21. Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered, and said unto the heads of the thousands of Israel,
21. Responderunt autem filii Ruben, et filii Gad, et dimidia tribus Manasse, loquutique sunt cum principibus millium Israel.
22. The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the LORD, (save us not this day,)
22. Deus deorum Jehova, Deus deorum Jehova ipse novit, et Israel cognoscet, si per rebellionem, et si per prevaricationem in Jehovam, ne serves nos die hac.
23. That we have built us an altar to turn from following the LORD, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering, or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the LORD himself require it;
23. Si cogitavimus aedificare nobis altare, ut averteremur ne iremus post Jehovam, et si ad immolandum super illud holocausta et sacrificium, et si ad faciendum super illud sacrificia prosperitatum, Jehova ipse inquirat.
24. And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have you to do with the LORD God of Israel?
24. Et si non potius timore hujusce rei fecimus hoc dicendo: Cras dicent filii vestri filiis nostris dicendo: Quid vobis et Jehovae Deo Israel?
25. For the LORD has made Jordan a border between us and you, you children of Reuben and children of Gad; you have no part in the LORD: so shall your children make our children cease from fearing the LORD.
25. Nam terminum posuit Jehova inter nos et vos filii Ruben et filii Gad, Jordanem: non est vobis portio in Jehova: et cessare facient filii vestri filios nostros, ut non timeant Jehovam.
26. Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice:
26. Et diximus, Demus nunc operam ut aedificemus altare, non pro holocausto, nec pro sacrificio:
27. But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, You have no part in the LORD.
27. Sed ut testis sit inter nos et vos, et inter generationes nostras post nos, ut serviamus servitutem Jehovae coram eo in holocaustis nostris, et in sacrificiis nostris, et prosperitatibus nostris: et ne dicant filii vestri cras filiis nostris, Non est vobis pars in Jehova.
28. Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between us and you.
28. Diximus itaque, Et erit, si dixerint nobis aut generationibus nostris cras, tum dicemus, Videte similitudinem altaris Jehovae quod fecerunt patres nostri, non pro holocausto, neque pro sacrificio, sed ut testis sit inter nos et vos.
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.
29. Absit a nobis ut rebellemus contra Jehovam, et avertamur hodie ne eamus post Jehovam, aedificando altare pro holocausto, pro oblatione, et pro sacrificio, ultra altare Jehovae Dei nostri quod est ante tabernaculum ejus.
30. And when Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation and heads of the thousands of Israel which were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them.
30. Porro quum audisset Phinees sacerdos, et principes coetus, capitaque millium Israel qui cum eo erant, verba quae loquuti fuerant filii Ruben, et filii Gad, et filii Mannasse, placuit in oculis eorum.
31. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said unto the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, This day we perceive that the LORD is among us, because you have not committed this trespass against the LORD: now you have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the LORD.
31. Dixitque Phinees filius Eleazar sacerdotis filiis Ruben, et filiis Gad, et filiis Manasse, Hodie novimus quod in medio nostri sit Jehova, quod non praevaricati sitis contra Jehovam praevaricationem istam: tunc liberastis filios Israel de manu Jehovae.
32. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, unto the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again.
32. Reversus est igitur Phinees filius Eleazar sacerdotis, et principes illi a filiis Ruben, et a filiis Gad, de terra Gilead ad terram Chanaan ad reliquos filios Israel, et retulerunt eis rem.
33. And the thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and did not intend to go up against them in battle, to destroy the land wherein the children of Reuben and Gad dwelt.
33. Placuitque res in oculis filiorum Israel, atque benedixerunt Deo filii Israel: neque decreverunt ascendere contra eos ad pugnam, ut disperderent terram in qua filii Ruben et filii Gad habitabant.
34. And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God.
34. Vocaverunt autem filii Ruben et filii Gad altare Hed, dicendo: Quia testis erit inter nos quod Jehova est Deus.
It is not strictly correct, though appropriate enough, for the rudeness of sense, to place our God above all gods. For it is impossible to compare him with others, seeing that no others actually exist. Hence, in order to avoid the apparent absurdity, some interpreters substitute angels for gods; this meaning holds in some cases, though not in all. It ought not, however, to seem harsh when he who is the one sole supreme being is called the God of gods, inasmuch as he has no equal, standing forth conspicuous above all other height, and so, by his glory, obscuring and annihilating all names of deity which are celebrated in the world. Hence this mode of speaking ought to be viewed with reference to the common sense of the vulgar.
This is to be carefully observed; for we are able to infer from it that we never revolt from God, or fall off to impiety unless he abandon us, and give us up when thus abandoned to a reprobate mind. All idolatry, therefore, shows that God has previously been alienated, and is about to punish us by inflicting judicial blindness. Meanwhile, we must hold that we persevere in piety only in so far as God is present to sustain us by his hand, and confirm us in perseverance by the agency of his Spirit. Phinehas and the ambassadors speak as if they had been delivered by the children of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, because there was no longer any ground to fear the divine vengeance, when all suspicion of criminality had been removed. At last similar equity and humanity are displayed by the whole people, when accepting the defense of their brethren they gave thanks to God for having kept his people free from criminality.
Though they had been suddenly inflamed, they depart with calm minds. In like manner the two tribes and the half tribe carefully exert themselves to perform their duty by giving a name to the altar, which, by explaining its proper use, might draw off the people from all superstition.
1 Latin, "
2 Several Romish writers endeavored to make the most of this transaction, and think they find in the apparent sanction which it gives to the erection of an altar similar to the one on which sacrifices were offered though intended for a different purpose, an authority for their endless forms of image worship. It is scarcely possible to treat such an argument seriously, but it is surely sufficient to answer, that while the Reubenites and their associates justified the erection of their altar, by declaring in the most solemn manner, that they never intended, and were firmly determined never to employ it for religious service, the Romanists, on the other hand, erect their images for the express purpose of so employing them, and are continually extolling the imaginary benefits which this sacrilegious employment of them confers. -- Ed.