Joshua Assembling the Tribes.
1. Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to
Shechem—Another and final opportunity of dissuading the
people against idolatry is here described as taken by the aged leader,
whose solicitude on this account arose from his knowledge of the
extreme readiness of the people to conform to the manners of the
surrounding nations. This address was made to the representatives of
the people convened at Shechem, and which had already been the scene of
a solemn renewal of the covenant (Jos 8:30, 35). The transaction now to be entered upon
being in principle and object the same, it was desirable to give it all
the solemn impressiveness which might be derived from the memory of the
former ceremonial, as well as from other sacred associations of the
place (Ge 12:6, 7; 33:18-20; 35:2-4).
they presented themselves before
God—It is generally assumed that the ark of the covenant had
been transferred on this occasion to Shechem; as on extraordinary
emergencies it was for a time removed (Jud 20:1-18; 1Sa 4:3;
2Sa 15:24). But the
statement, not necessarily implying this, may be viewed as expressing
only the religious character of the ceremony [Hengstenberg].
Jos 24:2-13. Relates God's
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
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).
3. I took your father Abraham from the other side
of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of
Canaan—It was an irresistible impulse of divine grace which
led the patriarch to leave his country and relatives, to migrate to
Canaan, and live a "stranger and pilgrim" in that land.
4. I gave unto Esau mount Seir—(See on
Ge 36:8). In order that he might be no obstacle
to Jacob and his posterity being the exclusive heirs of Canaan.
12. I sent the hornet before you—a
particular species of wasp which swarms in warm countries and sometimes
assumes the scourging character of a plague; or, as many think, it is a
figurative expression for uncontrollable terror (see on Ex 23:28).
14-28. Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him
in sincerity and in truth—After having enumerated so many
grounds for national gratitude, Joshua calls on them to declare, in a
public and solemn manner, whether they will be faithful and obedient to
the God of Israel. He avowed this to be his own unalterable resolution,
and urged them, if they were sincere in making a similar avowal, "to
put away the strange gods that were among them"—a requirement
which seems to imply that some were suspected of a strong hankering
for, or concealed practice of, the idolatry, whether in the form of
Zabaism, the fire-worship of their Chaldean ancestors, or the grosser
superstitions of the Canaanites.
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
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.
Jos 24:29, 30. His Age and
29, 30. Joshua … died—Lightfoot computes that he lived seventeen, others
twenty-seven years, after the entrance into Canaan. He was buried,
according to the Jewish practice, within the limits of his own
inheritance. The eminent public services he had long rendered to Israel
and the great amount of domestic comfort and national prosperity he had
been instrumental in diffusing among the several tribes, were deeply
felt, were universally acknowledged; and a testimonial in the form of a
statue or obelisk would have been immediately raised to his honor, in
all parts of the land, had such been the fashion of the times. The
brief but noble epitaph by the historian is, Joshua, "the servant of
31. Israel served the Lord all the days of
Joshua—The high and commanding character of this eminent
leader had given so decided a tone to the sentiments and manners of his
contemporaries and the memory of his fervent piety and many virtues
continued so vividly impressed on the memories of the people, that the
sacred historian has recorded it to his immortal honor. "Israel served
the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that
32. the bones of Joseph—They had carried
these venerable relics with them in all their migrations through the
desert, and deferred the burial, according to the dying charge of
Joseph himself, till they arrived in the promised land. The
sarcophagus, in which his mummied body had been put, was brought
thither by the Israelites, and probably buried when the tribe of
Ephraim had obtained their settlement, or at the solemn convocation
described in this chapter.
in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought …
for an hundred pieces of silver—Kestitah translated,
"piece of silver," is supposed to mean "a lamb," the weights being in
the form of lambs or kids, which were, in all probability, the earliest
standard of value among pastoral people. The tomb that now covers the
spot is a Mohammedan Welce, but there is no reason to doubt that
the precious deposit of Joseph's remains may be concealed there at the
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].