by Henry T. Vriesen
We remember that the tribes of Reuben and Gad and one-half of the tribe of Manasseh had received their land on the east side of the Jordan river. The soldiers of these tribes had crossed the river with the other tribes to help drive out the enemies. After the land was conquered, these men were ready to return to their families. Then Joshua spoke to them, saying, “Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you … ye have not left your brethren these many days … now the Lord your God hath given rest to your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye … to the land of your possession … on the other side of Jordan … but take diligent heed to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways … and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua gave to these men a part of the gold and silver and cattle that had been taken from their enemies.
When these soldiers came to the river Jordan, on the high banks, where it could be seen from afar, they erected a large altar like the one at the door of the tabernacle at Shiloh. When the men of the other tribes heard about this they were greatly displeased. They believed the people on the east side of Jordan were turning away from the true God worshipped at the tabernacle at: Shiloh, and that serious trouble might result. They gathered themselves together to go up to war against them. But before taking up arms, they thought it proper to get an explanation of the affair. So they sent Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, with ten princes—one from each tribe—to the other side of the river. These delegates coming to the men of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, said, “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 built you an altar, that ye might rebel against the Lord?”
Then the men of the east side answered, “The Lord God of gods … he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the Lord … 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 it be to offer peace offerings thereon, let the Lord himself require it. And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the Lord God of Israel? For the Lord hath made Jordan a border between us and you … Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice: but that it may be a witness between us and you, and our generations after us.” Phinehas and the ten princes were pleased to hear these words.For further information on this resource, click here.