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Joshua 24:1 . Shechem. Some think this was the Sychar where our Saviour talked with the woman. John 4:5. This place became far famed on account of the renewal of the covenant before Joshua’s death. He had built an altar here more than twenty years before. This town lies about eight miles from Samaria, and is now called Naplosa.
Joshua 24:2 . Terah served other gods. Sabianism maintained that the world was eternal, and inculcated the worship of the planets as gods. The planets were also represented by metals, the sun by gold, the moon by silver, &c. Household gods followed next. It is not doubted but Abraham, for a time, worshipped in the same manner as his fathers. Sabianism had overspread the world; but after God called him he became, as the Jews call him, the pillar of the world.
Joshua 24:14 . In Egypt, where they served Osiris, Apis, and Isis, as described, Exodus 32:4.
Joshua 24:27 . This stone hath heard. The prosopopéia is one of the noblest figures of rhetoric. Give ear, oh heavens; and hear, oh earth. Deuteronomy 32:1. Isaiah 1:2. Joshua did all in his power to impress the nation, for he knew the human heart.
Joshua 24:29 . A hundred and ten years old. God now evidently began to shorten the life of man. The animal life wears out and hastes to decay, which should prompt us to look for a better world and bury our tears with Joseph’s bones, in hope of the resurrection of the dead.
Joshua 24:33 . His son. The Septuagint superadds, “And the children of Israel took the ark, and carried it about with them; and Phinehas was highpriest till he died, and they buried him in his own hill. The children of Israel went to their own homes; and they fell away to the worship of Astarte and Ashtaroth; and the Lord delivered them into the hands of Eglon king of Moab; and he had dominion over them for eighteen years.” This hill was given to the priest, it is thought, as his wife’s portion. We have deeply to lament the death of Joshua, and of Eleazer, for with their death we find an almost total decay of religion.
Joshua having now, like Joseph, attained the age of one hundred and ten years; having seen the Jordan divide, Jericho fall, and the sun and moon stay their course at his command; and having conquered and divided the country, he was desirous once more to see the face of the elders and magistrates before he died. He wished to recite the mercies of the Lord, and to give them a solemn charge, though he had exhorted them to the same effect but awhile ago. What a proof of his piety; what an argument that he was about to expire with a soul filled with grateful recollections of God’s works, and full of immortal hope.
He recited the history of the Hebrew family on a full scale, because it was the history of their glory, and of the last importance to all succeeding generations. He required of them a sincerity in the divine service correspondent to the fidelity with which God had fulfilled all his promises, and to the riches of grace which had constituted them a nation. If his arguments are conclusive, what must be the love, the gratitude and obedience, we owe to Jesus Christ? Surely if we trace our own history, and attempt to estimate the mercies of the Lord displayed to us in our pilgrimage, we shall enter into all the sentiments of this blessed prince and patriarch in Israel?
Joshua, after displaying the history of providence and grace, which had made of a wandering family the greatest and happiest of nations, puts the grand question; the question for which he had convened them before the Lord. “Choose ye this day whom you will serve.” What a contrast he makes between the gods of the heathen, who could do nothing for their votaries, and JEHOVAH who had done all these great and glorious things for them, and for their fathers. Hence we learn, that religion is a reasonable service, and that mankind endowed everywhere under the gospel with the covenant of grace, or initial salvation, are called to choose life that they may live: for life and death, a blessing and a curse, are set before them. God who has condescended to explain and justify his ways to man, demands in return a freewill offering of his heart and life. May the Lord then lay hold of the hand of the lingering sinner, and lead him out of Sodom, that he may escape for his life.
We also see that personal and family godliness is the best way of perpetuating religion in its purity to posterity. “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord:” let all heads of houses follow so divine a pattern. Let them read the holy scriptures, let them talk of the divine precepts in the ears of their children; and then falling down to prayer, let them deprecate the evil of sin, and implore the blessings of the covenant. Then the children so brought up will dread a prayerless house, as the paths of death; and being fully acquainted with the ways of the Lord, they will be armed with the weapons of truth against all the beguiling maxims of the world.
The elders and officers, deeply impressed with all they had just heard from the venerable prince, answered with a protestation against all the false gods, and with a most solemn avowal of the Lord for their God. It is good for a nation to assemble in all places of devotion, and for princes, nobles and magistrates to set the example, in renewing the christian covenant with God. Such should be all our days of fasting and prayer, all our days of thanksgiving, all sacrament occasions; and indeed, every time we bow the knee should be in some respect a renewal of covenant with heaven. By solemn acts of this kind, religion acquires a fresh influence over our hearts, over our children, and over our country.
Joshua wrote all the words of this covenant in a book, and rolled a huge stone under an oak, that all worshippers might read and see the testimonials of their covenants. These in case of apostasy were designed to testify against them. Hence we should learn solemnity and fidelity in all our transactions with God; for he ever lives the witness of his word, and the God of vengeance against all his foes.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 24". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17