Joshua 22:16
Thus said the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that you have built you an altar, that you might rebel this day against the LORD?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 22:16. Thus saith the whole congregation — Who do, and are resolved to cleave unto that God from whom you have revolted. What trespass is this that you have committed? — How heinous a crime! To turn away this day — That is, so soon after God hath obliged you by such wonderful favours, and when he is now conducting you home to reap the fruits of all your pains and hazards. In that you have builded you an altar — For sacrifice, as they supposed. That ye might rebel — With a design to rebel against God, and against his express command enjoining you to worship him at one only altar.22:10-20 Here is the care of the separated tribes to keep their hold of Canaan's religion. At first sight it seemed a design to set up an altar against the altar at Shiloh. God is jealous for his own institutions; we should be so too, and afraid of every thing that looks like, or leads to idolatry. Corruptions in religion are best dealt with at first. But their prudence in following up this zealous resolution is no less commendable. Many an unhappy strife would be prevented, or soon made up, by inquiries into the matter of the offence. The remembrance of great sins committed formerly, should engage us to stand on our guard against the beginnings of sin; for the way of sin is down-hill. We are all concerned to reprove our neighbour when he does amiss, lest we suffer sin upon him, Le 19:17. The offer made that they should be welcome to come to the land where the Lord's tabernacle was, and settle there, was in the spirit of true Israelites.Gathered themselves together - The various tribes had already dispersed to their homes, and were now summoned together again. Jos 22:11-29. Contention Thereupon.

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.

The whole congregation of the Lord, who do and are resolved to cleave unto that God from whom you have revolted, and who speak this to you in the name of the Lord.

What trespass is this? how heinous a crime is this! To turn away this day, i.e. so soon after God hath obliged you by such wonderful favours, and when God is now conducting you home to reap the fruits of all your pains and hazards.

That ye might rebel; with a design to revolt from and rebel against God, and against his express command of worshipping him at one only altar, Exodus 20:24 Leviticus 17:8,9 Deu 12:5,11,13. Thus saith the whole congregation of the Lord,.... By whom they were sent, and whom they represented; and they do not call them the congregation of Israel, but of the Lord, because it was not on a civil but religious account they were come, and not to plead their own cause, but the cause of God; and not so much to show a concern for their own honour and interest as for the glory of God:

what trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel; they took it for granted that they had committed a sin, and that so great, they were not able to express the greatness of it in all its aggravated circumstances, and plainly suggest it was idolatry; which was too premature, when as yet they had not inquired into it; but their zeal for God, and his honour, hurried them into this hasty step:

to turn away this day from following the Lord; they intimate, that they had begun a revolt from the worship of God, which is aggravated by their falling into it so soon, having received so many favours from God, and had so lately seen such wonderful appearances of his power and goodness, and had just had such excellent instructions, exhortations, and cautions given them by Joshua, when he dismissed them:

in that ye have built you an altar; which they supposed was to offer sacrifices upon; whereas there was to be but one altar, and that in the place which the Lord should choose to put his name in, and which he had now chosen, where all sacrifices were to be brought and offered up; see Exodus 20:24,

that ye might rebel this day against the Lord? against the commandment of the Lord expressed in the places referred to, which they charge with rebellion against himself, a very high and heavy charge indeed! but they should first have inquired whether they were guilty of the trespass, or with what view they had built the altar, whether for sacrifice, or for some other use; but they took it for granted it was for sacrifice.

Thus saith {h} the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass is this that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the LORD?

(h) Not only of the princes, but also of the common people.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. that ye might rebel] See Numbers 14:9; Leviticus 17:8-9; Deuteronomy 12:13-14.Verse 16. - Trespass. The Hebrew word signifies to act deceitfully or faithlessly. It was an act of ingratitude towards the God who had established them in the good land in which they now found themselves. Such ingratitude and desertion of God was equivalent to rebellion, the term used immediately afterwards. The embassy clearly assumed that the fault had been committed, and that it would be necessary to proceed to extremities. Yet, deeply moved as they were, they did not refuse to listen to reason, and rejoiced that it was not necessary to inflict the fearful vengeance which otherwise would have been their duty. How great a contrast is this to the readiness, nay, even the eagerness, which many owning the Christian name have displayed to destroy the body, and the soul also, if that were possible, of their brethren in Christ, who have been overtaken, or have been supposed to be overtaken, in a similar fault! On the way home, when the two tribes and a half had reached the border of Canaan, they built a large conspicuous altar in the district of the Jordan, in the land of Canaan, i.e., on this side of the Jordan: "a great altar to see to," i.e., one which caught the eye on account of its size, since it was to serve for a memorial (Joshua 22:24.). The definition appended to Shiloh, "in the land of Canaan" (Joshua 22:9), serves to bring out the antithesis "into the land of Gilead," by which we are to understand the whole of the country to the east of the Jordan, as in Numbers 32:29; Deuteronomy 34:1; Judges 5:17, etc. נאחז, both in the form and meaning the same as in Numbers 32:30, made possessors, i.e., settled down. היּרדּן גּלילות, the circles of the Jordan, is synonymous with היּרדּן כּכּר in Genesis 13:10, and signifies that portion of the Ghor which was upon the western side of the Jordan.
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