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Joshua Twenty Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Joshua 24:1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

to Shechem. It is noteworthy that Joshua's valedictory to the tribes was given at the same location where Abraham long ago had built his first altar in the promised land (Genesis 12:6, 7).

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

the flood. The “flood” here does not refer to the Noahic flood, of course, but to the flood plain of the great river Euphrates. Terah (the father of Abraham, Nahor and Haran) had known the true God. In fact, Laban (Nahor's grandson, still living by the “flood” in Mesopotamia), spoke to Jacob about “the God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father” (Genesis 31:53). Terah had probably written the brief patriarchal document ending with “these are the generations of Terah” (Genesis 11:10-27). Nevertheless, Terah and Nahor had begun to compromise with the increasingly paganized culture and religion of the Chaldeans. Terah had even taken Abraham out of their original home in Ur of the Chaldees “to go into the land of Canaan,” but instead he traveled up the Euphrates valley “unto Haran, and dwelt there” (Genesis 11:31), still in the same kind of environment. Accordingly, God finally called “Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan” (Joshua 24:3).

Joshua 24:3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.

Joshua 24:4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

Joshua 24:5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.

Joshua 24:6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.

Joshua 24:7 And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.

Joshua 24:8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.

Joshua 24:9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:

Joshua 24:10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.

Joshua 24:11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.

Joshua 24:12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

the hornet. Joshua had to remind his people that, even though they had fought their enemies, it was really God who had won the victory for them (Exodus 23:28). The Biblical hornet was a viciously stinging wasp, and the term is probably used here to symbolize the fear which God sent among the Canaanites in advance of the Israelite armies.

Joshua 24:13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.

Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.

Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

choose you this day. This is the same choice confronting each person in every age. One can either choose to serve the true God of creation and redemption, now revealed in Jesus Christ, or the pagan nature-gods of the world system (evolutionary pantheism), or attempt to serve both (as Terah and Nahor had done). But the true God “is a jealous God” (Joshua 24:19). He will not share His glory with another. Joshua's exhortation is still needed: “Put away ... the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23).

gods which your fathers served. Abraham's father Terah had indeed, in some sense at least, served the gods of the Chaldeans when he was in Ur, on the other side of the “flood” (meaning the great river Euphrates). Pantheism and polytheism did become widespread soon after Nimrod's introducing it at Babel. At Ur, the principal deity was the moon god, but there were also shrines to many other gods.

Joshua 24:16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;

Joshua 24:17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:

Joshua 24:18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.

Joshua 24:19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

Joshua 24:20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

Joshua 24:21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.

Joshua 24:22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.

Joshua 24:23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.

Joshua 24:24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

Joshua 24:25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

made a covenant. This was not really a new covenant, but a renewal of the covenant already made at Sinai (Exodus 19:5-8; Deuteronomy 5:1-3).

Joshua 24:26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.

wrote these words. In effect, Joshua is here placing his own writings (our present book of Joshua) on a par with those of Moses. Moses and Joshua were the human writers, along with editorial inserts made for clarification by later scribes, but the end product in every case had been “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16).

a great stone. A large standing stone, dating from about the period of the conquest, has been found at Shechem. It possibly could be Joshua's stone.

by the sanctuary. This phrase suggests that the tabernacle had been temporarily moved from Shiloh to Shechem (a distance of about eight miles) for just this special occasion. This was also intimated in Joshua 24:1, where all the leaders of Israel had “presented themselves before God.”

Joshua 24:27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.

Joshua 24:28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.

Joshua 24:29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.

after these things. The last five verses of Joshua were obviously written by an unknown scribe living after “all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua” (Joshua 24:31). This in no way brings into question the divine inspiration of the writings themselves.

Joshua 24:30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.

Joshua 24:31 And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.

Joshua 24:32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

bones of Joseph. Joseph's dying request was thus finally fulfilled (Genesis 50:25; Exodus 13:19).

ground which Jacob bought. Compare Genesis 33:19; Acts 7:15-16. Abraham presumably had originally bought this property from Hamor, but in the long absence of Isaac and Jacob, the Shechemites had taken possession of it again. Jacob then repurchased it.

Joshua 24:33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.