Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 24:19

Then Joshua said to the people, "You will not be able to serve the Lord , for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Covenant;   Decision;   God Continued...;   Shechem;   Thompson Chain Reference - Divine;   God;   Jealousy;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - God;   Holiness of God, the;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Jealousy;   Shechem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Forgiveness;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Atonement;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Pillars;   Ruth;   Shechem (1);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Covenant;   Ebal;   Immutability of God;   Joshua;   Joshua, the Book of;   Temple of Jerusalem;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Forgiveness;   Jealousy;   Shechem;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Elder;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Trinity;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Forgiveness;   Sanctification;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Anger;   Holiness;   Shechem;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is a holy God - If we are to take this literally, we cannot blame the Israelites for their defection from the worship of the true God; for if it was impossible for them to serve God, they could not but come short of his kingdom: but surely this was not the case. Instead of תוכלו לא lo thuchelu, ye Cannot serve, etc., some eminent critics read תכלו לא lo thechallu, ye shall not Cease to serve, etc. This is a very ingenious emendation, but there is not one MS. in all the collections of Kennicott and De Rossi to support it. However, it appears very possible that the first ו vau in תוכלו did not make a part of the word originally. If the common reading be preferred, the meaning of the place must be, "Ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is holy and jealous, unless ye put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the flood. For he is a jealous God, and will not give to nor divide his glory with any other. He is a holy God, and will not have his people defiled with the impure worship of the Gentiles."

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-24.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve Jehovah; for he is a holy God; he will not forgive your transgression nor your sins. If ye forsake Jehovah and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you evil, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve Jehovah. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you Jehovah to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. Now therefore put away, said he, the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto Jehovah, the God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, Jehovah our God will we serve, and unto his voice will we hearken. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of Jehovah. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold this stone shall be a witness against us; for it hath heard all the words of Jehovah which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness against you, lest ye deny your God. So Joshua sent the people away, every man unto his inheritance."

"He will not forgive your transgression nor your sins ..." Harsh as this may sound, there was no forgiveness of sins in any absolute sense under the Mosaic Law. Although, the particular sin that God here said He would not forgive was identified as the "worship of other gods," yet, in its larger dimensions, it applied to any breaking of the covenant. As Sizoo said, "`He will not forgive your transgressions' refers specifically to the worship of foreign gods and more generally to any wrongdoing, for to transgress any commandment of God is to violate the covenant."[33] Nowhere else in the history of the whole world is there any such thing as the forgiveness of sins except that which is available through the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage categorically denies that there was to be any forgiveness of sins under the Mosaic Law. As a matter of fact, Jeremiah made forgiveness of sins to be the unique element of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Joshua 24:20 is a reference to the curses and blessings that characterized the ancient suzerainty-covenant treaties. Thus, we continue to find in almost every verse evidence that this renewal ceremony strictly followed the ancient pattern.

"He (God) will turn and do you evil ..." (Joshua 24:20). This reference to God's turning does not at all conflict with other statements in the Bible, such as, "I Jehovah change not" (Malachi 3:6), or, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation nor shadow that is cast by turning" (James 1:17). What is meant of course, is that the conduct of men, in becoming wicked, can change their relation to God, and that change is here called God's turning. We follow the same kind of idiom in referring to the sun's going down. It is not the sun's going down that is denoted but the earth's changing its position with reference to the sun. So when we think of God's turning to punish men, it is NOT God who changed but the sinners who deserve the punishment. Woudstra pointed out that these two ideas: (1) God's changelessness and (2) His `turning' "sometimes occur in one and the same chapter (1 Samuel 15:11,29)."[34]

Here again in Joshua 24:23 we find evidence that the children of Israel still indulged a secret reverence and respect for heathen gods, actually having some of these idols in their possession at the time of these glib assertions of their loyalty to Jehovah. Keil and others have supposed that Joshua here spoke of the inward, mental retention of such idols, but we cannot accept that. As Plummer said, "There can be little doubt that, although Israel dared not openly worship strange gods, yet [~teraphim] and other images were retained by them, and if not worshipped, were nevertheless accorded a respect and veneration that could in the future lead them into apostasy."[35] And, of course, that is exactly what did happen later.

"The book of the law of God ..." (Joshua 24:26). If this is not the O.T., particularly the Five Books of Moses and the Book of Joshua, then what is it? The commentators seem to have trouble with this "Book of the Law of God," but, just as the ancient covenant-treaty of the Hittites required a document to record the terms of the covenant to be prepared and deposited in a safe place, the same thing, exactly, occurred here. The simple meaning here is that the Book of Moses (commonly called the five books) was supplemented by this book we are studying, containing especially this final solemn ratification of the covenant and renewal of the covenant status of Israel.

"Under the oak that was by the sanctuary of Jehovah ..." (Joshua 24:26). The efforts of some to translate "in" instead of "by" in this verse derive from their desire to get an oak tree into the tabernacle, which is the "sanctuary of Jehovah" mentioned here. If we had needed any proof that the tabernacle had indeed been moved to Shechem for this ratification ceremony, here it is. Of course, Keil denied that the word rendered "by" or "near" in this verse could ever mean "near." But Plummer's comment on that should enlighten us:

"It is difficult to see how Keil could have denied this with so many passages against him, as in Joshua 5:13; 1 Samuel 29:1; Ezekiel 10:15, etc. He wishes to avoid the idea of the sanctuary being in Shechem!"[36]

What can the critics do with "the Book of the Law of God" mentioned in this paragraph? Well, here is the way Holmes handled it:

"If there had been such a book of the law there would have been no necessity to erect a stone for a witness; the book would have been a much better one."[37]

The new light now available regarding the type of covenant-treaty in view here shows that the ancient Hittite kings (about 1400 B.C.) had no trouble at all getting their covenants written down in a book, and the Code of Hammurabi (about 2000 B.C.) was written and even engraved on stone. So, what kind of blindness is it that can deny what Joshua plainly declared here?

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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 24:19". "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 said unto the people,.... To their heads and representatives now assembled together, and who had returned to him the preceding answer:

ye cannot serve the Lord; which he said not to discourage or deter them from serving the Lord, since it was his principal view, through the whole of this conversation with them, to engage them in it, but to observe to them their own inability and insufficiency of themselves to perform service acceptable to God; and therefore it became them to implore grace and strength from the Lord to assist them in it, and to depend upon that and not to lean to and trust in their own strength; as also to observe to them, that they could not serve him perfectly without any defect and failure in their service, for there is no man that does good and sins not; and therefore when a man has done all he can, he must not depend upon it for his justification before God; or consider it as his justifying righteousness, which was what that people were always prone to; some supply it,"you cannot serve the Lord with your images,'or along with them, so Vatablus:

for he is an holy God: perfectly holy, so that the best of men, and the heat of their services, are impure and unholy before him and will not bear to be compared with him, and therefore by no means to be trusted in; and it requires much grace and spiritual strength to perform any service that may be acceptable to him through Christ. In the Hebrew text it is, "for the Holy Ones are he": which may serve to illustrate and confirm the doctrine of the trinity of, persons in the unity of the divine Essence, or of the three divine holy Persons, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit, as the one God, see Isaiah 6:3,

he is a jealous God; of his honour and glory, and of his worship, in which he will admit of no rival, of no graven images, or any idols to be worshipped with him, or besides him; nor will he suffer the idol of men's righteousness to be set up in the room of, or in opposition to, the righteousness of God, even no services and works of men, be they ever so good, since they cannot be perfect before him:

he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins; even the transgressions and sins of such that forsake the worship and service of him, and fall into idolatry, or who seek for justification by their own services, these are both abominable to him; otherwise he is a God pardoning the iniquity, transgression, and sin, of all those who seek unto him and serve him, confess their sins, and renounce their own righteousness; see Exodus 23:21.

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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-24.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

Ye cannot — He speaks not of an absolute impossibility, (for then both his resolution to serve God himself, and his exhortation to them had been vain) but of a moral impossibility, or a very great difficulty, which he alledgeth not to discourage them from God's service, but to make them more considerate in obliging themselves; and more resolved in answering their obligations. The meaning is, God's service is not, as you seem to fancy, a slight and easy thing, but it is a work of great difficulty, and requires great care, and courage and resolution; and when I consider the infinite purity of God, that he will not be mocked or abused; and withal your proneness to superstition and idolatry, even during the life of Moses, and in some of you, while I live, and while the obligations which God had laid upon you in this land, are fresh in remembrance; I cannot but fear that after my decease you will think the service of God burdensome, and therefore will cast it off and revolt from him, if you do not carefully avoid all occasions of idolatry.

A jealous God — In the Hebrew, He is the holy Gods, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit. He will not endure a partner in his worship; you can not serve him and idols together.

Will not forgive — If you who own yourselves his people and servants, shall wilfully transgress his laws, he will not let this go unpunished in you, as he doth in other nations; therefore consider what you do, when you take the Lord for your God; weigh your advantages and inconveniences together; for as if you be sincere and faithful in God's service, you will have admirable benefits by it; so if you be false to your professions, and forsake him whom you have so solemnly avouched to be your God, he will deal more severely with you than with any people in the world.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-24.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 24:19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he [is] an holy God; he [is] a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

Ver. 19. Ye cannot serve the Lord.] You that are yet unregenerate, and that would fain make a mixture of religions, cannot serve the Lord; for he must be served like himself, that is, truly, that there be no halting; and totally, that there be no halving; he will not take up with a seeming or slubbering service. "Offer it now to thy prince; will he be pleased with thee or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts." [Malachi 1:8]

For he is a holy God.] And requireth to be sanctified in all those that draw near unto him; it will be worse with them else. [Leviticus 10:3] Neither profaneness nor formal profession will he endure; but least of all idolatry.

For he is a jealous God.] And will not be yoked with idols, neither will he give his glory, which is as his wife, to another. If any cast but a leering look toward it, he shall smart and smoke for so doing.

He will not forgive your transgressions,] sc., Unless you forego them: or if he do forgive them, yet he may take vengeance, temporal vengeance, of their inventions; [Psalms 99:8] and for that matter their repentance may come too late. [Deuteronomy 1:37 2 Samuel 12:16] All this Joshua speaketh, not to weaken but to waken their diligence in God’s service.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-24.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Joshua 24:19

We find here that Joshua offers a repulse to men who wish to avow themselves on the side of God. There is every ground for believing that he was under Divine direction, and as there was no evidence that the people were insincere in their promise, there must be some reason for the manner in which they are met.

I. This procedure on the part of God is not unusual. A number of instances might easily be found in the Bible of obstacles thrown in the way of men who offer themselves to the service of God. There are many terrible threatenings, many dreadful judgments against sin and sinners, which have in them all the language of the text. Many profess Christianity with far more irreverence than others keep aloof from it. There are thoughtful and self-distrustful natures which have long and deep shrinking because their eye has seen the purity of God and the poverty of self. Within certain limits the feeling is true and most becoming. It is God repeating in a humble heart the words of Joshua, "Ye cannot serve the Lord, for He is an holy God."

II. Having sought to show that this procedure on the part of God is not so unusual, we may now attempt to find some reasons for it. (1) It sifts the true from the false seeker. We refer here not to arriving at the profession of Christianity, but at the principle of it in the heart. The Gospel comes into the world to be a touchstone of human nature, to be Ithuriel's spear among men. No one will be able to complain of any real wrong from these obstacles. The false seeker is not injured, because he never sincerely sought at all. The true seeker is not injured, for never was such a one disappointed. When the flickering phosphorescence glimmers out, the spark, although as faint as in the smoking flax, lives on and rises to a flame. (2) It leads the true seeker to examine himself more thoroughly. It is very good for a man, when he is in danger of too hasty acquiescence, that he should be compelled to examine himself both about his view of God's character in the pardon of sin, and what this requires of him in the way of self-surrender to God. (3) It binds a man to his profession by a stronger sense of consistency. God will beguile none of us into His service by false pretences. He tells us the nature of the work, what His own character gives Him a right to expect of us; then, if we still go forward, He can say, "Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen the Lord, to serve Him." (4) It educates us to a higher growth and greater capacity for happiness. If we are to rise to anything great in the spiritual life, it must be, not by soft, indulgent nurture, but by endurance of hardship and pressing on against repulse. The delay which Christians have in gaining a sense of acceptance with God arises often from making the sense of acceptance the main object of pursuit. But there is something higher: to serve God whether we have the sense of acceptance or no—to have this as the one great purpose of life and end of our being,—"Nay, but we will serve the Lord."

J. Ker, Sermons, p. 56.


References: Joshua 24:19.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes, p. 48; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 274. Joshua 24:24.—G. Woolnough, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 307. Joshua 24:25.—W. Morley Punshon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xix., p. 56; Old Testament Outlines, p. 59. Joshua 24:26, Joshua 24:27.—J. Foster, Lectures, vol. ii., p. 396; H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. v., p. 63; J. Van Oosterzee, Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 408; Parker, vol. v., p. 289. Joshua 24:19-29.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 399. Joshua 24:29, Joshua 24:30.—J. R. Macduff, Sunsets on the Hebrew Mountains, p. 36. Joshua 24:32.—J. Kennedy, Sunday Magazine, 1876, p. 810; Expositor; 3rd series, vol. ii., p. 299.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/joshua-24.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 19. And Joshua said unto the people, ye cannot serve the Lord, &c.— These words may he understood two ways. 1. They may signify, "you will not serve the Lord; I foresee that ye will not keep your word:" in the same sense as it is said of Jesus Christ, that he could work no miracle at Nazareth, to express that he would not; or, as when he said to the Jews, ye cannot hear my word; i.e. your prejudices and passions hinder you from desiring it. 2. They may signify "the thing is difficult, it requires great courage, and will cost you more than you are aware, by reason of the temptations you will have to conquer in the attaining it." These two senses seem necessary to be united for the proper understanding of the passage. The intention of Joshua is certainly, not to insinuate to the Israelites that it will be impossible for them to serve God; for why then should he have exhorted them to serve him, as he had just done in ver. 14.? His design is evident: it is, to pique the zeal of the Israelites, to engage them seriously to reflect on what they promised, and to stimulate their protestations of fidelity, by seeming to doubt the sincerity of them: as if he had said, "You promise to serve God; but can you do so, whose inclinations to idolatry are so strong? And will you be firm and courageous enough to persevere sincerely in the desire so to do?"

For he is an holy God; he is a jealous God, &c.— As he has no equal, neither can he suffer a rival. To pay to idols that worship which he only deserves, or even to associate them with the homage which is paid to him, is to contest with him, to take from him a part of that perfect holiness which constitutes his glory, and is what the Scripture calls profaning his holy name. See Mede's Discourses, b. 1: disc. 2.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". 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

Ye cannot serve the Lord: he speaks not of an absolute impossibility, (for then both his resolution to serve God himself, and his exhortation to them to do so, had been vain and ridiculous,) but of a moral impossibility, or a very great difficulty, which he allegeth not to discourage them from God’s service, which is his great design to engage them in; but only to make them more considerate and cautious in obliging themselves, and more circumspect and resolved in answering their obligations. The meaning is, God’s service is not, as you seem to fancy, a slight and easy thing, as soon done as said; but it is a work of great difficulty, and requires great care, and courage, and resolution; and when I consider the infinite purity of God, that he will not be mocked or abused; and withal your great and often manifested proneness to superstition and idolatry, even during the life of Moses, and in some of you whilst I live, and whilst the obligations which God hath laid upon you in this land are fresh in remembrance; I cannot but fear that after my decease you will think the service of God too hard and burdensome for you, and therefore will cast it off, and revolt from him, if you do not double your watch, and carefully avoid all occasions of idolatry, which I fear you will not do, but I do hereby exhort you to do.

He is a jealous God; he will not endure a co-rival or partner in his worship; you cannot serve him and idols together, as you will be inclined and tempted to do.

He will not forgive your transgressions; if you who own yourselves for his people and servants, shall wickedly and wilfully transgress his laws by idolatry or other crimes, he will not let this go unpunished in you, as he doth in other nations; therefore consider what you do when you take the Lord for your God; weigh your advantages and inconveniences together; for as if you be sincere and faithful in God’s service, you will have admirable benefits by it; so if you be false to your professions, and forsake him whom you have so solemnly avouched to be your God, he will deal more severely with you than with any people in the world.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". 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

19.Ye cannot serve the Lord — Joshua utters these discouraging words, based on the waywardness of the people’s hearts, to draw out from them the expression of strong purpose to serve Jehovah. Thereby he elicits their energetic We will, in Joshua 24:21, and their self-pledging witness in Joshua 24:22.

He is a jealous God — He demands, like a husband, the undivided affection and service of the people who have avowed their fidelity to him. The word jealous, as applied to God, involves evident anthropomorphism.

He will not forgive — This seems to represent God as implacable, in direct contradiction to that wonderful revelation of his attributes made to Moses in Exodus 34:7, as “forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.” But the same revelation declares that he will by no means clear the guilty. The explanation is, that while God is forgiving to the truly penitent through the blood of sprinkling, he vigorously punishes all incorrigible sinners.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-24.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 24:19. Ye cannot — He speaks not of an absolute impossibility, (for then both his resolution to serve God himself, and his exhortation to them, had been vain,) but of a moral impossibility, or a very great difficulty, which he alleges not to discourage them from God’s service, but to make them more considerate in obliging themselves, and more resolved in answering their obligations. The meaning is, God’s service is not, as you seem to fancy, a slight and easy thing, but it is a work of great difficulty, and requires great care, and courage, and resolution; and when I consider the infinite purity of God, that he will not be mocked or abused, and withal your proneness to superstition and idolatry, even during the life of Moses, and in some of you while I live, and while the obligations which God has laid upon you in this land are fresh in remembrance, I cannot but fear that, after my decease, you will think the service of God burdensome, and therefore will cast it off and revolt from him, if you do not carefully avoid all occasions of idolatry. A jealous God — In the Hebrew, He is the holy Gods, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit. He will not endure a partner in his worship; you cannot serve him and idols together. Will not forgive — If you who own yourselves his people and servants shall wilfully transgress his laws, he will not let this go unpunished in you, as he doth in other nations; therefore consider what ye do, when you take the Lord for your God; weigh your advantages and inconveniences together; for as, if you be sincere and faithful in God’s service, you will have admirable benefits by it; so, if you be false to your professions, and forsake him whom you have so solemnly avouched to be your God, he will deal more severely with you than with any people in the world.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-24.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

You will not be able to serve the Lord, &c. This was not said by way of discouraging them; but rather to make them more earnest and resolute, by setting before them the greatness of the undertaking, and the courage and constancy necessary to go through with it. (Challoner) --- Josue knew the fickle temper of his subjects. He insinuates, therefore, that if they do not lay that aside, they will not stand to their engagements, (Calmet) and will irritate God the more, if they enter into a covenant with him, and afterwards prove inconsistent. Hebrew La thuclu, "you cannot," may perhaps have the first u redundant; (Kennicott) as that is a letter which is often inserted or omitted at the transcriber's pleasure. (Aben Ezra Simon) --- Hallet suggests that we ought to read lo thucelu, "you shall not cease," which would obviate the apparent difficulty of Josue's attempting, as it were, to cool the fervour of the people, by insinuating that they will not be able to stick to their resolutions, and that at a time when he is exerting every nerve to make them sensible of their duty, and to engage them to swear an inviolable fidelity to the Lord. "Cease not to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God, he is a jealous God, he will not forgive your rebellion, (Copssaco. Job xxxiv. 27,) nor your sins; if you forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and consume you." (Kennicott, Dis. 2.) --- If we were to read with an interrogation, "Will you not be able? &c., it might answer the same end. Josue may be considered as starting an objection, which is but too common in the mouth of the slothful, and of may of the pretended reformers, Luther, &c., who endeavour to persuade the world that they are not able to comply with the rigour of God's law, and even make his severity an encouragement for their despair. Josue replies that these pretexts are groundless, and that God, who has already done so much for them, (ver. 20,) will not abandon them in their wants, if they cry unto him; and that, instead of being dejected by the thought of his judgments, they ought to strive, with the utmost fervour, to comply with his divine will. (Haydock) --- A general sometimes withholds the ardour of his soldiers, telling them that they are not a match for the enemy, in order to inflame their courage the more. (Menochius) --- A torrent which has been long repressed, rushes forward with greater fury when the dam is broken down. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-24.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Ye cannot serve. The Ellipsis must be supplied by adding from Joshua 24:14. "Unless ye put away your idols". See App-6.

holy. See note on Exodus 6:5.

GOD. Hebrew. El. App-4.

sins. App-44.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-24.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) And Joshua said . . . Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is . . . jealous . . .—Jehovah will not consent to be served as one God among many: the very thing which Israel was doing at the moment, which they meant to do, and did do, with rare intervals, down to the Babylonish captivity, when the evil spirit of (literal) idolatry was expelled for evermore. Israel always maintained the worship of Jehovah (except in very evil times) as the national Deity, but did not abstain from the recognition and partial worship of other national deities of whom they were afraid, and whom they thought it necessary to propitiate. Therefore Joshua’s argument is perfectly intelligible, and was entirely necessary for those times.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-24.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
Ye cannot
23; Ruth 1:15; Matthew 6:24; Luke 14:25-33
holy
Leviticus 10:3; 19:2; 1 Samuel 6:20; Psalms 99:5,9; Isaiah 5:16; 6:3-5; 30:11,15; Habakkuk 1:13
a jealous
Exodus 20:5; 34:14; 1 Corinthians 10:20-22
he will not
Exodus 23:21; 34:7; 1 Samuel 3:14; 2 Chronicles 36:16; Isaiah 27:11
Reciprocal: Numbers 25:11 - that I;  Psalm 99:3 - for it;  Isaiah 2:9 - therefore;  Ezekiel 8:3 - provoketh;  Nahum 1:2 - GeneralLuke 9:58 - Jesus;  Luke 14:28 - counteth;  1 Corinthians 10:22 - we provoke

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-24.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

19.And Joshua said unto the people, etc Here Joshua seems to act altogether absurdly in crushing the prompt and alert zeal of the people, by suggesting ground of alarm. For to what end does he insist that they cannot serve the Lord, unless it be to make them, from a sense of their utter powerlessness, to give themselves up to despair, and thus necessarily become estranged from the fear of God. It was necessary, however, to employ this harsh mode of obtestation, in order to rouse a sluggish people, rendered more lethargic by security. And we see that the expedient did not fail to obtain, at least, a momentary success. For they neither despond nor become more slothful, but, surmounting the obstacle, answer intrepidly that they will be constant in the performance of duty.

In short, Joshua does not deter them from serving God, but only explains how refractory and disobedient they are, in order that they may learn to change their temper. So Moses, in his song, (Deuteronomy 32:0) when he seems to make a divorce between God and the people, does nothing else than prick and whet them, that they may hasten to change for the better. Joshua, indeed, argues absolutely from the nature of God; but what he specially aims at is the perverse behavior and untamed obstinacy of the people. He declares that Jehovah is a holy and a jealous God. This, certainly, should not by any means prevent men from worshipping him; but it follows from it that impure, wicked, and profane despisers, who have no religion, provoke his anger, and can have no intercourse with him, for they will feel him to be implacable. And when it is said that he will not spare their wickedness, no general rule is laid down, but the discourse is directed, as often elsewhere, against their disobedient temper. It does not refer to faults in general, or to special faults, but is confined to gross denial of God, as the next verse demonstrates. The people, accordingly, answer the more readily, (202) that they will serve the Lord.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-24.html. 1840-57.