10. And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.
10. Devenerunt autem ad limites Jordanis qui erant in terra Chanaan, et aedificaverunt filii Ruben, et filii Gad, et dimidia tribus Manasse, ibi altare juxta Jordanem, altare magnum visu.
11. And the children of Israel heard say, Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel.
11. Audierunt autem filii Israel dici, Ecce aedificaverunt filii Ruben, et filii Gad, et dimidia tribus Manasse, altare e regione terrae Chanaan, in confinibus Jordanis in transitu filiorum Israel.
12. And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.
12. Audierunt, inquam, filii Israel, et convenerunt universus coetus filiorum Israel in Silo, ut ascenderent contra eos ad pugnam.
13. And the children of Israel sent unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,
13. Miserunt autem filii Israel ad filios Ruben, et ad filios Gad, et ad dimidiam tribum Manasse, ad terram Gilead, Phinees filium Eleazar sacerdotis.
14. And with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel.
14. Et decem principes cum eo, singulos principes per singulas domos avitas ex omnibus tribubus Israel: singuli namque principes familiarum patrum suorum erant in millibus Israel.
15. And they came unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh, unto the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them, saying,
15. Venerunt ergo ad filios Ruben, et ad filios Gad, et ad dimidiam tribum Manasse, ad terram Gilead, loquutique sunt cum eis, dicendo,
16. Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD, What trespass is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that you have built you an altar, that you might rebel this day against the LORD?
16. Sic dicunt universus coetus Jehovae, Quae est praevaricatio ista, qua praevaricati estis contra Deum Israel, ut avertamini hodie ne eatis post Jehovam aedificando vobis altare, ut rebelletis hodie contra Jehovam?
17. Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD,
17. An parum nobis est cum iniquitate Peor, a qua nec dum sumus mundati etiam hodie, et tamen fuit plaga in coetu Jehovae?
18. But that you must turn away this day from following the LORD? and it will be, seeing you rebel to day against the LORD, that to morrow he will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.
18. Vos autem avertimini hodie ne eatis post Jehovam, et erit, vos rebellabitis hodie contra Jehovam, et cras in totum coetum Israel irascetur.
19. Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass you over unto the land of the possession of the LORD, wherein the LORD'S tabernacle dwells, and take possession among us: but rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the LORD our God.
19. Et quidem si immunda est terra possessionis vestrae, transite ad terram possessionis Jehovae, in qua habitat tabenaculum Jehovae, et possessiones accipite in medio nostrum et contra Jehovam ne rebellitis: neque a nobis deficiatis, aedificendo vobis altare praeter altare Jehovae Dei nostri.
20. Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.
20. Nonne Achan filius Zerah praevaricatus est praevaricatione in anathemate, et contra omnem coetum Israel fuit ira? Et ille vir unus non obiit propter iniquitatem suam.
We know how strictly the Law prohibited two altars, (Exodus 20:24) for the Lord wished to be worshipped in one place only. Therefore, when on the very first blush of the case, all were at once led to think that they were building a second altar, who would not have judged them guilty of sacrilege in framing a ritual of a degenerate description, at variance with the Law of God? Seeing, then, that the work might be deemed vicious, they ought, at least, in so great and so serious a matter, to have made their brethren sharers in their counsel; more especially were they in the wrong in neglecting to consult the high priest, from whose lips the divine will was to be ascertained. They were, therefore, deserving of blame, because, as if they had been alone in the world, they considered not what offence might arise from the novelty of the example. Wherefore, let us learn to attempt nothing rashly, even should it be free from blame, and let us always give due heed to the admonition of St. Paul, (1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 10:23) that it is necessary to attend not only to what is lawful, but to what is expedient; more especially let us sedulously beware of disturbing pious minds1 by the introduction of any kind of novelty.
Here, then, we have an illustrious display of piety, teaching us that if we see the pure worship of God corrupted, we must be strenuous, to the utmost of our ability, in vindicating it. The sword, indeed, has not been committed to the hands of all; but every one must, according to his call and office, study manfully and firmly to maintain the purity of religion against all corruption's. More especially deserving of the highest praise was the zeal of the half-tribe of Manasseh, who, setting aside all regard to the flesh, did not spare their own family. I admit, however, that this zeal, though pious, was not free from turbulent impetuosity, inasmuch as they hasten to declare war before they inquired concerning the mind of their brethren, and properly ascertained the state of the case. War, I admit, was declared only under conditions; for they send ambassadors to bring back word after they had carefully investigated the matter, and they move not a finger in the way of inflicting punishment till they are certified of the existence of the crime. Excuse, therefore, may be made for the fervor of their passion, while they prepare for battle in the event of any defection being discovered.2
They reason from the less to the greater. If the anger of God burnt against many for the clandestine misdeed of one man, much less would he allow the people to escape if they connived at manifest idolatry. A middle view, however, is inserted, that if the two tribes and half tribe built up an altar, and if their condition was worse from not dwelling in the land of Canaan, let them rather come and obtain a settlement also in the land of Canaan, but let them not provoke God by a wicked rivalship.3 Hence we infer, that they were not urged by some turgid impetus, since, even at their own loss and expense, they are willing kindly to offer partnership to those who had demanded a settlement and domicile for themselves elsewhere.
1 Latin, "
2 French, "
3 Latin, "