Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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.Ch. Joshua 24:1-15. The Second Parting Address
1. And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel] that they might listen to his last charge, and be bound by his parting words to an everlasting covenant of faithfulness to the God who had done such great things for them. The former charge had been made to the rulers only and the chiefs, this was addressed to the whole nation. Not that the whole nation was present, but that all the tribes sent representatives to the great and solemn gathering.
to Shechem] The LXX. here has Shiloh, but all other versions and the MSS. read Shechem. No spot could have been more appropriate:—
(a) Here Abraham, “the solitary, childless patriarch, who had listened to the voice that spake at Ur of the Chaldees,” received the first recorded promise of the goodly land (Genesis 12:6-7), and here he built his first altar to the Lord;
(b) Here Jacob had settled after his long sojourn in Mesopotamia, and purified his household from the remains of idolatry by burying their Teraphim under an oak (Genesis 33:18-20; Genesis 35:2; Genesis 35:4);
(c) Here the bones of Joseph were laid (Joshua 24:32; Acts 7:16);
(d) Here, from the heights of Ebal and Gerizim, die blessings and curses of the Law had been solemnly enunciated, and the nation had already bound itself by a covenant to Jehovah (Joshua 8:30-35).
and they presented themselves before God] We saw in Joshua 8:31 that the Hebrew Leader raised an altar on Mount Ebal “of whole stones,” where sacrifices were offered before the building of the Tabernacle. Shechem was thus truly a “sanctuary of the Lord” (Joshua 24:26), and those now assembled there were gathered “before God;” comp. Job 1:6; Job 2:1, or, as it is in the Hebrew, with the article, “the God,” the only true and living Elohim. “How grand a gathering it was! There stood the victor in a hundred battles, now ‘old and stricken in age;’ for it was already ‘a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies.’ Before him was gathered all Israel, ‘their elders, their heads, their judges, and their officers,’ and he opened that mouth from which such words of might, and trust, and prayer had issued in the days of their troubles, and he spake to them what all felt to be his last counsels and commandments.” Bishop Wilberforce’s Heroes of Hebrew History, p. 132.
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.2. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel] The title is significant. It recurs in Joshua 24:23. Joshua recalls to the minds of the people the mercies of God as displayed in five great events:—
(i) The Call of Abraham;
(ii) The Deliverance from Egypt;
(iii) The Defeat of the Amorites on the east of the Jordan, and the frustration of the machinations of Balaam;
(iv) The Passage of the Jordan and Capture of Jericho;
(v) The Victories over all the nations of Canaan.
on the other side of the flood] Or better, on the other side of the river, i.e. the Euphrates, in Ur of the Chaldees, and then in Haran (Genesis 11:28; Genesis 11:31). “Biзond the flood,” Wyclif.
Terah] The ancestor, through Abram, Nahor, and Haran, of the great families of the Ishmaelites, Israelites, Midianites, Moabites, and Ammonites (Genesis 11:24-32). With his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai, and his grandson Lot, he went in a north-westerly direction from Ur “into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there” (Genesis 11:31), and at Haran he died at the age of 205 years (Genesis 11:32).
and they served other gods] The objects of nature, especially the heavenly bodies, were in those far-back times invested with a “glory” and a “freshness” which has long since “passed away” from the earth. They seemed to be instinct with a divinity which exercised an almost irresistible fascination over their first beholders. The sight of the “sun when it shined, and of the moon walking in brightness,” was a temptation as potent to them as to us it is inconceivable. “Their heart was secretly enticed, and their mouth kissed their hand” (Job 31:26-27). There was also another form of idolatry, though less universal in its influence. “There were giants on the earth in those days;” giants, if not actually, yet by their colossal strength and awful majesty; the Pharaohs and Nimrods, whose form we still trace on the ornaments of Egypt and Assyria in their gigantic proportions, the mighty hunters, the royal priests, the deified men. From the control of these powers, before which all meaner men bowed down, from the long ancestral prepossessions of ‘country and kindred and father’s house,’ the first worshippers of One who was above all alike, had painfully to disentangle themselves.” Stanley’s Jewish Church, Joshua 1:15-16. Of the worship of “images,” or “Teraphim,” we have traces in Genesis 31:19; Genesis 31:30; Genesis 31:34. Tradition asserts that Terah was a maker of idols, and that Abraham was persecuted in Ur of the Chaldees for refusing to take part in idolatries.
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.3. And I took] Joshua says nothing more of the life of Abraham than that Jehovah caused him to wander through the Land of Canaan, and finally gave him a son Isaac.
and gave him Isaac] Which means “Laughter” as one “born out of due time,” when Hope might have ceased to hope, and all fulfilment of the Promise seemed impossible. It was either at Gerar or Beersheba that Sarah gave birth to him (Genesis 21:2).
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.4. And I gave unto Isaac Jacob] After he too and Rebekah had been childless upwards of nineteen years.
Jacob] = he that holds by the heel, or supplanter (Genesis 25:26).
Esau] = hairy, rough; whose robust frame and rough aspect were the type of a wild and daring nature.
mount Seir] = “rough” or “rugged,” extended along the east side of the valley of Arabah, from the Dead Sea to the Elamitic Gulf. The name may either have been derived from Seir the Horite, who appears to have been the chief of the aboriginal inhabitants (Genesis 36:20), or, what is perhaps more probable, from the rough aspect of the whole country. These Horites, the excavators of those singular rock-dwellings found in such numbers in the ravines and cliffs around Petra, were dispossessed by the descendants of Esau (Deuteronomy 2:12; Deuteronomy 2:22), they were divided into tribes under a sheikh, or “duke” (Genesis 36:20-30).
but Jacob] who alone was to have Canaan for himself and his posterity, “went down into Egypt,” as is related in Genesis 45:1-28; Genesis 46:6; Acts 7:15.
I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.5. I sent Moses also and Aaron] Comp. Exodus 3:10. This is the second proof of the Divine favour, the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. The chief incidents of this great event are succinctly alluded to; (1) the mission of Moses and Aaron; (2) the infliction of the plagues upon Egypt; (3) the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea.
I plagued Egypt] See Exodus 7-12. “Y smoot Egipt with many signes and wondris,” Wyclif. (1) The turning the water into blood; (2) frogs; (3) lice, or gnats; (4) flies; (5) murrain; (6) boils and blains; (7) thunder, lightning, and hail; (8) locusts; (9) darkness; (10) slaying of the firstborn.
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.6. And I brought your fathers] Comp. Exodus 12:37-42; Exodus 12:51.
and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers] Astonished that they had not made good their flight into Asia, and deeming them entangled in the land and shut in by the wilderness, the Egyptian monarch directed all his forces, his horses and his chariots, to give chase to the fugitives (Exodus 14:9).
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.7. when they cried unto the Lord] The Israelites were encamped on the western shore of the Red Sea, when suddenly a cry of alarm ran through the vast multitude. Over the ridges of the desert hills were seen the well-known horses, the terrible chariots of the Egyptian host; “Pharaoh pursued after the children of Israel, and they were sore afraid.”
he put darkness] “He settide derknessis bitwix зou and Egipcians,” Wyclif. A grand, poetical description. In the midst of the terror and perplexity of the Israelites the Angel of God, who went before them in the pillar of cloud and fire, stationed himself behind them so as to deepen the gloom in which the Egyptians were advancing, and afford light and encouragement to the Israelites. Comp. Exodus 14:20; Psalm 78:12-14.
and brought the sea upon them] Determined to prevent the escape of their prey, the Egyptians had rushed on amidst the pitchy darkness that surrounded them into the pass between the walls of water standing up on either side of the Chosen People, but the hand of Moses was uplifted, and straightway the waters began to break and give way, and the sea to return in his strength. The engulphing waves closed over them; all efforts to escape were fruitless; horse and chariot and horseman “sank like lead in the mighty waters” (Exodus 15:10).
and covered them] “And hilide hem,” Wyclif. A good illustration of the meaning of the A. S. hélen = to cover, conceal, whence the word Hell, the covered place, the invisible underworld.
your eyes have seen] The trembling panic-stricken host stood still and saw “the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13), and the great work which He did upon the Egyptians (Exodus 14:31).
a long season] Even forty years, a year for each day the spies had been engaged in searching out the land” (Numbers 14:33-34), during which time every one of the generation from twenty years old and upwards died, and their carcases lay bleaching in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:5; Hebrews 3:17).
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.8. And I brought you] The third proof of God’s favour is here indicated; (a) the victory of the nation over the Amorites, and (b) the frustrating of Balaam’s purposed curse.
the land of the Amorites] For the meaning of this name see above, ch. Joshua 3:10. Tempted by the rich pasture lands east of the Jordan, a colony of the Amorities appears to have crossed it, and having driven the Moabites with great slaughter and the loss of many captives from the country south of the Jabbok (Numbers 21:26-29), they made the wide chasm of the Arnon file boundary of their territory. The Amorite chief Sihon made Heshbon his capital; while Og, of the giant race of the Rephaim, entrenched himself in the wonderful district called Argob, or “the stony.” See above, ch. Joshua 12:4.
and they fought with you] having refused the request of the Israelitish leader for a peaceful passage through their territory (Numbers 21:33).
I destroyed them from before you] Sihon himself, his sons, and all his people, were smitten with the sword, his walled towns were captured, and his numerous flocks and herds taken (Numbers 21:27-30), while Og was utterly routed, and his threescore cities fenced with high walls, gates and bars, besides unwalled towns a great many, fell into the hands of the Israelites (Numbers 21:33-35). Long afterwards the subjugation of these great kings, famous kings, mighty kings, was deemed worthy of being ranked with the deliverance from Egypt. See Psalm 135:10-12; Psalm 136:15-21.
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:9. Then Balak the son of Zippor] He is also mentioned in Jdg 11:25; Micah 6:5; Revelation 2:14. The Israelites were at this time encamped in the plains of Shittim, “the meadow of the Acacias.”
and warred against Israel] In conjunction with the Midianites (Numbers 22:1 ss).
sent and called Balaam] (Numbers 22:5) from Pethor, far away from the encampment of the Israelites, beyond the Euphrates, among the mountains of the east, whence his fame had spread, across the Assyrian desert, to the shores of the Dead Sea. “As warrior chief (by that combination of soldier and prophet already seen in Moses himself) he ranked with the five kings of Midian” (Numbers 31:8).
to curse you] For he was regarded throughout the whole East as a Prophet, whose blessing or whose curse was irresistible. Balak, who lacked the courage to meet the Israelites in arms, thought to lay upon them the powerful ban of the mighty seer. “Even at the present day the pagan Orientals, in their wars, have always their magicians with them to curse their enemies, and to mutter incantations for their ruin. In our own war with the Burmese, the generals of the natives had several magicians with them, who were much engaged in cursing our troops.” Kitto’s Bible Illustr. ii. 214.
But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.10. I would not hearken unto Balaam] See Deuteronomy 23:5. Twice, across the whole length of the Assyrian desert, the messengers of Balak, with the Oriental bribes of divination in their hands, were sent to conjure forth the prophet from his distant home. Three times the altars were built and the victims slain, but each time the seer found himself unable to comply with the wishes of the king; he could not curse him whom God had not cursed, or defy him whom Jehovah had not defied.
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.11. And ye went over Jordan] The fourth proof of the Divine favour: (a) the Passage of the Jordan, and (b) capture of Jericho; and the fifth (c) the victory over the Canaanites.
the men of Jericho] i. e. the citizens of Jericho. Comp. Jdg 9:2-3, “the men of Shechem;” Jdg 20:5, “the men of Gibeah;” 2 Samuel 21:12, “the men of Jabesh-gilead.”
the Amorites] On this enumeration of the nations, see above, ch. Joshua 3:10.
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.12. And I sent the hornet before you] “Misique ante vos crabrones” Vulg.: “And I sent before зou hors fleeзis,” Wyclif, or “flies with venemouse tongis.” In Exodus 23:28, we find it predicted “And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee;” and in Deuteronomy 7:20, “Moreover the Lord thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed.” Elsewhere the bees appear as an image of terrible foes. Comp. Deuteronomy 1:44, “And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.” Psalm 118:12, “They compassed me about like bees” Not only were bees exceedingly numerous in Palestine, but hornets in particular infested some parts of the country. Some would understand the word here in its literal sense, but it more probably expresses under a vivid image the consternation, with which Jehovah would inspire the enemies of the Israelites. Comp. Deuteronomy 2:25; Joshua 2:11.
not with thy sword] Compare the same thought in Psalm 44:3.
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.13. cities which ye built not] All this happened as Jehovah had promised, Deuteronomy 6:10.
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.14. Now therefore fear the Lord] Comp. Job 28:28, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding;” Psalm 2:11, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling;” Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
in sincerity and in truth] “with perfite herte and most trewe,” Wyclif. The Greek word here rendered “sincerity” in the LXX. occurs also in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “let us keep the feast … with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth;” 2 Corinthians 1:12, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity … we have had our conversation in the world;” 2 Corinthians 2:17, “but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” The Latin word from which our “sincerity” comes, denotes “honey without wax,” unmixed purity. The Greek word is considered by some to be founded on the idea of something held up in the rays of the sun, and proved to be without speck or flaw.
put away the gods which your fathers served] Two epochs of ancestral idolatry are here alluded to; (a) on the other side of the flood, i. e. the Euphrates, in Mesopotamia; and (b) in Egypt. Some have supposed that the expression alludes to idolatry “in the heart,” but this is untenable. (i) In Leviticus 17:7 we read, “they (the people) shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring.” (ii) Again in Amos 5:25-26, quoted by St Stephen in his address before the Sanhedrim (Acts 7:42-43), “Have ye offered (= did ye offer) unto Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.” (iii) Once more, in Ezekiel 20:6-8 we read, “In the day that I lifted up my hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt … then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt … but they rebelled against Me, and would not hearken unto Me; they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt.” Joshua’s words plainly imply his sad conviction that there were still idolaters amongst them in secret, as there were in the days of Jacob before him, Genesis 35:2, and of Samuel after him, 1 Samuel 7:3, seq.
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.15. choose you this day] Like Elijah afterwards on Carmel (1 Kings 18:21), the Hebrew leader challenges the people with the utmost freedom to decide once for all that day whom they would serve. He gives them their choice between the old worship of Penates or household gods practised by their fathers, and the Baal-worship of the Amorites, if they would not serve Jehovah, Who had brought them out of Egypt.
as for me and my house] Whatever may be the decision of the people, Joshua tells them what he and his family are resolved to do. “I and my house will serve Jehovah.” Compare the words of the Lord respecting Abraham, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment,” Genesis 18:19.
And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;16–24. Reply of the People to Joshua’s Address
16. And the people answered and said] Struck by the solemn earnestness of the address of their leader, the entire people, with one voice, responded to his call by loud and hearty declarations of their determined faithfulness to their covenant with Jehovah.
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:17. for the Lord our God, he it is] The people ground their promises of fidelity for the future on the dealings of God with them in the past, (i) their deliverance from Egypt; (ii) the great signs wrought in that land; (iii) their preservation in the wilderness; (iv) the expulsion of the Amorites.
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.
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.19. Ye cannot serve the Lord] Joshua checks their hasty impulsiveness and confident protestation of fidelity, by reminding them of the difficulty involved in serving Jehovah aright; and he specially would have them dwell on (i) His holiness, and (ii) His jealousy. His words remind us of our Lord’s warnings in the Sermon on the Mount, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
he is a holy God] Comp. Leviticus 19:2; 1 Samuel 6:20; Psalm 99:5; Psalm 99:9; Isaiah 5:16. Holiness is the principle that guards the eternal distinction between Creator and creature, between God and man; it preserves the Divine dignity and majesty from being infringed by the Divine love; it eternally excludes everything evil and impure from the Divine nature. Comp. Isaiah 6:3, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts.” See Martensen’s Christian Dogmatics, pp. 99, 100. The plural Elohim, here used, “directs attention to the infinite riches and infinite fulness contained in the one Divine Being, and therefore to the fact that, if we were to believe in innumerable gods, and endow them with perfection, they would still all be contained in the one Elohim.” Hengstenberg.
he is a jealous God] “Deus enim sanctus et fortis æmulator est,” Vulgate. “A strong feruent loouyere,” Wyclif. Numerous passages in the Prophets bring out the idea of God as One, Who requires of His people, whom He has married, the unbroken fidelity of marriage, and punishes most inflexibly any attachment to another god, any departure from Him, whilst He continues His blessings upon love and fidelity even to distant generations. Comp. Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 16:22; Ezekiel 16:60; Ezekiel 23:3; Ezekiel 23:8; Ezekiel 23:19; Hosea 2:16. “The Divine zeal is just the energy of Divine holiness. His jealousy turns especially against (1) idolatry, and (2) all sin, by which His holy Name is desecrated.” Oehler’s Theology of the Old Testament, i. 166, 167.
he will not forgive] Compare the words of God to Moses respecting the Angel of the Covenant, “Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for My Name is in him,” Exodus 23:21; and comp. Numbers 14:35; Deuteronomy 18:19; Jeremiah 5:7. Forgiveness is conditional on repentance and amendment of life.
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.20. then he will turn] He will turn round; He will alter His attitude towards you. “Convertet se et affliget vos atque subvertet,” Vulgate. “The Lord schal turne hym silf, and schal turment зou,” Wyclif. Comp. Joshua 23:15; Isaiah 63:10.
after that he hath done you good] i.e. without any regard to the fact that He hath done you good, and poured His benefits upon you.
And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.21. Nay; but we will] The people repeat their protestations of fidelity to Jehovah, and vow to serve Him with sincerity.
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.22. Ye are witnesses against yourselves] Clearly and unmistakeably the people had declared that they had chosen the service of Jehovah. By so doing, in the event of their falling away, they would condemn themselves by their own evidence, and would be obliged to admit that Jehovah had a right to punish them for their unfaithfulness.
We are witnesses] Literally, Witnesses are we against ourselves.
Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.23. Now therefore put away] “Now thanne, he said, do зe awey alien goddis fro the middil of зou,” Wyclif. He again reverts to their secret practice of idolatry. Comp. Genesis 35:2; 1 Samuel 7:3.
And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.24. And the people said] For the third time (comp. Joshua 24:16; Joshua 24:21) the representatives of the nation avow that they will serve Jehovah and hearken only to His voice.
So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.25–28. Solemn Renewal of the Covenant
25. So Joshua made a covenant] “Percussit ergo Josue in die illo fœdus,” Vulgate. “Thanne Josue smoot a boond of pees,” Wyclif. A covenant had been concluded by God on Sinai with Israel (Exodus 19:20) and solemnly ratified with
(a) burnt-offerings and peace-offerings at the foot of the mount;
(b) the reading of every word of the Law in the ears of the people;
(c) the sprinkling of one half of the blood of the victims on the altars and the roll containing the covenant conditions, and the other half on the people (Exodus 24:3-8; Hebrews 9:19-20).
This covenant Moses had renewed in “the field” of Moab (Deuteronomy 29:1), with
(a) a transcription of the blessings and curses of the Law;
(b) a solemn delivery of it to the priests, to be placed beside the Ark in the Holy of Holies, and to be read, in the hearing of all the people, once every seven years, at the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:9-11; Deuteronomy 31:25-26).
Joshua, who had been present at the ratification of both the previous covenants, renews it now, and doubtless with august ceremonial.
and set them a statute] “And settide forth to зe puple comaundementis and domes in Sichen,” Wyclif. Comp. Exodus 15:25. He determined and established “what in matters of religion should be with Israel law and right.”
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.26. And Joshua wrote] As Moses at Sinai wrote all the words that Jehovah had spoken in a book, probably a papyrus-roll (Exodus 24:4), so Joshua now inscribed “minutes” of the transactions connected with this renewal of the covenant at Shechem.
in the book of the law of God] This protocol he placed inside the roll of the Law of Moses.
and took a great stone] Like
(a) The stone which Jacob set up at Bethel (Genesis 28:18);
(b) The pillar of stones which the same patriarch set up on his return from Padan-aram (Genesis 31:44-46);
(c) The twelve pillars which Moses set up at Sinai (Exodus 24:4);
(d) The twelve stones set up to mark the passage of the Jordan (Joshua 4:3).
under an oak] Or rather, under the oak which was in the sanctuary of Jehovah. See above, ch. Joshua 24:1. “This spot, called in Genesis 12:6 and Genesis 35:4, ‘Allon-Moreh,’ ‘the oak of Moreh’ or of Shechem, is called by the Samaritans Ahron-Moreh, ‘the Ark of Moreh,’ from a supposition that in a vault underneath is buried the Ark. The Mussulmans call it ‘Rigad el Amad,’ ‘the place of the Pillar,’ or ‘Sheykh-el-Amad,’ ‘the Saint of the Pillar.’ ” Stanley’s Lectures, i. 280, n. Possibly beside the old consecrated oak of Abraham and Jacob their altar was still remaining, and it is to be remembered that Joshua himself had built an altar on Mount Ebal, and therefore close to Shechem (Joshua 8:30). Thus many reasons conspired to give a sacred character to “the border of the sanctuary,” the mountain “which the right hand of the Lord had purchased” (Psalm 78:54) at Shechem.
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.27. this stone shall be a witness] So in Genesis 31:48; Genesis 31:52, Laban says to Jacob, “This heap is a witness between me and thee this day;” and in Deuteronomy 31:19; Deuteronomy 31:21; Deuteronomy 31:26, Moses says, “Write ye this song for you … that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.”
for it hath heard] By a poetical prosopopœia Joshua describes the stone as hearing the words of God, since it had been set up for the purpose of reminding the people of the promise which they had made unto the Lord, and, in case they should be unfaithful, of bearing witness against them.
lest ye deny your God] “Ne forte postea negare velitis et mentiri Domino Deo vestro,” Vulgate. “Lest perauenture зe wolden denye aftirward, and lye to зoure Lord God,” Wyclif. Comp. Joshua 7:11 (Heb.); Job 31:28; Proverbs 30:9; Leviticus 19:11-12.
So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.28. let the people depart] On the breaking up of this august assembly every man returned to the lot of his inheritance in the newly acquired and goodly Land of Promise. For the section to Joshua 24:31 comp. Jdg 2:6-10. “Nothing can be conceived more impressive or more sublime than the circumstances of this last public interview of the aged Leader with the people whom he had put in possession of the goodly land of Canaan, and who had so often followed him in his victorious path. In the midst of the elders, the chiefs, and magistrates of Israel; surrounded by a respectful people, formerly bondsmen of Pharaoh, but now in possession of a rich and beautiful country, and the sole survivors of an untoward generation, their illustrious and venerable commander—the oldest man in all their nation—spoke to them as to his sons. And of what did he speak? He was a soldier, and his career had been essentially military; but he spoke to them, not of conquest—the sound of the trumpet and the gleam of the sword cannot be recognised in his address—but of the holiness and the obedience which become the people chosen of God. It is such a discourse as a patriarch might have given upon his deathbed, or a prophet might have uttered from the valley of vision.”—Kitto’s Bible Illustrations, ii. 314.
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.29–33. Death of Joshua and Eleazar
29. And it came to pass] With the close of Joshua’s parting address comes the close also of his own life. The historian proceeds to bring the book to a conclusion, and tells us of (i) the death of Joshua; (ii) the conduct of the people after his death; (iii) the burial of the remains of Joseph, which had been brought out of Egypt; (iv) the death of Eleazar the high-priest.
Joshua … the servant of the Lord, died] His work was now over. His work of war, and his work of peace. His age when he died was precisely that which Joseph reached (Genesis 50:26), a hundred and ten years.
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.30. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah] For the probable site of this spot, see above, Joshua 19:50. A photograph brought out by the “Palestine Exploration Committee” gives a representation of the tomb of Joshua. “It is certainly the most striking monument in the country,” says Lieut. Conder, “and strongly recommends itself to the mind as an authentic site.” The tomb is a square chamber, with five excavations in three of its sides, the central one forming a passage leading into a second chamber beyond. A great number of lamp-niches cover the walls of the porch—upwards of 200—arranged in vertical rows. A single cavity with a niche for a lamp may be identified, it is thought, with the resting-place of the warrior-chief of Israel.
the hill of Gaash] This mountain is also mentioned in Jdg 2:9; 2 Samuel 23:30; 1 Chronicles 11:32. The Alexandrine and Arabic versions have appended to Joshua 24:30 the traditionary legend that the knives of stone, with which Joshua performed the rite of circumcision at Gilgal, were buried with him.
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.31. And Israel served the Lord] The remarks here made as to the conduct of the nation after the death of Joshua are quite in keeping with the design of the book. They afford “evidence of the fruit, which resulted from Joshua’s faithful activity for the Lord in Israel.” “As on the dark sky when some flashing meteor has swept across it with a path of fire, there remains still after the glory has departed a lingering line of light, so was it with this mighty man, glorious in life, and leaving even after he was gone, the record of his abundant faithfulness still to hold for a season heavenward the too wandering eyes of Israel.”—Bp Wilberforce’s Heroes of Hebrew History, p. 154.
that overlived Joshua] Heb. that prolonged their days after Joshua. Comp. Jdg 2:7, margin.
all the works of the Lord] in the delivery of the nation from Egyptian bondage, their guidance through the desert, and their settlement in the Promised Land.
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.32. And the bones of Joseph] For the careful instructions of this patriarch respecting his remains, see Genesis 50:24-25; and for their careful removal from Egypt by Moses, see Exodus 13:19.
brought up out of Egypt] The body of the patriarch was embalmed, and placed in an Egyptian coffin. The sacred burden had been borne by the two tribes of the house of Joseph all through the wanderings of the wilderness, and was now reverently laid
in a parcel of ground] which Jacob had bought for a hundred pieces of silver, of the sons of Hamor (Genesis 33:19), and given “to the favourite son of his favourite Rachel.”
an hundred pieces of silver] or lambs, “for an hundrid yonge scheep,” Wyclif. See Genesis 33:19, margin; but comp. Acts 7:16.
and it became] i. e. the plot of ground, as well as Shechem.
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.33. Eleazar the son of Aaron] It seems probable that Eleazar had died during the lifetime of Joshua. He was the third son of Aaron, by Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab. After the death of Nadab and Abihu without children (Leviticus 10:1-2; Numbers 3:4), Eleazar was appointed chief over the principal Levites. He comes before us
(a) Ministering with his brother Ithamar during their father’s lifetime.
(b) Invested on Mount Hor, as the successor of Aaron, with the sacred garments (Numbers 20:28).
(c) Superintending the census of the people (Numbers 26:3-4).
(d) Taking part in the distribution of the Land after the conquest (Joshua 14:1).
and they buried him in a hill] “Et sepelierunt eum in Gabaath-Phinees filii ejus,” Vulgate, which Wyclif curiously mistranslates “and Phynees and his sones birieden him in Gabaa.”
in a hill] The word here employed for “hill” is “Gibeah,” which gives its name to several towns and places in Palestine, which would doubtless be generally on or near a hill. This place was Gibeah-Phinehas, the city of his son, which had been given to the latter on Mount Ephraim. Robinson identifies it with the Gaba of Eusebius and Jerome, and the modern Chirbet Jibia, 5 miles north of Guphna, towards Nablûs or Shechem. “His tomb is still shewn in a little close overshadowed by venerable terebinths, at Awertah, a few miles S. E. of Nablûs.” Stanley’s Lectures, i. 281, n.