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The Urgent Exhortation to be Faithful to the Lord
v. 1. And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, when the heathen nations had been brought to a state of fear which kept them from undertaking any attack against Israel, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age, advanced in days, with the infirmities of old age in evidence.
v. 2. And Joshua called for all Israel, in its representatives, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, the first designation being the general one, and the heads being divided into judges and officers, both the judicial and the executive branches of the government thus being represented, and said unto them, the meeting taking place either at his home, at Timnath-serah, or, more probably, at Shiloh, I am old and stricken in age;
v. 3. and ye have seen all that the Lord, your God, hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord, your God, is He that hath fought for you, for it had been evident throughout that the Lord was battling for Israel.
v. 4. Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, those that had not yet been exterminated, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the Great Sea westward, toward the going down of the sun; for tribes of the heathen nations were still living in the Valley of Jordan and in parts of the plain along the coast of the Mediterranean. But these sections had been included in the allotment of land, and so the duty of driving them out was before the people.
v. 5. And the Lord, your God, He shall expel them. from before you, thrust them out altogether, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land as the Lord, your God, hath promised unto you, Exodus 23:23; Numbers 33:53.
v. 6. Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, for that was the condition of the covenant upon which the Lord insisted, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;
v. 7. that ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you, to enter into any fellowship with them; neither make mention of the name of their gods, namely, for the purpose of calling upon them or of proclaiming them, to swear by them, to serve them by offerings, and to bow down to them in prayer, Exodus 23:13; Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20, as Joshua adds; nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them;
v. 8. but cleave unto the Lord, your God, as ye have done unto this day, for the congregation as such had adhered firmly to the worship of Jehovah while Joshua was leader.
v. 9. For the Lord hath driven out from before you great nations and strong, Deuteronomy 4:38; but (or "and") as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day, the assistance of Jehovah making them invincible and giving them the power to conquer everything before them, Deuteronomy 7:24.
v. 10. One man of you shall chase a thousand, as Moses had promised, Leviticus 26:8; Deuteronomy 32:30; for the Lord, your God, He it is that fighteth for you, as He hath promised you, Exodus 14:14; Exodus 23:27; Deuteronomy 3:22.
v. 11. Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, they were to watch very carefully over their own souls, in keeping them in the Law of the Lord, that ye love the Lord, your God; for this love is the fulfillment of the Law.
v. 12. Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, be joined to them in friendship and affection, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, thus entering into the most intimate relationship with them and setting aside the loyalty toward Jehovah, and go in unto them and they to you, in a social fellowship and intercourse which the Lord had forbidden them, Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:3,
v. 13. know for a certainty that the Lord, your God, will no more drive out any of these nations from before you, an achievement which was possible only with His assistance, but they shall be snares and traps unto you, Numbers 33:55; Isaiah 8:14-15, and scourges in your sides, to punish them, and thorns in your eyes, infinitely more painful than motes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord, your God, hath given you. Joshua heaps the figures picturing the affliction and the misery which would follow their act of disloyalty in entering into friendships and other intimate relationships with the heathen nations; for the Lord knew that no warning could be made too impressive in this connection. The blessings of God's goodness should be the strongest inducement to all Christians to cling to Him alone with all their heart and to shun all intimacy with the children of this world.
An Earnest Warning
v. 14. And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth, for Joshua was on his way to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord, your God, spake concerning you, not a single word, a single promise of the Lord fell to the ground, became void, remained unfulfilled, as they well knew; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof. But the very greatness of the Lord's goodness and mercy laid additional obligations upon the whole people.
v. 15. Therefore it shall come to pass that, as all good things are come upon you which the Lord, your God, promised you, so shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things, as He had threatened, Leviticus 26:14-33; Deuteronomy 28:15-68, until He have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord, your God, hath given you.
v. 16. When ye have transgressed the covenant of the Lord, your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, for faithfulness to Jehovah was the essence of the covenant, and bowed yourselves to them, then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which He hath given unto you, Deuteronomy 11:17. To abstain from intimacy with the world is a form of protecting our souls. Carelessness in this respect may result in the loss of our inheritance and in bringing God's wrath and curse upon us.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Joshua 23". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent