, Jonathan, Syriac). That is to say, let God destroy us, if with this intention we have done this, etc. (Vatablus). They address God in the second person, as present (Masius). It is an emotional speech, and so it consists of clipped members (Junius). Others: let Him not save us today (Syriac, Arabic). It could indeed appear that that, save thou us not today, has been spoken to Phineas, as the leader of the legation, in this sense, We do entreat that even today thou wouldst not assail us with battle, if we have committed such an outrage. But the other opinion better agrees with the great emotions that they display in the entire speech, and is also proven from the Hebrew words (Masius).

If it be; if this have been done by us with such design, or in such a manner. Save us not this day; thou, O Lord, to whom we have appealed, and without whom we cannot be saved or preserved, save us not from any of our enemies, nor from the sword of our brethren. It is a sudden apostrophe to God, usual in such vehement speeches.

[1] Hebrew: וַֽיַּעֲנוּ֙ בְּנֵי־רְאוּבֵ֣ן וּבְנֵי־גָ֔ד וַחֲצִ֖י שֵׁ֣בֶט הַֽמְנַשֶּׁ֑ה וַֽיְדַבְּר֔וּ אֶת־רָאשֵׁ֖י אַלְפֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[2] Hebrew: אֶת־רָאשֵׁ֖י אַלְפֵ֥י.

[3] Hebrew: אֵל֩׀ אֱלֹהִ֙ים׀ יְהוָ֜ה אֵ֣ל׀ אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ יְהוָה֙ ה֣וּא יֹדֵ֔עַ וְיִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל ה֣וּא יֵדָ֑ע אִם־בְּמֶ֤רֶד וְאִם־בְּמַ֙עַל֙ בַּֽיהוָ֔ה אַל־תּוֹשִׁיעֵ֖נוּ הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃

[4] That is, the repetition of words or phrases for emphasis.

[5] See Philippians 4:5.

Joshua 22:19, 20: The Embassage to the Transjordanian Tribes, Part 3

Verse 19:[1] Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, (Josh. 18:1) 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.

[If ye esteem it to be unclean, אִם־טְמֵאָה] If unclean, or polluted, in your opinion, that is, because the altar of the Lord is not in it (Vatablus, Lapide). Unclean on account of the sins of the former inhabitants, which it is not lawful for you to expiate by sacrifices, as it is lawful for us in Shiloh (Lapide).

If the land of your possession be unclean; if you apprehend it to be so for want of the tabernacle and altar there, as the following words imply; if you now repent of your former choice in preferring the worldly commodities of that country before the advantage of God’s presence and favour, and more frequent opportunities of his service.

[Pass over to the land, etc.] We will rather share our possessions with you, than suffer you to sin against God. A sentence certainly noble and worthy of the sacred assembly, whence we are able to understand these things: 1. that their brethren, if they repent, are to be received unto favor again. 2. That we ought to place our own interests after the safety of the Republic and our brethren. See Genesis 19:8; Judges 19:24. 3. That crimes committed private, but especially religious defilements, unless they be emended by admonitions, or avenged by the Magistrate, are wont to be expiated by God by calamities, not only private, but also public (Masius). These were prepared to win them away from sin at their own expense (Menochius out of Lapide): which belonged either to consummate charity, or to zeal of the Divine glory (Bonfrerius).

Take possession among us; we will readily resign part of our possessions to you for the prevention of this sin and mischief; wherein they show great zeal for God’s honour, and great pity and charity to their brethren. Nor rebel against us; for all the tribes were united in one body politic, and made one commonwealth, and one church; and each tribe was subject to the laws and commands of the whole society, and of the chief ruler or rulers thereof; so its disobedience to their just commands was properly rebellion against them.


Verse 20:[2] (Josh. 7:1, 5) 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.

[Did not Achan, etc.?] This is to be referred to verse 18, for verse 19 is inserted through preoccupation (Masius).

The son of Zerah, that is, one of his posterity, Joshua 7:17, 18.

[And he was one, etc., וְהוּא֙ אִ֣ישׁ אֶחָ֔ד לֹ֥א גָוַ֖ע בַּעֲוֹנֽוֹ׃] And that man alone did not die in his perversity (Montanus, Malvenda). Who, although he was one man, died not alone in his sin (Arabic). He died not (repeat one, that is, alone) in his iniquity (Drusius, Glassius). But that man alone did not expire (Junius and Tremellius). Understanding, but many with him: Βραχυλογία/Brachylogy[3] (Piscator). Who on account of his sin were killed by the men of Ai, Joshua 7:5 (Lapide), his sons also, and his daughters (Bonfrerius). אֶחָד/one, that is, alone. Understand: How much more on account of the sins of many shall many perish? (Vatablus).

Perished not alone, but brought destruction upon his whole family, and part of our forces sent against Ai. In his iniquity, or, for his sin; of which see Joshua 7:24.

[1] Hebrew: וְאַ֙ךְ אִם־טְמֵאָ֜ה אֶ֣רֶץ אֲחֻזַּתְכֶ֗ם עִבְר֙וּ לָכֶ֜ם אֶל־אֶ֙רֶץ אֲחֻזַּ֤ת יְהוָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר שָֽׁכַן־שָׁם֙ מִשְׁכַּ֣ן יְהוָ֔ה וְהֵאָחֲז֖וּ בְּתוֹכֵ֑נוּ וּבַֽיהוָ֣ה אַל־תִּמְרֹ֗דוּ וְאֹתָ֙נוּ֙ אֶל־תִּמְרֹ֔דוּ בִּבְנֹֽתְכֶ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִזְבֵּ֔חַ מִֽבַּלְעֲדֵ֔י מִזְבַּ֖ח יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ׃

[2] Hebrew: הֲל֣וֹא׀ עָכָ֣ן בֶּן־זֶ֗רַח מָ֤עַל מַ֙עַל֙ בַּחֵ֔רֶם וְעַֽל־כָּל־עֲדַ֥ת יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל הָ֣יָה קָ֑צֶף וְהוּא֙ אִ֣ישׁ אֶחָ֔ד לֹ֥א גָוַ֖ע בַּעֲוֹנֽוֹ׃

[3] That is, a concise form of speech.

Joshua 22:15-18: The Embassage to the Transjordanian Tribes, Part 2

Verse 15:[1] 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…


Verse 16:[2] 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, (see Lev. 17:8, 9; Deut. 12:13, 14) that ye might rebel this day against the LORD?

[The people of the Lord] This carries emphasis. The people faithful to God, to the apostate people (Menochius). When they say this, they are able to seem to announce commands from heaven itself. And the Church is certainly to be heard when the cause of Religion is treated (Masius). That is to say, The religious children of Israel, who especially love the honor of the Lord, have ordered that these things be said by us (Vatablus).

The whole congregation of the Lord, who do and are resolved to cleave unto that God from whom you have revolted, and who speak this to you in the name of the Lord.

[What is that transgression?[3] (thus Munster)] Or, treachery (Tigurinus), or, prevarication (Pagnine, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius). How great is (or, what is the meaning of) that prevarication? that is, How great do ye suppose that prevarication is? (Vatablus). The מָעַל they translate to act treacherously (Tigurinus), to prevaricate (Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius), to err (Masius), to commit deceit (the Chaldean in Masius), καταγινώσκειν, to think little of, or to despise, or to neglect and reject in contempt (Symmachus in Masius). The הַיּוֹם, this day,[4] they translate today (Montanus, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius), at this time (Vatablus). But that today signifies the obviousness of the matter, rather than the time; as often elsewhere. Unless one might prefer to think that in this place it pertains to the demonstration of the hastiness of the defection, since they next say that they are not yet cleansed from the shame of Peor[5] (Masius).

What trespass is this? how heinous a crime is this! To turn away this day, that is, so soon after God hath obliged you by such wonderful favours, and when God is now conducting you home to reap the fruits of all your pains and hazards. That ye might rebel; with a design to revolt from and rebel against God, and against his express command of worshipping him at one only altar, Exodus 20:24; Leviticus 17:8, 9; Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, 13.


Verse 17:[6] Is the iniquity (Num. 25:3, 4; Deut. 4:3) 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…

[Is it too little, etc.? הַמְעַט־לָ֙נוּ֙ אֶת־עֲוֹ֣ן פְּע֔וֹר] Is it too little for us (does it appear to be a small thing [Vatablus, similarly Tigurinus]), the iniquity of Peor? (Munster, Tigurinus) (or, with the iniquity of Peor? [Pagnine]). Is it (that is, ought it to appear) a small thing for us, the iniquity with Peor? that is to say, Should we not be content with that iniquity, if we do not include the other? or, more plainly, Does that sin appear small to us, etc.? (Vatablus). Was it too little to us to have admitted that sin? (Masius). [Others conjoin this with what follows in this manner:] Is it too little for us that we have not yet purified ourselves from the iniquity of Peor? (Junius and Tremellius). Hebrew: Is it too little for us from the iniquity of Peor, that we are not purified from it? A Trajection (Junius). Phineas makes use of this example with good reason, since he had been a great part of that (Masius).

[The blemish…remains, etc., אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־הִטַּהַ֙רְנוּ֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ] From which we are not yet purged (Vatablus, similarly the Septuagint, Montanus, Syriac); that we are not cleansed from it (Jonathan). Question: How is this true, seeing that Phineas appeased God, and atoned for the crime? The passage in Numbers 14:20, etc., I have pardoned…nevertheless, as I live, etc., is clearly a twin to this passage (Masius). Responses: 1. Some refer this to the disgrace of the sin (Masius). But this is very weak (Masius). 2. Others more rightly take it of guilt. God was placated to the extent that He was unwilling that more should die at that time in the mutual slaughter; but notwithstanding those impious remained in their guilt, as those that were in the future going to pay the penalty to Divine judgment (Masius, Bonfrerius). He had expiated the guilt of the sin to the extent that God does not go against the people as a whole, or individually against those that were accessories to it, to avenge this with destruction, but to chasten in His own time with certain punishments, as a most merciful father, who, although he pardons his son’s sins, nevertheless corrects his son in certain ways (Masius). 3. Others take this of the fault. Thus the Arabic: from the following of which [namely, sin] we have not yet been cleansed. [Junius and Tremellius also seem thus to have understood it, that we have not yet cleansed ourselves from it.] There were many that had not yet blotted out that fault by repentance, indeed, they were still desiring that fornication (Lapide); they were not yet warding off that sin from the soul (Bonfrerius).

The iniquity of Peor, that is, of our worshipping of Baal-peor, Numbers 25:3, 5. From which we are not cleansed until this day; for though God had pardoned it, as to the national punishment of it, Numbers 25:11, yet they were not yet thoroughly purged from it; partly because the shame and blot of that filthy and odious practice was not yet wiped of; and partly because some of that corrupt leaven still remained among them, and though it smothered for a time, yet was ready to break forth upon all occasions. See Joshua 24:23. And God also took notice of these idolatrous inclinations in particular persons, and found out ways to punish them one time or other.


Verse 18:[7] 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 (Num. 16:22) he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.

[And ye have left] He speaks assertively, so that he might elicit a confession of sin (Bonfrerius).

[And tomorrow] That is, in the future, and quickly, or soon (Lyra, Lapide, Bonfrerius).

To-morrow, that is, suddenly, as that word is oft used, as Matthew 6:30; 1 Corinthians 15:32.

[Against all Israel] Both against you, as the authors of the sin, and against us, as those permitting it (Lapide).

He will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel; with you for doing so, and with us for suffering, or not punishing it.

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֜אוּ אֶל־בְּנֵי־רְאוּבֵ֧ן וְאֶל־בְּנֵי־גָ֛ד וְאֶל־חֲצִ֥י שֵֽׁבֶט־מְנַשֶּׁ֖ה אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ הַגִּלְעָ֑ד וַיְדַבְּר֥וּ אִתָּ֖ם לֵאמֹֽר׃

[2] Hebrew: כֹּ֣ה אָמְר֞וּ כֹּ֣ל׀ עֲדַ֣ת יְהוָ֗ה מָֽה־הַמַּ֤עַל הַזֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר מְעַלְתֶּם֙ בֵּאלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לָשׁ֣וּב הַיּ֔וֹם מֵאַחֲרֵ֖י יְהוָ֑ה בִּבְנֽוֹתְכֶ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִזְבֵּ֔חַ לִמְרָדְכֶ֥ם הַיּ֖וֹם בַּיהוָֽה׃

[3] Joshua 22:16a:  “Thus saith the whole congregation of the Lord, What trespass is this that ye have committed (מָֽה־הַמַּ֤עַל הַזֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר מְעַלְתֶּם֙) against the God of Israel…”

[4] Joshua 22:16b:  “…to turn away this day (הַיּוֹם) from following the Lord, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day (הַיּוֹם) against the Lord?”

[5] See Numbers 25.

[6] Hebrew: הַמְעַט־לָ֙נוּ֙ אֶת־עֲוֹ֣ן פְּע֔וֹר אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־הִטַּהַ֙רְנוּ֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ עַ֖ד הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וַיְהִ֥י הַנֶּ֖גֶף בַּעֲדַ֥ת יְהוָֽה׃

[7] Hebrew: וְאַתֶּם֙ תָּשֻׁ֣בוּ הַיּ֔וֹם מֵאַחֲרֵ֖י יְהוָ֑ה וְהָיָ֗ה אַתֶּ֞ם תִּמְרְד֤וּ הַיּוֹם֙ בַּֽיהוָ֔ה וּמָחָ֕ר אֶֽל־כָּל־עֲדַ֥ת יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל יִקְצֹֽף׃

Joshua 22:13-14: The Embassage to the Transjordanian Tribes, Part 1

Verse 13:[1] And the children of Israel (Deut. 13:14; Judg. 20:12) sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, (Ex. 6:25; Num. 25:7) Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest…

[And they sent] They wisely try the matter with counsel, rather than with arms (Masius); lest they should undertake anything rashly, without the matter having been sufficiently discussed (Bonfrerius).

[Phinehas the son of the priest Eleazar[2]] Rather, Phinehas the priest: for Phinehas was the Priest, verse 30 (Masius).


Verse 14:[3] And with him ten princes, of each chief house (Heb. house of a father[4]) a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and (Num. 1:4) each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.

[Princes] These were not the Prefects of their tribes, but Chiliarchs, as the Septuagint has it, and as the Hebrew words indicate, which say that they were head, or put in charge, of the thousands of Israel (Bonfrerius).

[One of every tribe: the Hebrew words otherwise,וְאִ֙ישׁ רֹ֧אשׁ בֵּית־אֲבוֹתָ֛ם הֵ֖מָּה לְאַלְפֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃] And a man (those men [Syriac], individuals [Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus], one man, I say [Arabic], each of them [Junius and Tremellius]) was, or were, a head, or heads (Munster, Tigurinus) (princes [Septuagint, Pagnine]) of the house of his fathers (or, for whatever house of the fathers [Arabic], according to the families of the fathers [Munster, Tigurinus]) among the thousands of Israel (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus), or, according to the thousands of Israel (Arabic). They were commanders of the armies of Israel (Syriac). Each of which was a prefect over a thousand tribesmen, namely, his own. אֲלָפִים sometimes signifies thousand, sometimes those that command a thousand men, that is, τοὺς χιλιάρχους, the chiliarchs: sometimes also leading men, that are commanders of other men in making war. Neither are those wanting that interpret that לְאַלְפֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃, among the Israelitish troops, as if a certain number were put in the place of an uncertain (Masius). Among the thousands of Israel, that is, of the entire Israelitish people, which was in great number (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלְח֙וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל אֶל־בְּנֵי־רְאוּבֵ֧ן וְאֶל־בְּנֵי־גָ֛ד וְאֶל־חֲצִ֥י שֵֽׁבֶט־מְנַשֶּׁ֖ה אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ הַגִּלְעָ֑ד אֶת־פִּינְחָ֖ס בֶּן־אֶלְעָזָ֥ר הַכֹּהֵֽן׃

[2] Hebrew: אֶת־פִּינְחָ֖ס בֶּן־אֶלְעָזָ֥ר הַכֹּהֵֽן׃.

[3] Hebrew: וַעֲשָׂרָ֤ה נְשִׂאִים֙ עִמּ֔וֹ נָשִׂ֙יא אֶחָ֜ד נָשִׂ֤יא אֶחָד֙ לְבֵ֣ית אָ֔ב לְכֹ֖ל מַטּ֣וֹת יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְאִ֙ישׁ רֹ֧אשׁ בֵּית־אֲבוֹתָ֛ם הֵ֖מָּה לְאַלְפֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[4] Hebrew: לְבֵ֣ית אָ֔ב.

Joshua 22:11, 12: The Children of Israel Prepare for War over the Altar

Verse 11:[1] And the children of Israel (Deut. 13:12, etc.; Judg. 20:12) 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.

[And when the children of Israel had heard] The law of the corporate body is unto all its parts, and the greater part maintains the law of the corporate body. See Deuteronomy 13:12, and Concering the Law of War and Peace 2:5:17 (Grotius).

[In the land of Canaan, upon the banks of Jordan, over against the children of Israel, אֶל־מוּל֙ אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן אֶל־גְּלִילוֹת֙ הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן אֶל־עֵ֖בֶר וגו״] Over against (or, in the view of [Osiander], or, upon the borders of [Septuagint]) the land of Canaan, over against the children of Israel (Tigurinus, Osiander, Bonfrerius). Others: on the side, or, toward the side, of the children of Israel (Jonathan, Munster), on the portion of the side of the children of Israel (Arabic). Others: at the passage, or, toward the passage, of the children of Israel (Septuagint, Montanus, Junius, Pagnine, English). Over against, that is, in such a way that this altar was in the midst of the Gileadites and the Canaanites, and joined the former with the latter, and associated them in the religion and law of sacrifice (Lapide). Question: Where was this altar? Responses: 1. On the farther bank of Jordan, or in Gilead (Jonathan in Bonfrerius). 2. Rather on the nearer bank, or in the land of Canaan (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Menochius, Drusius). The reason is that they were wanting to testify by this altar to their original right that they had in the land of Canaan, especially to sacrifice on th altar of the Temple, common with the other nine tribes (Lapide). Of which unique altar this was a symbol, that among their descendants it might testify that they worshipped, and are obliged to worship, the same God with them in the same sacred rites (Masius).

At the passage of the children of Israel: Where they passed over Jordan, either at their first entrance into Canaan, or afterwards, and usually.


Verse 12:[2] And when the children of Israel heard of it, (Judg. 20:1) the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.

The children of Israel; not in their own persons, but by their elders, who used to transact all affairs of this kind in the name and stead of all the people.

[They gathered together, etc.] Just as zeal for the vindication of Religion is worthy of praise; so also it is worthy of great reprehension that with a rash judgment they altogether condemn that which they have known with insufficient investigation. But it is well that, with their thoughts first gathered, they take counsel concerning first becoming acquainted with the intention of their brethren, etc. Let us learn not rashly to be moved with suspiciouns concerning the words and deeds of our brethren. Judge not, etc., Matthew 7:1, 2. It is asked here whether under the new Law Religion might be vindicated with the sword. Response: What the old Law determined is evident from Deuteronomy 13. Moreover, no more by the Law of Christ than by the Law of Moses was the salvation of the honest obliged to be advanced through the impunity of the wicked, since there was one and the same end for both Laws, namely, love toward God and one’s neighbors. But by the Gospel of Christ are men liberated for freedom and impunity of wickedness? And what sin is greater than for one to defect from true Religion, and to go to lead others away? Now, I do not speak of those that in the study of piety turn a little from the Religion of the fathers, and follow, not so much diverse doctrines, as certain rites; but of those that overthrow the very foundations of Religion, and are not able to be moved from their wickedness by any arguments (Masius).

[So that they might fight against them] As against transgressors of the Law, because God had commanded that there be only one place, and on altar, of sacrifices for the people of Israel, Exodus 20:24; Leviticus 17:8, 9; Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, 13 (Menochius).

To go up to war against them; as apostates from God, according to God’s command in that case, Deuteronomy 13:13, etc.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁמְע֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר הִנֵּ֣ה בָנ֣וּ בְנֵֽי־רְאוּבֵ֣ן וּבְנֵי־גָ֡ד וַחֲצִי֩ שֵׁ֙בֶט הַֽמְנַשֶּׁ֜ה אֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּ֗חַ אֶל־מוּל֙ אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן אֶל־גְּלִילוֹת֙ הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן אֶל־עֵ֖בֶר בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[2] Hebrew: וַֽיִּשְׁמְע֖וּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיִּקָּ֙הֲל֜וּ כָּל־עֲדַ֤ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ שִׁלֹ֔ה לַעֲל֥וֹת עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם לַצָּבָֽא׃

Joshua 22:10: The Altar of the Transjordanian Tribes

Verse 10:[1] 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.

[And when they had come unto the mounds of Jordan: that is, where Jordan is enclosed with heaps and mounds of sand, lest it should overflow: אֶל־גְּלִילוֹ[2]] Unto the confines, or limits, of Jordan (Pagnine, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius); unto Gilgal, which is beside Jordan (Syriac).

Built there: Or, built then,[3] as this particle is elsewhere used; and so learned interpreters understand it, Psalm 14:5;[4] 36:12;[5] Ecclesiastes 3:17;[6] Hosea 2:15.[7] And in the Latin tongue adverbs of place are sometimes put for adverbs of time: so I take it here. First, Because this best answers to the when in the beginning of the verse. Secondly, This seems to me to clear a great difficulty as to the place where the altar was built, which though according to our translation it seems, and is generally thought by interpreters to have been, in the land of Canaan; yet if things be more narrowly examined, it may be thought to have been on the other side Jordan in Gilead; and that both, first, from verse 11, where it is said to have been built over against, or in the sight of the land of Canaan, therefore not in it. And secondly, from the reason they gave of the building of this altar, for fear lest the Israelites within Jordan and in Canaan should say unto their children dwelling beyond Jordan, The Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you, etc.; which jealousy would have been much confirmed by building the altar in Canaan, but would be satisfied and confuted by having on the other side of Jordan, and in their own land, a pattern of that altar at which God was served in the land of Canaan, as a witness that they owned the same God, and the same way of worship, with their brethren that lived in Canaan. But whether the Hebrew particle be rendered then or there, it is not to be taken too strictly: if then, the meaning is not, that they did this as soon as ever they came to the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan; but about that time when they came to them, that they thought and designed it, and as soon as ever they were got over Jordan, which was in a very little time, they effected and perfected it: if it be rendered there, it is not to be limited to the very same spot of ground mentioned before, as if it was built at that border of Jordan that was in the land of Canaan; but to be a little more largely understood; to be built at one or other of the borders of Jordan; or, in general, by Jordan; which is here purposely added, for the explication of the word there, and to prevent the restraint of it to the border of Jordan, within Canaan.

[An altar of exceedingly great size, מִזְבֵּ֥חַ גָּד֖וֹל לְמַרְאֶֽה׃] Enormous in appearance (Arabic, similarly the Syriac, Junius and Tremellius), that is, of remarkable size (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ אֶל־גְּלִיל֣וֹת הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיִּבְנ֣וּ בְנֵי־רְאוּבֵ֣ן וּבְנֵי־גָ֡ד וַחֲצִ֣י שֵׁבֶט֩ הַֽמְנַשֶּׁ֙ה שָׁ֤ם מִזְבֵּ֙חַ֙ עַל־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן מִזְבֵּ֥חַ גָּד֖וֹל לְמַרְאֶֽה׃

[2] גְּלִילָה, circuit or boundary, is related to the verbal root גָּלַל, to roll.

[3] Joshua 22:10b:  “…the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there (שָׁם) an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.”

[4] Psalm 14:4, 5:  “Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord.  There (שָׁם, or, then) were they in great fear:  for God is in the generation of the righteous.”

[5] Psalm 36:11, 12:  “Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.  There (שָׁם, or, then) are the workers of iniquity fallen:  they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.”

[6] Ecclesiastes 3:17:  “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked:  for there is a time there (שָׁם, or, then) for every purpose and for every work.”

[7] Hosea 2:15:  “And I will give her her vineyards from thence (מִשָּׁם), and the valley of Achor for a door of hope:  and she shall sing there (שָּׁמָּה), as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”

Joshua 22:9: The Transjordanian Tribes Depart

Verse 9:[1] 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 (Num. 32:1, 26, 29) 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.

[From the children of Israel] Understanding, the rest[2] (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּשֻׁ֣בוּ וַיֵּלְכ֡וּ בְּנֵי־רְאוּבֵ֙ן וּבְנֵי־גָ֜ד וַחֲצִ֣י׀ שֵׁ֣בֶט הַֽמְנַשֶּׁ֗ה מֵאֵת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מִשִּׁלֹ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּאֶֽרֶץ־כְּנָ֑עַן לָלֶ֜כֶת אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ הַגִּלְעָ֗ד אֶל־אֶ֤רֶץ אֲחֻזָּתָם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נֹֽאחֲזוּ־בָ֔הּ עַל־פִּ֥י יְהוָ֖ה בְּיַד־מֹשֶֽׁה׃

[2] That is, from the rest of the children of Israel.

Joshua 22:7, 8: Joshua Blesses and Dismisses the Half Tribe of Manasseh

Verse 7:[1] Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: (Josh. 17:5) 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…

[Now to the half tribe of Manasseh, etc.] Because there had been a mention of the Manassites, the reason why this Tribe was divided into two parts is explained parenthetically (Masius, Bonfrerius).

[And when he sent them away…and had blessed them,וְ֠גַם כִּ֣י שִׁלְּחָ֧ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ אֶל־אָהֳלֵיהֶ֖ם וַיְבָרֲכֵֽם׃] [They vary. Some take this of the Manassites:] So then Joshua dismissed them [namely, the Manassites] also…blessing them (Tigurinus, Munster) [similarly Castalio, and, if I am not mistaken, Jonathan and the Arabic]. [Others understand it of all the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassites:] And also, when he sent them away, and had bless them, verse 8, then he said, etc. (Pagnine). [The Syriac refers it to verse 6, and encloses most of verse 7 in parentheses, in this manner:] verse 6, Joshua blessed them, and sent them away, and they departed to their cities, verse 7, (for to the half tribe…on the other side of Jordan westward), these, I say, he sent away…and they departed, and he blessed them (Syriac).


Verse 8:[2] 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: (Num. 31:27; 1 Sam. 30:24) divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.

[Divide the spoil with your brethren] Question: With what justice are those that remained at home in peace made level with those that endured war and dangers? Response: Neither the verb חָלַק, to divide,[3] nor חָצָה, to divide,[4] proves that they had equal parts. And, even if we should grant it so to be, nevertheless, when those that took the spoil keep half for themselves, they take far more man-by-man than those sitting idle; for they were far fewer. For only forty thousand fought,[5] but above seventy thousand remained on the other side of Jordan.[6] But neither are those treated as equal in Numbers 31. But there was a different method with those in 1 Samuel 30, for the danger of all was equal; since the enemy was able easily to overwhelm those two hundred also (Masius). Joshua does not consult, but he prescribes (Lapide, Serarius, Masius, Bonfrerius, Tirinus). [Grotius takes the passage otherwise: Divide the spoil, etc., that is, Depart happily with that part of the spoil that has fallen to you (Grotius).

With your brethren: that is, With them who staid beyond Jordan for the defence of their land, and wives, and children, who therefore were to have a share, though not an equal share, with these. See Numbers 31:27. But for them, 1 Samuel 30:24, their share was equal, because their danger was equal.

[1] Hebrew: וְלַחֲצִ֣י׀ שֵׁ֣בֶט הַֽמְנַשֶּׁ֗ה נָתַ֣ן מֹשֶׁה֮ בַּבָּשָׁן֒ וּלְחֶצְי֗וֹ נָתַ֤ן יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ עִם־אֲחֵיהֶ֔ם מֵעֵ֥בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֖ן יָ֑מָּה וְ֠גַם כִּ֣י שִׁלְּחָ֧ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ אֶל־אָהֳלֵיהֶ֖ם וַיְבָרֲכֵֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֜ם לֵאמֹ֗ר בִּנְכָסִ֙ים רַבִּ֜ים שׁ֤וּבוּ אֶל־אָֽהֳלֵיכֶם֙ וּבְמִקְנֶ֣ה רַב־מְאֹ֔ד בְּכֶ֙סֶף וּבְזָהָ֜ב וּבִנְחֹ֧שֶׁת וּבְבַרְזֶ֛ל וּבִשְׂלָמ֖וֹת הַרְבֵּ֣ה מְאֹ֑ד חִלְק֥וּ שְׁלַל־אֹיְבֵיכֶ֖ם עִם־אֲחֵיכֶֽם׃

[3] Joshua 22:8b:  “…divide (חִלְקוּ) the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.”

[4] Numbers 31:27:  “And divide (וְחָצִיתָ) the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation…”

[5] Joshua 4:12, 13.

[6] See Numbers 26:7, 18, 34.

Joshua 22:4-6: Joshua Blesses and Dismisses the Transjordanian Tribes

Verse 4:[1] 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, (Num. 32:33; Deut. 29:8; Josh. 13:8) which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.

[Return, פְּנוּ֩ וּלְכ֙וּ לָכֶ֜ם] Look back, and go for yourselves (Montanus); turn again and depart (Munster, Pagnine, Dutch); having turned around, depart (Junius and Tremellius).

[Unto your tabernacles (similarly Malvenda, Junius and Tremellius)] Houses (Septuagint); cities (Jonathan, Syriac). He certainly understands their cities; for they had not left their property in tents, but in cities, Numbers 32:17. But he makes use of a military term among soldiers (Masius, Malvenda). Or, he alludes to their property of cattle, which they were especially cultivating, Numbers 32:1, 4, 16 (Malvenda). Tents are taken broadly for whatever dwelling; as in Judges 19:9;[2] Hosea 9:6. The reason for which is that the former use was of tents rather than of houses: afterward, when houses were built, the same name remained. Just as we use the term libros/books,[3] for those things that are not libri/books, with the term enduring, since initially it was wont to be written in libro, that is, on the bark of trees. Thus in Malachi 2:12, from the tabernacles of Jacob. To this refer that out of 2 Samuel 18:17, they fled unto their tents, that is, unto their houses, or cities (Drusius). In the land of Canaan many were preferring tents to houses. We have the tent of Jael, Judges 4:17; of David, 1 Samuel 17:54; of the Reubenites, 1 Chronicles 5:10; and of the Rechabites, Jeremiah 35:7. Hence also the villages of Jair, Numbers 32:41;[4] Deuteronomy 3:14[5] [concerning which see on those passages]. Moreover, this use of tents, as it had its beginning among shepherds, so it lasted long among those peoples that cultivated cattle (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:45:465).

Unto your tents, that is, to your settled habitations, as appears from Joshua 22:8, which are oft called tents, as Judges 19:9; 2 Samuel 18:17; Hosea 9:6; Malachi 2:12.


Verse 5:[6] But (Deut. 6:6, 17; 11:22) take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, (Deut. 10:12) 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.

Take diligent heed; watch over yourselves and all your actions.

[The commandment and the law] The former signifies morals, the latter judgments and ceremonies (Lyra). But that subtlety is overly contrived, and not well-founded enough: both signify the entire teaching of Moses (Masius).

The commandment and the law; two words expressing the same thing, the law of commandments delivered by Moses.

[That ye love] Now, because the whole law was posited in this great commandment, according to Matthew 22:36-38, he inculcates this one in them (Masius).

[In His ways] The precepts of God are called ways, because, just like a way, they direct men in their actions, and show in which route one is to walk (Bonfrerius).

[In all your heart and…soul] Heart here is the mind and intelligence, or will, of man; soul is that part of the inner man that is wont to be agitated by the perturbations of the body, which the Greeks call the ἐπιθυμητικὸν/ epithymeticon, the seat of desire and the affections, and Theologians the ψυχικὸν/ natural. Question: But does Moses or Joshua so emphasize these things, since no one after the spoiling of nature is able to fulfill them? I respond with Augustine, Retractions 1:19, that God set forth that forcible expression of perfection, not because mortals, while they are enclosed in flesh, are able to attain to it, but so that all might strive after it, to which with immortal life they are going at last to come: and to what extent they feel that they are not strong enough to fulfill that, to that extent they more ardently implore the help of Divine grace. God, when He commands, instructs that we should do what we are able; but that we should ask help from Him to do those things that we ourselves are not able; He also by His grace is going to make us able: and in addition this medicine for duty not fully accomplished He prescribes for us, commanding that we should ask Him, Forgive us our debts[7] (Masius).

With all your heart and with all your soul; with the whole strength of your minds, and wills, and affections.


Verse 6:[8] So Joshua (Gen. 47:7; Ex. 39:43; Josh. 14:13; 2 Sam. 6:18; Luke 24:50) blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.

[And he blessed them] He wished them well (Masius, Bonfrerius). This is said by way of anticipation (Vatablus). Rather, he gave to them gifts, on account eminent support in the wars. To bless often signifies this (Drusius, Junius).

[1] Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֗ה הֵנִ֙יחַ יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם֙ לַֽאֲחֵיכֶ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֣ר לָהֶ֑ם וְעַתָּ֡ה פְּנוּ֩ וּלְכ֙וּ לָכֶ֜ם לְאָהֳלֵיכֶ֗ם אֶל־אֶ֙רֶץ֙ אֲחֻזַּתְכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר׀ נָתַ֣ן לָכֶ֗ם מֹשֶׁה֙ עֶ֣בֶד יְהוָ֔ה בְּעֵ֖בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּֽן׃

[2] Judges 19:9:  “And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the damsel’s father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night:  behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home (לְאֹהָלֶךָ, to thy tent).”

[3] Liber can signify the inner bark of a tree, or a book.

[4] Numbers 32:41:  “And Jair the son of Manasseh went and took the small towns thereof (חַוֹּתֵיהֶם, the tent-villages thereof), and called them Havoth-jair (חַוֹּ֥ת יָאִֽיר׃, the Tent-villages of Jair).”

[5] Deuteronomy 3:14:  “Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashan-havoth-jair (הַבָּשָׁן֙ חַוֹּ֣ת יָאִ֔יר, Bashan of the Tent-villages of Jair), unto this day.”

[6] Hebrew: רַ֣ק׀ שִׁמְר֣וּ מְאֹ֗ד לַעֲשׂ֙וֹת אֶת־הַמִּצְוָ֣ה וְאֶת־הַתּוֹרָה֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה אֶתְכֶם֮ מֹשֶׁ֣ה עֶֽבֶד־יְהוָה֒ לְ֠אַהֲבָה אֶת־יְהוָ֙ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֜ם וְלָלֶ֧כֶת בְּכָל־דְּרָכָ֛יו וְלִשְׁמֹ֥ר מִצְוֹתָ֖יו וּלְדָבְקָה־ב֑וֹ וּלְעָבְד֕וֹ בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֖ם וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁכֶֽם׃

[7] Matthew 6:12.

[8] Hebrew: וַֽיְבָרְכֵ֖ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ וַֽיְשַׁלְּחֵ֔ם וַיֵּלְכ֖וּ אֶל־אָהֳלֵיהֶֽם׃

Joshua 22:1-3: The Transjordanian Tribes Commended for Faithfulness in the Conquest

Verse 1:[1] Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh…


Verse 2:[2] And said unto them, Ye have kept (Num. 32:20; Deut. 3:18) all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, (Josh. 1:16, 17) and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you…

[Ye have done] He commends these soldiers, 1. for their obedience; which deservedly obtains the first place: for this uniquely upholds the entire military discipline. 2. For their faithfulness; ye have not left your brethren. 3. He amplifies this commendation with their longsuffering and constancy; through many days. Which constancy and patience was all the greater because they had left their wives, children, and all their property on the other side of the river in places not yet quite safe. 4. He commends their piety, rare in those that lead a military life (Masius).


Verse 3:[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.

[For a long time] That time was thirteen or fourteen years (Masius, Serarius, Junius, Drusius), in which the war against the Canaanites lasted. See on the end of chapter 10 (Junius). Joshua lived one hundred and ten years. Now, that he was in command for twenty-seven or twenty-eight years, many have written. But, that he died before the second שְׁמִיטָה/shemitah, that is, seventh year given for the rest of the land, returned again, was published in a book, which is inscribed The Series of the World [vulgarly, Seder Olam]. Thus fourteen years were spent in subduing the land, and he lived thirteen years after the acquired peace (Masius). [Others otherwise:] The war was waged in only seven years (Lapide, Bonfrerius). See what things we said on Joshua 11:18 (Bonfrerius); 18:1 (Lapide).

These many days, that is, for divers years together, so long as the war lasted. See Joshua 11:18; 14:10.

[Keeping the command of the Lord, וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֕ם אֶת־מִשְׁמֶ֕רֶת מִצְוַ֖ת יְהוָ֥ה] And ye have kept the charge of the precept of the Lord (Montanus, Pagnine, Munster); ye have observed the observation and precept of the Lord (Junius and Tremellius); and circumspectly (diligently [Tigurinus]) ye have kept the precept of the Lord (Arabic, Tigurinus) [which is to say, ye have watched with a watch, etc.].

[1] Hebrew: אָ֚ז יִקְרָ֣א יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ לָרֽאוּבֵנִ֖י וְלַגָּדִ֑י וְלַחֲצִ֖י מַטֵּ֥ה מְנַשֶּֽׁה׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֔ם אַתֶּ֣ם שְׁמַרְתֶּ֔ם אֵ֚ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה אֶתְכֶ֔ם מֹשֶׁ֖ה עֶ֣בֶד יְהוָ֑ה וַתִּשְׁמְע֣וּ בְקוֹלִ֔י לְכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוִּ֖יתִי אֶתְכֶֽם׃

[3] Hebrew: לֹֽא־עֲזַבְתֶּ֣ם אֶת־אֲחֵיכֶ֗ם זֶ֚ה יָמִ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים עַ֖ד הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֕ם אֶת־מִשְׁמֶ֕רֶת מִצְוַ֖ת יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃