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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God.—Primarily “these words” appear to refer to the transaction just recorded. But it must be observed that this is also the second signature among the sacred writers of the Old Testament. The first is that of Moses, in Deuteronomy 31:9 : “Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests,” &c. The next signature after Joshua’s is that of Samuel (1Samuel 10:25): “Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in the [not a] book, and laid it up before the Lord.” We have here a clue to the authorship of the Old Testament, and to the view of the writers who succeeded Moses in what they did. They did not look upon themselves as writers of distinct books, but as authorised to add their part to the book already written, to write what was assigned to them “in the book of the law of God.” The unity of Holy Scripture is thus seen to have been an essential feature of the Bible from the very first.

Joshua 24:26. Joshua wrote these words — Namely, this covenant, or agreement of the people with the Lord. In the book of the law of God — That is, in the volume which was kept in the ark, (Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:26,) whence it was taken and put into this book of Joshua; this he did for the perpetual remembrance of this great and solemn action, to lay the greater obligation upon the people to be true to their engagement; and as a witness for God against the people, if afterward he punished them for their defection from him, to whom they had so solemnly and freely obliged themselves. Set it up — As a witness and monument of this great transaction, according to the custom of those ancient times. Possibly this agreement was written upon this stone, as was then usual; under an oak that was by the sanctuary — That is, near the place where the ark and tabernacle then were; for though they were forbidden to plant a grove of trees near unto the altar, as the Gentiles did, yet they might for a time set up an altar, or place the ark, near a great tree which had been planted there before.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.Consult the marginal references.

That was by the sanctuary of the Lord - i. e. the spot where Abraham and Jacob had sacrificed and worshipped, and which might well be regarded by their posterity as a holy place or sanctuary. Perhaps the very altar of Abraham and Jacob was still remaining.

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.

These words, i.e. this covenant or agreement of the people with the Lord. In the book of the law of God, i. e. in that volume which was kept in the ark, Deu 31:9,26, whence it was taken and put into this book of Joshua. This he did, partly, for the perpetual remembrance of this great and solemn action; partly, to lay the greater obligation upon the people to be true to their engagement; and partly, as a witness for God, and against the people, if afterwards he severely punished them for their detection from God, to whom they had so solemnly and freely obliged themselves.

Set it up there, as a witness and monument of this great transaction, according to the custom of those ancient times, as Genesis 28:18 31:45 35:14 Exodus 24:4 Deu 27:2 Joshua 4:3 8:32. Possibly this agreement was written upon this stone, as was then usual.

Under an oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord, i.e. near to the place where the ark and tabernacle then were; for though they were forbidden to plant a grove of trees near unto the altar, Deu 16:21, as the Gentiles did, yet they might for a time set up an altar, or the ark, near a great tree which had been planted there before. 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.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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.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. But in order to place most vividly before the minds of the people to what it was that they bound themselves by this declaration, that they might not inconsiderately vow what they would not afterwards observe, Joshua adds, "Ye cannot serve Jehovah," sc., in the state of mind in which ye are at present, or "by your own resolution only, and without the assistance of divine grace, without solid and serious conversion from all idols, and without true repentance and faith" (J. H. Michaelis). For Jehovah is "a holy God," etc. Elohim, used to denote the Supreme Being (see at Genesis 2:4), is construed with the predicate in the plural. On the holiness of God, see the exposition of Exodus 19:6. On the expression "a jealous God," see Exodus 20:5; and on לפשׁע נשׂא, Exodus 23:21. The only other place in which the form קנּוא is used for קנּא is Nahum 1:2. "If ye forsake the Lord and serve strange gods, He will turn (i.e., assume a different attitude towards you) and do you hurt, after He has done you good," i.e., He will not spare you, in spite of the blessings which He has conferred upon you. חרע is used to denote the judgments threatened in the law against transgressors.
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