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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Joshua 24

 

 

Verse 1

And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

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 (Joshua 8:30; Joshua 8:35). 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 derived from the memory of the former ceremonial, as well as from other sacred associations of the place (Genesis 12:6-7; Genesis 33:18-20; Genesis 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 (Judges 20:1-18; 1 Samuel 4:3; 2 Samuel 15:24). But the statement, not necessarily implying this, may be viewed as expressing only the religious character of the ceremony (Hengstenberg).


Verse 2

And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

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, and showed them that they were indebted for their national existence, as well as their special privileges, not to any merits of their own, but to the free grace of God.

On the other side of the flood - the Euphrates, namely, at Ur.

Terah, the father of Abraham ... and Nahor - (see the note at Genesis 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 (Genesis 31:19; Genesis 31:34).


Verse 3

And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.

Took your father Abraham. 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.


Verse 4

And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

Gave unto Esau mount Seir (see the note at Genesis 36:8-9) - in order that he might be no obstacle to Jacob and his posterity being the exclusive heirs of Canaan.


Verses 5-10

I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 11

And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.

Girgashites. The mention of this Canaanite tribe occurs only once (Joshua 3:10), while the other six nations are constantly enumerated as carrying on the war; and hence, the insertion of their name in this passage seems merely a recapitulation of the nations, whose land God delivered into the hand of the Jews, according to His promise (Deuteronomy 7:1; Graves, 2:, p. 44).


Verse 12

And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

Sent the hornet - a particular species of wasp which swarms in warm countries, and sometimes assumes the scourging character of a plague (Kirby's 'Bridgewater Treatise,' 2: pp. 336, 337; also 'Tent and Khan,' p. 390); or, as many think, it is a figurative expression for uncontrollable terror (Exodus 23:27-28; Deuteronomy 7:20).


Verse 13

And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 14

Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.

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 urges 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, idolatry, whether in the form of Zabaism, the fire-worship of their Chaldean ancestors, the scarabaei of Egypt, or the grosser superstitions of the Canaanites.


Verses 15-24

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 25

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day - he induced them solemnly and voluntarily to renew the national covenant (cf. Nehemiah 10:1).


Verse 26

And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.

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 transactions.

Set it up ... under an oak - Hebrew, the oak, or terebinth; in all likelihood the same as that where Abraham had worshipped (Genesis 12:6), and at the root of which Jacob buried the idols and charms found in his family (Genesis 35:4 : cf. Joshua 12:4, Allon-moreh, oak of Moreh or Shechem).

That was by the sanctuary of the Lord - either the spot where the ark had stood, or else the place around, so called from Joshua's religious meeting, as Jacob named Beth-el, the house of God. It is probable that this monolith lies buried on the spot where it was reared, and that the purpose of its erection was to perpetuate the knowledge of the law; that the Decalogue, with this view, was engraven upon it in deep and lasting characters. Could that be found and read, what important information might it afford. Accordingly search for it is specified among the objects enumerated in the prospectus issued by the Council of the Palestine Exploration Society.


Verse 27-28

And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 29

And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.

Joshua ... died. Lightfoot computes that he lived 17 years, others 27 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 honour 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 the Lord."


Verse 30

And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.

In Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim - i:e., portion remaining, or reserved for Joshua after the land was distributed. It is called, Judges 2:9, Timnath-heres, the portion of the sun. 'A Rabbinical tradition supposes it to be called Heres, from an image of the sun to commemorate the battle of Beth-horon. But it is probably only the transposition of the letters of Serah (Stanley's 'Lectures on the Jewish Church,' p. 279). It is situated at the village of Tibneh, a little west of the main north road at Jifneh, a few miles above Jerusalem, where the tomb of Joshua may yet be found. "The hill of Gaash" (i:e., a shaking has not been ascertained. The Septuagint makes the following addition to this verse, 'There they put with him into the sepulchre in which they buried him the knives of flint with which he circumcised the children of Israel in Gilgal, when he brought them up out of Egypt, as the Lord commanded them, and they are there unto this day.'


Verse 31

And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.

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 honour, "Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua."


Verse 32

And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

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, until they arrived at the promised land. The sarcophagus in which his mummied body had been put was brought hither 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. Kesitah, 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 Wely; but there is no reason to doubt that the precious deposit of Joseph's remains may be concealed there at the present time.


Verse 33

And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that

Eleazar ... died, and they buried him in ... mount Ephraim. The grave is at the modern village Awertah, which, according to Jewish travelers, contains the graves also of Ithamar, the brother of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar (Van de Velde).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-24.html. 1871-8.

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