1Then Joshua called the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh
2and said to them, “You have kept all that Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded you and have listened to my voice in all that I commanded you.
3You have not abandoned your brothers these many days to this day, but you have kept the requirement of the commandment of Yahweh your God.
4But now Yahweh your God has given rest to your brothers as he spoke to them. So now return and go to your tents, to the land of your possession that Moses the servant of Yahweh gave you beyond the Jordan.
5Only be very careful to do the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded you, to love Yahweh your God, to walk in all his ways, to keep his commandments, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
6So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents.
7Now to the half-tribe of Manasseh, Moses had given an inheritance in Bashan, but to the other half, Joshua gave an inheritance with their brothers beyond the Jordan to the west. And also, when Joshua sent them away to their tents, he blessed them
8and spoke to them, saying, “Return to your tents with much wealth, with very much livestock, with silver, with gold, with bronze, with iron, and with very much clothing. Divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.”
9The children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned home, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their possession that they had possessed according to the commandment of Yahweh by Moses.
10When they came to the region of the Jordan that is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, a large altar to look at.
11The children of Israel heard this, “Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar opposite of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan, across from the children of Israel.”
12When the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh to go up to make war against them.
13The children of Israel sent Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest into the land of Gilead to the children of Reuben and to the children of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh,
14and with Phinehas were ten leaders, one leader from each father’s house from each of the tribes of Israel; and they were—each one of them—a head of their father’s house among the clans of Israel.
15They came to the children of Reuben and to the children of Gad and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, to the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them, saying,
16“This is what the whole congregation of Yahweh says, ‘What is this unfaithfulness that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following after Yahweh, in that you have built yourselves an altar to rebel this day against Yahweh?
17Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, which we have not yet cleansed ourselves from to this day even though a plague came on the congregation of Yahweh?
18And today you are turning away from following after Yahweh? It will be, if you are rebelling against Yahweh today, that tomorrow he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel.
19However, if the land of your possession is unclean, then cross over to the land of the possession of Yahweh where Yahweh’s tabernacle dwells, and take possession among us; but do not rebel against Yahweh or rebel against us, by building an altar other than the altar of Yahweh our God.
20Was not Achan the son of Zerah unfaithful, yes, unfaithful regarding the devoted thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? That man did not perish alone in his iniquity.’”
21Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered and spoke to the heads of the clans of Israel,
22“The Mighty One, God, Yahweh; the Mighty One, God, Yahweh; he knows, and let Israel know: if it was in rebellion or if in unfaithfulness against Yahweh—do not save us this day!—
23by building ourselves an altar to turn away from following after Yahweh, or if to offer burnt offerings or grain offerings or if to offer sacrifices of peace offerings, let Yahweh himself examine it.
24Have we not done this out of deep concern, and for a reason, saying, ‘In the future your children might speak to our children, saying, “What do you have to do with Yahweh, the God of Israel?
25For Yahweh has made the Jordan a border between us and you, O you children of Reuben and children of Gad. You have no portion in Yahweh.”’ So your children might make our children stop fearing Yahweh.
26“So we said, ‘Let us take action and build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering nor for sacrifice,
27but to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we may carry out the service of Yahweh in his presence with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices and with our peace offerings, so that your children do not tell our children in the future, “You have no portion in Yahweh!”’
28So we said, ‘If they say that to us or to our generations in the future, we would say, “See the replica of the altar of Yahweh that our fathers made, not for burnt offerings nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you.”’
29Far be it from us that we should rebel against Yahweh and turn away this day from following after Yahweh by building an altar for burnt offerings, for grain offerings, or for sacrifices, other than the altar of Yahweh our God that is before his tabernacle!”
30When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the congregation, the heads of the clans of Israel that were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spoke, it was good in their eyes.
31So Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, “Today we know that Yahweh is in the midst of us because you have not committed this unfaithfulness against Yahweh. Now you have rescued the children of Israel out of the hand of Yahweh.”
32Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the leaders, returned from the children of Reuben and from the children of Gad out from the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel and brought back word to them.
33The word was good in the eyes of the children of Israel, and the children of Israel blessed God and spoke no more of going up against them to war to destroy the land where the children of Reuben and the children of Gad lived.
34And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad named the altar, “A Witness Between Us that Yahweh is God.”