Joshua 22 Effect of Exclusion
I have been mulling over this chapter over the past few days. It intrigues me. I will admit that it is narrative I was not familiar with. I know lots of Bible narratives, but this one had escaped my notice. So in case you like me had skipps over this bit let me try and give you the story in a nutshell.
These events come in, as you probably guessed, when Joshua was still in charge, The promised land had been occupied by the "Children of Israel". Who was Israel? He was Jacob, renamed Israel, and the children, were the descendants of Israel, and they belonged to "tribes named after the sons of Jacob and sons of Joseph (for the half tribes). Back track a bit to before they crossed over the Jordan, they were camped in the region on the Eastern side of the Jordan for quite a while. Now, as you do, a bunch of them kind of liked where they were living and wanted to stay. These people who were from the Tribes of Reuben and Had and the half tribe of Manasseh (One of Joseph's sons), asked Moses if tgey could stay, Moses agreed on condition that the men of the tribe FIRST cross over the Jordan with the rest of the Tribes and help take occupancy and settle the land, before going back to set up their own homesteads. So they had the bits that they liked apportioned to them on that condition. The men of Reuben, Gad and Manesseh are conscripted, and occupying the promised land was no walk in the park. SEVEN years it took them to get things in shape on the West side, and the Tabernacle, the centre of Jewish worship, the location of the Ark of the Covenant, was set up at Shiloh.
After seven years, Joshua summons the men of Reuben, Gad and Manesseh, and said, you can go back to your families. You are being honourably discharged, having done your duty and served well. Go back to your families who are on the other side of the Jordan River but keep on Loving God, obeying his commandments and serving Him with all your heart and soul.
So they go. They take their spoils of war, which is a bit like, in the modern sense, the severance and retirement packages. They were told to share this with their families. They go back, and the first thing they do, on getting back is decide to build a humongous altat. It was not meant, as far as I can determine, not to be an alternative to the Tabernacle at Shiloh, but what they termed a "remembrance". There was a problem with this altar, and that is, in the Mosaic law, there was to be only ONE centre of worship and that was where the Tabernacle was.
Somebody on the Eastern side must have seen this altar, and thought, "Hang on a bit, what's going on here? That's not right. and the rumour mill started. If they are building an altar then they must be worshipping other gods, and the ten tribes on the East side were inflamed with righteous indignation. They all head for Shiloh and are willing to go to war against those on the West side of the Jordan. That is an extreme action of a zealous bunch.
So often injustices and violence comes as a result of rumour and misunderstanding and most often, it is the people who are regarded as different for some reason that become the target of violent repercussions of a misunderstanding. I believe this was what could possibly have happened here.
Fortunately, instead of them taking a preemptive strike, they decide to send a delegation of leaders to find out what is going on there.
After being challenged and accused of treachery and told that their ''sin" could destroy the whole nation, they explained their motive. This is the bit that got my attention.