Joshua 22:30-33: Israel Receives the Just Defense of the Transjordanian Tribes

Class on Christian Political Theory

Verse 30:[1] 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 (Heb. it was good in their eyes[2]).

[And the princes of the legation with him, etc.] Greek: πάντες οἱ ἄρχοντες τῆς συναγωγῆς, all the rulers of the synagogue, that is, of the Eldership and highest magistracy. These made a προβούλευμα, preliminary decree, which the people follow in verse 33. See Joshua 8:33 and 9:11 (Masius). Hebrew: וּנְשִׂיאֵ֙י הָעֵדָ֜ה וְרָאשֵׁ֙י אַלְפֵ֤י, the princes of the congregation and heads of thousands. The princes of assemblies, that is, the leaders of thousands (Junius and Tremellius). Thus the ו/and is ἐξηγητικόν/exegetical (Drusius).

It was good in their eyes: They were fully satisfied with this answer.


Verse 31:[3] 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 (Lev. 26:11, 12; 2 Chron. 15:2) among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the LORD: now (Heb. then[4]) ye have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD.

[Since ye are averse to this transgression, etc., אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹֽא־מְעַלְתֶּ֥ם בַּֽיהוָ֖ה] Because ye have not transgressed, or, as being those that have not transgressed, etc. (Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic). They rightly gather that God is present among the Israelites, because agreement in Religion is maintained by them, in accordance with Matthew 18:19. Or, if you would rather, Phinehas gathers this from the fact that they have not yet sinned. For it is certain that mortals are cast headlong into all vice when they are first left without the support of God (Masius).

[And ye have delivered the children of Israel, etc., אָ֗ז הִצַּלְתֶּ֛ם וגו״] At that time (or, at this time, or now [Tigurinus, Syriac], by that, or, in this matter, that is, because ye are not rebels, or, plainly, certainly, entirely, just as אֲוַי is more frequently used, Psalm 124[5] [Masius]) ye deliverd, or, rescued, etc. (Pagnine, Montanus, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, Arabic), that is, by not giving a reason for the inflicting of a stroke (Bonfrerius): that is, Otherwise the Lord would have punished them (Vatablus); and on account of the schism and new religion He would have chastened all Israel sharply (Lapide).

The Lord is among us, by his gracious presence and preventing goodness, in keeping you from so great an offence, and all of us from those dismal calamities that would have followed upon it. Out of the hand of the Lord, that is, from the wrath and dreadful judgments of God; by avoiding that sin which would have involved both you and us in a most bloody war, you have delivered us from the evils we feared. He that prevents an unexpected or approaching disease or mischief, doth as truly deliver a man from it, as he that cures or removes it after it hath been inflicted.


Verse 32:[6] 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.

[From the land of Gilead of the boundaries of Canaan] That is, which is on the boundaries of Canaan (Lapide). Hebrew: from the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan[7] (Malvenda).


Verse 33:[8] And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel (1 Chron. 29:20; Neh. 8:6; Dan. 2:19; Luke 2:28) 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.

[And they praised God] Hebrew: they blessed.[9] Let us be sure, 1. To rejoice over the salvation of brethren, with the Angels, Luke 15:7, 10. 2. To refer with a grateful heart the constancy of our brethren in Religion, and all such holy counsels received, to God, who alone by His most benign grace restrains the viciousness of men, and upholds them in good deeds (Masius).

To go up against them in battle, to destroy the land, etc.: As they were by the law of God obliged to do, if they had been guilty and persisted therein; as afterwards they did they tribe of Benjamin for the same reason.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁמַ֞ע פִּֽינְחָ֣ס הַכֹּהֵ֗ן וּנְשִׂיאֵ֙י הָעֵדָ֜ה וְרָאשֵׁ֙י אַלְפֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתּ֔וֹ אֶת־הַ֙דְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר דִּבְּר֛וּ בְּנֵי־רְאוּבֵ֥ן וּבְנֵי־גָ֖ד וּבְנֵ֣י מְנַשֶּׁ֑ה וַיִּיטַ֖ב בְּעֵינֵיהֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּיטַ֖ב בְּעֵינֵיהֶֽם׃.

[3] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר פִּֽינְחָ֣ס בֶּן־אֶלְעָזָ֣ר הַכֹּהֵ֡ן אֶל־בְּנֵי־רְאוּבֵ֙ן וְאֶל־בְּנֵי־גָ֜ד וְאֶל־בְּנֵ֣י מְנַשֶּׁ֗ה הַיּ֤וֹם׀ יָדַ֙עְנוּ֙ כִּֽי־בְתוֹכֵ֣נוּ יְהוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹֽא־מְעַלְתֶּ֥ם בַּֽיהוָ֖ה הַמַּ֣עַל הַזֶּ֑ה אָ֗ז הִצַּלְתֶּ֛ם אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מִיַּ֥ד יְהוָֽה׃

[4] Hebrew: אָז.

[5] Psalm 124:1-5:  “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say; if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us:  then (אֲזַי) they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:  then (אֲזַי) the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul:  then (אֲזַי) the proud waters had gone over our soul.”

[6] Hebrew: וַיָּ֣שָׁב פִּֽינְחָ֣ס בֶּן־אֶלְעָזָ֣ר הַכֹּהֵ֣ן׀ וְהַנְּשִׂיאִ֡ים מֵאֵ֣ת בְּנֵֽי־רְאוּבֵן֩ וּמֵאֵ֙ת בְּנֵי־גָ֜ד מֵאֶ֧רֶץ הַגִּלְעָ֛ד אֶל־אֶ֥רֶץ כְּנַ֖עַן אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיָּשִׁ֥בוּ אוֹתָ֖ם דָּבָֽר׃

[7] Hebrew: מֵאֶ֧רֶץ הַגִּלְעָ֛ד אֶל־אֶ֥רֶץ כְּנַ֖עַן.

[8] Hebrew: וַיִּיטַ֣ב הַדָּבָ֗ר בְּעֵינֵי֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיְבָרֲכ֥וּ אֱלֹהִ֖ים בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְלֹ֣א אָמְר֗וּ לַעֲל֤וֹת עֲלֵיהֶם֙ לַצָּבָ֔א לְשַׁחֵת֙ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֛ר בְּנֵי־רְאוּבֵ֥ן וּבְנֵי־גָ֖ד יֹשְׁבִ֥ים בָּֽהּ׃

[9] Hebrew: וַיְבָרֲכוּ.

Joshua 22:29: The Answer of the Transjordanian Tribes, Part 4

Verse 29:[1] God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, (Deut. 12:13, 14) 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.

[Far be it from us, etc., חָלִילָה֩ לָּ֙נוּ מִמֶּ֜נּוּ] Let it be far to us, from us[2] (Montanus, Vatablus, Jonathan). That from us Kimchi explains as for our sake; which is to say, Far be it that we would be rebels against the Lord, not only for your sake, lest we should differ from you, but also for our sake, upon whom this matter would bring disaster. But he asserts this with too much art: This is not the force and notion of the word מִמֶּנּוּ, from us (Masius). Far be that from us (Junius and Tremellius). Let us be far from that (Junius). Far be it from us. The לָּנוּ, to us, is superfluous, as is often the case (Masius). Let it be far distant from us (Munster, Tigurinus, Osiander). Let there be a prohibition to us from this, understanding, sin (Tigurinus Notes) [that is, the notes of Vatablus on the Tigurinus Bible, where not a few things occur that are wanting in those notes of Vatablus that are found in the Critical Interpreters[3]]. The חָלִילָה, which carries the notion of a profane and impure thing, is used when we abominate a thing as horrible and frightful (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: חָלִילָה֩ לָּ֙נוּ מִמֶּ֜נּוּ לִמְרֹ֣ד בַּֽיהוָ֗ה וְלָשׁ֤וּב הַיּוֹם֙ מֵאַחֲרֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה לִבְנ֣וֹת מִזְבֵּ֔חַ לְעֹלָ֖ה לְמִנְחָ֣ה וּלְזָ֑בַח מִלְּבַ֗ד מִזְבַּח֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֔ינוּ אֲשֶׁ֖ר לִפְנֵ֥י מִשְׁכָּנֽוֹ׃

[2] A woodenly literalistic rendering.

[3] Critici Sacri.

Joshua 22:26-28: The Answer of the Transjordanian Tribes, Part 3

Verse 26:[1] Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice…

[Let us build for us, וַנֹּ֕אמֶר נַעֲשֶׂה־נָּ֣א לָ֔נוּ לִבְנ֖וֹת אֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּ֑חַ] Let us do now for ourselves by building an altar (Montanus, Vatablus, thus Dutch, Tigurinus Notes). Let us, building, make now for ourselves an altar (Junius and Tremellius). Let us give ourselves now, so that we might build the altar (Pagnine, Vatablus). Let us now prepare to build us an altar (English). Come (the נָא is often an adverb of exhortation, rather than of the present time), let us act so that we might establish an altar (Masius): which is to say, therefore, with this intention we applied ourselves to build the altar, etc. (Vatablus).


Verse 27:[2] But that it may be (Gen. 31:48; Josh. 24:27; 22:34) a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might (Deut. 12:5, 6, 11, 12, 17, 18, 26, 27) 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.

[But for a testimony…that we might serve, etc., כִּי֩ עֵ֙ד ה֜וּא—לַעֲבֹ֞דו גו״] That it might be a witness (Montanus) (but so that it might be a witness [Pagnine, Tigurinus, Dutch]: but it shall be a witness [Vatablus]: but for a testimony [Munster]) to serve, or, that we might serve, the service of the Lord (Pagnine, Montanus, Dutch, similarly Munster, Junius and Tremellius, Septuagint). That it might be a witness concerning the worship of God, etc. (Arabic). That it might be a public testimony that we are not able, nor ought we, to be excluded from the worship of God (Osiander).

That we might do the service of the Lord before him; that we and ours may have and hold our privilege of serving and worshipping God, not upon this altar, but in the office of God’s presence, in your tabernacle, and upon your altar.


Verse 28:[3] 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.

[Which if they should say, etc.,וְהָיָ֗ה כִּֽי־יֹאמְר֥וּ—מָחָ֑ר וְאָמַ֡רְנוּ רְא֣וּ ] And, or thus, it shall be when they shall address us…that we might say, or, and we shall say, See, or, Look (Junius and Tremllius, Montanus). If they wish (supply, thus [Munster, Tigurinus, English], or, such things [Osiander]) to say…we shall say, See, etc. (Munster, Tigurinus, English). If it should happen, or, if it is going to be, that they speak thus, namely, that we have no part in the Lord (Vatablus).

[Behold the altar] Hebrew: See the figure of the altar, etc.[4] Thus the Church places the figure of the cross of Christ before our eyes, not so that we might adore it [let today’s Papists note this, who are all σταυρολάτραι, that is, worshippers of the cross]; but so that we might recall to mind that true and saving altar, etc. (Masius).

The pattern; an exact representation and resemblance. A witness between us and you, that we both serve one God, and approve and make use of one and the same altar.

[1] Hebrew: וַנֹּ֕אמֶר נַעֲשֶׂה־נָּ֣א לָ֔נוּ לִבְנ֖וֹת אֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּ֑חַ לֹ֥א לְעוֹלָ֖ה וְלֹ֥א לְזָֽבַח׃

[2] Hebrew: כִּי֩ עֵ֙ד ה֜וּא בֵּינֵ֣ינוּ וּבֵינֵיכֶ֗ם וּבֵ֣ין דֹּרוֹתֵינוּ֮ אַחֲרֵינוּ֒ לַעֲבֹ֞ד אֶת־עֲבֹדַ֤ת יְהוָה֙ לְפָנָ֔יו בְּעֹלוֹתֵ֥ינוּ וּבִזְבָחֵ֖ינוּ וּבִשְׁלָמֵ֑ינוּ וְלֹא־יֹאמְר֙וּ בְנֵיכֶ֤ם מָחָר֙ לְבָנֵ֔ינוּ אֵין־לָכֶ֥ם חֵ֖לֶק בַּיהוָֽה׃

[3] Hebrew: וַנֹּ֕אמֶר וְהָיָ֗ה כִּֽי־יֹאמְר֥וּ אֵלֵ֛ינוּ וְאֶל־דֹּרֹתֵ֖ינוּ מָחָ֑ר וְאָמַ֡רְנוּ רְא֣וּ אֶת־תַּבְנִית֩ מִזְבַּ֙ח יְהוָ֜ה אֲשֶׁר־עָשׂ֣וּ אֲבוֹתֵ֗ינוּ לֹ֤א לְעוֹלָה֙ וְלֹ֣א לְזֶ֔בַח כִּי־עֵ֣ד ה֔וּא בֵּינֵ֖ינוּ וּבֵינֵיכֶֽם׃

[4] Hebrew: רְא֣וּ אֶת־תַּבְנִית֩ מִזְבַּ֙ח וגו״.

Joshua 22:23-25: The Answer of the Transjordanian Tribes, Part 2

Verse 23:[1] 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 (Deut. 18:19; 1 Sam. 20:16) require it

[If with this intention we have acted, that burnt offerings, etc., לִבְנ֥וֹת לָ֙נוּ֙ מִזְבֵּ֔חַ וגו״] To build for ourselves an altar (Montanus). [Some connect it with the preceding verse, verse 22:] If in rebellion…we have acted…namely, that we might build (Munster, Tigurinus, Castalio). [Others thus supply:] If we have built, etc. (Septuagint, Jonathan). If so that we might build, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). If we intend to build (Pagnine). We built for ourselves an altar. I render the infinitive verb by a finite. For that mode, as Grammarians relate, has the force of all the other modes. Now, they mention the three principal sorts of sacrifices for all the others (Masius). Thus they exclude every sort of sacrifice concerning which there could be suspicion (Bonfrerius).

[So that we might place upon, לַעֲשׂוֹת[2]] To do, that is, offer (Vatablus).

[Let He Himself inquire and judge, יְבַקֵּשׁ] Let Him require (Montanus, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, thus the Septuagint, Jonathan). Understanding, us, and afterwards let Him judge against us (Vatablus). Let Him avenge: בִּקֵּשׁ is properly to seek; but, because questions are often administered so that deserved punishments might be able to be exacted, it happened that it was used in the place of to avenge. Thus Job 10:6;[3] and elsewhere (Masius). Let Him punish (Arabic).

Let the LORD himself require it: that is, Call us to an account, and punish us for it; as that phrase is oft used, as Deuteronomy 18:19; 1 Samuel 20:16; Job 10:6; Psalm 10:13.


Verse 24:[4] And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time (Heb. to morrow[5]) to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?

[And not with the intention, etc., וְאִם־לֹ֤א מִדְּאָגָה֙ מִדָּבָ֔ר וגו״] And if not rather in fear of this sort of thing did we this (Pagnine, English). If not rather out of concern and for definite reason, etc. (Munster). Indeed, if not from concerning over this matter have we acted (Junius and Tremellius, similarly Masius, Tigurinus). And if not because of concern over a word, etc. (Montanus). But because of precaution over the word, etc. (Septuagint). They explain, that is, so that we might avoid false and idle words, as the empty rumors of our descendants. Which sense is illustrated by what follows (Masius).

[That we might say, לֵאמֹר] In saying (Pagnine, Montanus, Vatablus), understanding, among ourselves (Vatablus); in thinking. To say is often taken for to think, and to determine in one’s heart (Masius). To say (Jonathan); namely, that we said (Tigurinus); saying (Septuagint, Arabic, Munster).

[What is to you and to the Lord?[6]] It is able to be doubted whether it is a Hebraism or a Hellenism (Drusius). This phrase occurs in Judges 11:12;[7] 2 Samuel 16:10;[8] 1 Kings 17:18;[9] 2 Kings 3:13;[10] similarly Joel 3:4[11] (Bonfrerius). Similarly in the New Testament, Matthew 8:29;[12] John 2:4.[13] The Greeks also speak in this way, τί μοι καὶ μακροῖς αὐλοῖς, what have I to do with long trumpets?[14] as does Demosthenes, τί νόμῳ καὶ βασάνῳ, what has the law to do with interrogation?[15] (Drusius). This phrase signifies that no matter, no business, comes between them (Bonfrerius). There is nothing in common between you and Jehovah: Jehovah is not your God. In the next verse he makes himself clear (Vatablus).

What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?: You have no relation to him, nor interest in him, or his worship.


Verse 25:[16] 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.

[He placed a border] They speak not of the actual matter, but of the false assessment of their descendants. For thus it is often wont to be done, that the following age incorrectly interprets the sayings, deeds, institutions, and finally all the monuments of their ancestors; and indeed all the more willingly, the less they imitate their integrity in life and manners (Masius). [Would that the Roman Theologians, who are perpetually harping on Traditions, and requiring that complete faith be had in the sayings of the fathers (as they are received by them), might consider this.]

A border between us and you, to shut you out of the Land of Promise, and consequently from the covenant made between God and our fathers.

[Ye have no part in the Lord] That is, ye are not the people of the Lord (Masius). Ye are not heirs of the peculiar worship and of the promises made to the fathers. Thus, we have no part in David, in 2 Samuel 20:1 and 1 Kings 12:16, that is, we refuse to share with thee, or to be subject to thee (Lapide): and in John 13:8, thou wilt have no part in me (Masius); similarly in Deuteronomy 14:27; 18:2, there is no part to thee with me (Drusius).

Ye have no part in the Lord; nothing to do with him; no right to serve him or expect favour from him. See the like phrase 2 Samuel 20:1; Ezra 4:3; John 13:8.

[They shall divert…from the fear of the Lord] But, if they had been restrained from the sanctuary of God, no force was inflicted upon their souls. But such is the nature of mortal men, that they need helps by which they might raise their minds to heaven. Because of which it generally happens that where the external worship of God is neglected, there also the religion of the heart gradually decays and is diminished. But contrariwise, piety and religion especially dwell in the souls of men when they give attention to Divine things. Therefore, they rightly gather that, if the ritual worship long impeded, it is at the same time going to destroy the spiritual, if I might speak so, piety of the soul (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: לִבְנ֥וֹת לָ֙נוּ֙ מִזְבֵּ֔חַ לָשׁ֖וּב מֵאַחֲרֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה וְאִם־לְהַעֲל֙וֹת עָלָ֜יו עוֹלָ֣ה וּמִנְחָ֗ה וְאִם־לַעֲשׂ֤וֹת עָלָיו֙ זִבְחֵ֣י שְׁלָמִ֔ים יְהוָ֖ה ה֥וּא יְבַקֵּֽשׁ׃

[2] Joshua 22:23:  “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 (לַעֲשׂוֹת) peace offerings thereon, let the Lord himself require it…”

[3] Job 10:6:  “That thou enquirest (תְבַקֵּשׁ) after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin?”

[4] Hebrew: וְאִם־לֹ֤א מִדְּאָגָה֙ מִדָּבָ֔ר עָשִׂ֥ינוּ אֶת־זֹ֖את לֵאמֹ֑ר מָחָ֗ר יֹאמְר֙וּ בְנֵיכֶ֤ם לְבָנֵ֙ינוּ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר מַה־לָּכֶ֕ם וְלַֽיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[5] Hebrew: מָחָר.

[6] Joshua 22:24b:  “…What have ye to do with the Lord (מַה־לָּכֶ֕ם וְלַֽיהוָ֖ה; τί ὑμῖν κυρίῳ, in the Septuagint) God of Israel?”

[7] Judges 11:12b:  “…What hast thou to do with me (מַה־לִּ֣י וָלָ֔ךְ; τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, in the Septuagint), that thou art come against me to fight in my land?”

[8] 2 Samuel 16:10a:  “And the king said, What have I to do with you (מַה־לִּ֥י וְלָכֶ֖ם; τί ἐμοὶ καὶ ὑμῖν, in the Septuagint), ye sons of Zeruiah?…”

[9] 1 Kings 17:18a:  “And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee (מַה־לִּ֥י וָלָ֖ךְ; τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, in the Septuagint), O thou man of God?…”

[10] 2 Kings 3:13a:  “And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee (מַה־לִּ֣י וָלָ֔ךְ; τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, in the Septuagint)? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother…”

[11] Joel 3:4a:  “Yea, and what have ye to do with me (מָה־אַתֶּ֥ם לִי֙; τί καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐμοί, in the Septuagint), O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine?…”

[12] Matthew 8:29:  “And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee (τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί), Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?”

[13] John 2:4:  “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee (τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί)? mine hour is not yet come.”

[14] Suetonius’ Life of Otho 7.  The sounding of trumpets was connected with religious sacrifice.

[15] Demosthenes’ Against Aphobus.

[16] Hebrew: וּגְב֣וּל נָֽתַן־יְ֠הוָה בֵּינֵ֙נוּ וּבֵינֵיכֶ֜ם בְּנֵי־רְאוּבֵ֤ן וּבְנֵי־גָד֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן אֵין־לָכֶ֥ם חֵ֖לֶק בַּֽיהוָ֑ה וְהִשְׁבִּ֤יתוּ בְנֵיכֶם֙ אֶת־בָּנֵ֔ינוּ לְבִלְתִּ֖י יְרֹ֥א אֶת־יְהוָֽה׃

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.”