Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 24:2

Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the Lord , the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abraham;   Haran;   Nahor;   Polytheism;   Shechem;   Terah;   Time;   Thompson Chain Reference - Terah;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Babylon;   Euphrates, the;   Idolatry;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Idol, Idolatry;   River;   Serug;   Terah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Abraham;   Babylon;   Eternity;   Idol, idolatry;   Shechem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Covenant;   Genesis, Theology of;   Idol, Idolatry;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Flood;   Idolatry;   Nahor;   Shechem;   Terah;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Abraham;   Elder;   Idol;   Joshua;   Joshua, the Book of;   Nachor;   Pillars;   Rachel;   Shechem (1);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Confessions and Credos;   Covenant;   Directions (Geographical);   Ebal;   Flood;   God of the Fathers;   Joshua;   Joshua, the Book of;   Mission(s);   Nachor;   Rivers and Waterways in the Bible;   Shechem;   Temple of Jerusalem;   Terah;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Eber;   Flood;   Idolatry;   Nahor;   Shechem;   Terah;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Abraham ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Nahor ;   Terah ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Abram;   Nahor;   Terah;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Elder;   Te'rah;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Government of the Hebrews;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Beyond;   Flood;   God(s), Strange;   Hebrew;   Israel, Religion of;   Nahor;   Terah (1);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Abraham;   Haggadah (Shel Pesaḥ;   Hebrew;   Nahor;   Shechem;   Terah;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

On the other side of the flood - The river Euphrates.

They served other gods - Probably Abraham as well as Terah his father was an idolater, till he received the call of God to leave that land. See on Genesis 11:31; (note); Genesis 12:1; (note).

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-24.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The other side of the flood - Better “On the other side of the river,” i. e. the Euphrates. See the marginal reference.

They served other gods - Possibly the “images,” or teraphim, which we find their ancestor Laban calling “his gods” (see the marginal reference); and of which it would seem that there were, as Joshua spoke, some secret devotees among the people Joshua 24:14, Joshua 24:25. It is not stated that Abraham himself was an idolater, though his fathers were. Jewish tradition asserts 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. The reference in the text to the original state of those who were the forefathers of the nation, is made to show that they were no better than others: God chose them not for their excellences but of His own mere motion.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-24.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Joshua said unto all the people,.... Then present, or to all Israel by their representatives:

thus saith the Lord God of Israel; he spoke to them in the name of the Lord, as the prophet did, being himself a prophet, and at this time under a divine impulse, and spirit of prophecy. According to an Arabic writerF23Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 35. : the Angel of God appeared in the form of a man, and with a loud voice delivered the following, though they are expressed by him in a different manner; perhaps he mean, the Captain of the Lord's host, Joshua 15:13; and which is not unlikely:

your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time; on the offer side the, river Euphrates; so the Targum,"beyond Perat;'i.e. Euphrates; in Mesopotamia and Chaldea; meaning not the remotest of their ancestors, Noah and Shem, but the more near, and who are expressly named:

even Terah the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor; the Israelites sprung from Terah, in the line of Abraham, on the father's side, and from him in the line of Nachor on the mother's side, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel, being of Nachor's family:

and they served other gods; besides the true God, strange gods, which were no gods: "idols"; the idols of the people, as the Targum; so did Terah, Abraham, and Nachor; See Gill on Genesis 11:26; See Gill on Genesis 11:28; See Gill on Genesis 12:1.

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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 24:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-24.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(c) Euphrates in Mesopotamia, (Genesis 11:26).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "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 24:2-13. Relates God‘s benefits.

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

Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood — The Euphrates, namely, at Ur.

Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor — (see 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).

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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.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-24.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

The people — To the elders, by whom it was to be imparted to all the rest, and to as many of the people as came thither. He spake to them in God's name, and as from him, in the language of a prophet, Thus saith the Lord. Jehovah, the great God, and the God of Israel, whom you are peculiarly engaged to hear.

The flood — Or, the river, namely, Euphrates, so called by way of eminency.

They served — That is, Both Abraham and Nahor were no less idolaters than the rest of mankind. This is said to prevent their vain boasting in their worthy ancestors, and to assure them that whatsoever good was in, or had been done by their progenitors, was wholly from God's free grace, and not for their own merit or righteousness.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-24.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 24:2 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.

Ver. 2. And Joshua said unto all the people.] Besides what he had said to them in the former chapter; so solicitous was he of the public welfare after his decease also. Cicero saith that this was his chiefest care: we are sure it was good Joshua’s.

Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood,] i.e., Of the river Euphrates, that ancient river. And this was the ancient manner of speaking to the people, by giving them a historical narrative of what God had done for them and their forefathers, that mercy might enforce to duty; since divine blessings are binders, and men’s offences are increased by their obligations. See the like method made use of by those admirable preachers, David, [Psalms 78:1-72] Stephen, [Acts 7:2-53] and Paul. [Acts 13:17-41]

And they served other gods.] Even Abraham as well as the rest, (a) till God gave him a call out of his own country, till he had "called him to his foot," [Isaiah 41:2] that is, to follow him and his direction, to obey him without solicitation.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-24.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 2. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel This exordium indicates a prophetical discourse; so that Joshua was no less the prophet than the political head of the nation. It is not, therefore, so much he that speaks, as God by his mouth; and hence it is, that he expresses himself as the mere organ for the delivery of a discourse addressed by the Lord himself to all Israel.

The flood i.e. The river Euphrates.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". 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

Unto all the people, i.e. that people which were present, to wit, to the elders, &c., by whom it was to be imparted to all the rest, and to as many of the people as came thither.

The flood, or, the river, to wit, Euphrates, as all agree; so called by way of eminency.

They served other gods, i.e. both Abraham and Nahor were no less idolaters than the rest of mankind. This is said to prevent their vain boasting in their worthy ancestors, and to assure them that whatsoever good was in or had been done by their progenitors, was wholly born God’s free grace, and not for their own merit or righteousness, as the Jews were very apt to conceit.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". 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

2. On the other side of the flood — Rather, the river; that is, the Euphrates. It was Ur in Chaldea, beyond the Euphrates, whence Abraham was called from an idolatrous family. Terah, with Abram his son, removed from Ur westerly to Haran, where he died aged two hundred and five years. Genesis 11:29-32. That he was a maker of images is a mere legend.

[They served other gods — “It is not said distinctly of Abraham that he served other gods, on which account we agree with Knobel, who says: Whether, according to our author, Abraham also was originally an idolater, is rather to be denied than affirmed; comp. Genesis 31:53. But dangerous even for him were the idolatrous surroundings; wherefore God took him and caused him to wander through Canaan.” — Fay. But a love and reverence for the teraphim seemed rooted in the descendants of Terah. See note on Joshua 24:14.]

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-24.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says YHWH, the God of Israel, ‘Your fathers dwelt in olden days beyond the River, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.’ ” ’

Joshua now began the preamble to the covenant, the declaring of the acts of YHWH on behalf of His people. He began with Terah the father of Abraham and his brother Nahor, pointing out that Terah and his family were worshippers of false gods. The River was the River Euphrates. Israel were ‘descended’ from Terah through Abraham, and from Nahor through Rebekah.

This worshipping of false gods by Abraham’s relatives is not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament, but it is a clear assumption from Abraham’s call. He was called out from his family because of his new found faith in YHWH, probably garnered from reading the covenant records in the family archives which make up Genesis 1-11. There are other indications of it. Their connection was with the cities Ur and Haran, connected with Sin the moon god, (one of Terah’s sons was named after Haran), the name Sarai (princess) may connect with Sharratu, the consort of Sin, some have suggested that Milcah may connect with Malkatu, a title of Ishtar (Inanna) (see Genesis 11:27-32). Rachel stole her father’s ‘gods’ (teraphim) - Genesis 31:19. Jacob’s God was ‘the God of your father’ (Genesis 31:29), and the God of Abraham is probably distinguished from the god of Nahor (Genesis 31:53).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-24.html. 2013.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 24:2. Joshua said unto all the people — To the elders, by whom it was to be imparted to all the rest, and to as many of the people as came thither. He spake to them in God’s name, and as from him, in the language of a prophet. Thus saith the Lord — Jehovah, the great God, and the God of Israel, whom you are peculiarly bound to hear. This is an argument that he uttered all that follows by the divine inspiration and impulse. Indeed he was no less the prophet than the political head of the nation. Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood — Or, the river, namely, Euphrates, so called by way of eminence. They served other gods — That is, both Abraham and Nahor were no less idolaters than the rest of mankind. This is said to prevent their vain boasting in their worthy ancestors, and to assure them that whatsoever good was in, or had been done by their progenitors, was wholly from God’s free grace, and not for their own merit or righteousness.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-24.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Of the river. The Euphrates. (Challoner) --- Gods. Some think that Abraham himself was in his youth engaged in the worship of idols, (though this is denied by St. Augustine, City of God xvi. 13.; Theodoret, q. 18.; &c.; Worthington) as well as his father, &c., ver. 14., and Genesis xi. 31. Thare was the father of both Abraham and Nachor, (Genesis xi. 26,) unless (Haydock) the grandfather (Menochius) of Abraham was meant, who was also called Nachor, (Haydock) as well as Rebecca's grandfather, Genesis xxiv. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-24.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Thus smith the LORD. A supplementary revelation by the Spirit of God, who knows all (Hebrew. Jehovah.

saith = hath said.

the LORD God. Hebrew. Jehovah Elohim. App-4.

flood = the river Euphrates.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "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 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).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "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 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.
Your fathers
Genesis 11:26,31; 12:1; 31:53; Deuteronomy 26:5; Isaiah 51:2; Ezekiel 16:3
served other gods
In the case of Abraham this was probably the case, till he was called to the knowledge of God, when above 70 years old.
15; Genesis 31:19,30,32,53; 35:4
Reciprocal: Genesis 11:22 - Nahor;  Genesis 31:21 - passed;  Genesis 31:29 - the God;  Genesis 35:2 - strange;  Joshua 24:14 - put;  1 Chronicles 1:27 - Abram;  Nehemiah 9:7 - choose;  Isaiah 29:22 - who redeemed;  Isaiah 41:9 - whom;  Ezekiel 16:4 - for;  Matthew 1:2 - Abraham;  Matthew 20:5 - and did;  Luke 3:34 - Thara;  Acts 7:2 - when;  Romans 4:2 - but;  Romans 4:5 - ungodly;  Galatians 4:8 - ye did

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-24.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

2.Your fathers dwelt on the other side, etc He begins his address by referring to their gratuitous adoption by which God had anticipated any application on their part, so that they could not boast of any peculiar excellence or merit. For God had bound them to himself by a closer tie, having, while they were no better than others, gathered them together to be his peculiar people, from no respect to anything but his mere good pleasure. Moreover, to make it clearly appear that there was nothing in which they could glory, he leads them back to their origin, and reminds them how their fathers had dwelt in Chaldea, worshipping idols in common with others, and differing in nothing from the great body of their countrymen. Hence it is inferred that Abraham, when he was plunged in idolatry, was raised up, as it were, from the lowest deep.

The Jews, indeed, to give a false dignity to their race, fabulously relate that Abraham became an exile from his country because he refused to acknowledge the Chaldean fire as God. (197) But if we attend to the words of the inspired writer, we shall see that he is no more exempted from the guilt of the popular idolatry than Terah and Nachor. For why is it said that the fathers of the people served strange gods, and that Abraham was rescued from the country, but just to show how the free mercy of God was displayed in their very origin? Had Abraham been unlike the rest of his countrymen, his own piety would distinguish him. The opposite, however, is expressly mentioned to show that he had no peculiar excellence of his own which could diminish the grace bestowed upon him, and that therefore his posterity behooved to acknowledge that when he was lost, he was raised up from death unto life.

It seems almost an incredible and monstrous thing, that while Noah was yet alive, idolatry had not only spread everywhere over the world, but even penetrated into the family of Shem, in which at least, a purer religion ought to have flourished. How insane and indomitable human infatuation is in this respect, is proved by the fact that the holy Patriarch, on whom the divine blessing had been specially bestowed, was unable to curb his posterity, and prevent them from abandoning the true God, and prostituting themselves to superstition.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-24.html. 1840-57.