Joshua 23

Joshua’s Farewell to the Leaders

1 After a long time had passed and the LORD had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man,
2 summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them: “I am very old.
3 You yourselves have seen everything the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the LORD your God who fought for you.
4 Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west.
5 The LORD your God himself will push them out for your sake. He will drive them out before you, and you will take possession of their land, as the LORD your God promised you.
6 “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left.
7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them.
8 But you are to hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have until now.
9 “The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you.
10 One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised.
11 So be very careful to love the LORD your God.
12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them,
13 then you may be sure that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the LORD your God has given you.
14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
15 But just as all the good things the LORD your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the LORD your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you.
16 If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given 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 38

  • 1. S Deuteronomy 12:9; Joshua 21:44
  • 2. S Joshua 13:1
  • 3. S Joshua 7:6
  • 4. Joshua 24:1
  • 5. S Joshua 13:1
  • 6. S Exodus 14:14; S Deuteronomy 20:4
  • 7. Joshua 19:51
  • 8. S Numbers 34:2; Psalms 78:55
  • 9. S Numbers 34:6
  • 10. ver 13; Judges 2:21
  • 11. Psalms 44:5; Jeremiah 46:15
  • 12. Exodus 23:30; Numbers 33:53
  • 13. S Deuteronomy 28:61
  • 14. S Deuteronomy 17:20
  • 15. Deuteronomy 5:32; Joshua 1:7
  • 16. Exodus 23:13; Psalms 16:4; Jeremiah 5:7; Jeremiah 12:16
  • 17. S Exodus 20:5
  • 18. S Deuteronomy 10:20
  • 19. Deuteronomy 11:23
  • 20. Deuteronomy 7:24
  • 21. Leviticus 26:8; Judges 3:31
  • 22. S Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 3:22
  • 23. S Deuteronomy 4:15
  • 24. Joshua 22:5
  • 25. S Genesis 34:9; Deuteronomy 7:3
  • 26. S Exodus 34:16; Psalms 106:34-35
  • 27. S ver 5
  • 28. S Exodus 10:7; Exodus 23:33
  • 29. S Numbers 33:55
  • 30. Deuteronomy 1:8; 1 Kings 9:7; 2 Kings 25:21
  • 31. 1 Kings 2:2
  • 32. Psalms 119:140; Psalms 145:13
  • 33. S Joshua 21:45
  • 34. 1 Kings 8:56; Jeremiah 33:14
  • 35. 1 Kings 14:10; 2 Kings 22:16; Isaiah 24:6; Isaiah 34:5; Isaiah 43:28; Jeremiah 6:19; Jeremiah 11:8; Jeremiah 35:17; Jeremiah 39:16; Malachi 4:6
  • 36. Joshua 24:20
  • 37. Leviticus 26:17; Deuteronomy 28:15; Jeremiah 40:2
  • 38. Deuteronomy 4:25-26

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

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