Joshua 22
The Altar of Witness
Misunderstandings and Unity: The Altar of Witness

This chapter serves as a profound reminder that open communication and understanding can prevent destructive conflicts within a community. It further emphasizes the significance of maintaining clear symbols and practices of faith, as they serve to bind communities together and ensure continuity in worshiping and serving God faithfully.

The Farewell and Blessing (Verses 1-6)

Joshua commends the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh for their obedience to Moses and himself. He gives them permission to return to their lands, charging them to continue observing God's commandments. He blesses them and sends them off with their share of the spoils from the battles.

The Altar and Threat of War (Verses 7-12)

Upon reaching Geliloth near the Jordan, these tribes build an imposing altar. The Israelites, upon hearing this, assemble at Shiloh, preparing to go to war against them, suspecting a rebellion against God.

The Accusation and Explanation (Verses 13-21)

The Israelites send Phinehas and ten family leaders to confront the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh. They accuse them of breaching faith against God. The accused tribes explain that their intention was not rebellion but to serve as a witness for future generations, reminding them of their share in serving the Lord.

Reconciliation and Naming the Altar (Verses 22-34)

Upon hearing the explanation, Phinehas and the leaders are satisfied. They express relief, knowing that the Lord is still among them as there was no rebellion. They return and report to the Israelites, who are also satisfied and bless God. The Reubenites and Gadites name the altar "Witness", affirming that the Lord is God.

This chapter covers the return of the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh to their own lands after faithfully serving their brothers, their construction of an altar that stirs misunderstanding and tension among the Israelites, and the subsequent reconciliation and reaffirmation of unity.

1. Obedience to God
2. Misunderstandings and Reconciliation
3. Unity of Tribes
4. Faithful Service
1. The Return of Reubenites, Gadites, and Half-Tribe of Manasseh
2. The Construction of the Altar
3. Misunderstanding and Threat of War
4. Reconciliation
5. Confirmation of Faith
1. Joshua
2. Reubenites
3. Gadites
4. Half-Tribe of Manasseh
5. Phinehas son of Eleazar
6. Israelites
1. Land of Canaan
2. Shiloh
3. Gilead
4. Geliloth near the Jordan
5. Land of Moses
Bible Study Questions

1. What can we learn from the obedience of the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh?

2. In modern terms, how can we "observe the commandment and the law" as told by Joshua?

3. How does the reaction of the Israelites to the construction of the altar reflect their dedication to God?

4. How can misunderstandings in faith and practices lead to conflicts within a community?

5. Why did the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh build an altar, and how can we relate this to the ways we ensure continuity of faith in our families?

6. What does the incident of the altar teach us about the importance of communication in resolving conflicts?

7. How does the explanation of the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh reflect their faithfulness to God?

8. How can you avoid misunderstandings in your religious community?

9. How can we create "altars" or symbols that remind us of our faith in God?

10. How does this chapter challenge you to maintain unity within your community of faith?

11. Reflect on a time when you faced a misunderstanding because of your faith. How did you handle it?

12. What measures can we take to prevent "breach of faith" in our communities?

13. How does Phinehas' response represent wise leadership?

14. How can we apply the principle of understanding and reconciliation in our daily life?

15. How can you encourage others in your community to avoid hasty judgements and seek understanding first?

16. How did this incident strengthen the unity among the tribes of Israel?

17. How can you create a "witness" in your life to remind you and others of God's presence?

18. Why was naming the altar important for the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh?

19. What can you do today to ensure that your actions are not misinterpreted by others?

20. How can we ensure that our actions today serve as a positive witness for future generations?

Bible Hub Chapter Summaries and Bible Study Questions

Joshua 21
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