Joshua 22:29
God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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]. No text from Poole on this verse. God forbid that we should rebel against the Lord,.... Against the command of the Lord, who ordered one altar to be made, to which all sacrifices were to be brought from the several parts of the land of Israel, and there to be offered on it; or

"against the Word of the Lord,''as the Targum, Christ typified both by the altar and the sacrifices on it; and who is but one, one priest, one sacrifice, one altar, one Mediator and Saviour:

and turn this day from following the Lord; apostatize from him, and from his worship:

to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices; which was never our intention, or ever entered into our hearts to erect one for such a purpose:

besides the altar of the Lord our God, that is before his tabernacle; it standing in the court of the tabernacle before the holy place.

God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. God forbid] Literally, Far be it from us. LXX. μὴ γένοιτο. Wyclif translates it, “God shilde fro vs this hidous gilt.” The speakers express in the strongest manner their abhorrence of the idea of forsaking Jehovah.Verse 29. - God forbid. Literally, profane or accursed to us be it from Him. So Keil, Gesenius, and Knobel. That we should rebel against the Lord. The embassy had the effect not only of eliciting an explanation, but of showing how earnest, at that time at least, the tribes of Israel were in the service of God. And we may learn here, as Robertson remarks of St. Paul's frank and explicit vindications of himself, the value of explanations. Many a misunderstanding would be averted, many a feeling of rankling displeasure, culminating in an inexcusable explosion of anger, might be avoided, nay, many an unjust suspicion against a fellow Christian's honesty and sincerity of purpose might be dispelled, if men would but follow the example of the ten tribes on this occasion, or lay to heart the words of our Lord in St. Matthew 18:15, "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." 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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