And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
11-29. and the children of Israel heard say—Fame speedily spread intelligence of what the trans-jordanic tribes had done. The act being suspected of some idolatrous design, the tribes rose in a mass, and repairing to the tabernacle at Shiloh, resolved to declare war against the two tribes and a half as apostates from God. On calmer and more mature consideration, however, they determined, in the first instance, to send a deputation consisting of the son of the high priest, and ten eminent persons from each tribe, to make inquiry into this rumored rebellion against God (De 13:13-15). The quality of the deputies evinced the deep solicitude that was felt on the occasion to maintain the purity of the divine worship throughout Israel. In the presumptive belief that the two tribes and a half had really built an altar, the deputies expressed astonishment at their so soon falling into such a heinous crime as that of violating the unity of divine worship (Ex 20:24; Leviticus 17:8, 9; De 12:5-13). They reminded their eastern brethren of the disastrous consequences that were entailed on the nation at large by the apostasy at Peor and by the sin of Achan, and finally exhorted them, if they felt the want of the tabernacle and altar and repented of their rash choice in preferring worldly advantages to religious privileges, to remove to the western side of the Jordan, where all the tribes would form a united and obedient community of worshippers.
throughout all the tribes of Israel,.... The nine tribes and a half, so that the half tribe of Manasseh sent a prince, as well as the whole tribes:
and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel; that is, among the rulers of the thousands of Israel; and so the Greek version calls them Chiliarchs, rulers of thousands; for the people were divided into tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands, over whom there were distinct rulers, Exodus 18:25. Now these were among the chief of them, of the highest rank and authority; they were the chief princes, heads of several tribes; a very honourable deputation this! the son of the high priest, and ten princes, the heads of the tribes; these were chosen and sent, partly in honour to their brethren beyond Jordan, and partly that they might carry the greater authority with them, and prevail upon them to hearken to them.And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. ten princes] Representing the nine and a half tribes west of the Jordan.
head of the house] Each of them was prince of a fathers’ house among the thousands of Israel. Comp. Jdg 6:15; 1 Samuel 10:19; 1 Samuel 10:21. “They were thus persons of great weight of character and approved discretion, entitled by their position to demand an explanation, and less likely than younger men to have their judgments warped or compromised by the hasty impulses of passion.”Verse 14. - And with him ten princes. Phinehas represented the tribe of Levi, the high priest being too great to permit of his forming part of such a deputation. The actual head of each tribe accompanied him; that is, the head of the family, as we should call it, in each tribe. This seems preferable to Keil's idea, that some tribes were represented by a prince, and some by heads of families, which seems inadmissible from the fact that the Hebrew states that each tribe was represented in the same manner, אֶחַד נְשִׂיא אֶחַד נְשִׂיא. What is doubtless intended here is to emphasize the weight and importance of the deputation sent with Phinehas, a weight and importance befitting an embassy which might have to announce the determination to exterminate the two and a half tribes as completely as Jericho had been exterminated. The mention of ten princes shows that the cis-Jordanic half tribe of Manasseh was represented. Tribes. The word here, after "father's house," is the genealogical מַטֶּה not the political שֶׁבֶט. The thousands. Or families (as in Judges 6:15; 1 Samuel 10:19). See however Introduction, p. 29. Joshua 22:7, the writer, for the sake of clearness, refers again to the fact that only half of Manasseh had received its inheritance from Moses in Bashan, whereas the other had received its inheritance through Joshua on the west of the Jordan (cf. Joshua 14:3, and Joshua 18:7). To us such repetitions appear superfluous; but they are closely connected with the copious breadth of the early historical style of the Hebrews, which abounded in repetitions. The verb נתן (gave) wants its object, אחזּתו or נחלתו, which may easily be supplied from the context. This interpolation involved a further repetition of the fact, that Joshua also dismissed them (the Manassites of the other side) with a blessing, in order that the words might be appended with which Joshua dismissed the two tribes and a half to their homes, namely, the admonition to share the rich booty which they had accumulated with their brethren at home, in accordance with the instructions which Moses had given them with reference to the war with the Midianites (Numbers 31:25.).
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