Joshua 22: Fighting over some temples


The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh are given their portion of the gold and cattle and told to occupy their lands. They are told by Joshua to keep the laws of Moses and all will be well. These groups take their gold and treasure and cattle and settle in their lands. They also build new alters. This upsets the other tribes of Israel who are convinced that these three tribes have turned away from God and invited God’s wrath down on everyone. Their main concern seems to be that by turning away from God, they will cause the other tribes children to do the same. This is serious enough that they are preparing to go to war over it.  The three tribes assure their brethren that these altars were built to make sacrifice to God and that no, they aren’t turning away. Everyone is happy again.

In other words:

Everyone goes out to settle their land but one group builds some altars, freaks the rest of them out. Have they abandoned God in favor of local religions?  No, it’s all good, these are for making burnt sacrifices to God. All is well once again.

Favorite bit:

(Joshua 22:4) The tribes are allowed to take some of the gold and cattle with them. This is nice because we all know what happened when someone took a bit for themselves before (Achen in chapter 7). Achen is in fact brought up as a warning not to turn from God.  

Least favorite bit:

(Joshua 22: 11-29) I dislike the controversy over the building of altars. Granted, it’s a nice controversy and way more interesting than the land surveys that took up most of this book. But still, it tells us these people, or at least a portion of them, were zealots. Uncompromising zealots willing to kill people over what they see as a slight against their God. That they have to defend themselves from doing what is asked of them in the book of Moses is pretty annoying when you think of it. I guess in every group there is always going to be a group of “holier than thou” types who insist everyone make them happy. 

Favorite quote:

(Joshua 22:20) “Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? And that man perished on alone in his iniquity.” I like that they refer back to Achan as I really enjoyed that chapter. What they are saying is kind of scary – because they are trying to tell a group if you are not religious in the exact same way we are, you are going to die.

Moral Lesson:

On the one hand, it’s hard to appease religious zealots. On the other hand, you can tell them just about anything and they’ll believe you.