Joshua 24:1 . JOSHUA ASSEMBLING THE TRIBES.
1. 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 , 33:18-20 , 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].
Joshua 24:2-13 . RELATES GOD'S BENEFITS.
2. 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 ).
3. I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan--It was an irresistible impulse of divine grace which led the patriarch to leave his country and relatives, to migrate to Canaan, and live a "stranger and pilgrim" in that land.
4. I gave unto Esau mount that he might be no obstacle to Jacob and his posterity being the exclusive heirs of Canaan.
12. I sent the hornet before you--a particular species of wasp which swarms in warm countries and sometimes assumes the scourging character of a plague; or, as many think, it is a figurative expression for uncontrollable terror
14-28. Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth--After having enumerated so many grounds for national gratitude, Joshua calls on them to declare, in a public and solemn manner, whether they will be faithful and obedient to the God of Israel. He avowed this to be his own unalterable resolution, and urged them, if they were sincere in making a similar avowal, "to put away the strange gods that were among them"--a requirement which seems to imply that some were suspected of a strong hankering for, or concealed practice of, the idolatry, whether in the form of Zabaism, the fire-worship of their Chaldean ancestors, or the grosser superstitions of the Canaanites.
26. Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God--registered the engagements of that solemn covenant in the book of sacred history.
took a great stone--according to the usage of ancient times to erect stone pillars as monuments of public transactions.
set it up there under an oak--or terebinth, in all likelihood, the same as that at the root of which Jacob buried the idols and charms found in his family.
that was by the sanctuary of the Lord--either the spot where the ark had stood, or else the place around, so called from that religious meeting, as Jacob named Beth-el the house of God.
29, 30. Joshua . . . died--LIGHTFOOT computes that he lived seventeen, others twenty-seven years, after the entrance into Canaan. He was buried, according to the Jewish practice, within the limits of his own inheritance. The eminent public services he had long rendered to Israel and the great amount of domestic comfort and national prosperity he had been instrumental in diffusing among the several tribes, were deeply felt, were universally acknowledged; and a testimonial in the form of a statue or obelisk would have been immediately raised to his honor, in all parts of the land, had such been the fashion of the times. The brief but noble epitaph by the historian is, Joshua, "the servant of the Lord."
31. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua--The high and commanding character of this eminent leader had given so decided a tone to the sentiments and manners of his contemporaries and the memory of his fervent piety and many virtues continued so vividly impressed on the memories of the people, that the sacred historian has recorded it to his immortal honor. "Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua."
32. the bones of Joseph--They had carried these venerable relics with them in all their migrations through the desert, and deferred the burial, according to the dying charge of Joseph himself, till they arrived in the promised land. The sarcophagus, in which his mummied body had been put, was brought thither by the Israelites, and probably buried when the tribe of Ephraim had obtained their settlement, or at the solemn convocation described in this chapter.
in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought . . . for an hundred pieces of silver--Kestitah translated, "piece of silver," is supposed to mean "a lamb," the weights being in the form of lambs or kids, which were, in all probability, the earliest standard of value among pastoral people. The tomb that now covers the spot is a Mohammedan Welce, but there is no reason to doubt that the precious deposit of Joseph's remains may be concealed there at the present time.
33. Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him in . . . mount Ephraim--The sepulchre is at the modern village Awertah, which, according to Jewish travellers, contains the graves also of Ithamar, the brother of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar [VAN DE VELDE].