Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,…
Thus quarrels among brethren oft arise from mere mistakes, as betwixt Cyril and , who excommunicated one another for heresy, &c., yet afterwards coming to a better understanding of each other's meaning, and finding they both held the same truth, they were cordially reconciled. We must justly wonder at the over-hasty jealousy of the ten tribes against their brethren, whose faithfulness and valour for God and His people they had so long experience of in the Seven Years' War; yet now to find fault, when themselves were foully faulty of a rash censure, having only Allegata's, or matters alleged, but no Probata's, or things proved; but alas I how oft doth inconsiderate zeal transport even religious men to uncharitable censures. Would to God all such differences upon mistakes in our day may be as happily ended as this was here, then God is among us (ver. 31), perceivingly; but dissension drives God from us, and will let in dissolution among us if we avoid not all giving offence carelessly and all taking offence causelessly. Oh, that the Lord would take away that morosity and malignity of a censorious spirit from us, and give to us more meekness of wisdom (James 3:13). The Reubenites, &c., here were really to be commended not only for their care in building this altar for the spiritual good of their posterity (lest they should forsake the sincere service of the true God in their following generations), but also for their meekness when thus foully calumniated. They did not bristle and set up the crest in a way of scornful defiance, but they calmly sought to give due satisfaction to their offended brethren; and the ten tribes were verily more blameworthy for misconstruing their religious meanings and doings upon such slender grounds as a bare report (without any solid proof), misrepresenting the matter to them. Yet herein were they truly praiseworthy, not only that they were so blessedly blown up with a zeal for God's glory, in preparing war against idolatry, yea, even in one half of the tribe of Manasseh against the other half beyond Jordan, when the purity of their religion came in competition with brotherly affection, like Levi in that heroic act of Divine justice (Exodus 32:26-29), would not spare their own brethren (Deuteronomy 33:9), but also, and more especially, that the ten tribes first sent Phinehas, so famous for his heroic act against Zimri and Cozbi, whereby God's wrath was appeased (Numbers 25:8-11; Psalm 106:30), to compromise the controversy, which he happily effected without any imbruing their hands in one another's blood. Sure I am we want such a Phinehas in our day to put an happy end to our unhappy differences.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,