|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
24:15-28 It is essential that the service of God's people be performed with a willing mind. For LOVE is the only genuine principle whence all acceptable service of God can spring. The Father seeks only such to worship him, as worship him in spirit and in truth. The carnal mind of man is enmity against God, therefore, is not capable of such spiritual worship. Hence the necessity of being born again. But numbers rest in mere forms, as tasks imposed upon them. Joshua puts them to their choice; but not as if it were indifferent whether they served God or not. Choose you whom ye will serve, now the matter is laid plainly before you. He resolves to do this, whatever others did. Those that are bound for heaven, must be willing to swim against the stream. They must not do as the most do, but as the best do. And no one can behave himself as he ought in any station, who does not deeply consider his religious duties in family relations. The Israelites agree with Joshua, being influenced by the example of a man who had been so great a blessing to them; We also will serve the Lord. See how much good great men do, by their influence, if zealous in religion. Joshua brings them to express full purpose of heart to cleave to the Lord. They must come off from all confidence in their own sufficiency, else their purposes would be in vain. The service of God being made their deliberate choice, Joshua binds them to it by a solemn covenant. He set up a monument of it. In this affecting manner Joshua took his last leave of them; if they perished, their blood would be upon their own heads. Though the house of God, the Lord's table, and even the walls and trees before which we have uttered our solemn purposes of serving him, would bear witness against us if we deny him, yet we may trust in him, that he will put his fear into our hearts, that we shall not depart from him. God alone can give grace, yet he blesses our endeavours to engage men to his service.
Verse 26. - And Joshua wrote these words. Or, these things, since the word (see note on Joshua 22:24; 23:15) has often this signification. Joshua no doubt recorded, not the whole history of his campaigns and the rest of the contents of what is now called the Book of Joshua, but the public ratification of the Mosaic covenant which had now been made. This he added to his copy of the book of the law, as a memorial to later times. The covenant had been ratified with solemn ceremonies at its first promulgation (Exodus 24:3-8). At the end of Moses' ministry he once more reaffirmed its provisions, reminding them of the curses pronounced on all who should disobey its provisions, and adding, as an additional memorial of the occasion, the sublime song contained in Deuteronomy 32. (see Deuteronomy 21:19, 22). Joshua was present on this occasion, and the dying lawgiver charged him to undertake the conquest of the premised land, and to maintain the observance of the law among the people of God. Hitherto, however, God's promise had not been fulfilled. It seems only natural that when Israel had obtained peaceful possession of the land sworn unto their fathers, and before they were left to His unseen guidance, they should once more be publicly reminded of the conditions on which they enjoyed the inheritance. It may be remarked that, although Joshua's addendum to the book of the law has not come down to us, yet that it covers the principle of such additions, and explains how, at the death of Moses, a brief account of his death and burial should be appended by authority to the volume containing the law itself. The last chapter of Deuteronomy is, in fact, the official seal set upon the authenticity of the narrative, as the words added here were the official record of the law of Moses, having been adopted as the code of jurisprudence in the land. And took a great stone (see notes on Joshua 4:2, 9). An oak. Perhaps the terebinth. So the LXX. (see note on ver. 1). The tree, no doubt, under which Jacob had hid the teraphim of his household. This was clearly one of the reasons for which the place was chosen. By the sanctuary. Keil denies that בְּ ever means near. It is difficult to understand how he can do this with so many passages against him (see Joshua 5:13; 1 Samuel 29:1; Ezekiel 10:15). He wishes to avoid the idea of the sanctuary being at Shechem.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Joshua wrote these words,.... Which had passed between him and the people:
in the book of the law of God; written by Moses, and which he ordered to be put in the side of the ark, and that being now present, the book could be easily taken out, and these words inserted in it, Deuteronomy 31:26,
and took a great stone: on which also might be inscribed the same words:
and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord; or "in it" (a); that is, in the field or place where the ark was, which made it sacred, and upon which account the place was called a sanctuary, or an holy place; for there is no need to say that the tabernacle or sanctuary itself was brought hither, only the ark; and much less can it be thought that an oak should be in it; though it was not improbable, that had it been thither brought, it might have been placed under, or by an oak, as we render it; and it is a tradition of the Jews, which both Jarchi and Kimchi make mention of, that this was the same oak under which Jacob hid the strange gods of his family in Shechem, Genesis 35:4; Mr. Mede (b) is of opinion that neither ark nor tabernacle were here, but that by "sanctuary" is meant a "proseucha", or place for prayer; such an one as in later times was near Shechem, as Epiphanius (c) relates, built by the Samaritans in imitation of the Jews; but it is a question whether there were any such places so early as the times of Joshua, nor is it clear that such are ever called sanctuaries.
(a) "in sanctuario", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Vatasblus, Junius & Tremellius. (b) Discourse 18. p. 66. (c) Contr. Haeres. l. 3. tom. 2. Haeres. 80.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
26. Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God—registered the engagements of that solemn covenant in the book of sacred history.
took a great stone—according to the usage of ancient times to erect stone pillars as monuments of public transactions.
set it up there under an oak—or terebinth, in all likelihood, the same as that at the root of which Jacob buried the idols and charms found in his family.
that was by the sanctuary of the Lord—either the spot where the ark had stood, or else the place around, so called from that religious meeting, as Jacob named Beth-el the house of God.
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