Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,…
1. How little reliance can be placed upon hearsay! It is always so difficult to give a true report of what has happened, that to draw inferences from, and institute action upon mere rumour, is a dangerous course. A fact is not necessarily the truth, because it may be but part of the truth. Part of the truth is often the most dangerous, subtle, and wicked lie. A fact is after all but the expression of a motive; so that to grasp the bearing of a fact the motive must be first of all understood. Consequently, hearsay must always be an unsafe, and often a mischievous guide.
2. Notice how a religious symbol, employed with the most innocent design and for a praiseworthy end, was interpreted as a signal of idolatry and rebellion. At the present day, what excites the worst passions so powerfully, and that, too, in the name of religion, as some devout act or pious sign, of which the meaning is not quite clear to the uninitiated, or which prejudice associates with heresy or superstition.
3. If all would follow the example of the Israelites, and, before going to war, as it were, to right a supposed wrong, would first seek an explanation, how often the wrong would be found to have no existence, and how clear of discord the atmosphere of the world would become!
4. Never assume the guilt of those whom you suspect. It creates a prejudice in one's own mind, which it is hard to overcome. It makes one's own manner severe and condemnatory, instead of being conciliatory and impartial. The effect upon the opposite party is to create an attitude of resentment, to excite irritation, to give a sense of injury, to predispose to a perpetuation of the quarrel, instead of seeking to remove it.
5. The eastern tribes behaved with exemplary self-control. They were the grossly injured party. Yet, smarting as they were under the sense of injustice, they did not resent the indignity. You hear no reproaches or recriminations. They simply state their innocence and disclose their real motives.
6. Phinehas and the people blessed God that war was averted. Are we not sometimes disappointed when we find there is no cause for quarrel?
(T. W. M. Lund, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,