1 Joshua called together the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh.
2 He said: »You have done everything Jehovahs servant Moses ordered you to do. You have obeyed all my commands.
3 »You have never deserted the other Israelites. You have been careful to obey the commandments of Jehovah your God.
4 »Jehovah your God has given the other Israelites peace as he promised. So go back home to the land you claimed for your own, the land on the east side of the Jordan, that Moses, Jehovahs servant, gave you.
5 »Be sure you obey the Law that Moses commanded you. Love Jehovah your God. Do his will. Obey his commandments and be faithful to him. Serve him with all your heart and with all your being Nephesh: living being.«
6 Joshua blessed them and sent them on their way.
7 To the one half tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: but he gave the other half to Joshua among their brothers on this side Jordan westward. Joshua sent them a way to their tents and he blessed them.
8 He said: »Return with much riches to your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.«
9 So the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh went back home. They left the rest of the people of Israel at Shiloh in the land of Canaan and started out for their own land, the land of Gilead, which they had taken as Jehovah commanded them through Moses.
10 The children of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manassah built a large altar by the borders of Jordan in the land of Canaan.
11 The children of Israel heard that the half tribe of Manasseh built an altar in the land of Canaan on the side belonging to the sons of Israel, at the Jordan when they passed by.
12 When the people of Israel heard this, the whole community came together at Shiloh to go to war against the eastern tribes.
13 Then the people of Israel sent Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, to the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh in the land of Gilead.
14 Ten leading men went with Phinehas, one from each of the western tribes and each one the head of a family among the clans.
15 They came to the land of Gilead, to the people of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh,
16 Speaking for the whole assembly of Jehovahs people they said: »Why have you done this evil thing against the God of Israel? You have rebelled against Jehovah by building this altar for yourselves! You are no longer following him!
17 »Do you remember our sin at Peor, when Jehovah punished his own people with an epidemic? We are still suffering because of that. Was that not enough sin?
18 »Are you going to refuse to follow him now? If you rebel against Jehovah now, he will be angry with everyone in Israel.
19 »If your land is not fit to worship in, come over into Jehovahs land, where his Tabernacle is. Claim some land among us. But do not rebel against Jehovah or make rebels out of us by building an altar in addition to the altar of Jehovah our God.
20 »Remember how Achan son of Zerah would not obey the command about the things condemned to destruction. The whole assembly of Israel was punished for that. Achan was not the only one who died because of his sin.
21 »The people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh answered the heads of the families of the western tribes:
22 »The Mighty, Divine One is God of Gods! He is Jehovah! The Mighty, Divine One is God of Gods! He is Jehovah! He knows why we did this, and we want you to know too! If we rebelled and did not keep faith with Jehovah, do not allow us to live any longer!
23 »If we disobeyed Jehovah and built our own altar to burn sacrifices on or to use for grain offerings or fellowship offerings, let Jehovah himself punish us.
24 »No! We did it because we were afraid that in the future your descendants would say to ours: What do you have to do with Jehovah, the God of Israel?
25 »He made the Jordan a boundary between the people of Reuben and Gad and us. You have nothing to do with Jehovah. Then your descendants might make our descendants stop worshiping Jehovah.
26 »We did not built an altar to burn sacrifices or make offerings,
27 but instead, as a sign for our people and yours, and for the generations after us, that we do indeed worship Jehovah. We do this before his sacred Tabernacle with our offerings to be burned and with sacrifices and fellowship offerings. This was to keep your descendants from saying that ours have nothing to do with Jehovah.«
28 »We thought that if this should ever happen, our descendants could say: You see our ancestors made an altar just like Jehovahs altar. It was not for burning offerings or for sacrifice, but as a sign for our people and yours.«
29 We would certainly not rebel against Jehovah or stop following him now by building an altar to burn offerings on or for grain offerings or sacrifices. We would not build any other altar than the altar of Jehovah our God that stands in front of the Tabernacle of his presence.
30 Phinehas the priest and the ten leading men of the community with him, the heads of families of the western tribes, heard what the people of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh had to say, and they were satisfied.
31 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, said to them: »We know that Jehovah is with us. You have not rebelled against him. So you have saved the people of Israel from Jehovahs punishment.«
32 Phinehas and the leaders left the people of Reuben and Gad in the land of Gilead and went back to Canaan, to the people of Israel, and reported to them.
33 The Israelites were satisfied and praised God. They no longer talked about going to war to devastate the land where the people of Reuben and Gad had settled.
34 The people of Reuben and Gad said: »This altar is a witness to all of us that Jehovah is God. Therefore they named it witness.«