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Deeper Commentary


Jos 22:1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh-
Clearly Joshua called the representatives of those tribes. This is a major theme in the Bible- that the representative of a person or entity is spoken of as being that person. Understanding this helps us easily understand the verses wrested to support the mistaken doctrine of the Trinity.

Jos 22:2 and said to them, You have kept all that Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded you, and have listened to my voice in all that I commanded you-
Moses had told the Reubenites and Gadites that they could return to their possessions when “the Lord have given rest unto your brethren, and they also possess the land” (Dt. 3:20). But Joshua tells them to go to their possessions simply because their brethren were now at “rest” (Josh. 22:4). He significantly omits the proviso that their brethren must also possess the land- because much of the land wasn’t possessed. Was this Joshua getting slack, thinking that the main thing was that people were living in peace, even though they weren’t possessing the Kingdom? Or is it a loving concession to human weakness? Indeed, the conditions of Dt. 3:20 were in their turn an easier form, a concession to, the terms of the initial agreement in Num. 32:20-32.
Joshua didn’t give the people rest (Heb. 4:8); although he potentially enabled it (Josh. 22:4; 23:1). He failed to fulfil the potential of Josh. 1:13-15- that he would lead the people to “rest”. The Messianic Kingdom could, perhaps, have come through Joshua-Jesus; but Israel would not. And so his work was rescheduled and reapplied to the Lord Jesus, who does give "rest" to the true people of God (Heb. 4:8). See on Josh. 21:43,44; 23:4; 24:14,23. Or is all this rooted in his love for them, not seeing iniquity in Jacob?

Jos 22:3 You have not left your brothers these many days to this day, but have performed the duty commanded by Yahweh your God-
I would consider the book of Joshua to have largely been written by Joshua, under Divine inspiration, although edited [again under Divine inspiration] for the exiles. And the book of Judges likewise. For the exiles too were set to reestablish God's Kingdom in the land and to inherit it again as the Israelites first did. The phrase "to this day" occurs several times in Joshua / Judges, and appears to have different points of historical reference (Josh. 4:9; 5:9; 6:25; 7:26; 8:28,29; 9:27; 10:27; 13:13; 14:14; 15:63; 16:10; 22:3; 23:8,9; Jud. 1:26; 6:24; 10:4; 15:19; 18:12). I would explain this by saying that the book was edited a number of times and the remains of those edits remain in the text. For God's word is living and made relevant by Him to every generation.

Jos 22:4 Now Yahweh your God has given rest to your brothers, as He spoke to them. Therefore now return and go to your tents, to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of Yahweh gave you beyond the Jordan-
This is a timeless principle- that our own inheritance of the Kingdom requires our efforts to help our brethren inherit it also. For in a sense, salvation is collective; the body of Christ receive His resurrection life, the Israel of God inherit Canaan. Whilst relationship with God is ultimately personal, the essence of that relationship is love. And love in its ultimate term is the desire to eternally save others.

Jos 22:5 Only take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded you, to love Yahweh your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul-
If we love the Lord Jesus Christ, we will keep His words (Jn. 14:15,21; 15:10). This is evidently alluding to the many Old Testament passages which say that Israel's love for God would be shown through their keeping of His commands (Ex. 20:6; Dt. 5:10; 7:9; 11:1,13,22; 30:16; Josh. 22:5). Israel were also told that God's commands were all related to showing love (Dt. 11:13; 19:9). So there is a logical circuit here: We love God by keeping His commands, therefore His commands are fundamentally about love. Thus love is the fulfilling of the law of God; both under the Old and New covenants (Rom. 13:10). It is all to easy to see our relationship with God and Christ as a question of obedience to their words, as if this is somehow a test of our spirituality. This is to humanize God too far, to see God as if He were a fallible man; for if we were God, we would institute some kind of written test for our creatures: 'Do this, and if you don't, then I know you don't love me'. The God of glory is beyond this kind of thing. He is His word. If we love Him, we will be eager to know His words, we will dwell upon them, we will live them out in our daily experience as far as we can.

Yahweh was to be loved with all the heart, soul and mind (Dt. 6:5). This is understood by Joshua as meaning that those who loved Yahweh would not "mix with" and intermarry with the nations and accept their gods (Josh. 23:11,12,16). "Love" for God was not therefore a feeling; Joshua said that they must "take good heed therefore to yourselves, that you love Yahweh" (Josh. 23:11). This is the love of conscious direction of the mind, the love which is a choice rather than an emotion.    

Jos 22:6 So Joshua blessed them and sent them away; and they went to their tents-
The agreement in Josh. 1:14 had been that "Your wives, your little ones and your livestock shall live in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan; but all your mighty men of valour shall pass over before your brothers, armed, and shall help them". This was no small sacrifice, because it left their much beloved flocks, as well as their women and children, without protection. That is the significance of the agreement that "all" their soldiers were to pass over Jordan. And they were to be in the front line, "before your brothers", forming the vanguard. Further, their inheritances east of Jordan were huge, and included areas inhabited by giants and strong enemies. So the agreement required them to live by faith in God's protection far more than did the other tribes. Their attempted short cut to the Kingdom didn't work, it ended up with far greater challenge to their faith. And that is true to this day. 

Jos 22:7 Now to the one half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given inheritance in Bashan; but to the other half gave Joshua among their brothers beyond the Jordan westward. Moreover when Joshua sent them away to their tents he blessed them-
Division between brethren is not God's ideal intention. We wonder whether this arrangement was God's curse, if that is not too strong a word, upon Manasseh's desire for the immediate inheritance east of Jordan. We note that Dan also, a tribe associated with much spiritual failure, was likewise given two areas of inheritance, one in the south and one in the north.

Jos 22:8 and spoke to them saying, Return with much wealth to your tents, with very much livestock, with silver, gold, brass, iron and with very much clothing. Divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers-
The enemies of Israel west of Jordan were still their enemies, and they were to divide the spoil they had taken there with their brothers east of Jordan. Although God arranged their disunity in response to their wish (see on :7), He also worked to minimize it.

Jos 22:9 The children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh which is in the land of Canaan to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their possession which they owned, according to the commandment of Yahweh by Moses-
"Which they owned" is a reminder that God accepted the situation, as discussed on :6,7. He had given them their inheritance as they requested, even if it was not His idea intention. But He didn't wish for that to be revisited and caviled against by the other tribes. This was legitimately their inheritance. After less than ideal behaviour from others, we need to move on, the lines remain drawn where they have been- but we must move on with our brethren and not seek to endlessly revisit the issue. 

Jos 22:10 When they came to the region about the Jordan, that is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, a great altar to look at-
This altar was right on the edge of their territory, and was not therefore intended as a central place of worship. It was perhaps built opposite the altar that been built when Israel first crossed the Jordan. See on :11. Their desire to settle east of Jordan meant they would be separated from the sanctuary by the river Jordan. The law required that three times / year their men were to appear at the sanctuary. We recall from Josh. 3:15 that the Jordan was very hard to cross at the time of Passover. So their decision was going to make spiritual devotions and obedience to the law far harder to keep. But God went along with their request, as did the Father of the prodigal son. And as He did with Israel's request for a human king and a temple- even though those things made devotion to Him that much harder to achieve.  

Jos 22:11 The children of Israel heard a report that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh had built an altar in the forefront of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that pertains to the children of Israel-
Or "at the passage of the children of Israel". This would confirm the suggestion on :10, that it was built opposite the altar that been built when Israel first crossed the Jordan. And this too would be the sense of "the forefront of the land of Canaan". For Israel had first entered Canaan at this point, in the plains opposite Jericho, and they considered that area to be the 'forefront' of Canaan. 

Jos 22:12 When the children of Israel confirmed this, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up against them to war-
We have the impression that they did the right thing on hearing a report (:11); they confirmed it to be true by investigation. But then they fail completely in going to war against their brethren who only recently had been fighting for them in the vanguard of the Israelite army, in order to secure their inheritance west of Jordan. There were clearly underlying jealousy and personality issues. They were twisting the Mosaic commandment of Dt. 13:12-16 about investigating whether or not idolatry was being committed in a city, and if it was, then attacking and destroying the city. As often happens in these kinds of controversies, there is a semblance of obedience to Divine commands [they confirmed that an altar had been built], but not in fact. For no idolatry was being committed upon the altar which had been built. They found no evidence of that but still wanted to attack and destroy their brethren. The scenario has repeated countless times within the body of Christ. And the western tribes could hardly consistently claim such a scrupulous level of obedience to Divine law, when they had not driven out the Canaanite tribes and were starting to worship their gods. They were transferring their own guilt onto others. This is why brethren guilty of a certain sin will zealously accuse others [even falsely] of that very sin, and seek to punish them for it. This is not simply a case of hypocrisy. It is psychological transference of their own sin onto others, and seeking to punish them with the judgment they themselves deserve. 

Jos 22:13 The children of Israel sent to the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead. They sent Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest-
Phinehas had become well known for saving Israel by murdering the apostates (Num. 25:7). But as explained on :12, here he was going too far. He was assuming the existence of idolatry, when in fact there was none. He was of the personality type which was judgmental, and had made his name, as it were, from this. But on this occasion he was allowing the natural human desire to be judgmental to consume him, when he ought to have controlled it. There are so many people like him in the body of Christ today. See on :17.    

Jos 22:14 and with him ten princes, one prince of a fathers’ house for each of the tribes of Israel; and they were each one of them head of their fathers’ houses among the thousands of Israel- 
This would have included a prince for the other half of the tribe of Manasseh which was west of Jordan. We wonder how enthusiastic he really was, or like many a member of committees of brethren who are directed to attack other brethren... he maybe secretly disliked this direction, but succumbed to group pressure. Or perhaps the western half tribe were jealous of the apparently better possession which the eastern half apparently had.

Jos 22:15 They came to the children of Reuben and to the children of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, to the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them saying-
Gilead was the very area where Jacob and Laban had built a mound of rocks to symbolize their separation from each other, although with Yahweh watching between them (Gen. 31:23,25). It was also the area where Esau came to slay his brother Jacob, but was stopped in his tracks by God, and by Jacob's repentance. Perhaps something like that was going on here. The eastern tribes may well have had something to repent of; and the hypocritical western tribes were acting as Esau rather than Jacob. Perhaps the eastern tribes, despite fighting for their western brethren against the Canaanites, had fallen out with their brethren. And they had built this altar in the spirit in which Jacob and Laban had built their altar in the same area. But division between brethren is not the same as idolatry, in this context. The fact brethren are separated doesn't make one party idolatrous. Gilead had been specifically given to Machir son of Manasseh in Num. 32:40, so it was quite wrong for the eastern tribes to imply this land was unclean (:19), and that the eastern tribes ought to come and live with the western tribes- with such "unity" enforced at sword point! Terrible abuse has been performed by Christians in the name of "unity within Israel", and we see it all prefigured here.   

Jos 22:16 Thus says the whole congregation of Yahweh, ‘What trespass is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following Yahweh, in that you have built yourselves an altar, to rebel this day against Yahweh?-
They considered themselves as those on the west of Jordan to be "the whole congregation of Yahweh". They considered geographical issues, and the unwise choices of seven years previously, to have cut off the eastern tribes from Yahweh's congregation. This is typical of the kind of wrong reasoning which goes on within the body of believers to this day; considering that they alone are the body of believers, and reasoning onwards further from that false assumption and perspective. We also note that half of the tribe of Manasseh were also west of Jordan. So by reasoning like this, they were pitting brother against brother. See on :18.

Jos 22:17 Is the iniquity of Peor of little consequence for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, although there came a plague on the congregation of Yahweh-
Phinehas is alluding to how he had saved Israel from destruction at that time by destroying the apostates (see on :13). He implies that although he cleansed Israel at the time, they were still unclean from it in that idolatry was still ongoing. But his hypocrisy is in the way that he is ignoring that the idolatry was not simply in the eastern tribes; it was clearly amongst his own western tribes, as indicated by later commentary upon their spiritual state. Defending the fait against perceived possible idolatry can become obsessive- exactly because it appeals to the flesh. Otherwise fairly lax believers eagerly get caught up in a feeding frenzy of judgment against their own brethren, because it is all a transference onto others of their own weakness and liability to judgment.  

Jos 22:18 that you must turn away this day from following Yahweh? It will be, since you rebel today against Yahweh, that tomorrow He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel-
Their logic is wrong all the way through. They had just reasoned that they alone were the congregation of Israel (see on :16). But now they reason that if those in the congregation east of Jordan sin, then they on the west of Jordan will be punished for it, because all the congregation will suffer together. Yet they have just reasoned that those on the east were not in the congregation of Yahweh. This is the kind of serious error in logic found in nearly all division and aggression within the body of believers today. These ancient records speak so relevantly to our day, for God's word is in this sense a living word.

Jos 22:19 However, if the land of your possession is unclean, then pass over to the land of the possession of Yahweh, in which Yahweh’s tabernacle dwells, and take possession among us; but don’t rebel against Yahweh, nor rebel against us, in building an altar other than the altar of Yahweh our God-
Clearly the western tribes considered the land east of Jordan to be unclean. They were ignoring the fact God had given the eastern tribes their inheritance there, calling it the "good land", and defining clearly their borders and cities, even asking for cities of refuge and priestly cities there. They were reasoning in a very parochial way. For the land right up to the Euphrates had been promised to them; indeed the majority of the land promised to Abraham was east of Jordan. God had made a concession to their weakness by recalculating "the river" as the Jordan rather than the Euphrates. They were psychologically transferring their perception [that the land east of Jordan was unclean] onto these people. Likewise they equate rebelling "against us" with rebellion "against Yahweh". They were playing God, assuming that anyone not with them was against them and thus against God. It was just this mentality amongst His followers which the Lord rebuked sternly in Lk. 9:50. See on :31.  

As we will see on :29, this is very similar to the exaggerated challenge made by Joshua to the hypocritical western tribes in Josh. 24:15 "If it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh...".  Joshua was speaking to the western tribes as they had spoken to the eastern tribes- and accusing them of idolatry, as they had [perhaps falsely, but hypocritically] accused the eastern tribes. The western tribes were being made to feel how they had made the eastern tribes feel; and were being reminded of their own idolatry. God likewise works with men today, often confronting those who confront their brethren, and trying to help them perceive their hypocrisy and repent.


Jos 22:20 Didn’t Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the devoted thing, causing wrath to fall on all the congregation of Israel? That man didn’t perish alone in his iniquity’-
Again, Biblical precedent is being used wrongly, in order to justify participation in a feeding frenzy of judgmentalism. In the same way as Daniel, Isaiah, Ezra, Israel at the time of Achan etc. were reckoned as guilty but were not personally responsible for the sins of others, so the Lord Jesus was reckoned as a sinner on the cross; He was made sin for us, who knew no sin personally (2 Cor. 5:21). He carried our sins by His association with us, prefigured by the way in which Israel's sins were transferred to the animal; but He personally was not a sinner because of His association with us.

This is no evidence for guilt by association. The situation here has been misinterpreted by some to mean that we therefore cannot associate with sinners of the Achan category, lest we become defiled by association with them. But the point is that all the community of believers are in a sense considered at fault because of the failings of some of them. So if there is guilt by association, then it cannot be avoided by not associating with sinful people within the community. For the people of God, the community, is indivisible. We are in it and cannot quit it, if we wish to remain God's people. And in fact the Lord Jesus time and again turned all this around to the opposite- by willingly seeking association with sinners, eating with them, touching the leper etc. He was not thereby condemned, but rather sought to highlight His association with unclean people of God. It was through that willing association that we are saved.    

Jos 22:21 Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered and spoke to the heads of the thousands of Israel-
The style of the record is very slow and deliberate, to focus our attention upon the words spoken, and to perceive for ourselves where truth really lay in this matter.

Jos 22:22 The Mighty One, God, Yahweh, the Mighty One, God, Yahweh, He knows; and Israel shall know if it was in rebellion, or in trespass against Yahweh (don’t save us this day)-
The repeated usage of the covenant Name is to show that they were faithful to Yahweh and had not at all turned away to idols; and therefore the harnessing of Dt. 13:12-16 to slay them was quite inappropriate. Their argument in :22,23 seems appropriate to those who are genuinely taken aback by a false accusation of idolatry. They seem to be saying that God knows, and He will judge- and these incensed brethren ought to leave it to Him, and not act for Him. And that is really all we can say to people who are utterly obsessed with finding fault with us and condemning us.  

Jos 22:23 He knows whether we have built us an altar to turn away from following Yahweh; or to offer burnt offering or meal offering, or sacrifices of peace offerings-
As discussed on :33, the altar they had built was symbolic and not for actual usage in worship.

Let Yahweh Himself decide-
"Decide" is the word for searching of requiring. The judgment will be the time when God 'requires' of us our behaviour. And yet the Hebrew word is used about our enquiring / searching to God in prayer now (Gen. 25:22; Ex. 18:15; Dt. 4:29; 12:5; 1 Kings 22:5), as well as His 'requiring' / searching of us at the last day (Dt. 18:19; 23:21; Josh. 22:23; 1 Sam. 20:16; 2 Chron. 24:22; Ez. 3:20; 33:6,8). There is a mutuality between a man and his God. We must keep and seek for His commandments and He will seek / search our hearts in response (1 Chron. 28:8,9- the same original words are used). The wicked don't seek for God because they don't think He will require their deeds of them; but because He will require them, we should enquire / seek for Him (Ps. 10:4,13,15- the same word occurs three times). We enquire of Him and He enquires of us, both now and in the last day. This entering into 'enquiry' with our God is what goes on in prayer. In it we have a foretaste of judgment to come.

Jos 22:24 if we have not out of concern done this, and for a reason, saying, ‘In time to come your children might speak to our children saying, What have you to do with Yahweh, the God of Israel?-
The eastern tribes had already effectively started to say this, by implying that the eastern tribes were living in an unclean land and were not part of the congregation of Yahweh; see on :16,19.  

Jos 22:25 For Yahweh has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you children of Reuben and children of Gad. You have no portion in Yahweh’. So your children might make our children cease from fearing Yahweh-
Yahweh had indeed established the Jordan as a border between the tribes of Reuben and Gad. Eastern Manasseh didn't have the Jordan as a border. We note the absolute internal consistency of the records. "No portion" is the term often used of how the Levites had "no portion", no tribal canton allotted to them. The eastern tribes foresaw that the western tribes were reasoning toward a position whereby everything east of the Jordan was not the inheritance of Yahweh; see on :19. By so doing, they were totally overlooking the Abrahamic covenant promise of all the land east of Jordan up to the Euphrates. The western tribes were only harnessing a few scriptures out of context, and were overlooking the overall tenor of scriptural teaching.  

Jos 22:26 Therefore we said, ‘Let’s now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice-
They stress that like the altar built opposite on the other side of Jordan to commemorate the crossing of Jordan, and like the altar built by Jacob in this place, they intended just a memorial and not an active functioning altar. See on :27.

Jos 22:27 but it will be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us-
This continues the allusion to the altar made by Jacob and Laban in the same area, as a "witness" of their positions (Gen. 31:48), just as the altar built on the western side of Jordan was likewise intended as a teaching tool and witness (Josh. 4:6,7).

That we may perform the service of Yahweh before Him with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices and with our peace offerings;’ that your children may not tell our children in time to come, ‘You have no portion in Yahweh’-
So they appear to mean in :26 that they did not then at that time intend to use it, but they would use it if later their descendants were banned from worshipping at the sanctuary to the west of Jordan. The idea would be that the altar was a witness of their intentions, and this is another example of the language of inanimate objects speaking and witnessing. This is not literally true, just as demons don't exist, yet the New Testament uses the language of demons as then understood.  

Jos 22:28 Therefore we said, ‘It shall be, when they tell us or our generations this in time to come, that we shall say, Behold the pattern of the altar of Yahweh, which our fathers made, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice- 
We note their calm response to monstrous false accusation- that they were already using the altar for idol worship and therefore must be violently destroyed by their brethren. In fact the altar's meaning [at least, as they explained it] was the very opposite of what the ten tribes had willfully misinterpreted it to mean. LXX "Behold the likeness of the altar of the Lord" suggests they intentionally copied the altar before the tabernacle, because they wanted this altar to be used for sacrifice if they were denied access to that in the sanctuary west of Jordan.

But it is a witness between us and you’-
See on :27.

Jos 22:29 Far be it from us that we should rebel against Yahweh, thus turning away this day from following Yahweh to build an altar for burnt offering, for meal offering, or for sacrifice, in competition with the altar of Yahweh our God that is before His tabernacle!-
The accusation was that they had rebelled against Yahweh (:16,18,19). The western tribes claimed they had evidence for this, and they use the words of Joshua himself found in Num. 14:9 "Only don’t rebel against Yahweh". But that verse continues: "Neither fear the people of the land; for they are bread for us. Their defence is removed from over them, and Yahweh is with us. Don’t fear them". But the western tribes did fear the Canaanites, and did not drive them out of their territories. So again we see how they justified their jealousy of the eastern tribes by grabbing half of a Bible verse out of context. The rest of that verse shows that it was they who were the rebels against Yahweh. Indeed all Israel were rebellious against Yahweh from the day He knew them (Dt. 9:24), and Nehemiah 9:26 specifically states that after entering the land, they "were disobedient and rebelled against You". Josh. 24:23 is specific that there was idolatry going on amongst the western tribes at this time, so their attempt to exterminate the eastern tribes for unproven accusations of idolatry is to be seen as hypocritical. 

These are pretty much the words of the western tribes in Josh. 24:16. The western tribes were hypocritical in implying that they were so totally devoted to Yahweh alone that they had to slay their eastern brethren because of their possible idolatry. In Josh. 24, they are effectively accused of idolatry by Joshua in the same way as they accused the eastern tribes of it. And they are answering in the same way- even though they were guilty of idolatry themselves, and needed to "put away" their idols (Josh. 24:14). Phinehas (:30) is revealed here as somewhat hypocritical, for surely he was aware of the situation in Israel. For Joshua himself clearly knew that idolatry was widespread amongst them, as his speech in Josh. 24 makes clear.    

Jos 22:30 When Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation, even the heads of the thousands of Israel that were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them well-
What "pleased" or 'was good in the eyes of' the elders was likewise 'good in the eyes of' the peoples of the western tribes (s.w. :33). Major decisions about the fate of many people, going to war or not, were based upon what seemed good in the eyes of 11 men. I suggest on :32 that there must have been other issues going on here beneath the surface.

Jos 22:31 Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, Today we know that Yahweh is in the midst of us, because you have not committed this trespass against Yahweh. Now you have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of Yahweh-
Yahweh's hand was not against the tribes east of Jordan. The hand that was against them was the hand of the western tribes, motivated by personal dislike and jealousy. Again they make the mistake of playing God, assuming that their positions are God's; see on :19. And Phinehas offers no apology for his wrong assumption that the altar was idolatrous; he seeks to save face by implying they had in fact repented, and thereby saved the rest of Israel from being punished by Yahweh. Again we note the contradiction in logic. The western tribes had just reasoned that they alone were the congregation of Israel (see on :16). But now they reason that if those in the congregation east of Jordan sin, then they on the west of Jordan will be punished for it, because all the congregation will suffer together. Yet they have just claimed that those on the east were not in the congregation of Yahweh.

Jos 22:32 Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, to the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again-
We see here the fickleness of people. One moment they were intent on destroying their brethren, claiming to have researched the matter and found them guilt of idolatry. And now they are all "pleased" with the words of the men of the eastern tribes. Given the massive problem with idolatry throughout Israel at this time, one suspects that some unrecorded deal was cut between the two sides, and that there were ulterior motives for wanting to fight against the eastern tribes.

Jos 22:33 The thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and spoke no more of going up to destroy in warfare the land in which the children of Reuben and the children of Gad lived-
Israelites from the western tribes were later to be persecuted for their faithlessness and crossed the Jordan into the territory of Gad (1 Sam. 13:7). This is fair commentary upon the situation in Josh. 22:19,25, where the Israelites accused Gad of falling away from Yahweh worship, and the people of Gad explained that they feared that the other Israelites would make the Jordan a boundary which they would use to exclude them from Yahweh worship. All these fears and speculations about the future are here shown to be inappropriate. Actually the very opposite worked out. And this is the problem with so many divisions between brethren; they are based upon fears of possible futures, and the passage of time often shows the opposite working out.

Jos 22:34 The children of Reuben and the children of Gad named the altar ‘A Witness Between Us that Yahweh is God’-
The implication of course was that "We will serve Yahweh alone". If Yahweh is God, which the Bible states on about every page of the Old Testament in the phrase "Yahweh God", then it is axiomatic that we are to serve Him with unique loyalty.