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A Review of God's Mercies
v. 1. And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, a gigantic assembly of people in the place which was hallowed by so many memories, ever since the time of Abraham, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, Joshua 23:2; and they presented themselves before God, for this last appeal was made in the name of Jehovah.
v. 2. And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, as whose representative Joshua was here addressing the people, Your fathers, progenitors, dwelt on the other side of the flood, of the great stream Euphrates, in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor, who lived first in Ur of the Chaldees and then in Haran, Genesis 11:28-Obadiah :; and they, Terah with his family, served other gods, namely, teraphim. Genesis 31:19.
v. 3. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, the great river Euphrates, out of these dangerous surroundings, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac, in making true the promise concerning his great progeny.
v. 4. And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau, Genesis 25:24; and I gave unto Esau Mount Seir to possess it, Genesis 36:8; Deuteronomy 2:5; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt, Genesis 46:1; Genesis 46:6. Thus everything was prepared for the second great proof of God's mercy, the miraculous deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt.
v. 5. I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them, in the matter of the great plagues, Exodus 7-10; and afterward I brought you out, Exodus 12.
v. 6. And I brought your fathers out of Egypt, Exodus 12:51; and ye came unto the sea, the Red Sea, Exodus 14:2; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red Sea, Exodus 14:9.
v. 7. And when they cried unto the Lord, He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, Exodus 14:10-Proverbs :, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them, Exodus 14:27; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt, in punishing both the land and the people; and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season, forty years, Joshua 5:6. The entire description is a noble, impressive account. The Lord now recalls the third proof of His favor and merciful kindness.
v. 8. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, this one name standing for all the heathen nations, but here designating the two branches of this nation dwelling east of Jordan, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you, the armies of Sihon and of Og, Numbers 21:21-Micah :; and I gave them into your hand that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
v. 9. Then Balak, the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, he made ready for a campaign against Israel, in case he could get Balaam to curse the invaders, and sent and called Balaam, the son of Beor, to curse you, Numbers 22:5, since he lacked the courage to attack Israel outright;
v. 10. but I would not hearken unto Balaam, Jehovah frustrated the evil intentions of the soothsayer; therefore he blessed you still, in spite of himself; so I delivered you out of his hand. Thus were the plans of Balak overthrown and everything made ready for the fourth proof of God's favor, the conquest of Canaan proper.
v. 11. And ye went over Jordan, by a miraculous passage, Joshua 3:14, and came unto Jericho; and the men of Jericho fought against you, Joshua 6:1, and not only they, but also the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, Joshua 3:10; and I delivered them into your hand.
v. 12. And I sent the hornet before you, in terrifying the nations of the land, Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, as representatives of the entire heathen host; but not with thy sword nor with thy bow, for it was not Israel's prowess which had subdued the land.
v. 13. And I have given you a land for which ye did not labor, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive-yards which ye planted not do ye eat. Thus Israel, without any merit on its part, through God's goodness and merciful kindness alone, had received a glorious land, a rich and fertile country, in whose cultivation they were not obliged to labor in the sweat of their brow, but which was given to them in the finest condition, ready to enjoy. We Christians are also obliged to confess, with regard to both the temporal and the spiritual blessings of the Lord, that we are not worthy of the least of all His benefits.
The Exaction of the Promise to be Faithful
v. 14. Now, therefore, with all these blessings and merciful kindnesses in mind, fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth, without all pretense and feigned devotion, for all hypocrisy and false piety is an abomination in the sight of the Lord; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, in Mesopotamia, and in Egypt, for heathenish, idolatrous superstition was still found among the people, although not in its gross form, Leviticus 17:7; and serve ye the Lord.
v. 15. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, for true service requires the conviction of the heart, choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, beyond Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, the Canaanitish nations, in whose land ye dwell, this form of challenge being the very strongest admonition to loyalty. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. This declaration of Joshua, with all its simplicity, contained a mighty appeal, just as all similar confessions do, arousing the sluggish and strengthening the weak to rally around the Lord.
v. 16. And the people, evidently deeply affected by Joshua's fervent sincerity, answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, the very idea of such apostasy was far from their minds;
v. 17. for the Lord, our God, He it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, as the Lord had reminded them in the address of Joshua, and among all the people through whom. we passed;
v. 18. and the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land, as they here gratefully acknowledge; therefore will we also serve the Lord, for He is our God. They turn from the service of other gods with every indication of extreme loathing, of deep aversion.
v. 19. And Joshua said unto the people, in testing the sincerity of their position, Ye cannot serve the Lord, that is, not without His assistance, for He it is who must work both to will and to do; for He is an holy God; He is a jealous God, Exodus 19:6; Exodus 20:5; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. So they should not promise faithfulness lightly, but in the full consciousness of the import of their words.
v. 20. If ye forsake the Lord and serve strange gods, Genesis 35:4, then He will turn, assume an entirely different attitude toward them, and do you hurt and consume you after that He hath done you good. Jehovah demands unwavering loyalty, steadfast allegiance.
v. 21. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord. They persist in their determination and uphold their resolution.
v. 22. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves, their declaration would serve as a testimony against them, that ye have chosen you the Lord to serve Him. And they said, We are witnesses. They fully agreed to all that Joshua had said.
v. 23. Now, therefore, put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, even the last remnant of idolatrous superstition, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel, who demands all the heart, all the soul, and all the mind in His service.
v. 24. And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord, our God, will we serve, and His voice will we obey. It was the third solemn assurance of loyalty and obedience.
v. 25. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, in exacting this promise from them, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. It was a second renewal of the covenant made with Israel on Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:20. It is a great and serious thing to serve the Lord, a matter which no man can perform in his own reason and strength, but only in the strength of the grace of God.
Joshua's Death and Burial
v. 26. And Joshua wrote these words, the entire account of the renewal of the covenant, in the Book of the Law of God, as an addition to the law-book of Moses, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak that was by the Sanctuary of the Lord, in the space consecrated by the altars of Abraham and Jacob, Genesis 12:7; Genesis 33:20, and by the solemn service which had been held there shortly after the coming of Israel into the Land of Promise.
v. 27. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness, a monument and memorial, unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which He spake unto us, during the meeting which had gone before; it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God, it would always serve to remind them of their solemn promise, lest they deny Jehovah by thought, word, or deed.
v. 28. So Joshua let the people depart; every man unto his inheritance, to his possession in the section of the country allotted to his tribe.
v. 29. And it came to pass after these things that Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, as he is now also called in recognition of his loyalty to Jehovah, died, being an hundred and ten years old, as his progenitor, the patriarch Joseph, before him.
v. 30. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in Mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash, evidently a well-known hill at that time, Judges 2:9; 2 Samuel 23:30.
v. 31. And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, literally, "whose days extended beyond those of Joshua," and which had known all the works of the Lord that He had done for Israel. The experiences which these men had gone through in their youth and early manhood served to keep them loyal to the covenant God, and their example influenced the people accordingly.
v. 32. And the bones of Joseph which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt buried they in Shechem, Genesis 50:25. in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for an hundred pieces of silver, Genesis 33:19; and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. This was in their territory, on the boundary between Manasseh and Ephraim, and thus belonged to them in a twofold sense of the word, by inheritance and by allotment.
v. 33. And Eleazar, the son of Aaron, died, the second high priest whom Israel had had; and they burled him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas, his son, that is, at Gibeah-Phinehas, a city in central Canaan, which was given him in Mount Ephraim. Thus the righteous, enter into their reward and rest in the security of their tombs to the great day of resurrection.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Joshua 24". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29