Joshua 24:33
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.
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(33) And Eleazar the son of Aaron died.—“Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun,” were the Moses and Aaron of this period. It is fitting that the Book of Joshua should close with the death of Eleazar, who was Joshua’s appointed counsellor; for when Joshua was given as a shepherd to Israel, in answer to the prayer of Moses, Eleazar was also given to Joshua for a counsellor (Numbers 27:21). At Eleazar’s word he was to go out and come in, “both he and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.” It is rather singular that nothing but this has been recorded of Eleazar’s personal history. Everything stated about him in his lifetime is official. Not a word that he uttered has been preserved.

A hill. . . . given him in mount Ephraim.—The inheritance of Phinehas as a priest would lie within the tribe of Judah (Joshua 21:13, &c.) or Benjamin. This gift to Phinehas in Mount Ephraim, near the seat of government, seems to have been a special grant to him over and above his inheritance. But inasmuch as the tabernacle itself was at Shiloh, in Mount Ephraim, it was altogether suitable and natural that some place of abode should be assigned to the priests in that neighbourhood, where they were compelled to reside.

Although Phinehas himself was “zealous for his God,” he lived to see the tribe of Benjamin nearly exterminated from Israel for repeating the sin of the Canaanites. (See Judges 20:28.) We can hardly say that the people served Jehovah all the days of Phinehas. With Eleazar and Joshua the spirit of strict obedience to the law seems to have, in a great measure, passed away.

Joshua 24:33. They buried him in a hill which was given him — By special favour, and for his better conveniency in attending upon the ark, which then was, and for a long time was to be, in Shiloh, near this place: whereas the cities which were given to the priests were in Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon, which were remote from Shiloh, though near the place where the ark was to have its settled abode; namely, at Jerusalem. It is probable Eleazar died about the same time with Joshua, as Aaron did in the same year with Moses. While Joshua lived, religion was kept up, under his care and influence; but after he and his cotemporaries were gone, it swiftly went to decay. How well is it for the gospel church that Christ, our Joshua, is still with it by his Spirit, and will be always, even to the end of the world!24:29-33 Joseph died in Egypt, but gave commandment concerning his bones, that they should not rest in their grave till Israel had rest in the land of promise. Notice also the death and burial of Joshua, and of Eleazar the chief priest. The most useful men, having served their generation, according to the will of God, one after another, fall asleep and see corruption. But Jesus, having spent and ended his life on earth more effectually than either Joshua or Joseph, rose from the dead, and saw no corruption. And the redeemed of the Lord shall inherit the kingdom he prepared for them from the foundation of the world. They will say in admiration of the grace of Jesus, Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.(Eleazar's burial-place is placed by Conder not at Tibneh but in the village of 'Awertah.)33. Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him in … mount Ephraim—The sepulchre is at the modern village Awertah, which, according to Jewish travellers, contains the graves also of Ithamar, the brother of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar [Van De Velde]. By special favour, and for his better conveniency in attending upon the ark, which then was, and for a long time was to be, in Shiloh, which was near to this place; whereas the cities which were given to the priests were in Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon, which were remote from Shiloh, though near to the place where the ark was to have its settled abode, to wit, to Jerusalem. And Eleazar the son of Aaron died,.... Very probably in a short time after Joshua; and, according to the Samaritan Chronicle (i), he died as Joshua did, gathered the chief men of the children of Israel a little before his death, and enjoined them strict obedience to the commands of God, and took his leave of them, and then stripped himself of his holy garments, and clothed Phinehas his son with them; what his age was is not said:

and they buried him in a hill that pertaineth to Phinehas his son; or in the hill of Phinehas; which was so called from him, and might have the name given it by his father, who might possess it before him, and what adjoined to it. The Jews in the above treatise say (k), that at Avarta was a school of Phinehas in a temple of the Gentiles; that Eleazar was buried upon the hill, and Joshua below the village among the olives, and on this hill is said (l) to be a school or village of Phinehas:

which was given him in Mount Ephraim; either to Eleazar, that he might be near to Shiloh, where the tabernacle then was, as the cities given to the priests and Levites were chiefly in those tribes that lay nearest to Jerusalem; though the Jews say, as Jarchi and Kimchi relate, that Phinehas might come into the possession of that place through his wife, or it might fall to him as being a devoted field; but it is most likely it was given to his father by the children of Ephraim, for the reason before observed. The Talmudists say, that Joshua wrote his own book, which is very probable; yet the last five verses, Joshua 24:29, must be written by another hand, even as the last eight verses in Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 34:5, were written by him, as they also say; and therefore this is no more an objection to his being the writer of this book, than the addition of eight verses by him to Deuteronomy is to Moses being the writer of that; and the same Talmudists (m) also observe, that Joshua 24:29, "Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died", &c. were written by Eleazar, and Joshua 24:33, "and Eleazar, the son of Aaron, died", &c. by Phinehas, which is not improbable.

(i) Apud Hottinger. p. 524. (k) Cippi Hebraici, ut supra. (p. 32.) (l) See Weemse's Christ. Synagog, l. 1. c. 6. sect. 5. p. 157. (m) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. & 15. 1.

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.Verse 33. ? A hill that pertained to Phinehas his son. The LXX., Syriac, and Vulgate translate this as a proper name, Gibeath or Gabaath Phineas. But it may also mean Phinehas' hill. A city may or may not have been built there. Keil and Delitzsch believe it to be the Levitical town, Geba of Benjamin; but of this we cannot be sure. The tomb of Eleazar is still shown near Shechem, "overshadowed by venerable terebinths," as Dean Stanley tells us. And so the history ends with the death and burial of the conqueror of Palestine, the lieutenant of Moses, the faithful and humble servant of God, and of the successor of Aaron, who had been solemnly invested with the garments of his father before that father's death. A fitting termination to so strange and marvellous a history. With the death of two such men a new era had begun for the chosen people; a darker page had now to be opened. The LXX. adds to this passage, "In that day the children of Israel took the ark and carried it about among them, and Phinehas acted as priest, instead of Eleazar his father, until he died, and was buried in his own property at Gabaath. And the children of Israel went each one to his place and to his own city. And the children of Israel worshipped Astarte and Ashtaroth, the gods of the nations around them. And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Eglon king of the Moabites, and he had dominion over them eighteen years." The passage is an obvious compilation from the Book of Judges. It has no counterpart in the Hebrew, and the mention of Astarte and Ashtaroth as different deities is sufficient to discredit it.

All these things (האלּה הדּברים are not merely the words spoken on both sides, but the whole ceremony of renewing the covenant) Joshua wrote in the law-book of God, i.e., he wrote them in a document which he placed in the law-book of Moses, and then set up a large stone, as a permanent memorial of what had taken place, on the spot where the meeting had been held, "under the oak that was in the sanctuary of Jehovah." As בּמקדּשׁ neither means "at the sanctuary," nor near the sanctuary, nor "in the place where the sanctuary was set up;' the "sanctuary of Jehovah" cannot signify "the ark of the covenant, which had been brought from the tabernacle to Shechem, for the ceremony of renewing the covenant." Still less can we understand it as signifying the tabernacle itself, since this was not removed from place to place for particular sacred ceremonies; nor can it mean an altar, in which an oak could not possibly be said to stand; nor some other illegal sanctuary of Jehovah, since there were none in Israel at that time. The sanctuary of Jehovah under the oak at Shechem was nothing else than the holy place under the oak, where Abraham had formerly built an altar and worshipped the Lord, and where Jacob had purified his house from the strange gods, which he buried under this oak, or rather terebinth tree (Genesis 12:6-7; Genesis 35:2, Genesis 35:4). This is the explanation adopted by Masius, J. D. Michaelis, and Hengstenberg (Diss. ii. p. 12). In Joshua 24:27 Joshua explains to the people the meaning of the stone which he had set up. The stone would be a witness against the people if they should deny their God. As a memorial of what had taken place, the stone had heard all the words which the Lord had addressed to Israel, and could bear witness against the people, that they might not deny their God. "Deny your God," viz., in feeling, word, or deed.
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