Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 24:1

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

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Government;   Shechem;   Thompson Chain Reference - Sychar, or Shechem;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Shechem;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ebal;   King;   Shechem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Covenant;   Leadership;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Shechem;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Elder;   Israel;   Jeroboam;   Judges;   Pillars;   Shechem (1);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Confessions and Credos;   Covenant;   Ebal;   Israel, History of;   Joshua;   Joshua, the Book of;   King, Kingship;   Shechem;   Sin;   Temple of Jerusalem;   Transportation and Travel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Shechem;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Gerizim;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Shechem ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elder;   Shiloh;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Elder;   She'chem;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Elders;   Government of the Hebrews;   Sanhedrim;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Sacrifice;   Writing;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Covenant;   Police Laws;   Shechem;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Joshua gathered all the tribes - This must have been a different assembly from that mentioned in the preceding chapter, though probably held not long after the former.

To Shechem - As it is immediately added that they presented themselves before God, this must mean the tabernacle; but at this time the tabernacle was not at Shechem but at Shiloh. The Septuagint appear to have been struck with this difficulty, and therefore read Σηλω . Shiloh, both here and in Joshua 24:25, though the Aldine and Complutensian editions have Συχεμ, Shechem, in both places. Many suppose that this is the original reading, and that Shechem has crept into the text instead of Shiloh. Perhaps there is more of imaginary than real difficulty in the text. As Joshua was now old and incapable of travelling, he certainly had a right to assemble the representatives of the tribes wherever he found most convenient, and to bring the ark of the covenant to the place of assembling: and this was probably done on this occasion. Shechem is a place famous in the patriarchal history. Here Abraham settled on his first coming into the land of Canaan, Genesis 12:6, Genesis 12:7; and here the patriarchs were buried, Acts 7:16. And as Shechem lay between Ebal and Gerizim, where Joshua had before made a covenant with the people, Joshua 8:30, etc., the very circumstance of the place would be undoubtedly friendly to the solemnity of the present occasion. Shuckford supposes that the covenant was made at Shechem, and that the people went to Shiloh to confirm it before the Lord. Mr. Mede thinks the Ephraimites had a proseucha, or temporary oratory or house of prayer, at Shechem, whither the people resorted for Divine worship when they could not get to the tabernacle; and that this is what is called before the Lord; but this conjecture seems not at all likely, God having forbidden this kind of worship.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-24.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Shechem, situated between those mountains, Ebal and Gerizim, which had already been the scene of a solemn rehearsal of the covenant soon after the first entry of the people into the promised land Joshua 8:30-35, was a fitting scene for the solemn renewal on the part of the people of that covenant with God which had been on His part so signally and so fully kept. The spot itself suggested the allusions to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, etc., in Joshua‘s address; and its associations could not but give special force and moving effect to his appeals. This address was not made to the rulers only but to the whole nation, not of course to the tribes assembled in mass, but to their representatives.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-24.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

The Book of Joshua closes with a solemn ceremony led by Joshua in which Israel again ratified the covenant with Jehovah their God, their true King and deliverer.

During the last two or three decades there has been a great breakthrough in understanding a feature of the Pentateuch and of Joshua that had never been known until very recently, and this new knowledge has made practically all of the comments that one may still read in many commentaries absolutely out-of-date and incorrect.

ERRONEOUS COMMENTS

Rather than taking time to refute the allegations of critical scholars on a verse-by-verse basis, we here cite a number of declarations applied by various critics to various verses, paragraphs, or even chapters in Joshua, which are no longer acceptable:

"The book appears to be a medley of contradictory narratives, most of which are unhistorical.[1] There were a number of editors of Joshua.[2] The last several verses were probably added by the final editor.[3] This is the address as "E" thought of it.[4]; Joshua 24:17-18, the people's response is a performed liturgical unit (later than Joshua, of course).[5] We have recognized Josiah's reign (about 621 B.C.) as the most probable setting for the first edition of Joshua (Deuteronomy 1)."[6] Etc., etc., etc.

The AUTHENTICITY of Joshua as an historical and genuine narrative given by Joshua himself within the very shadow of the days of Moses is today, by conservative scholars, accepted as virtually CERTIFIED and PROVED by the archeological discoveries a few years ago of many records of the old Hittite Empire regarding their relations with their vassal states, dated by George E. Mendenhall in the mid-second pre-Christian millennium (1450-1200 B.C.). Of very great significance are copies of the old suzerainty-treaties, summarizing the covenant obligations imposed upon vassals by the Hittite King. The form of those old covenants is followed closely both in Deuteronomy and here in the Book of Joshua, and this positively identifies both the Pentateuch and Joshua as having been written in that early period. There are no examples of that particular form of suzerainty-covenant treaty documents after the year 1000 B.C.[7] The major critical thesis that seventh-century B.C. priests "produced" large sections of these early books is DISPROVED by this. The very knowledge of that old form was lost for millenniums following 1000 B.C., and only in the last two or three decades has been "discovered." Yet, right here it is in Joshua!

Thus, as Kline said of Deuteronomy, we may also say of Joshua:

"The plain claims of Deuteronomy itself to be the farewell ceremonial addresses of Moses himself to the children of Israel in the plains of Moab are accepted by current orthodox Christian scholarship."[8]

Blair referred to this new information as, "One of the most important landmarks in recent study of the O.T."[9] It is based upon the publication of George Mendenhall's Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East, published in the Biblical Archeologist in 1954.

Of course, there is no point in alleging that Joshua reported his own burial. Nor, is it in any way appropriate to refer to that account as the work of some "editor." That some INSPIRED MAN added the account is certain, but there is no need to call that unknown person an "editor," implying that he wrote the whole book, or revised it! Sir Isaac Newton in all probably was correct in his supposition that it was the prophet Samuel who added the record of the deaths of Moses and of Joshua, saying that, "Samuel had leisure in the reign of Saul, to put them into the form of the Books of Moses and of Joshua now extant."[10]

Many very reputable and learned men are accepting this new understanding that gives so much assurance of the historicity, accuracy, and authenticity of these Biblical books. Woudstra cited the following:

"Commentators who have applied this scheme to their interpretation of Joshua 24 include: J. J. De Vault, John Rea, C. F. Pfeiffer, E. F. Harrison, (editors), Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago, 1962), C. Vonk, P. C. Craigie (his Deuteronomy is structured entirely around the covenant-treaty pattern)."[11]

To the above list, we may also add Merrill F. Unger, Hugh J. Blair, and others.

It is also significant that practically all recent liberal scholars admit the existence of these ancient covenant-treaty forms, and describe them somewhat fully, yet cling in some instances to the very theories which are denied by this information. In fact, we are indebted to Morton for this good description of an ancient suzerainty-treaty:

Six elements are typically found in the Hittite treaty texts. Listed with each element are corresponding references from this chapter:

1. Identification of the Great King and author of the covenant (Joshua 24:2; Exodus 20:1-2).

2. Enumeration of the gracious acts of the King, obligating the vassal to loyalty (Joshua 24:2-13; Exodus 20:2).

3. Covenant obligations of the vassal, typically demanding absolute loyalty and expressly prohibiting official relationships with foreign powers (Joshua 24:14,23; Exodus 20:3).

4. Instructions for depositing the document in the sanctuary for regular public reading (Joshua 24:25,26; Deuteronomy 31:9-13).

5. Deities of covenanting parties invoked as witnesses (Joshua 24:22); in monotheistic Israel, an adaptation was required (Isaiah 1:2; Micah 6:1-2).

6. Blessings accompanying fidelity; curses resulting from violation (Joshua 24:20; 8:34; Deuteronomy 27-28).[12]

Another very important element that should be included in this summary is the provision for renewing the covenant from time to time. This has been called "the Dynastic Requirement." We shall notice it below.

Again from Morton, "From this summary, it appears that Joshua 24 bears a clear relation to the covenant forms of Near Eastern ancient treaties."[13] Morton indeed conceded that this indicates "the unity and antiquity of the core traditions on which the Shechem covenant was based," but, in our view it goes much further than that. It indicates the ANTIQUITY and UNITY of the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua.

"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. And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith Jehovah the God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt of old time beyond the River, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac."

The mention here of all the judges and officers of the people stresses the strict formality of this solemn ceremony. Joshua 23 and Joshua 24 both feature an address by Joshua; and on that basis, critics rush to the conclusion that they are separate accounts of the same event; "But Joshua 23 is Joshua's informal address to the leaders of the people, and Joshua 24 is a formal, public renewal of the covenant."[14] Thus, the last public action of Joshua was that of leading his people in a formal and ceremonial renewal of the covenant at Shechem.

"To Shechem ..." (Joshua 24:1). Some scholars marvel that this ceremony was held at Shechem, instead of Shiloh where the tabernacle was located, apparently forgetting that the Tabernacle was a moveable thing. The simple and obvious truth is that it was moved down there to Shechem for this very occasion; the fact of its not being specifically mentioned is of no importance. The Tabernacle must have rested at a hundred different places in the history of Israel, and yet there is hardly any information given in the Bible concerning the actual making of such moves, an exception being the removal of it to Jerusalem in David's new cart! How do we know the Tabernacle with its ark of the covenant and all the other sacred furniture was at Shechem? The words, "before God" in Joshua 24:1 prove this. A hundred places in Exodus and Leviticus make it evident that when a worshipper came before God with a sacrifice, it was at the Tabernacle! The translators of the Septuagint (LXX) knew this, but in the year 255 B.C., when the Septuagint (LXX) was done, the "one place only" theory was widely accepted. So, in order to conform to that, they simply moved the location of this covenant renewal ceremony to Shiloh (Joshua 24:1,25 in the LXX), where of course, the Tabernacle rested until they moved it down to Shechem for this ceremony. Scholars reject the Shiloh location for this ceremony. The great probability of the Tabernacle's being moved to Shechem for the event described here clears up everything. The clause, "They presented themselves before God," simply cannot be understood in any other way. As Boling pointed out, "Before God implies the presence of the ark."[15] The deduction by Plummer regarding this question is simply that, "The Tabernacle was no doubt moved on that great occasion to Shechem."[16]

Woudstra pointed out that some do not think "before God" necessarily refers to the Ark or the Tabernacle; but, "The expression is sufficiently accounted for by Shechem's sacred associations going back to patriarchal times."[17] Such associations, of course, were very important, and we shall notice these under the article "Shechem," below, but we cannot accept the statement of Jacob after the dream at Bethel that, "Surely God is in this place," as any proof whatever that God had taken up PERMANENT residence in Shechem!

SHECHEM

Another great renewal of the covenant ceremony had already been conducted there, as we read in Joshua 8. The place was rich in the history of the patriarchs. It was the scene of God's first covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:6-7). Abraham built an altar here, the first built in Canaan, on his way from Haran, after the death of Terah. Jacob is supposed to have come here on his flight from Esau. It was here, in all probability that Jacob commanded his family to bury their idols. Jacob chose this as his residence and remained there until the rape of Dinah and the terrible vengeance against the citizens of that place by Simeon and Levi. It was a Levitical city, and one of the cities of Refuge. Jacob bought a field for a tomb here, and Joseph's bones were buried there. "Shechem was a locality calculated to inspire the Israelites with the deepest feelings."[18] (See further information on Shechem in Joshua 21.)

"Beyond the River ..." This is a reference to the Euphrates.

"Your fathers ... served other gods." Both Terah (Abraham's father) and Nahor, his uncle, were idolaters, but it is NOT stated that Abraham was an idolater. There is no reason to doubt the Jewish tradition that, "Abraham, while in Ur of the Chaldees was persecuted for his abhorrence of idolatry, and hence, was called away by God from his native land."[19] Throughout Israel's history, there remained for many years a preference by some of them for idolatry. It will be remembered that Laban's household gods were stolen by Rachel, and right here in this chapter, (Joshua 24:14), Joshua pleaded with the people to, "Put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River."

Blair pointed out that here in Joshua 24:1, we have the identification of the Maker of the Covenant in the preamble. "This is the regular pattern of the suzerainty-treaty covenants."[20] One of the features of that ancient form of covenant, "was the necessity for its renewal from time to time, and that is exactly what we have here at Shechem."[21]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-24.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem,.... The nine tribes and a half; not all the individuals of them, but the chief among them, their representatives, as afterwards explained, whom he gathered together a second time, being willing, as long as he was among them, to improve his time for their spiritual as well as civil good; to impress their minds with a sense of religion, and to strengthen, enlarge, and enforce the exhortations he had given them to serve the Lord; and Abarbinel thinks he gathered them together again because before they returned him no answer, and therefore he determined now to put such questions to them as would oblige them to give one, as they did, and which issued in making a covenant with them; the place where they assembled was Shechem, which some take to be Shiloh, because of what is said Joshua 24:25; that being as they say in the fields of Shechem; which is not likely, since Shiloh, as Jerom saysF21De loc. Heb. fol. 94. I. , was ten miles from Neapolis or Shechem. This place was chosen because nearest to Joshua, who was now old and infirm, and unfit to travel; and the rather because it was the place where the Lord first appeared to Abraham, when he brought him into the land of Canaan, and where he made a promise of giving the land to his seed, and where Abraham built an altar to him, Genesis 12:6; where also Jacob pitched his tent when he came from Padanaram, bought a parcel of a field, and erected an altar to the Lord, Genesis 33:18; and where Joshua also repeated the law to, and renewed the covenant with the children of Israel, quickly after their coming into the land of Canaan, for Ebal and Gerizim were near to Shechem, Joshua 8:30;

and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers: See Gill on Joshua 23:2;

and they presented themselves before God; Kimchi and Abarbinel are of opinion that the ark was fetched from the tabernacle at Shiloh, and brought hither on this occasion, which was the symbol of the divine Presence; and therefore the place becoming sacred thereby is called the sanctuary of the Lord, and certain it is that here was the book of the law of Moses, Joshua 24:26; which was put on the side of the ark, Deuteronomy 31:26.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-24.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Joshua gathered all the a 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 b God.

(a) That is, the nine tribes and the half.

(b) Before the ark which was brought to Shechem, when they went to bury Joseph's bones.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-24.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Joshua 24:1. Joshua assembling the tribes.

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 (Genesis 12:6, Genesis 12:7; 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].

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-24.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

We are now arrived to the end of Joshua's history. This chapter contains the finishing of his sermon, and the finishing of his life together. He dies, as he had lived, in the act of praising God, and most earnestly and affectionately entreating the Israelites to the love and obedience of the Lord. The chapter closes also with an account of the death of Eleazar, and of the removal of Joseph's bones.

Joshua 24:1

Whether this be a continuation of the same sermon, as in the preceding chapter, or whether it be another discourse, is not certain. As the former declared that he was that day going the way of all the earth, it should seem to have been intended as his farewell discourse. But it is possible that this might have been delivered at another time. However this point is not so interesting to determine. The subject of this and the former is one and the same. Both were preached to proclaim God's glory; and this is the leading point which runs through both. It was in Shechem, not in Shiloh, Joshua delivered his farewell sermon; for this was nearer his home. And this is the more remarkable, because this was the memorable spot where the visions of God began with Abraham. Genesis 12:6-7.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/joshua-24.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

All Israel — Namely, their representatives.

Shechem — To the city of Shechem, a place convenient for the purpose, not only because it was a Levitical city, and a city of refuge, and a place near Joshua's city, but especially for the two main ends for which he summoned them thither1. For the solemn burial of the bones of Joseph, and the rest of the patriarchs, for which this place was designed2. For the solemn renewing of their covenant with God; which in this place was first made between God and Abraham, Genesis 12:6,7, and afterwards renewed by the Israelites at their first entrance into the land of Canaan, between the two mountains of Ebal and Gerizzim, Joshua 8:30, etc. which were very near Shechem: and therefore this place was most proper, both to remind them of their former obligations to God, and to engage them to a farther ratification of them.

Before God — As in God's presence, to hear what Joshua was to speak to them in God's name, and to receive God's commands from his mouth. He had taken a solemn farewell before: but as God renewed his strength, he desired to improve it for their good. We must never think our work for God done, 'till our life is done.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-24.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 24:1 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.

Ver. 1. And Joshua gathered all the tribes to Shechem.] The chief city of Ephraim, near to old Joshua, who called this parliament thither, and not far from mount Gerizim and mount Ebal, where the people had lately renewed their covenant, which they were now to do again; and the identity of the place might be some advantage: whence it is that they that give rules of direction concerning prayer, do advise us, amongst other helps, to accustom ourselves to the same place.

And they presented themselves before God,] i.e., Before the ark brought hither for the purpose.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-24.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 1. And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel Calmet thinks, that the discourse in the former chapter is to be considered only as the exordium or introduction to the present: which is nearly the opinion of Calvin. But the two discourses seem very distinct in the text, and we see no reason for putting them together.

To Shechem Some copies of the LXX, particularly the Roman edition, and Alexandrian manuscript, read here, and in ver. 25 to Shiloh. What renders this reading very probable is, that we find the Israelites assembled before God; that is, before the ark, which certainly resided in the tabernacle; and that, undoubtedly, was at Shiloh. Of this opinion likewise are Grotius, Junius, Wells, and others. In answer to which it is to be considered, 1. That, according to Eusebius and St. Jerome, there were not less than ten or twelve miles distance between these two places. 2. Other copies of the LXX, as well as the Hebrew, Chaldee, and other eastern versions, read Shechem, and not Shiloh; and to these we may add Josephus, Hist. Jud. lib. 5: cap. 1. See Dr. Wall. 3. It is easy to account for this convocation of the assembly at Shechem. For, not to mention that this city was the capital of the tribe of Ephraim, and in the neighbourhood of Timnath-serah, where Joshua resided, who, on account of his great age, might very possibly be unable to go to Shiloh; it is probable, that he thought it proper to renew the divine covenant in the place where Abraham had first settled, and had erected an altar on his entering into the land of Canaan (Genesis 13:6-7.); where the patriarchs were interred, Acts 7:16.; and where Joshua himself had first entered into covenant with the Israelites, chap. Joshua 8:30, &c.; for Ebal and Gerizzim were very near Shechem. See Le Clerc and Calmet. We will presently consider the objection brought by some, that the assembly in question was held before God; observing here, that an able critic thinks, that the several opinions respecting the matter may be reconciled, by supposing the congregation to have met in the fields of Shechem, and that thence the people went in companies to Shiloh, as it were to confirm before God what they had promised to Joshua, who had received the assembly at Timnath-serah, his place of residence, situate between Shechem and Shiloh. See Shuckford's Connection, vol. 3: p. 427.

They presented themselves before God That is to say, before his tabernacle. "But," say some, "this tabernacle was at Shiloh." It rested there, it is true; but we apprehend, that upon this grand solemnity it was removed from Shiloh to Shechem; and the kings and leaders of Israel certainly had a right to have the ark removed from its usual station to any other place upon extraordinary occasions. See 1 Samuel 4:3-4. 2 Samuel 15:24., and Bertram de Repub. Jude 1:25; Jude 1:15 p. 249. This was such an occasion: The whole nation had been convened at Shechem to renew the divine covenant; Joshua, one hundred and twenty years of age, was come up from Timnath-serah to that city, his strength not allowing him a longer journey: and was not this sufficient to authorise the sending for the ark, that the people might thus assemble before the Lord? We must not, however, pass over the opinion of the learned Mede, who thinks that the Ephraimites had built at Shechem a proseucha, a kind of oratory or chapel, whither the people resorted to divine worship when they could not go so far as the tabernacle; and that it was before this house of prayer that the assembly was held. But for more respecting this ingenious conjecture, see on ver. 26.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-24.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

JOSHUA CHAPTER 24

Joshua assemble all the tribes at Shechem, Joshua 24:1. A brief history of God’s benefits from Terah: he exhorts them faithfully to serve the true God, Joshua 24:2-13. Reneweth a covenant between them and God; promising for himself and his house; the people four several times promising for themselves, Joshua 24:11-25. He writes this in the book of the law, and sets up a stone for a witness, Joshua 24:26-28. His age, death, and burial, Joshua 24:29-31. The burying of Joseph’s bones, Joshua 24:32. The death and burial of Eleazar, Joshua 24:33.

Gathered all the tribes of Israel, to wit, by their representatives, as Joshua 23:2. To Shechem; either,

1. To Shiloh, where the ark and tabernacle was; because they are here said to

present themselves before God; and because the stone set up here is said to be set up in or by the sanctuary of the Lord; of both which I shall speak in their proper places. And they say Shiloh is here called Shechem, because it was in the territory of Shechem; but that may be doubted, seeing Shiloh was ten miles distant from Shechem, as St. Jerom affirms. And had he meant Shiloh, why should he not express it in its own and proper name, by which it is called in all other places, rather than by another name no where else given to it? Or rather,

2. To the city of Shechem, a place convenient for the present purpose, not only because it was a Levitical city, and a city of refuge, and a place near to Joshua’s city, but especially for the two main ends for which he summoned them thither.

1. For the solemn burial of the bones of Joseph, as is implied here, Joshua 24:32, and of the rest of the patriarchs, as is noted Acts 7:15, Acts 7:16, for which this place was designed.

2. For the solemn renewing of their covenant with God; which in this place was first made between God and Abraham, Genesis 12:6,7, and afterwards was there renewed by the Israelites at their first entrance into the land of Canaan, between the two mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, Joshua 8:30, &c., which were very near Shechem, as appears from Jude 9:6,7; and therefore this place was most proper, both to remind them of their former obligations to God, and to engage them to a further ratification of them.

Before God; either,

1. Before the ark or tabernacle, as that phrase is commonly used; which might be either in Shiloh, where they were fixed; or in Shechem, whither the ark was brought upon this great occasion, as it was sometimes removed upon such occasions, as 1 Samuel 4:3 2 Samuel 15:24. Or,

2. In that public, and venerable, and sacred assembly met together for religious exercises; for in such God is present, Exodus 20:24 Psalms 82:1 Matthew 18:20. Or,

3. As in God’s presence, to hear what Joshua was to speak to them in God’s name, and to receive God’s commands from his mouth. Thus Isaac is said to bless Jacob before the Lord, i.e. in his name and presence, Genesis 27:7; and Jephthah is said to utter all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh, i.e. as in God’s presence, calling him in to be witness of them.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-24.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

JOSHUA’S FAREWELL ADDRESS AT SHECHEM, Joshua 24:1-24.

1.All the tribes — By their representatives. See Joshua 23:2, note. We have no means of determining the date of this transaction. Some suppose that a considerable period had elapsed after the speech recorded in the last chapter, when Joshua, seeing his life was unexpectedly prolonged, resolved on another farewell to his people of a more solemn and formal character. Others hold that there was but one assembly and but one address, begun, perhaps, at Shiloh, and concluded at Shechem, to which place the assembly adjourned for the renewal of the covenant. The Septuagint version has the assembly at Shiloh; but there are good reasons for regarding the Hebrew as the correct version. At Shechem Abraham built his first altar in Canaan. Genesis 12:7. Here Jacob had “sanctified” his family, and exhorted them to “put away the strange gods,” (Genesis 35:2-4;) and Joshua, following the command of Moses, had visited the same sanctuary to inscribe the law on a stone monument, and to exact an oath of allegiance to Jehovah with the impressive sanctions of the blessings and the curses. Joshua 8:30-35.

[Presented themselves before God — As the expression before God, or before Jehovah, frequently means before the Ark of the Covenant, many expositors have supposed that the Ark was brought from Shiloh to Shechem at this time. But Hengstenberg and Keil have abundantly shown that the words do not always imply the presence of the Ark. “If before Jehovah could only refer to the ceremonies at the sanctuary, Jehovah would be present only there, shut up in his holy place; an absurd idea, destructive of the divine omnipresence, and one which can never be found in the Holy Scriptures.” — Hengstenberg. Rather does the expression mean that the assembly met as in the presence of God, whose holy name Joshua doubtless invoked. All present realized that the eye of Jehovah was upon them.]

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-24.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Chapter 24 The Great Covenant Ceremony.

The book closes with an account of a great covenant ceremony at Shechem. The chapter begins with an account of the gathering of the tribes by Joshua. There Joshua again addresses the people, rehearses to them the many great and good things YHWH has done for them, from the time of their ancestor Abraham to that day, and then exhorts them to fear and serve YHWH, and reject idols. Then he lays before them the stark choice as to whether they will serve the true God, or the gods of the Canaanites. When they choose the former, he advises them to abide by their choice, and finalises a covenant with them to that purpose. Then he sends them away and the chapter concludes with an account of the death and burial of Joshua and Eleazar, and of the interment of the bones of Joseph.

Joshua 24:1

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.’

Shechem was the place where Joshua had previously written the words of the covenant on stones (Joshua 8:32) and had built an altar in accordance with Exodus 20:24-25, establishing a sanctuary there in response to God’s revelation through Moses (Deuteronomy 27:5), in a great covenant ceremony. It was also the place where Moses had declared that such a covenant ceremony should take place on entering the land (Deuteronomy 27:2-8). It was therefore logical that for this great covenant renewal Joshua should once again gather the people at Shechem on Mount Ebal where they could again see those stones that bore witness to the words of the covenant and were a reminder of their first successful entry into the land. Shechem lay in the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim.

As he grew even more certain of approaching death he felt the need to remind his people of that first great and significant event, and to renew what had been done there so that they would remember it once he was gone. So he called the people together once more and then summoned the leaders of the people, but this time it was not only to an address to the nation but to a solemn covenant ceremony. During it he would recount what YHWH had done for his people (Joshua 24:2-13). Then he would call on them to make a solemn response as to where their loyalties lay (Joshua 24:14-15) which the people immediately did (Joshua 24:16-18), after which he would put his challenge the second time (Joshua 24:19-20) resulting in a second response, thus confirming the certainty of their promise. Joshua would then vocally accept their response, receiving their third and final confirmation, and write the covenant in a written record, and set up a memorial stone at the sanctuary he had previously established there. Thus was the covenant sealed.

We note that this gathering was not at Shiloh. There Eleazar or Phinehas would have been prominent. But this was a gathering re-enacting the earlier covenant ceremony at Shechem at the beginning (Joshua 8:30-35) and it was to the great Servant of YHWH that they all looked. At that ceremony the Shechemites had been incorporated into Israel as worshippers of ‘the Lord of the Covenant’, as partly Habiru, and as being descended in part from the men of Jacob who had settled there to watch over Jacob’s land and had settled the city after its male inhabitants were slaughtered (Genesis 34). (Although Judges 9 reveals that much of their worship was tainted with Canaanite influence and association of ‘the Lord of the Covenant’ with Baal).

“Presented themselves.” The word can mean ‘stationed for a certain purpose’. Compare Exodus 2:4; Exodus 9:13; Exodus 14:13; Exodus 19:17; Numbers 11:16.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-24.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. Preamble24:1

Shechem was a strategic location for this important ceremony. Joshua called on the Israelites to renew formally their commitment to the Mosaic Covenant at the site that was very motivating to them to do so.

"If you were to put Plymouth Rock and Yorktown and Lexington and Independence Hall together, you would not have what Shechem is to Israel." [Note: Clarence Macartney, The Greatest Texts of the Bible, pp74-75.]

At Shechem, God had first appeared to Abraham when he had entered the land and promised to give him the land of Canaan. In response to that promise Abraham built his first altar to Yahweh in the land there ( Genesis 12:7). Jacob buried his idols at Shechem after returning to the Promised Land from Paddan-aram. He made this his home and built an altar to Yahweh there ( Genesis 33:18-20), and later God moved him to Bethel ( Genesis 35:1-4) where he built another altar.

"As Jacob selected Shechem for the sanctification of his house, because this place was already consecrated by Abraham as a sanctuary of God, so Joshua chose the same place for the renewal of the covenant, because this act involved a practical renunciation on the part of Israel of all idolatry." [Note: Keil and Delitzsch, pp226-27.]

At Shechem the same generation of Israelites that Joshua now addressed had pledged itself to the Mosaic Covenant shortly after it had entered the land ( Joshua 8:30-35). They had also built an altar there.

"For the Christian, regular presentation before God in worship is an essential feature of a life of faith ( Hebrews 10:25)." [Note: Hess, p300.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/joshua-24.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 24:1. Joshua gathered — It is likely that Joshua, living longer than he expected when he delivered the foregoing discourse to the Israelites, called the people together once more, that he might give them still further advice before he died; as Moses addressed them in several pathetic speeches before his departure from them. Or perhaps it was Joshua’s custom to assemble them frequently, in order that he might remind them of their duty, and enforce it upon them. All the tribes of Israel — Namely, their representatives, or, as it follows, their elders, their heads, their judges, and officers. To Shechem — To the city of Shechem, a place convenient for the purpose, not only because it was a Levitical city, and a city of refuge, and a place near Joshua’s city, but especially for the two main ends for which he summoned them thither. 1st, For the solemn burial of the bones of Joseph, and probably of some others of the patriarchs, for which this place was designed. 2d, For the solemn renewing of their covenant with God; which in this place was first made between God and Abraham, (Genesis 12:6-7,) and afterward renewed by the Israelites at their first entrance into the land of Canaan, between the two mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, (chap. Joshua 8:30, &c.,) which were very near Shechem: and therefore this place was most proper, both to remind them of their former obligations to God, and to engage them to a further ratification of them. Before God — As in God’s presence, to hear what Joshua was to speak to them in God’s name, and to receive God’s commands from his mouth. He had taken a solemn farewell before: but as God renewed his strength, he desired to improve it for their good. We must never think our work for God done till our life be done.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-24.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Of Israel. There seems no reason for restricting this to the ancients, &c. On this solemn occasion, when all Israel was probably assembled at one of the great festivals, Josue concluded his exhortation, by renewing the covenant (Calmet) in the place where he had formerly complied with the injunction of Moses, chap. viii. 31. (Haydock) --- In Sichem, in the field which Jacob had purchased, and where a great oak (ver. 26,) was growing, that had been honoured, it is thought, with the presence of the patriarchs. It was near the two famous mountains of Garizim and Hebal. (Calmet) --- Sichem was at the foot of the former mountain of blessings; and Josephus informs us, the altar was erected in its vicinity. No fitter place could therefore have been selected by the aged chief, to conclude the actions of his life, and to attach the people to the religion which they had once received, in the most signal manner. The Vatican and Alexandrian copies (Haydock) of the Septuagint, followed by St. Augustine (q. 30,) read Silo, where the tabernacle was fixed: but all the rest agree with the original, and with the ancient versions, in retaining Sichem, to which place the ark was removed on this occasion, (Calmet) the distance of ten (St. Jerome) or twelve miles. (Eusebius) --- It is not probable that an oak would be growing in the sanctuary, near the altar, contrary to the express prohibition of the Lord, ver. 26., and Deuteronomy xvi. 21. (Calmet) --- Many interpreters suppose that the assembly might be held at Silo, in the territory of Sichem. (Tirinus; Menochius; Serarius) --- But the distance seems too great; and Bonfrere rather thinks that the copies of the Septuagint have been altered. (Haydock) --- Salien remarks, that they might go in solemn procession from Sichem to Silo. (In the year of the world 2600)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-24.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

God. Hebrew ha-Elohim, the God. App-4. Compare Joshua 22:34.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-24.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-24.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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
This must have been a different assembly from that mentioned in the preceding chapter, though probably held not long after the former.
Shechem
As it is immediately added, that "they presented themselves before God," which is supposed to mean at the tabernacle; some are of opinion that Joshua caused it to be conveyed from Shiloh to Shechem on this occasion, to give the greater solemnity to his last meeting with the people. The Vatican and Alexandrian copies of the Septuagint, however, read [Selo] both here and in verse 25; which many suppose to have been the original reading. Dr. Shuckford supposes that the covenant was made at Shechem, and that the people went to Shiloh to confirm it. But the most probable opinion seems to be that of Dr. Kennicott, that when all the tribes were assembled as Shechem, Joshua called the chiefs to him on that mount, which had before been consecrated by the law, and by the altar which he had erected.
Genesis 12:6; 33:18,19; 35:4; Judges 9:1-3; 1 Kings 12:1
called
23:2; Exodus 18:25,26
presented
1 Samuel 10:19; Acts 10:33
Reciprocal: Genesis 48:21 - God;  Genesis 49:24 - the shepherd;  Exodus 5:6 - officers;  Numbers 13:8 - Oshea;  Deuteronomy 31:14 - presented;  Joshua 8:33 - all Israel;  Joshua 17:7 - Shechem;  1 Kings 8:1 - assembled;  1 Chronicles 23:2 - he gathered;  1 Chronicles 28:1 - assembled;  2 Chronicles 10:1 - Shechem;  Psalm 60:6 - Shechem;  Psalm 108:7 - Shechem

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-24.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.And Joshua gathered all the tribes, etc He now, in my opinion, explains more fully what he before related more briefly. For it would not have been suitable to bring out the people twice to a strange place for the same cause. Therefore by the repetition the course of the narrative is continued. And he now states what he had not formerly observed, that they were all standing before the Lord, an expression which designates the more sacred dignity and solemnity of the meeting. I have accordingly introduced the expletive particle Therefore, to indicate that the narrative which had been begun now proceeds. For there cannot be a doubt that Joshua, in a regular and solemn manner, invoked the name of Jehovah, and, as in his presence, addressed the people, so that each might consider for himself that God was presiding over all the things which were done, and that they were not there engaged in a private business, but confirming a sacred and inviolable compact with God himself. We may add, as is shortly afterwards observed, that there was his sanctuary. Hence it is probable that the ark of the covenant was conveyed thither, not with the view of changing its place, but that in so serious an action they might sist themselves before the earthly tribunal of God. (196) For there was no religious obligation forbidding the ark to be moved, and the situation of Sichem was not far distant.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-24.html. 1840-57.