Pastoral Commentary for Joshua 22-23
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
The battles to claim the Promised Land for Israel had been fought, and Joshua told the fighting men from the tribes of Manasseh, Reuben and Gad that they were free to return home. As he dismissed them Joshua also admonished them: "But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul." When the tribes got to the Jordan they built a large altar, and on hearing of it the other Israelites assumed that they were guilty of forsaking the LORD and setting up an idolatrous altar. They felt there should be no altar other than the one at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. Taking an oath on God's name, "The Mighty One, God, the LORD!" the tribes of the Transjordan swore their faithfulness to the LORD. They explained that their altar was a testament of their devotion to the LORD, so that at some future time the Israelites who lived in the Promised Land could not say, "What do you have to do with the LORD, the God of Israel?" It was meant to be a witness between the two groups of tribes living on either side of the Jordan, that they both served the one true God. Phineas, the priest reported their explanation and the tribes living in Canaan no longer talked of war against the Transjordan tribes. In his old age, Joshua summoned the leaders of the people of Israel and charged them to remain faithful to God. He warned them not to associate or intermarry with the surviving Canaanites because it would lead them into idolatry. Reminding them of how God had fulfilled every promised to Israel, Joshua gave them the motivation to remain true to the Lord.