Joshua 24:2
And Joshua said to all the people, Thus said the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelled 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.
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Joshua 24:2. Joshua said unto all the people — To the elders, by whom it was to be imparted to all the rest, and to as many of the people as came thither. He spake to them in God’s name, and as from him, in the language of a prophet. Thus saith the Lord — Jehovah, the great God, and the God of Israel, whom you are peculiarly bound to hear. This is an argument that he uttered all that follows by the divine inspiration and impulse. Indeed he was no less the prophet than the political head of the nation. Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood — Or, the river, namely, Euphrates, so called by way of eminence. They served other gods — That is, both Abraham and Nahor were no less idolaters than the rest of mankind. This is said to prevent their vain boasting in their worthy ancestors, and to assure them that whatsoever good was in, or had been done by their progenitors, was wholly from God’s free grace, and not for their own merit or righteousness.24:1-14 We must never think our work for God done, till our life is done. If he lengthen out our days beyond what we expected, like those of Joshua, it is because he has some further service for us to do. He who aims at the same mind which was in Christ Jesus, will glory in bearing the last testimony to his Saviour's goodness, and in telling to all around, the obligations with which the unmerited goodness of God has bound him. The assembly came together in a solemn religious manner. Joshua spake to them in God's name, and as from him. His sermon consists of doctrine and application. The doctrinal part is a history of the great things God had done for his people, and for their fathers before them. The application of this history of God's mercies to them, is an exhortation to fear and serve God, in gratitude for his favour, and that it might be continued.The other side of the flood - Better "On the other side of the river," i. e. the Euphrates. See the marginal reference.

They served other gods - Possibly the "images," or teraphim, which we find their ancestor Laban calling "his gods" (see the marginal reference); and of which it would seem that there were, as Joshua spoke, some secret devotees among the people Joshua 24:14, Joshua 24:25. It is not stated that Abraham himself was an idolater, though his fathers were. Jewish tradition asserts that Abraham while in Ur of the Chaldees was persecuted for his abhorrence of idolatry, and hence, was called away by God from his native land. The reference in the text to the original state of those who were the forefathers of the nation, is made to show that they were no better than others: God chose them not for their excellences but of His own mere motion.

Jos 24:2-13. Relates God's Benefits.

2. Joshua said unto all the people—His address briefly recapitulated the principal proofs of the divine goodness to Israel from the call of Abraham to their happy establishment in the land of promise; it showed them that they were indebted for their national existence as well as their peculiar privileges, not to any merits of their own, but to the free grace of God.

Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood—The Euphrates, namely, at Ur.

Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor—(see Ge 11:27). Though Terah had three sons, Nahor only is mentioned with Abraham, as the Israelites were descended from him on the mother's side through Rebekah and her nieces, Leah and Rachel.

served other gods—conjoining, like Laban, the traditional knowledge of the true God with the domestic use of material images (Ge 31:19, 34).

Unto all the people, i.e. that people which were present, to wit, to the elders, &c., by whom it was to be imparted to all the rest, and to as many of the people as came thither.

The flood, or, the river, to wit, Euphrates, as all agree; so called by way of eminency.

They served other gods, i.e. both Abraham and Nahor were no less idolaters than the rest of mankind. This is said to prevent their vain boasting in their worthy ancestors, and to assure them that whatsoever good was in or had been done by their progenitors, was wholly born God’s free grace, and not for their own merit or righteousness, as the Jews were very apt to conceit. And Joshua said unto all the people,.... Then present, or to all Israel by their representatives:

thus saith the Lord God of Israel; he spoke to them in the name of the Lord, as the prophet did, being himself a prophet, and at this time under a divine impulse, and spirit of prophecy. According to an Arabic writer (w): the Angel of God appeared in the form of a man, and with a loud voice delivered the following, though they are expressed by him in a different manner; perhaps he mean, the Captain of the Lord's host, Joshua 15:13; and which is not unlikely:

your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time; on the offer side the, river Euphrates; so the Targum,"beyond Perat;''i.e. Euphrates; in Mesopotamia and Chaldea; meaning not the remotest of their ancestors, Noah and Shem, but the more near, and who are expressly named:

even Terah the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor; the Israelites sprung from Terah, in the line of Abraham, on the father's side, and from him in the line of Nachor on the mother's side, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel, being of Nachor's family:

and they served other gods; besides the true God, strange gods, which were no gods: "idols"; the idols of the people, as the Targum; so did Terah, Abraham, and Nachor; See Gill on Genesis 11:26; See Gill on Genesis 11:28; See Gill on Genesis 12:1.

(w) Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 35.

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

(c) Euphrates in Mesopotamia, Ge 11:26.

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.Verse 2. - All the people (see note on Joshua 23:2). The Lord God of Israel. Rather, Jehovah, the God of Israel (see Exodus 3:13). Until the vision to Moses, the God of Israel had no distinctive name. After that time Jehovah was the recognised name of the God of Israel, as Chemosh of the Moabites, Milcom of the Ammonites, Baal of the Phoenicians. Our translation, "the Lord," somewhat obscures this. Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood. Rather, of the river. Euphrates is meant, on the other side of which (see, however, note on last verse) lay Ur of the Chaldees. It is worthy of notice that there is no evidence of the growth of a myth in the narrative here. We have a simple abstract of the history given us in the Pentateuch, without the slightest addition, and certainly without the invention of any further miraculous details. All this goes to establish the position that we have here a simple unvarnished history of what occurred. The manufacture of prodigies, as every mythical history, down to the biographies of Dominic and Francis, tells us, is a process that cannot stand still. Each successive narrator deems it to be his duty to embellish his narrative with fresh marvels. Compare this with the historical abridgment before us, and we must at least acknowledge that we are in the presence of phenomena of a very different ruder. Professor Goldziher has argued, in his 'Mythology among the Hebrews,' that Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob are solar myths, such as we find in immense abundance in Cox's 'Aryan Mythology.' Abraham (father of height)is the nightly sky. Sarah (princess) is the moon. Isaac (he shall laugh) is the smiling sunset or dawn. It would be difficult to find any history which, by an exercise of similar ingenuity, might not be resolved into myths. Napoleon Bonaparte, for instance, might be resolved into the rushing onset of the conqueror who was never defeated. The retreat from Moscow is a solar myth of the most obvious description. The battle of Bull's Run is clearly so named from the cowardice displayed there by the sons of John Bull. It is remarked by Mr. Tomkins that Ur, the city of the moon god, lends itself most naturally to the fabricator of myths. There is only one objection to the theory, and that is the bricks, still in existence, stamped with the words Urn, which compel us to descend from this delightful cloud land of fancy to the more sober regions of solid and literal fact (see 'Studies on the Times of Abraham,' pp. 205-207). In old time. Literally, from everlasting, i.e, from time immemorial, ἀπ ἄρχης. The Rabbinic tradition has great probability in it, that Abraham was driven out of his native country for refusing to worship idols. It is difficult to understand his call otherwise. No doubt his great and pure soul had learned to abhor the idolatrous and cruel worship of his countrymen. By inward struggles, perhaps by the vague survival of the simpler and truer faith which has been held to underlie every polytheistic system, he had "reached a purer air," and learned to adore the One True God. His family were led to embrace his doctrines, and they left their native land with him. But Haran, with its star worship, was no resting place for him. So he journeyed on westward, leaving the society of men, and preserving himself from temptation by his nomad life. No wandering Bedouin, as some would have us believe (see Drew, 'Scripture Lands,' p. 18), but a prince, on equal terms with Abimelech and Pharaoh, and capable of overthrowing the mighty conqueror of Elam. Such an example might well be brought to the memory of his descendants, who were now to be sojourners in the land promised to their father. Guided by conscience alone, with every external influence against him, he had worshipped the true God in that land. No better argument could be offered to his descendants, when settled in that same land, and about to be bereft of that valuable support which they had derived from the life and influence of Joshua. For this reason the Lord had driven out great and strong nations before the Israelites, so that no one was able to stand before them. The first hemistich points to the fulfilment of Deuteronomy 4:38; Deuteronomy 7:1; Deuteronomy 9:1; Deuteronomy 11:23; the second to that of Deuteronomy 7:24; Deuteronomy 11:25. ואתּם is placed at the beginning absolutely. - In Joshua 23:10, the blessing of fidelity to the law which Israel had hitherto experienced, is described, as in Deuteronomy 32:30, upon the basis of the promise in Leviticus 26:7-8, and Deuteronomy 28:7, and in Joshua 23:10 the thought of Joshua 23:3 is repeated. To this there is attached, in Joshua 23:11-13, the admonition to take heed for the sake of their souls (cf. Deuteronomy 4:15), to love the Lord their God (on the love of God as the sum of the fulfilment of the law, see Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12; Deuteronomy 11:13). For if they turned, i.e., gave up the faithfulness they had hitherto displayed towards Jehovah, and attached themselves to the remnant of these nations, made marriages with them, and entered into fellowship with them, which the Lord had expressly forbidden (Exodus 34:12-15; Deuteronomy 7:3), let them know that the Lord their God would not cut off these nations before them any more, but that they would be a snare and destruction to them. This threat is founded upon such passages of the law as Exodus 23:33; Deuteronomy 7:16, and more especially Numbers 33:55. The figure of a trap, which is employed here (see Exodus 10:7), is still further strengthened by פּח, a snare (cf. Isaiah 8:14-15). Shotet, a whip or scourge, an emphatic form of the word derived from the poel of שׁוּט, only occurs here. "Scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes" (see Numbers 33:55). Joshua crowds his figures together to depict the misery and oppression which would be sure to result from fellowship with the Canaanites, because, from his knowledge of the fickleness of the people, and the wickedness of the human heart in its natural state, he could foresee that the apostasy of the nation from the Lord, which Moses had foretold, would take place but too quickly; as it actually did, according to Judges 2:3., in the very next generation. The words "until ye perish," etc., resume the threat held out by Moses in Deuteronomy 11:17 (cf. Josh Deu 28:21.).
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