Joshua 22:27
But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, You have no part in the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) Ye have no part in the Lord.—Something of the kind was insinuated in the abuse of the Gileadites by the men of Ephraim (Judges 12:4), when they said, “Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.” That taunt cost the Ephraimites the lives of 42,000 men. The person who made it the law of Israel to have no part in Jehovah was “Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” by setting up the calves, and thus diverting the stream of national worshippers from Jerusalem, the place chosen by the Lord. It may be further observed that Joshua’s efforts under the direction of Jehovah for the establishment of national unity in Israel are proved by the narrative in this chapter to have taken considerable effect. At whatever cost, it was felt that the unity of national worship must be maintained. Rebellion “against Jehovah” is treated by the heads of Israel (Joshua 22:19) as rebellion “against us.”

Joshua 22:27. But that it may be a witness — It was an ancient way of preserving the remembrance of things to raise such structures. That we might do the service of the Lord before him — That we and ours may have and retain the privilege of serving and worshipping God, not upon this altar, but in the place of God’s presence, in your tabernacle, and upon your altar.22:21-29 The tribes took the reproofs of their brethren in good part. With solemnity and meekness they proceeded to give all the satisfaction in their power. Reverence of God is expressed in the form of their appeal. This brief confession of faith would remove their brethren's suspicion that they intended to worship other gods. Let us always speak of God with seriousness, and mention his name with a solemn pause. Those who make appeals to Heaven with a careless God knows, take his name in vain: it is very unlike this. They express great confidence of their own uprightness in the matter of their appeal. God knows it, for he is perfectly acquainted with the thoughts and intents of the heart. In every thing we do in religion, it highly concerns us to approve ourselves to God, remembering that he knows the heart. And if our sincerity be known to God, we should study likewise to let others know it by its fruits, especially those who, though they mistake us, show zeal for the glory of God. They disdained the design of which they were suspected to be guilty, and fully explained their true intent in building this altar. Those who have found the comfort and benefit of God's ordinances, cannot but desire to preserve them to their seed, and to use all possible care that their children may be looked upon as having a part in him. Christ is the great Altar that sanctifies every gift; the best evidence of our interest in him is the work of his Spirit in our hearts.The repeated invocation of God, and that by His three names - אל 'êl, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym, יהוה yehovâh: compare Psalm 50:1 - marks the earnestness of the protestation. The conduct of the two tribes and a half has often been noted as exemplary. They had had a grave and capital crime most unexpectedly laid to their charge, of which they were entirely innocent. Yet there is no word of reproach or recrimination in their vindication of themselves. They are contented simply to repudiate the false accusation and to explain the real motives of conduct perhaps suggested to them by a precedent set by Moses Exodus 17:15.

Save us not this day - The words are a direct appeal to God, exactly equivalent in effect to our form "So help me God."

21. Then the children of Reuben … answered—repudiating, in the strongest terms, the alleged crime, and deponing that so far from entertaining the intention imputed to them, their only object was to perpetuate the memory of their alliance with Israel [Jos 22:24, 25], and their adherence to the worship of Israel's God [Jos 22:26, 27]. That we might do the service of the Lord before him; that we and ours may have and hold our privilege of serving and worshipping God, not upon this altar, but in the office of God’s presence, in your tabernacle, and upon your altar. But that it may be a witness between us and you, and our generations after us,.... That we are one people, worship one God, and serve at one altar, of which this built was a resemblance, and would put them in mind of it:

that we might do the service of the Lord before him; in the tabernacle, and at the altar, in the place where he had chosen to put his name and dwell:

with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; to be brought at stated times, or as occasion required:

that your children may not say to our children, in time to come, ye have no part in the Lord; nor right to his altar, and so forbid them offering their sacrifices on it; or"have no part in the Word of the Lord,''as the Targum; the Messiah, whose sacrifice was typified by the sacrifices of the legal dispensation, and all such, who offered theirs in the faith of that, had a part in it, and their sins were expiated by it.

But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
27. be a witness] Instead of meaning a separation, they had set up their altar as a monument to future ages of the connection between the tribes divided by the river, so that if, at any time to come, their descendants should attempt to cast off the connection and assert their own independence, or if the Israelites should hereafter attempt to disown their union, and declare that the people beyond the river “had no part in the Lord,” this monument might be pointed to in evidence of the fact. Observe the calmness maintained by the accused tribes. There is no syllable of reproach or recrimination in their vindication of themselves.Verse 27. - But that it may be a witness. Rather, for this altar is a witness before Him. Literally, before His face; in the tabernacle, that is, where His special presence was enshrined. In utter amazement at the suspicion expressed by the delegates of the congregation, the two tribes and a half affirm with a solemn oath, that it never entered into their minds to build an altar as a place of sacrifice, to fall away from Jehovah. The combination of the three names of God-El, the strong one; Elohim, the Supreme Being to be feared; and Jehovah, the truly existing One, the covenant God (Joshua 22:22), - serves to strengthen the invocation of God, as in Psalm 50:1; and this is strengthened still further by the repetition of these three names. God knows, and let Israel also know, sc., what they intended, and what they have done. The אם which follows is the usual particle used in an oath. "Verily (it was) not in rebellion, nor in apostasy from Jehovah," sc., that this was done, or that we built the altar. "Mayst Thou not help us to-day," sc., if we did it in rebellion against God. An appeal addressed immediately to God in the heat of the statement, and introduced in the midst of the asseveration, which was meant to remove all doubt as to the truth of their declaration. The words which follow in Joshua 22:23, "that we have built," etc., continue the oath: "If we have done this, to build us an altar, to turn away from the Lord, or to offer thereon burnt-offering, meat-offering, or peace-offering, may Jehovah himself require it (דּרשׁ, as in Deuteronomy 18:19; cf. 1 Samuel 20:16). Another earnest parenthetical adjuration, as the substance of the oath, is continued in Joshua 22:24. "But truly (לא ואם, with an affirmative signification) from anxiety, for a reason (lit. on account of a thing) have we done this, thinking (לאמר, since we thought) in time to come your sons might say to our sons, What have ye to do with Jehovah, the God of Israel?" i.e., He does not concern you; He is our God. "Jehovah has made the Jordan a boundary between us and your sons; ye have no part in Jehovah. Thus your sons might make our sons cease to fear Jehovah," i.e., might make them desist from the worship of Jehovah (for the infinitive form ירא instead of the abbreviated form לרא used in 1 Samuel 18:29, there are analogies in יצק in Ezekiel 24:3, and לישׁון, Ecclesiastes 5:11, whereas יראה is the only form used in the Pentateuch). There was some reason for this anxiety. For, inasmuch as in all the promises and laws Canaan alone (the land on this side of the Jordan, Numbers 34:1-12) is always mentioned as the land which Jehovah would give to His people for their inheritance, it was quite a possible thing that at some future time the false conclusion might be drawn from this, that only the tribes who dwelt in Canaan proper were the true people of Jehovah.
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