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׃

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

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘The war being ended, and ended gloriously, Joshua, as a prudent general, disbands his army, who never designed to make war their trade, and sends them home, to enjoy what they had conquered, and to beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks; and particularly the forces of these separate tribes, who had received their inheritance on the other side Jordan from Moses upon this condition, that their men of war should assist the other tribes in the conquest of Canaan, which they promised to do (Numbers 32:32), and renewed the promise to Joshua at the opening of the campaign, Joshua 1:16. And, now that they had performed their bargain, Joshua publicly and solemnly in Shiloh gives them their discharge. Whether this was done, as it was placed, not till after the land was divided, as some think, or whether after the war was ended, and before the division was made, as others think (because there was no need of their assistance in dividing the land, but only in conquering it, nor were there any of their tribes employed as commissioners in that affair, but only of the other ten, Numbers 34:18, etc.), this is certain, it was not done till after Shiloh was made the headquarters (Joshua 22:2), and the land was begun to be divided before they removed from Gilgal, Joshua 14:6.

    It is probable that this army of Reubenites and Gadites, which had led the van in all the wars of Canaan, had sometimes, in the intervals of action, and when the rest of the army retired into winter-quarters, some of them at least, made a step over Jordan, for it was not far, to visit their families, and to look after their private affairs, and perhaps tarried at home, and sent others in their room more serviceable; but still these two tribes and a half had their quota of troops ready, 40,000 in all, which, whenever there was occasion, presented themselves at their respective posts, and now attended in a body to receive their discharge. Though their affection to their families, and concern for their affairs, could not but make them, after so long an absence, very desirous to return, yet, like good soldiers, they would not move till they had orders from their general. So, though our heavenly Father’s house above be ever so desirable (it is bishop Hall’s allusion), yet must we stay on earth till our warfare be accomplished, wait for a due discharge, and not anticipate the time of our removal….

    He dismisses them with a very honourable character. Though their service was a due debt, and the performance of a promise, and they had done no more than was their duty to do, yet he highly commends them; not only gives them up their bonds, as it were, now that they had fulfilled the condition, but applauds their good services. Though it was by the favour of God and his power that Israel got possession of this land, and he must have all the glory, yet Joshua thought there was a thankful acknowledgment due to their brethren who assisted them, and whose sword and bow were employed for them. God must be chiefly eyed in our praises, yet instruments must not be altogether overlooked. He here commends them, 1. For the readiness of their obedience to their commanders, Joshua 22:2. When Moses was gone, they remembered and observed the charge he had given them; and all the orders which Joshua, as general of the forces, had issued out, they had carefully obeyed, went, and came, and did, as he appointed, Matthew 8:9. It is as much as any thing the soldier’s praise to observe the word of command. 2. For the constancy of their affection and adherence to their brethren: You have not left them these many days. How many days he does not say, nor can we gather it with certainty from any other place. Calvisius and others of the best chronologers compute that the conquering and dividing of the land was the work of about six or seven years, and so long these separate tribes attended their camp, and did them the best service they could. Note, It will be the honour of those that have espoused the cause of God’s Israel, and twisted interests with them, to adhere to them, and never to leave them till God has given them rest, and then they shall rest with them. 3. For the faithfulness of their obedience to the divine law. They had not only done their duty to Joshua and Israel, but, which was best of all, they had made conscience of their duty to God: You have kept the charge, or, as the word is, You have kept the keeping, that is, “You have carefully and circumspectly kept the commandment of the Lord your God, not only in this particular instance of continuing in the service of Israel to the end of the war, but, in general, you have kept up religion in your part of the camp, a rare and excellent thing among soldiers, and where it is worthy to be praised.”‘

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