Joshua 24:27
And Joshua said to all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us; for it has heard all the words of the LORD which he spoke to us: it shall be therefore a witness to you, lest you deny your God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 24:27. It hath heard — It shall be as sure a witness against you as if it had heard. This is a common figure, whereby the sense of hearing is often ascribed to the heavens and the earth, and other senseless creatures.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.

It hath heard; it shall be as sure a witness against you as if it had heard. This is a common figure, called prosopopaie, whereby the sense of hearing is oft ascribed to the heavens and the earth, and other senseless creatures, as Deu 32:1 Isaiah 1:2 Jeremiah 2:12. And Joshua said unto all the people,.... The chief of them now gathered together, and who represented the whole body:

behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; of the covenant now made, and the agreement entered into, as the heap of stones were between Jacob and Laban, Genesis 31:45,

for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us; this is said by a figure called "prosopopaeia", frequent in Scripture, by which inanimate creatures are represented as hearing, seeing, and speaking, and may signify, that should the Israelites break this covenant, and disobey the commands of the Lord they had promised to keep, they would be as stupid and senseless as this stone, or more so, which would rise in judgment against them. Nachmanides (d) a Jewish commentator, interprets this stone of the Messiah, the same as in Genesis 49:24,

it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God; for a memorial and testimony to prevent them from going into atheism, a denying of the true God, or into apostasy from him, and into idolatry and false worship. The Targum of which is,"behold, this stone shall be to us as the two tables of stone of the covenant, for we made it for a testimony; for the words which are written upon it are the sum of all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us, and it shall be unto you for a memorial, and for a testimony, lest ye lie before the Lord.''

(d) Apud Masium in loc.

And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it {m} 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.

(m) So that man's deception should not go unpunished, the dumb creatures will cry for vengeance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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.Verse 27. - A witness (see note on Joshua 22:27). For it hath heard. Joshua speaks by a poetical figure of the stone, as though it had intelligence. The stone was taken from the very place where they stood, and within earshot of the words which had been spoken. Thus it became a more forcible memorial of what had occurred than if it had been brought from far. Ye deny your God. To deny is to say that He is not. The Hebrew implies "to deny concerning Him," to contest the truth of what has been revealed of His essence, and to disparage or deny the great things He had done for His people. The whole scene must have been a striking one. The aged warrior, full of years and honours, venerable from his piety and courage and implicit obedience, addresses in the measured, perhaps tremulous, accents of age the representatives of the whole people he has led so long and so well. Around him are the ancient memories of his race. Here Abraham pitched his tent in his wanderings through Canaan. Here was the first altar built to the worship of the one true God of the land. Here Jacob had buried the teraphim, and solemnly engaged his household in the worship of the true God. Here was the second foothold the children of Abraham obtained in the promised land (see ver. 32), a foretaste of their future inheritance. The bare heights of Ebal soared above them on one side, the softer outlines of Gerizim rose above them on the other; and on their sides, the plaster fresh and the letters distinct and clear, were to be seen the blessings and the curses foretold of those who kept and those who broke the law. In the midst, Shechem, in a situation, as we have seen, of rare beauty, bore witness to the fulfilment of God's promise that the land of their inheritance should be "a good land," a "land flowing with milk and honey." No other place could combine so many solemn memories; none could more adequately remind them of the fulness of blessing God had in store for those who would obey His word; none could be fitter to impress upon them the duty of worshipping God, and Him alone.

CHAPTER 24:29-33. JOSHUA'S DEATH AND BURIAL. - The people adhered to their resolution. לא, minime, as in Joshua 5:14, i.e., we will not serve other gods, but Jehovah.
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