The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Josue
It was at this time that Josue summoned the men of Ruben and Gad, and the eastern half of Manasses,
and spoke to them thus: You have done as the Lord’s servant Moses commanded you, and given me, too, full obedience.
All this while you have kept true to the bidding of the Lord your God, and stood by your brethren, waiting for this day.
Now the Lord your God has granted to your brethren the security and rest he promised them. Return, then, to your own tents, and enjoy the possessions which the Lord’s servant Moses allotted to you on the further side of Jordan;
yet always keeping carefully in mind, and carrying out in act, the terms of that law which the Lord’s servant Moses enjoined upon you. You must still love the Lord your God, and follow the paths he has chosen, obeying his commandments, keeping close to him, and offering him the service of your heart and soul.
Then Josue blessed them, and sent them back to their dwelling-place.
(With Ruben and Gad went those tribesmen of Manasses to whom Moses had allotted territory in Basan; Josue had given the rest a portion with their brethren west of the Jordan.) And as he sent them back, after giving them his blessing,
he said, You will have rich store of wealth to take home with you, silver and gold, bronze and iron, and garments in abundance; in all the spoils taken from the enemy you, too, must have your share.
So Ruben and Gad and half Manasses left Silo, left Chanaan behind them, and returned to the home Moses had granted them at the Lord’s bidding, in Galaad.
And when they reached the Chanaanite bank of Jordan, they built there, near the river, an altar of commanding height.
When the rest of the Israelites learned beyond doubt, that the three tribes had built an altar on the banks of Jordan, there in Chanaan itself, in full view of Israel,
they all mustered at Silo, ready to make an expedition against them.
Meanwhile, Phinees, son of the high priest Eleazar, was sent into Galaad,
and with him ten chieftains, one from each tribe;
and there, in Galaad, they remonstrated with the men of Ruben, Gad, and Manasses.
With this message the general assembly of the Lord’s people had entrusted them: What means this impiety? Would you forsake the Lord God of Israel, withdraw from his worship, and raise an unhallowed altar?
Have we not suffered enough for our sin in Beelphegor, that cost us so many lives, and has left its mark upon us still?
Your revolt against the Lord to-day will bring his vengeance on the whole of Israel to-morrow.
If there is some defilement in this land of yours that must be atoned for, cross over into our land, where the Lord’s tabernacle is, and dwell with us; do not forsake the Lord, and your fellowship with us, by building a fresh altar, to rival the altar of the Lord our God.
Think how the Lord’s vengeance fell on the whole people, when Achan son of Zare transgressed his commands; that was but one man’s sin, and alas, how many died for it!
But the three tribes had their answer ready for the chieftains of Israel:
The Lord God is our witness, the Almighty Lord God is our witness; let Israel ask proof from him! Let him be our protector no longer, let him smite us with his punishments here and now, if he sees that this altar of ours was built in any spirit of rebellion against him.
Let him condemn and punish us, if we have built it with any thought of offering sacrifice or victim or welcome-offering there.
This rather was our thought, this was our design; it may be that in time to come your children will turn upon ours and ask them, What have you to do with the God of Israel?
Has he not put Jordan there as a barrier between us and you? Men of Ruben and Gad, the Lord will have none of you! Should we allow them such an opportunity of stealing our children away from the worship of the Lord? No, we were better advised than that.
We determined to build an altar, that should never know burnt-sacrifice or offering;
it was to be a monument of our claims upon you, of our children’s claims upon yours. We would safeguard our right of bringing the Lord burnt-sacrifice and victim and welcome-offering; your children should never say to ours, The Lord will have none of you!
Let them say it, and our children will reply, And the altar? The altar which our fathers raised, not for burnt-sacrifice or offering, but for a monument of our claim on you?
Far be such treachery from our thoughts, as to rebel against the Lord, and forsake the paths he has traced for us, never will we present burnt-sacrifice or offering or victim save at the altar raised to the Lord our God, before his tabernacle!
Such answer they made, the men of Ruben and Gad and half Manasses; whereupon Phinees and the envoys who accompanied him were well content, and accepted their plea willingly enough.
Phinees himself, son of the high priest Eleazar, was their spokesman. Now we are sure, he said, that the Lord God dwells among us. By clearing yourselves of this charge, you have freed Israel from the dread of the Lord’s vengeance.
So they bade farewell to Galaad, to Ruben and to Gad, and went back with their news to the other Israelites in Chanaan.
These were well content, and praised God for it; no more was heard of making an expedition against the three tribes and ravaging their possessions.
And the name given by the men of Ruben and Gad to the altar they had built was Ed, the Record; Here we have put it on record, they said of it, that the Lord is God.
The Holy Bible