The Covenant Renewed at Shechem (24:1–27)
1 Now the time had come for Joshua to perform his last official act as leader of Israel: renewing the covenant. He again summoned the leaders, representing all the tribes of Israel, to present themselves before God—that is, before the ark of the covenant.69
2 In verses 2–13, Joshua gives a summary of God’s dealings with Israel since the time of Abraham. Here Joshua speaks on God’s behalf: “This is what the LORD . . . says.” Like Moses, Joshua was a divinely appointed mediator between God and the people.
Joshua’s brief history of Israel begins with Abraham’s father Terah, who lived beyond the (Euphrates) River, and worshiped other gods (see Genesis 11:26–32).
3–4 But I took your father Abraham. God in His grace reached out to this family of idol worshipers and selected Abraham to be the father of a new people who would fear and obey Him (Genesis 12:1–5). God made a covenant with Abraham, promising to give him many descendants and a land for them to live in (Genesis 12:6–7; 13:14–17; 15:1–7,18–21).
The son through whom these promises were to be fulfilled was called Isaac (Genesis 21:1–7). Isaac had twin sons, Jacob and Esau, but it was Jacob who was chosen to receive the covenant promises (Genesis 25:19–34; 27:1–40; 28:10–15). Esau was given the hill country of Seir to live in (Genesis 36:1–8), but Jacob and his twelve sons ended up in Egypt (Genesis 35:23–26; 46:1–27).
5 After four hundred years in Egypt the Israelites (the descendants of Jacob) began to be persecuted by the Egyptians; they were forced into bondage and made to work as slave laborers (Exodus 1:1–14). But then God sent Moses and Aaron to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3:1–10; 7:1–7).
6 After inflicting ten plagues on the Egyptians (Exodus Chapters 7–12), God brought the Israelites to the Red Sea; but they were pursued by the Egyptian army (Exodus 14:1–9).
7 When it seemed that the Israelites would perish, God moved the pillar of cloud between them and the Egyptians, and opened the waters of the Red Sea so that the Israelites could escape (Exodus 14:1–22). The Egyptians pursued the Israelites into the bed of the sea, but then God brought the sea back over them and the Egyptian army was destroyed (Exodus 14:23–31).
Then the Lord said through Joshua: “You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians.” Only the eldest of Joshua’s listeners would have witnessed the Exodus, but Joshua believed, as did Moses, that later generations of Israelites had a share in the major events of their national history (see Deuteronomy 5:3). After their deliverance from Egypt, the Israelites lived in the desert for a long time—almost forty years.
8 Then God helped Israel defeat the Amorites and their two kings, Sihon and Og, and Israel took possession of their land (Numbers 21:21–35).
9–10 Balak, the king of Moab, tried to defeat the Israelites by hiring a famous seer, Balaam, to put a curse on Israel; but God caused Balaam to pronounce blessings on Israel instead of curses (Numbers Chapters 22–24).
11 In this verse God briefly summarizes the conquest of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership (Joshua Chapters 6–12).
12 God reminded the Israelites that it was primarily He who had driven out the Canaanite tribes, not the Israelites’ swords and bows.70 He had sent the hornet71 ahead of them, which caused the Canaanites’ hearts to melt with fear (Joshua 2:8–9,24; 5:1).
13 In the end, God fulfilled His ancient promise to Abraham that He would give a good land to his descendants—not only land, but also cities, vineyards and groves already there and “waiting” to be taken (see Deuteronomy 6:10–12). And here God ended His message to Israel.
Why was it so important for the Israelites to be reminded of their history? Because the people of each new generation need to see, in a personal way, how God’s hand has been upon them. Each individual must encounter God’s grace afresh. But Israel’s history is also our history. God’s choice of Israel to be His people, the Israelites’ deliverance from bondage, their settlement in the promised land—all this together makes up a historical picture, a foreshadowing, of our redemption in Christ. Such a redemption calls for a response from each new generation: “. . . choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (verse 15). Our faith is not inherited; each one of us must personally choose to follow Christ.
14 After God’s message ended, Joshua added his own concluding words: “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness” (see Deuteronomy 6:1–3,13–15; 10:12–13 and comments). Joshua then told the Israelites to throw away the gods (idols) that some of them had evidently brought with them from Egypt. They were to “throw away” anything that might compete with God for their loyalty. Joshua’s command applies equally to Christians today.
15 Then Joshua gave the Israelites a choice. They were free to serve any god they chose; if they didn’t want to serve the Lord, let them serve other gods. But they had to choose: they could not serve the true God and false gods at the same time (see Matthew 6:24); they couldn’t have it both ways.
Many modern people think they can have it both ways. They say they have faith in Jesus, but they hold on to their “other gods.” These “gods” are not only idols but also things like money, power, fame, possessions—even family (Luke 14:26). Jesus’ call is clear: “. . . any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”72 (Luke 14:33). Everyone has to choose which god he or she will serve.
Joshua, as always, set the example: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”73 When the moment of decision comes, whose side will we be on?
16–18 Inspired by Joshua’s example, the people pledged themselves to serve the Lord and Him alone.
19–20 One would think Joshua should have been pleased with the people’s response. But instead, he said to the people: “You are not able to serve the LORD” (verse 19).
Why did he say that? Because it was true! By their own strength and will, the people were incapable of reaching God’s standard of holiness; they were incapable of keeping God’s covenant. Moses too had predicted they would break the covenant by turning to other gods (Deuteronomy 31:14–18). And when they did so, they would find that God was a holy and jealous God who would bring disaster upon them (see Ex-odus20:3–6; Deuteronomy6:13–15; Joshua 23:14–16 and comments). Were the people prepared to follow a God whose demands were so high and whose judgments were so severe? Had they counted the cost of serving God? (Matthew 10:38; Luke 14:27–28).
Joshua wanted the people to understand what they were agreeing to. In particular, he wanted them to understand that without God’s grace and enabling, they would not be able to keep His covenant. They needed to place their confidence not in themselves but in God Himself.
Though God’s grace was fully operative in the Old Testament, the people remained under the old covenant; the Holy Spirit had not yet come and changed their hearts.74 So in the end, as Moses had predicted, they fell away and brought upon themselves God’s judgment.75
21–22 At this point, however, Joshua’s listeners—the leaders of Israel—reaffirmed their commitment to serve the Lord. Joshua then told them they would be witnesses against themselves if they later failed to do so; their own words would condemn them.
23–24 Joshua told them a second time to throw away their foreign gods (see verse 14 and comment). And then he said, “. . . yield your hearts to the LORD” (verse 23). That expression, “yield your hearts,” summarizes how we are to approach God and to serve Him. We are to yield up to God everything we possess—including our bodies, our very lives (Luke 14:33; Romans 12:1). God desires from us a total yielding, a total surrender of our hearts—our wills—to Him. Just as God asked Abraham to lay on the altar that which he cherished most, his son Isaac, so God asks the same of us (see Genesis 22:15–19 and comment).
25–27 After the people had pledged a final time to serve the Lord, Joshua drew up a covenant for them. This was not a new covenant; it was a renewed covenant, a reaffirmation of the covenant made at Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:1–8) and renewed on the plains of Moab (Deuteronomy 29:1–15) and again at Mount Ebal (Joshua 8:30–35).
Joshua probably made a copy of the Book of the Law of Moses (Joshua 23:6), or he selected certain parts of it and then added some decrees of his own. This he called the Book of the Law of God (verse 26). Then he set up a large stone near the holy place (the tabernacle or ark), which would remain as a silent witness against them if they ever broke the covenant. Although the stone hadn’t actually heard any words, it would remind the Israelites that they themselves had heard all the Lord’s words and had agreed to follow them. Thus this renewed covenant, as on prior occasions, consisted of the laws given by God and the pledges of the people to obey those laws.
Buried in the Promised Land (24:28–33)
28 Joshua’s work was finished. The conquest of Canaan had been accomplished, the land had been allotted, and the covenant with God had been renewed. For the last time, Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance.
29–33 Three burials are described in these verses. The first was Joshua’s burial in the place of his inheritance, Timnath Serah (Joshua 19:50). The writer adds that Israel obeyed the Lord during the lifetimes of Joshua and those leaders who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel (verse 31). However, the next generation of Israelites would be very different (see Judges 2:10–15).
The second burial was that of Joseph—Joseph’s bones76 (verse 32). Before his death in Egypt, Joseph had asked that his “bones” be carried to the promised land (Genesis 50:24–25; Exodus 13:19). This demonstrated Joseph’s great faith that God would fulfill His promise to give Canaan to the Israelites (Hebrews 11:22). And the burial of his bones symbolized God’s faithfulness to His promise. Joseph’s bones were buried right there in Shechem, in the very tract of land that Joseph’s father Jacob had bought many years before (Genesis 33:19). The burial of Joseph’s bones was a fitting end to the long story that began with the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3).
The third burial was that of Eleazar, the son of Aaron. Eleazar had served Joshua as Aaron had served Moses. With Eleazar’s death, the entire generation that had taken part in the Exodus came to an end.
1 It is not known who wrote the book of Joshua. Some scholars believe that most of the book was written by Joshua himself. Others believe it was compiled and finalized by a later writer.
2 According to 1 Kings 6:1, the fourth year of Solomon’s reign (966 B.C.) was the four hundred and eightieth year after the Exodus. That would place the Exodus in about 1446 B.C., with the conquest following forty years later.
3 See comment on Judges 21:1–4 and footnote to comment.
4 The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language; the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. The name Joshua, then, is the Hebrew form of the name Jesus.
5 A portion of the promised land east of the Jordan River had already been conquered (see Numbers 21:21–35). Now the main portion of the promised land, Canaan proper, was to be attacked.
6 In verse 4, the promised land is referred to as all the Hittite country. Canaan had originally been inhabited by Hittites; but by the time of Joshua, the Hittites had migrated north and the land had been inhabited by other tribes. However, Canaan was still known as “Hittite country.”
The Great Sea mentioned in verse 4 is the Mediterranean Sea.
7 The Book of the Law was the major part of the book of Deuteronomy, which Moses wrote down and gave to the Levites to keep beside the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:9,24).
8 In Israel the law was customarily read out loud for the benefit of the people.
9 For a discussion of those parts of the Old Testament law that are no longer binding on Christians, see Exodus 20:2; Leviticus 11:44–45; Numbers 28:1 and comments.
10 The Israelites were encamped on the plains of Moab on the east side of the Jordan River, just across from Jericho. Shittim was located near their encampment at a convenient crossing place; the Jordan was probably only a couple of feet deep where the spies crossed.
11 Jericho was a strongly fortified city that guarded the entryway into the rest of Canaan; it was located about three kilometers west of the Jordan River. Joshua was prudent to send the spies. Prudence does not contradict faith; it complements it. To exercise faith without prudence is to test God, which Scripture forbids us to do (Deuteronomy 6:16; Matthew 4:7).
12 Many of Canaan’s cities were little “kingdoms” or “city-states,” each with its own king.
13 The scarlet cord has been likened to the blood placed on the doorframes of Israelite houses on the night of the Passover (see Exodus 12:7,13). In both cases, the blood and the cord served as signs that the occupants of the house should be spared. The scarlet cord (signifying blood) was a symbol of atonement; it pointed forward to Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
14 Lying is almost always wrong in God’s sight, but there are rare exceptions. The Egyptian midwives deceived Pharaoh, but God honored them for it (Exodus 1:19–21). Moses’ parents deceptively hid Moses for three months (Hebrews 11:23); it would be hard to argue that this was against God’s will. If we are ever put in that rare position when we feel the need to lie, let this be our test: For whose sake are we lying? For God’s sake, or for our own? If it is for our own sake, then it is always wrong to lie. But even if we say we lied “for God’s sake,” we can easily deceive ourselves. God does not need our lies. He does not ask us to do evil that good may result (Romans 3:8). What we can say with confidence, however, is this: if our motive for lying is pure, God will readily forgive us—just as He forgave Rahab.
15 The ark of the covenant was sometimes called the ark of the Testimony (Exodus 25:22). The Testimony consisted of the Ten Commandments, which God had given to the Israelites. Their obligation under the covenant was to obey God’s commands. The two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments had been inscribed were placed in the ark; thus it was often called the “ark of the covenant.” It was a name that reminded the Israelites that they were bound to God by their mutual covenant commitments. For further discussion on the subject of covenants, see Exodus 24:1–8 and comment; General Article: Covenants and Dispensations.
16 All priests were Levites; the priests were descendants of Aaron, the first high priest, who was himself a Levite (Exodus 6:16,18,20; Numbers 3:5–10).
17 In the Bible, the Lord is often described in human terms, since these are the only terms we humans can readily understand; this practice is called anthropomorphism. The Lord wasn’t actually “in the ark”; He didn’t have to “cross over” the Jordan. The Lord is everywhere; He “owns” everything. But He gives His people a special experience of His presence, and in the case of the Israelites that experience was centered in the ark, His symbolic “throne.” For further discussion of anthropomorphism, see footnotes to comments on Genesis 8:21–22; Exodus 3:7–9.
18 For further discussion on the subject of consecration, see comment on Exodus 29:1–9.
19 The inhabitants of Canaan were divided into separate tribes; in verse 10, seven of the tribes are mentioned (see Genesis 15:18–21; Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 7:1). Although here the Canaanites and Amorites are mentioned as distinct tribes, often in the Old Testament all the tribes living in the general area of Canaan are referred to collectively as “Canaanites” or “Amorites.” Sometimes, as in Joshua 5:1, those living west of the Jordan are called “Canaanites” and those living east of the Jordan are called “Amorites.”
20 It is possible that a landslide blocked the Jordan River; such landslides along the Jordan have occurred several times in history. But even if God used “natural” means to block the water, the miracle remains astounding: the blockage would have had to occur just enough in advance to take effect exactly when the priests stepped into the river (see Exodus 14:21–22 and comment).
21 The Arabah is the entire valley of the Jordan River, including the Dead Sea. Therefore, the Sea of the Arabah is the Dead Sea, also called the Salt Sea.
22 Some Bible scholars see additional symbolism in the crossing of the Jordan. Some liken it to our being baptized into Christ’s death in order that we might be raised to new life in Him (Romans 6:34). Some believe it symbolizes the crucifying of our old self so that we might no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). These are all valid interpretations. Just as the crossing of the Jordan was a decisive experience in the lives of the Israelites, so it is also a decisive experience in the lives of Christians.
23 Stone memorials were common in ancient times before the written word became widely available. They were designed to provoke questions so that the stories of God’s miracles could be told over and over. Today we have the Bible to remind us of God’s marvelous acts. Like Joshua’s stone memorial, the Bible testifies to actual events seen and experienced by the biblical writers (2 Peter 1:16).
24 The number forty thousand was less than their total fighting strength, which according to Numbers Chapter 26 should have been about 110,000 men (see Numbers 26:7,18,34). Evidently Moses and Joshua had allowed some of the men to stay on their land east of the Jordan in order to protect their women and children.
25 The Lord wanted the Israelites to fear Him—that is, to have total allegiance to Him, to have reverence for Him. For further discussion of what it means to “fear” the Lord, see footnote to comment on Genesis 20:8–13; Deuteronomy 6:1–3 and comment.
26 In verse 2, the word again does not mean that Joshua was to circumcise the Israelites a second time; it only means that after forty years of neglect, Joshua was to institute the rite of circumcision “again,” and to circumcise all those Israelites under forty who had not yet been circumcised. Obviously Joshua did not perform all the circumcisions himself: there were at least half a million to be performed!
27 In verse 6, Canaan is described as a land flowing with milk and honey, an expression indicating fruitfulness and prosperity (see Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 8:6–9; 11:8–12).
28 It is not known why the Israelites performed no circumcisions during their desert years. Perhaps it was because all Israelites over twenty years of age had been condemned to die in the desert because of their disobedience and thus were no longer part of God’s covenant, of which circumcision was the sign (verse 6). For the reason why that former generation of Israelites was not allowed to enter the promised land, see Numbers 14:1–4,21–23,27–35.
29 The Lord can appear in any form He chooses. He also sends angels to represent Him. In Scripture it is often hard to tell whether it’s an angel or the Lord Himself who is being talked about (see Genesis 32:22–26 and comment). For further discussion of this subject, see comments on Genesis 16:7–10; 18:1–8 and footnotes to comments.
30 For the meaning of the term devoted to the LORD, see Leviticus 27:28–29 and comment.
31 A frequent theme in the Old Testament is that the sin of an individual can bring punishment on the whole community as well as on himself. Indeed, this very occurrence was soon to take place (see Joshua Chapter 7).
32 Although Israel shared in Achan’s sin and as a result suffered a humiliating defeat in battle, the specific punishment for the sin was given only to Achan and his children (verse 24), who probably were accomplices in his sin (see Deuteronomy 24:16 and comment).
33 For the significance of the Lord’s name, see footnote to comment on Exodus 23:20–22.
34 Probably the selection was made by casting lots; since the Lord controls the outcome of the lot (Proverbs 16:33), the selection was, in fact, made by the Lord and not by chance.
35 In Moses and Joshua’s time, the “shekel” was a unit of weight. The two hundred shekels of silver weighed more than two kilograms; the fifty shekels of gold weighed over half a kilogram (verse 21).
36 Stoning was the commonest method of execution in ancient Israel (see Leviticus 20:2,6,27; Deuteronomy 13:6–11).
37 The word Achor means “trouble.”
38 The place of ambush was between Bethel and Ai (verse 9). Bethel was a nearby city allied with Ai. It is unclear how many of the men were actually involved in the ambush; according to verse 12, the ambush consisted of only five thousand men. Perhaps two ambushes were set.
39 On a similar occasion forty years earlier, Moses held up his staff to indicate that the Lord was fighting for Israel (Exodus 17:8–13).
40 For the meaning of the expression “totally destroy,” see comment on Numbers 21:1–3 and first footnote to comment.
41 The expression woodcutters and water carriers (verse 21) can mean household servants generally.
42 Worship at the tabernacle required much wood for sacrifices and much water for washing.
43 Canaan was inhabited by at least six major tribes in Joshua’s time (see Joshua 9:1). However, within each tribal area there were a number of cities or city-states, each with its own king. (Jerusalem, for example, was in a Jebusite area.) God, through Moses, had said that all of these tribes were to be driven out and their cities destroyed (see Deuteronomy 7:1–2; 20:16–18).
44 The Book of Jashar is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 1:18.
45 The Hebrew word for trees can also mean “poles.” The kings could have been hung on poles, even as Jesus was hung on a cross (Acts 5:30; 1 Peter 2:24).
46 For the meaning of the expression totally destroyed, see comment on Numbers 21:1–3 and first footnote to comment.
47 We must emphasize once again that the Canaanites were destroyed because of their wickedness and ungodliness; the Lord used Israel to bring divine judgment upon them. Furthermore, it was necessary to purge the land of the idolatrous Canaanites, lest they draw Israel into their idolatry. The expression all who breathed refers to humans, not animals.
48 To hamstring means to cut the tendon above the horse’s hock (the joint in the hind leg that corresponds to the human ankle). Hamstringing renders a horse useless for military operations.
49 Many cities in the Middle East were located on mounds, which consisted of the accumulated debris of earlier settlements piled one on top of another at that same location.
50 For further discussion on the subject of God’s “hardening” of people’s hearts, see Exodus 4:21 and comment.
51 God is very patient. He waits and waits for people to call on His name; He gives people a chance to repent (see Romans 2:4). But when He sees that they will not repent, He “gives them over” (Romans 1:24,26,28)—He hardens them. He waited over four hundred years for the Canaanites (Amorites) to repent, but they did not; when their sin reached its full measure (Genesis 15:16), He brought judgment upon them (see Romans 2:5).
52 In verses 1–6, the three most important geographical names are as follows: the Arabah (verse 1) is the whole Jordan River valley; the Sea of Kinnereth (verse 3) is the Sea of Galilee; and the Sea of Arabah (verse 3) is the Dead Sea (also called the Salt Sea).
53 In verse 6, the Hebrew word for allocate means to “assign by lot.” Since God controlled how the lot would fall (Proverbs 16:33), this meant that God Himself would be allocating the land to the tribes. In this way, no one could accuse Joshua of showing favoritism.
54 Beth Peor (verse 20) was one of the places where Balaam tried to curse Israel (Numbers 23:28); later the Israelites were seduced there by the Moabite women (Numbers 25:1–3).
The defeat of the Midianite chiefs (verse 21) and the death of Balaam (verse 22) are described in Numbers 31:7–8.
55 For a discussion of the Urim and Thummim, see comment on Exodus 28:15–30 and footnote to comment.
56 Caleb had been forty years old when he and the other eleven spies had been sent to explore Canaan (Numbers Chapter 13); forty-five years had passed since then. Since for thirty-eight of those years the Israelites had been in the desert, we can calculate that Israel’s conquest of Canaan up to this point had taken seven years.
57 As we have noted elsewhere, some Old Testament books are not written according to exact chronological order; the writers are more interested in theological truths and themes than in the exact timing of events. Also, in Joshua 11:21 the writer suggests that Joshua himself drove out the Anakites, not Caleb. But we must keep in mind that it is customary for a chief leader to receive credit for what his subordinates do; it was no doubt Caleb who took the lead in driving the Anakites from his inheritance, thus showing by example what God expected the other Israelites to do in their allotted territories.
58 In Othniel’s case, a military victory (the capture of a city) was accepted as the “bride-price” (see 1 Samuel 18:25).
59 At some later time, a few of the towns mentioned in verses 21–62 were transferred to other tribes. In particular, the towns listed in verses 26–32 were later given to the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:19). Also, a few of the towns in the western foothills (verses 33–44) were later given to the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:41–43). To add to the difficulty of interpreting these lists, two different towns would sometimes have the same name, or the name of one town might have two different spellings.
60 Since Ephraim’s allotment lay to the south of Manasseh’s, the border outlined in verses 1–3 corresponds to Ephraim’s southern border. It must also be recalled that only half the tribe of Manasseh received land on the west side of the Jordan; the other half had already received its land east of the Jordan.
61 We must keep in mind that biblical genealogies are often incomplete.
62 If one refers to a map, one can see that, except for the tribe of Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh received far more land than any other tribe.
63 The use of iron was new in Joshua’s time. Chariots made with iron were stronger and faster. However, chariots could be used only on the flat plains along the Mediterranean Sea.
64 The ark remained at Shiloh until it was captured by the Philistines three hundred years later (see 1 Samuel 4:1–11). Until that time, Shiloh served as the central place of worship for all Israel.
65 We have already learned about Phinehas and his zeal for the Lord’s honor (see Numbers 25:6–13).
66 According to Genesis 15:18–21 and Deuteronomy 1:6–8, the promised land did include the territory east of the Jordan. Perhaps there was uncertainty among the Israelites themselves concerning the precise boundaries of the promised land. It is clear, however, that most of the Israelites considered the land west of the Jordan to be, in a special way, the land of promise (see Numbers 32:6–9).
67 The references for the three offerings mentioned in verse 23 are as follows: for burnt offerings, see Leviticus 1:1–17; for grain offerings, see Leviticus 2:1–16; for fellowship offerings, see Leviticus 3:1–17.
68 The downfall of King Solomon came about because of his many marriages to ungodly women (1 Kings 11:1–8).
69 The covenant renewal took place at Shechem, the exact place where God first promised Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan (see Genesis 12:6–7). The tabernacle (or the ark alone) must have been transported from Shiloh to Shechem for this occasion.
70 The Israelites used their swords and bows, of course, but it was God who gave the victory. For a discussion of the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, see Exodus 17:10–13 and comment.
71 The hornet was a kind of terror, or some manifestation of God that produced terror (Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20).
72 It must be emphasized that every true Christian is called to be a disciple. A disciple is not some special kind of Christian; there is only one kind of Christian—disciples. Luke 14:33 applies to all of us.
73 Notice that Joshua included his household in the decision to serve the Lord. God desires whole families to serve Him in unity (Acts 16:31). It is customary in many parts of the world for the head of a family or clan to make a decision, which is then accepted by other family members. This is pleasing to God. However, each member should individually grow in faith and spiritual maturity.
74 For a discussion of the old and new covenants, see Exodus 24:1–8; Jeremiah 31:31–34 and comments.
75 Joshua said to the people: “[God] will not forgive your rebellion and your sins” (verse 19). God did not forgive them because they remained hardened and unrepentant. But God will always forgive those who confess their sins and turn back to Him in repentance (see 1 John 1:9). God’s character does not change. If we humans fear Him and submit to Him, He will respond to us with mercy and grace. But if we resist Him and turn from Him, He will respond to us with anger and judgment (see Exodus 34:4–7 and comment).
76 In verse 32, the expression Joseph’s bones really means his mummified body, because Joseph had been embalmed in Egypt (Genesis 50:26).