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׃

2 thoughts on “Joshua 22:4-6: Joshua Blesses and Dismisses the Transjordanian Tribes

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Joshua dismisses them to the land of their possession, Joshua 22:4. Those that were first in the assignment of their lot were last in the enjoyment of it; they got the start of their brethren in title, but their brethren were before them in full possession; so the last shall be first, and the first last, that there may be something of equality….

    He dismisses them with good counsel, not to cultivate their ground, fortify their cities, and, now that their hands were inured to war and victory, to invade their neighbours, and so enlarge their own territories, but to keep up serious godliness among them in the power of it. They were not political but pious instructions that he gave them, Joshua 22:5. 1. In general, to take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law. Those that have the commandment have it in vain unless they do the commandment; and it will not be done aright (so apt are we to turn aside, and so industrious are our spiritual enemies to turn us aside) unless we take heed, diligent heed. 2. In particular, to love the Lord our God, as the best of beings, and the best of friends; and as far as this principle rules in the heart, and is the spring of its pulses, there will be a constant care and sincere endeavour to walk in his ways, in all his ways, even those that are narrow and uphill, in every particular instance, in all manner of conversation to keep his commandments, at all times and in all conditions with purpose of heart to cleave unto him, and to serve him and his honour, and the interest of his kingdom among men, with all our heart and with all our soul. What good counsel was here given to them is given to us all. God give us grace to take it!’

  2. Jonathan Edwards’ “Temptation and Deliverance”: ‘It is very evident that we ought to use our utmost endeavours to avoid sin; which is inconsistent with needlessly doing those things, that expose and lead to sin. And the greater any evil is, the greater care, and the more earnest endeavours, does it require to avoid it. Those evils that appear to us very great and dreadful, we use proportionably great care to avoid. And therefore the greatest evil of all, requires the greatest and utmost care to avoid it.

    Sin is an infinite evil, because committed against an infinitely great and excellent Being, and so a violation of infinite obligation: therefore however great our care be to avoid sin, it cannot be more than proportionable to the evil we would avoid. Our care and endeavour cannot be infinite, as the evil of sin is infinite; but yet it ought to be to the utmost of our power; we ought to use every method that tends to the avoiding of sin. This is manifest to reason. —And not only so, but this is positively required of us in the word of God. Joshua 22:5, “Take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:15-16, “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, lest ye corrupt yourselves.” Deuteronomy 12:30, “Take heed to thyself, that thou be not snared,” etc. Luke 11:36, “Take heed and beware of covetousness.” 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Deuteronomy 4:9, “Take heed to thyself, keep thy soul diligently.” These and many other texts of Scripture, plainly require of us the utmost possible diligence and caution to avoid sin.’

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