Nothing is harder to direct than a man in prosperity; nothing more easily managed than one is adversity. — Plutarch

Story of the Bible Told for Young and Old - Jesse Hurlbut




The Story of an Altar beside the River


When the war for the conquest of Canaan was ended, and the tribes were about to leave for their places in the land, Joshua broke up the camp at Gilgal, which had been the meeting place of the Israelites through all the war.

You remember that two of the tribes and half of another tribe had received their land on the east of Jordan (see Story Thirty-three in Part First), but their soldiers crossed the Jordan with the men of the other tribes. Joshua now called these soldiers, and said to them:

"You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you; you have stood faithfully by your brothers of the other tribes; and now the time has come for you to go back to your wives and your children in your own tribe-lands on the other side of Jordan. Go to your homes, where your wives and children are waiting for you. Only remember always to keep the commandments of the Lord, and be true to the Lord, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul."

Then Joshua gave them the blessing of the Lord, and sent them away. They left Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was standing, and came to the river Jordan. There on a great rock where it could be seen from far, they built a high altar of stone.

The altar which stood as a witness
THE ALTAR WHICH STOOD AS A WITNESS


Soon it was told among the tribes that the men of the two tribes and a half-tribe had built for themselves an altar. God had commanded the people to have but one altar for all the tribes and one high-priest, and one offering for all the tribes upon the altar. This was for the purpose of keeping all the people together, as one family, with one worship.

The people of Israel were greatly displeased when they found that these tribes had built an altar, while there was already one altar for all the tribes at Shiloh. They were almost ready to go to war against the tribes on the east of the Jordan on account of this altar.

But before going to war they sent one of the priests, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, and with him ten of the princes of Israel, one from each tribe, to ask the men of the tribes on the east for what purpose they had built this altar. These men came to the men of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and said to them:

"What is this that you have done in building for yourselves an altar? Do you mean to turn away from the Lord and set up your own gods? Have you forgotten how God was made angry when Israel worshipped other gods? Do not show yourselves rebels against God by building an altar while God's altar is standing at Shiloh."

Then the men of the two tribes and a half answered:

"The Lord, the only God, he knows that we have not built this altar for the offering of sacrifices. Let the Lord himself be our judge, that we have done no wrong. We have built this altar so that our children may see it, standing as it stands on your side of the river and not on our side: and then we can say to them, 'Let that altar remind you that we are all one people, we and the tribes on the other side of Jordan.' This altar stands as a witness between us that we are all one people and worship the one Lord God of Israel."

Then the princes of the nine tribes and a half were satisfied. They were pleased when they knew that it was an altar for witness and not for offerings. They named the altar Ed, a word which means witness. "For," they said, "it is a witness between us that the Lord is our God, the God of us all."

Joshua was now a very old man, more than a hundred years old. He knew that he must soon die, and he wished to give to the people his last words. So he called he elders and rulers and judges of the tribes to meet him at Shechem, in the middle of the land and near his own home.

When they were all together before him, Joshua reminded them of all that God had done, for their fathers and for themselves. He told them the story of Abraham, how he left him home at God's call; the story of Jacob and his family going down to Egypt; and how after many years the Lord had brought them out of that land; how the Lord had led them through the wilderness and had given them the land where they were now living at peace. Joshua then said:

"You are living in cities that you did not build, and you are eating of vines and olive-trees that you did not plant. It is the Lord who has given you all these things. Now, therefore, fear the Lord, and serve him with all your hearts. And if any of you have any other gods, such as Abraham's father worshipped beyond the River, and as your fathers sometimes worshipped in Egypt, put them away, and serve the Lord only. And if you are not willing to serve the Lord, then choose this day whatever god you will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Then the people answered Joshua:

"We will not turn away from the Lord to serve other gods; for the Lord brought us out of Egypt where we were slaves; and the Lord drove out our enemies before us; and the Lord gave us this land. We will serve the Lord, for he is the God of Israel."

"But," said Joshua, "you must remember that the Lord is very strict in his commands. He will be angry with you if you turn away from him after promising to serve him; and will punish you if you worship images, as the people do around you."

And the people said, "We pledge ourselves to serve the Lord, and the Lord only."

Then Joshua wrote down the people's promise in the book of the law, so that others might read it and remember it. And he set up a great stone under an oak-tree in Shechem, and he said:

"Let this stone stand as a witness between you and the Lord, that you have pledged yourselves to be faithful to him."

Then Joshua sent the people away to their tribe-lands, telling them not to forget the promise that they had made. After this Joshua died, at the age of a hundred and ten years. And as long as the people lived who remembered Joshua, the people of Israel continued serving the Lord.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

The Story of a Beautiful Garden
The First Baby in the World and His Brother
The Great Ship That Saved Eight People
The Tower That Was Never Finished
The Story of a Long Journey
How Abram's Choice Brought Blessing
The Angel by the Well
The Rain of Fire That Fell on a City
The Boy Who Became an Archer
How an Angel's Voice Saved a Boy's Life
The Story of a Journey after a Wife
How Jacob Stole His Brother's Blessing
Jacob's Wonderful Dream
A Midnight Wrestling Match
The Rich Man's Son Who Was Sold as a Slave
From the Prison to the Palace
How Joseph's Dream Came True
A Lost Brother Found
From the Land of Famine to the Land of Plenty
The Beautiful Baby Who Was Found in a River
The Voice from the Burning Bush
The River That Ran Blood
The Night When a Nation Was Born
How the Sea Became Dry Land and the Sky Rained Bre
The Mountain That Smoked and Words That Were Spoke
How Aaron Made a Golden Calf and What Became of It
The Tent Where God Lived Among His People
How They Worshipped God in the Tabernacle
What Strong Drink Brought to Aaron's Sons
The Scapegoat in the Wilderness
The Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan
How the Long Journey of the Israelites Came to an
What a Wise Man Learned from an Ass
How Moses Looked upon the Promised Land
The Story of Job
The Story of a Scarlet Cord
How the River Jordan Became Dry
The Story of a Wedge of Gold
How Joshua Conquered the Land of Canaan
The Old Man Who Fought Against the Giants
The Avenger of Blook and the Cities of Refuge
The Story of an Altar Beside the River
The Presnt That Ehud Brought to King Eglon
How a Woman Won a Great Victory
Gideon and His Brave Three Hundred
Jephthah's Rash Promise and What Came from It
The Strong Man: How He Lived and How He Died
The Idol Temple at Dan and Its Priest
How Ruth Gleaned in the Field of Boaz
The Little Boy with a Linen Coat
How the Idol Fell Down Before the Ark
The Last of the Judges
The Tall Man Who Was Chosen King
How Saul Saved the Eyes of the Men of Jabesh
The Brave Young Prince
Saul's Great Sin and His Great Loss
The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem
The Shepherd Boy's Fight with the Giant
The Little Boy Looking for the Arrows
Where David Found the Giant's Sword
How David Spared Saul's Life
The Last Days of King Saul
The Shepherd Boy Becomes a King
The Sound in the Treetops
The Cripple at the King's Table
The Prophet's Story of the Little Lamb
David's Handsome Son and How He Stole the Kingdom
Absalom in the Wood; David on the Throne
The Angel with the Drawn Sword on Mount Moriah
Solomon on This Father's Throne
The Wise Young King
The House of God on Mount Moriah
The Last Days of Solomon's Reign
The Breaking Up of a Great Kingdom
The King Who Led Israel to Sin
The Prophet Who Raised a Boy to Life
The Prayer That Was Answered in Fire
The Voice That Spoke to Elijah in the Mount
The Wounded Prophet and His Story
What Ahab Paid for His Vineyard
The Arrow That Killed a King
Elijah's Chariot of Fire
A Spring Sweetened by Salt
The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison
The Little Boy at Shunem
How a Little Girl Helped to Cure a Leper
The Chariots of Fire around Elisha
What the Lepers Found in the Camp
Jehu, the Furious Driver of His Chariot
Elisha and the Bow; Jonah and Nineveh
How the Ten Tribes Were Lost
The First Four Kings of Judah
The Little Boy Who Was Crowned King
Three Kings and a Great Prophet
The Good King Hezekiah
The Lost Book Found in the Temple
The Last Four Kings of Judah and the Weeping Proph
What Ezekiel Saw in the Valley
The Jewish Captives in the Court of the King
The Golden Image and the Fiery Furnace
The Tree That Was Cut Down and Grew Again
The Writing upon the Wall
Daniel in the Den of Lions
The Story of a Joyous Journey
The New Temple on Mount Moriah
The Beautiful Queen of Persia
The Scribe Who Wrote the Old Testament
The Nobleman Who Built the Wall of Jerusalem
Ezra's Great Bible Class in Jerusalem
The Angel by the Altar
The Manger of Bethlehem
The Star and the Wise Men
The Boy in his Father's House
The Prophet in the Wilderness
Jesus in the Desert, and beside the River
The Water Jars at the Wedding Feast
The Stranger at the Well
The Story of a Boy in Capernaum and a Riot
A Net Full of Fishes
The Leper and the Man Let Down through the Roof
The Cripple at the Pool and the Withered Hand
The Twelve Disciples and the Sermon on the Mount
The Captain's Servant, the Widow's Son, and a Sinn
Some Stories Jesus Told by the Sea
"Peace, Be Still"
The Little Girl Who Was Raised to Life
A Dancing Girl and What Was Given Her
The Feast beside the Sea and What Followed It
The Answer to a Mother's Prayer
The Glory of Jesus on the Mountain
The Little Child in the Arms of Jesus
At the Feast of Tabernacles
The Man with Clay on His Face
The Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan
Lazarus Raised to Life
Some Parables in Perea
The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man
Jesus at Jericho
Palm Sunday
The Last Vistis of Jesus to the Temple
The Parables on the Mount of Olives
The Last Supper
The Olive Orchard and the High Priests Hall
The Crown of Thorns
The Darkest Day of All the World
The Brightest Day of All the World
The Stranger on the Shore
The Church of the First Days
The Man at the Beautiful Gate
The Right Way to Give, and the Wrong Way
Stephen with the Shining Face
The Man Reading in the Chariot
The Voice That Spoke to Saul
What Peter Saw by the Sea
How the Iron Gate Was Opened
The Earliest Missionaries
The Song in the Prison
Paul's Speech on the Hill
Paul at Corinth
Paul at Ephesus
Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem
The Speech on the Stairs
Two Years in Prison
The Story That Paul Told to the King
Paul in the Storm
How Paul Came to Rome and How He Lived There
The Throne of God
The City of God