Work Through Conflict                    5 JULY 15

JOSH 22:10-12 Commentator Ben F. Philbeck in Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs and H. Franklin Paschal, The Teachers Bible Commentary, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1972, pages 148-149 wrote “At the end of the united campaign for control of the Promised Land, Joshua dismissed the eastern tribes to return to their homes As the troops from Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben withdrew, they built a replica of the altar of the Lord on the western bank of the Jordan.” The 2 ˝ tribes unwisely, but innocently, built an altar on the west side of the Jordan before crossing over, to serve as a witness that they too shared in the inheritance of the Lord. It was a needless act, for God had ordained that all the males should appear at the sanctuary three times each year (see note on Ex. 23:14) in order to preserve the unity of the tribes. Because they built “an altar of great size”, it appeared they were setting up their altar to be the prime altar. This did not set well with the eastern tribes. They believe the prime altar was to be on their side. Moses was not specific as to its location. The nearest we have is (Exo 29:44 RSV) "I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate, to serve me as priests." The whole situation was a misunderstanding by with the eastern tribes.

JOSH 22:1-9 The fact was the 2 ˝ tribes was directed by Joshua to move to the west bank because that was where their particular place would be in the land promised by God. And they left in good standing with Joshua. (Josh 22:6 RSV) "So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away; and they went to their homes." (Josh 22:9 RSV) "So the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned home, parting from the people of Israel at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, their own land of which they had possessed themselves by command of the LORD through Moses."

JOSH 22:13-20 The eastern tribes accused them of going against God and rebellion to Him. But the other tribes, ready to go to war over the matter of the altar, wisely sent a delegation headed by Phinehas (v. 13) to investigate first what they thought was unfaithful act (v. 16). The delegation made strong and clear what they thought was going on.

JOSH 22:21-25 The 2 1/2 tribes swore their innocence by combining three references to God (El, Elohim, and His forever name Yahweh) and repeating the combination twice. Instead of getting angry, which is an important point in dealing with conflict of any type, the representatives of the 2 1/2 tribes just as clearly made known the real reason they had built the large altar.

JOSH 22:26-28 It was a matter of being included in the nation of Israel as partners of equal significance with the eastern tribes. (Josh 22:26-28 RSV) "Therefore we said, 'Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice,   "but to be a witness between us and you, and between the generations after us, that we do perform the service of the LORD in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings; lest your children say to our children in time to come, "You have no portion in the LORD. And we thought, If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, 'Behold the copy of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.'"

JOSH 22:29 No rebel was at hand or even intended. (Josh 22:29 RSV) "Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn away this day from following the LORD by building an altar for burnt offering, cereal offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle!""

JOSH 22:30-31 The real fact was the cool heads of the 2 1/2 tribes had prevented a civil war, which would have been against what God wanted and may have weakened the whole nation enough for the Canaanites to defeat them.

JOSH 22:32-34 With all tribes agreeing to the purpose of this large altar, all was well and all blessed God. The 2 ˝ tribes were allowed to keep the altar for their intended purpose. It was an altar dedication to unity and identity as part of the nation of Israel. So the named the altar “Witness.” The 2 1/2 tribes could have been angry and held a grudge against the eastern tribes. But instead they forgave them for misunderstanding their purpose for the large altar. (Col 3:13 RSV) "forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." They practiced (Col 3:14-15 RSV) "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful."

            Being able and willing to discuss a supposed or real difference between the conflicting parties is critical toward to peaceful and lasting resolution. Patience in all matters such as these is vital. (James 5:7-10 RSV) "Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors. As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord."

            Further, they talked directly to each other. (1 Cor 6:1 RSV) "When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?"

            On this day of potential major conflict, the tribes essentially followed the following conflict management principles.


Basic Principles of Conflict Management

by Joe Sherrer and Reggie Ogea

These principles are adapted from class lecture given by Dr. Joe Sherrer and Dr. Reggie Ogea during a Doctor of Ministry Seminar at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Seek clarity

When facing any conflict in the church you should seek to clarify the issues.

Develop patience

Be patient with the process (Yogi Berra said, “It always takes longer that it takes”).

Show sensitivity

Reduce negativity while being honest about the situation.


Marvin Ganote, Advanced Bible Study Class, Adult Teacher. Lesson at:  or