Bible Study Moment: Joshua 22

Joshua 22 has a story that we might be able to learn from.

Two and a half of the twelve tribes had decided that they would settle in land east of the Jordan River, and received Moses’ approval before he died. They had the condition that the men of fighting age needed to help the other tribes get settled west of the Jordan. That has been deemed to have happened and the men are going back across the Jordan. Shortly after they erect an altar. The reaction of the other 9 ½ tribes is to go to war against them because they believe the ones east of the river have sinned against the Lord, worshipping some other god.

Before attacking, they send some leaders including the high priest, who recount recent history of others who have disobeyed God and the consequences for all of them.

The leaders of the 2 ½ tribes respond (and I am very loosely paraphrasing) No! No! No! You don’t understand. This isn’t an altar but a tower of witness reminding future generations that we are a part of Israel, in case your children say our children are not a part of them.

So war is averted. What strikes me about this is how quickly the one group is to think the worse of their fellow Israelites. And how much like them we can be, quick to assign the worse reasons for somebody’s actions and/or words that we disagree with. Like maybe the golden rule applies here, and we should judge other people’s motives the same way we would like them to judge ours.


Mark Phillips