Joshua 23

Listen to Joshua 23

Joshua's Charge to Israel's Leaders

1 A long time afterward, when the LORD had given 1rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua 2was old and well advanced in years,
2 Joshua 3summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, "I am now old and well advanced in years.
3 And you have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake, 4for it is the LORD your God who has fought for you.
4 Behold, 5I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west
5 The LORD your God 6will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, 7just as the LORD your God promised you.
6 Therefore, 8be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, 9turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left,
7 10that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you 11or make mention of the names of their gods 12or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them,
8 13but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day.
9 14For the LORD has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, 15no man has been able to stand before you to this day.
10 16One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the LORD your God 17who fights for you, just as he promised you.
11 18Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God.
12 For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you 19and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you,
13 know for certain that 20the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, 21but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you.
14 "And now 22I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that 23not one word has failed of all the good things[a] that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed
15 But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you 24all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you,
16 if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you."

Joshua 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

Joshua's exhortation before his death. (1-10) Joshua warns the people of idolatry. (11-16)

Verses 1-10 Joshua was old and dying, let them observe what he said now. He put them in mind of the great things God had done for them in his days. He exhorted them to be very courageous. Keep with care, do with diligence, and regard with sincerity what is written. Also, very cautiously to endeavour that the heathen idolatry may be forgotten, so that it may never be revived. It is sad that among Christians the names of the heathen gods are so commonly used, and made so familiar as they are. Joshua exhorts them to be very constant. There might be many things amiss among them, but they had not forsaken the Lord their God; the way to make people better, is to make the best of them.

Verses 11-16 Would we cleave to the Lord, we must always stand upon our guard, for many a soul is lost through carelessness. Love the Lord your God, and you will not leave him. Has God been thus true to you? Be not you false to him. He is faithful that has promised, ( Hebrews 10:23 ) . The experience of every Christian witnesses the same truth. Conflicts may have been severe and long, trials great and many; but at the last he will acknowledge that goodness and mercy followed him all the days of his life. Joshua states the fatal consequences of going back; know for a certainty it will be your ruin. The first step would be, friendship with idolaters; the next would be, marrying with them; the end of that would be, serving their gods. Thus the way of sin is down-hill, and those who have fellowship with sinners, cannot avoid having fellowship with sin. He describes the destruction he warns them of. The goodness of the heavenly Canaan, and the free and sure grant God has made of it, will add to the misery of those who shall for ever be shut out from it. Nothing will make them see how wretched they are, so much, as to see how happy they might have been. Let us watch and pray against temptation. Let us trust in God's faithfulness, love, and power; let us plead his promises, and cleave to his commandments, then we shall be happy in life, in death, and for ever.

Cross References 24

  • 1. See Joshua 11:23
  • 2. Joshua 13:1
  • 3. Joshua 24:1; [Deuteronomy 31:28; 1 Chronicles 28:1]
  • 4. Joshua 10:14, 42; Exodus 14:14
  • 5. See Joshua 13:2-7
  • 6. Joshua 13:6; Exodus 23:30; Exodus 33:2; Exodus 34:11; Deuteronomy 11:23
  • 7. Numbers 33:53
  • 8. Joshua 1:7
  • 9. Joshua 1:7; Deuteronomy 5:32; Deuteronomy 28:14
  • 10. Exodus 23:33; Deuteronomy 7:2, 3
  • 11. Exodus 23:13; [Psalms 16:4]
  • 12. Jeremiah 5:7; [Zephaniah 1:5]
  • 13. Joshua 22:5; Deuteronomy 10:20; Deuteronomy 11:22; Deuteronomy 13:4
  • 14. Joshua 13:6; Exodus 23:30; Exodus 33:2; Exodus 34:11; Deuteronomy 11:23
  • 15. Joshua 1:5; Joshua 10:8; Joshua 21:44
  • 16. [Leviticus 26:8; Deuteronomy 32:30]
  • 17. ver. 3; Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 3:22
  • 18. Joshua 22:5
  • 19. Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3
  • 20. Judges 2:3, 21
  • 21. Exodus 23:33; Numbers 33:55; Deuteronomy 7:16; Judges 2:3
  • 22. 1 Kings 2:2
  • 23. Joshua 21:45
  • 24. See Leviticus 26:14-39; Deuteronomy 28:15-68

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or words; also twice in verse 15

Chapter Summary


Joshua being old, convenes the states of Israel a little before his death, Jos 23:1,2; and in his address to them observes what God had done for them, and would do, Jos 23:3-5; and exhorts them to keep the commandments of God, and cleave to him, and not to mix with the Gentiles, and join with them in idolatrous practices, and then it would be well with them, Jos 23:6-11; but otherwise should they join with them, and depart from the Lord, who had so faithfully and punctually performed every good thing he had promised them, they might expect all evils and calamities, utter ruin and destruction, to befall them, Jos 23:12-16.

Joshua 23 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.