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This chapter gives us an account of another summons of the tribes of Israel by Joshua, who obeyed it, and presented themselves before the Lord at Shechem, ( Joshua 24:1); when Joshua in the name of the Lord rehearsed to them the many great and good things the Lord had done for them, from the time of their ancestor Abraham to that day, ( Joshua 24:2-13); and then exhorted them to fear and serve the Lord, and reject idols, ( Joshua 24:14); and put them upon making their choice, whether they would serve the true God, or the gods of the Canaanites; and they choosing the former, he advised them to abide by their choice, ( Joshua 24:15-24); and made a covenant with them to that purpose, and then dismissed them, ( Joshua 24:25-28); and the chapter is concluded with an account of the death and burial of Joshua and Eleazar, and of the interment of the bones of Joseph, ( Joshua 24:29-33).
Ver. 1 . And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem , etc.] The nine tribes and a half; not all the individuals of them, but the chief among them, their representatives, as afterwards explained, whom he gathered together a second time, being willing, as long as he was among them, to improve his time for their spiritual as well as civil good; to impress their minds with a sense of religion, and to strengthen, enlarge, and enforce the exhortations he had given them to serve the Lord; and Abarbinel thinks he gathered them together again because before they returned him no answer, and therefore he determined now to put such questions to them as would oblige them to give one, as they did, and which issued in making a covenant with them; the place where they assembled was Shechem, which some take to be Shiloh, because of what is said ( Joshua 24:25); that being as they say in the fields of Shechem; which is not likely, since Shiloh, as Jerom says f525 , was ten miles from Neapolis or Shechem. This place was chosen because nearest to Joshua, who was now old and infirm, and unfit to travel; and the rather because it was the place where the Lord first appeared to Abraham, when he brought him into the land of Canaan, and where he made a promise of giving the land to his seed, and where Abraham built an altar to him, ( Genesis 12:6,7); where also Jacob pitched his tent when he came from Padanaram, bought a parcel of a field, and erected an altar to the Lord, ( Genesis 33:18-20); and where Joshua also repeated the law to, and renewed the covenant with the children of Israel, quickly after their coming into the land of Canaan, for Ebal and Gerizim were near to Shechem, ( Joshua 8:30-35); and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers : (see Gill on “ Joshua 23:2”); and they presented themselves before God ; Kimchi and Abarbinel are of opinion that the ark was fetched from the tabernacle at Shiloh, and brought hither on this occasion, which was the symbol of the divine Presence; and therefore the place becoming sacred thereby is called the sanctuary of the Lord, and certain it is that here was the book of the law of Moses, ( Joshua 24:26); which was put on the side of the ark, ( Deuteronomy 31:26).
Ver. 2 . And Joshua said unto all the people , etc.] 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 writer f526 : 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 15:13,14); 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”).
Ver. 3 . And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood , etc.] The river Euphrates, as before: or “your father, to wit, Abraham”, as Noldius f527 ; he took him not only in a providential way, and brought him from the other side of the Euphrates, out of an idolatrous country and family, but he apprehended him by his grace, and called and converted him by it, and brought him to a spiritual knowledge of himself, and of the Messiah that should spring from his seed, and of the Covenant of grace, and of the blessings of it, and of his interest therein; which was a peculiar and distinguishing favour: and led him throughout all the land of Canaan ; from the northern to the southern part of it; he led him as far as Shechem, where Israel was now assembled, and then to Bethel, and still onward to the south, ( Genesis 12:6-9); that he might have a view of the land his posterity was to inherit, and, by treading on it and walking through it, take as it were a kind of possession of it: and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac ; he multiplied his seed by Hagar, by whom he had Ishmael, who begat twelve princes; and by Keturah, from whose sons several nations sprung; (see Genesis 17:20 25:1-4); and by Sarah, who bore him Isaac in old age, in whom his seed was called; and from whom, in the line of Jacob, sprung the twelve tribes of Israel, and which seed may be chiefly meant; and the sense is, that he multiplied his posterity after he had given him Isaac, and by him a numerous seed; so Vatablus: Ishmael is not mentioned, because, as Kimchi observes, he was born of an handmaid; but Abarbinel thinks only such are mentioned, who were born in a miraculous manner, when their parents were barren, as in this and also in the next instance.
Ver. 4 . And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau , etc.] When Rebekah was barren, so that the children appeared the more to be the gift of God; though Esau perhaps is mentioned, for the sake of what follows: and I gave unto Esau Mount Seir to possess it ; that Jacob and his posterity alone might inherit Canaan, and Esau and his seed make no pretension to it: but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt ; where they continued many years, and great part of the time in bondage and misery, which is here taken no notice of; and this was in order to their being brought into the land of Canaan, and that the power and goodness of God might be the more conspicuous in it.
Ver. 5 . I sent Moses also and Aaron , etc.] To demand Israel’s dismission of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and to be the deliverers of them: and I plagued Egypt according to that which I did amongst them ; inflicting ten plagues upon them for refusing to let Israel go: and afterwards I brought you out ; that is, out of Egypt, with an high hand, and outstretched arm.
Ver. 6 . And I brought your fathers out of Egypt , etc.] Which more fully expresses the sense of the last clause of ( Joshua 24:5): and you came unto the sea ; which respects some senior persons then present; for, besides Caleb and Joshua, there were many at this time alive who came to and passed through the Red sea, at their coming out of Egypt; for those whose carcasses fell in the wilderness were such as were mere than twenty years of age at their coming out from Egypt, and who were the murmurers in the wilderness; and it may be reasonably supposed, that many of those who were under twenty years of age at that time were now living: and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers, with chariots and horsemen, into the Red sea ; of the number of their chariots and horsemen, (see Exodus 14:7,9); with these they pursued the Israelites, not only unto, but into the Red sea, following them into it; the reason of which strange action is given in ( Joshua 24:7).
Ver. 7 . And when they cried unto the Lord , etc.] That is, the Israelites, being in the utmost distress, the sea before them, Pharaoh’s large host behind them, and the rocks on each side of them; (see Exodus 14:10); he put darkness between you and the Egyptians ; the pillar of cloud, the dark side of which was turned to the Egyptians, and which was the reason of their following the Israelites into the sea; for not being able to see their way, knew not where they were; (see Exodus 14:20); and brought the sea upon them, and covered them ; or “upon him, and covered him” f528 ; on Pharaoh, as Kimchi; or on Egypt; that is, the Egyptians or on everyone of them, as Jarchi, none escaped; (see Exodus 14:26-28); and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt ; what signs and wonders were wrought there, before they were brought out of it, and what he had done to and upon the Egyptians at the Red sea; some then present had been eyewitnesses of them: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season ; forty years, where they had the law given them, were preserved from many evils and enemies, were fed with manna, and supplied with the necessaries of life, were led about and instructed, and at length brought out of it.
Ver. 8 . And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan , etc.] The kingdoms of Sihon and Og, and they fought with you; the two kings of them, and their armies: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land ; and which was now possessed by the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh: and I destroyed them from before you ; the kings, their forces, and the inhabitants of their countries; the history of which see in ( Numbers 21:10-35).
Ver. 9 . Then Balak the son of Zippor, the king of Moab, arose , etc.] Being alarmed with what Israel had done to the two kings of the Amorites, and by their near approach to the borders of his kingdom: and warred against Israel ; he fully designed it, and purpose is put for action, as Kimchi observes; he prepared for it, proclaimed war, and commenced it, though he did not come to a battle, he made use of stratagems and wiles, and magical arts, to hurt them, and sent for Balaam to curse them, that they both together might smite the Israelites, and drive them out of the land, ( Numbers 22:6); so his fighting is interpreted by the next clause: and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you ; by which means he hoped to prevail in battle, and get the victory over them; but not being able to bring this about, durst not engage in battle with them.
Ver. 10 . But I would not hearken unto Balaam , etc.] Who was very solicitous to get leave of the Lord to curse Israel, which he knew he could not do without; he had a goodwill to it but could not accomplish it: therefore he blessed you still ; went on blessing Israel to the last, when Balak hoped every time he would have cursed them; and Balaam himself was very desirous of doing it; but could not, being overruled by the Lord, and under his restraint; which shows his power over evil spirits, and their agents: so I delivered you out of his hands : both out of the hand of Balak, who was intimidated from bringing his forces against them, and out of the hand of Balaam, who was not suffered to curse them.
Ver. 11 . And ye went over Jordan , etc.] In a miraculous manner, the waters parting to make way for the host of Israel: and came unto Jericho ; the first city of any size and strength in the land, which was about seven or eight miles from Jordan; (see Gill on “ Numbers 22:1”); and the men of Jericho fought against you ; by endeavouring to intercept their spies, and cut them off; by shutting up the gates of their city against Israel; and it may be throwing darts, arrows, and stones, from off the walls of it at them. Kimchi thinks that some of the great men of Jericho went out from thence, to give notice and warning to the kings of Canaan of the approach of the Israelites, and in the mean time the city was taken; and that these afterwards joined with the kings in fighting against Joshua and the people of Israel: the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites and the Jebusites ; the seven nations of Canaan; this they did at different times, and in different places: and I delivered them into your hand ; these nations and their kings.
Ver. 12 . And I sent the hornet before you , etc.] Of which (see Gill on “ Exodus 23:28”); which drave them out from before you, [even] the two kings of the Amorites ; who were Sihon and Og, and not only them, and the Amorites under them, but the other nations, Hivites, Hittites, etc. [but] not with thy sword, nor with thy bow ; but by insects of the Lord’s sending to them, which, as Kimchi says, so blinded their eyes, that they could not see to fight, and so Israel came upon them, and slew them; in which the hand of the Lord was manifestly seen, and to whose power, and not, their own, the destruction of their enemies was to be ascribed.
Ver. 13 . And I have given you a land for which you did not labour , etc.] Or, in which f529 , by manuring and cultivating it, by dunging, and ploughing, and sowing: and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them ; neither built the houses in them, nor the walls and fortifications about them; in which now they dwelt safely, and at ease, and which had been promised them as well as what follows; (see Deuteronomy 6:10,11), of the vineyards and oliveyards, which ye planted not, do ye eat ; thus far an account is given of the many mercies they had been and were favoured with, and thus far are the words of the Lord by Joshua; next follow the use and improvement Joshua made of them.
Ver. 14 . Now therefore fear the Lord , etc.] Since he has done such great and good things, fear the Lord and his goodness, fear him for his goodness sake; nothing so influences fear, or a reverential affection for God, as a sense of his goodness; this engages men sensible of it to fear the Lord, that is, to worship him both internally and externally in the exercise of every grace, and in the performance of every duty: and serve him in sincerity and in truth : in the uprightness of their souls, without hypocrisy and deceit, and according to the truth of his word, and of his mind and will revealed in it, without any mixture of superstition and will worship, or of the commands and inventions of men: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt ; that is, express an abhorrence of them, and keep at a distance from them, and show that you are far from giving in to such idolatries your ancestors were guilty of, when they lived on the other side Euphrates, in Chaldea, or when they were sojourners in Egypt; for it cannot be thought that the Israelites were at this time guilty of such gross idolatry, at least openly, since Joshua had bore such a testimony of them, that they had cleaved to the Lord unto that day, ( Joshua 23:8); and their zeal against the two tribes and a half, on suspicion of idolatry, or of going into it, is a proof of it also: and serve ye the Lord : and him only.
Ver. 15 . And if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord , etc.] Irksome and troublesome, a burden, a weariness, and not a pleasure and delight: choose you this day whom you will serve ; say if you have found a better master, and whose service will be more pleasant and profitable: whether the gods your fathers served, that [were] on the other side of the flood ; the river Euphrates; these may bid rid rest for antiquity, but then they were such their fathers had relinquished, and for which undoubtedly they had good reason; and to take up with the worship of these again was to impeach their wisdom, judgment, and good sense: or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell : but then these were such as could not preserve their worshippers in the land, or the Israelites had not dwelt in it, and therefore no dependence could be had upon them for future security. The Amorites are only mentioned, because they were a principal nation, some of which dwelt on one side Jordan, and some on the other, and indeed there were of them in the several parts of the land: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord ; be your choice as it may be: this was the resolution of Joshua, and so far as he knew the sense of his family, or had influence over it, could and did speak for them; and which he observes as an example set for the Israelites to follow after; he full well knowing that the examples of great personages, such as governors, supreme and subordinate, have great influence over those that are under them, Ver. 16 . And the people answered and said , etc.] To Joshua, upon his proposal to them, the option he gave them to serve the Lord or idols, and which was only done to try them: God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods ; they speak with the utmost abhorrence of idolatry, as a thing far from their hearts and thoughts, as the most abominable and execrable that could be thought or spoken of; to forsake the word, and worship, and ordinances of God, and serve the idols of the Gentiles, strange gods, whether more ancient or more recent, such as their fathers worshipped in former times, or the inhabitants of the land they now dwelt in, for which they were spewed out of it.
Ver. 17 . For the Lord our God, he [it is] that brought us up and our fathers, out of the land of Egypt , etc.] When Pharaoh, the king of it, refused to let them go, yet he wrought such wonders in it and inflicted such plagues on it, as obliged Pharaoh and his people to dismiss them: from the house of bondage : where they were held in the greatest thraldom and slavery, and their lives made bitter and miserable: and which did those great signs in our sight ; meaning the wonders and marvellous things wrought before Pharaoh and his people, and in the sight of Israel, ( Psalm 78:11,43); though Abarbinel is of opinion it refers to what had been done in their sight of late in the land of Canaan, as the dividing of the waters of Jordan, the fall of the walls of Jericho, the standing still of the sun in Gibeon; but this seems not so well to agree with what follows: and preserved us in all the way wherein we went : in the wilderness from serpents and scorpions, and beasts of prey, and from all dangers from every quarter: and among all the people through whom we passed ; through whose borders they passed, as the Edomites, Moabites, and Amorites; though the above writer seems to understand it of preservation from the dangers of their enemies in the land of Canaan.
Ver. 18 . And the Lord drave out from before us all the people , etc.] The seven nations of the land of Canaan: even the Amorites which dwelt in the land ; the strongest and most populous of the nations, ( Amos 2:9), or especially the Amorites, so Vatablus; or “with the Amorites”, as others; those that lived on the other side Jordan, over whom Sihon and Og reigned: [therefore] will we also serve the Lord : as well as Joshua and his house, for the reasons before given, because he had done such great and good things for them: for he [is] our God : that has made and preserved us, and loaded us with his benefits, and is our covenant God, and therefore will we fear and serve him.
Ver. 19 . And Joshua said unto the people , etc.] To their heads and representatives now assembled together, and who had returned to him the preceding answer: ye cannot serve the Lord ; which he said not to discourage or deter them from serving the Lord, since it was his principal view, through the whole of this conversation with them, to engage them in it, but to observe to them their own inability and insufficiency of themselves to perform service acceptable to God; and therefore it became them to implore grace and strength from the Lord to assist them in it, and to depend upon that and not to lean to and trust in their own strength; as also to observe to them, that they could not serve him perfectly without any defect and failure in their service, for there is no man that does good and sins not; and therefore when a man has done all he can, he must not depend upon it for his justification before God; or consider it as his justifying righteousness, which was what that people were always prone to; some supply it, “you cannot serve the Lord with your images,” or along with them, so Vatablus: for he [is] an holy God : perfectly holy, so that the best of men, and the heat of their services, are impure and unholy before him and will not bear to be compared with him, and therefore by no means to be trusted in; and it requires much grace and spiritual strength to perform any service that may be acceptable to him through Christ. In the Hebrew text it is, “for the Holy Ones [are] he”: which may serve to illustrate and confirm the doctrine of the trinity of, persons in the unity of the divine Essence, or of the three divine holy Persons, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit, as the one God, (see Isaiah 6:3); he [is] a jealous God ; of his honour and glory, and of his worship, in which he will admit of no rival, of no graven images, or any idols to be worshipped with him, or besides him; nor will he suffer the idol of men’s righteousness to be set up in the room of, or in opposition to, the righteousness of God, even no services and works of men, be they ever so good, since they cannot be perfect before him: he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins ; even the transgressions and sins of such that forsake the worship and service of him, and fall into idolatry, or who seek for justification by their own services, these are both abominable to him; otherwise he is a God pardoning the iniquity, transgression, and sin, of all those who seek unto him and serve him, confess their sins, and renounce their own righteousness; (see Exodus 23:21).
Ver. 20 . If you forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods , etc.] Joshua knew the proneness of this people to idolatry, and therefore expresses his jealousy of them, that they would not be able to continue in the service of God, and would be apt to be carried away after idols; and therefore, to make them the more cautious and watchful, he represents to them the danger they were in, and what would befall them should they forsake the Lord they now promised to serve, and follow after other gods, which their fathers worshipped before they were called out of their estate of Heathenism, or which the Canaanites, or Egyptians worshipped, whose examples they were too ready to imitate: then he will turn and do you hurt ; not that there is properly any change in God, either of his counsel or covenant, or of love and affection to his people, but of his providential dealings, or outward manner of acting towards men; or the sense is, he will again do you hurt, bring evils and calamities upon you again and again, frequently as you revolt from him, such as the sword, pestilence, famine, and captivity, which these people after experienced when they fell into idolatry: and consume you ; by these his sore judgments: after that he hath done you good ; by bringing you into such a good land, and bestowing so many good things upon you, natural, civil, and religious; and yet, notwithstanding, being disobedient to him, and especially in the instances mentioned, they are made to expect his resentment, and the effects of it.
Ver. 21 . And the people said unto Joshua, nay , etc.] We will not serve strange gods: but we will serve the Lord ; according to his revealed will, and him only.
Ver. 22 . And Joshua said unto the people , etc.] In reply to their answer and resolution: ye [are] witnesses against yourselves, that ye have chosen you the Lord God to serve him ; that is, should they, after this choice of him, which they had so publicly declared, desert his service, and go into idolatry, their testimony would rise up against them, and they would, be self-condemned: and they said, [we are] witnesses ; should we ever apostatize from the Lord and his worship, we are content to have this our witness produced against us.
Ver. 23 . Now therefore put away, [said he] , etc.] Which last words are rightly supplied, for they are the words of Joshua: the strange gods which [are] among you ; not their private notions and secret sentiments that some of them had imbibed in favour of idols, and the worship of them, as Ben Gersom thinks; but, as the Targum expresses it, “the idols of the Gentiles;” either such as they had brought out of Egypt, or had found among the plunder of the Canaanites, and had secretly retained; or, as others think, their “penates”, or household gods, they had privately kept and worshipped, such as those that were in Jacob’s family, which he caused to be delivered to him, and which he hid under an oak in this place where Israel were now assembled, ( Genesis 35:2,4); and which Joshua by a prophetic discerning spirit perceived were now among them: and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel ; to love, fear, and serve him; that is, pray that your hearts may be inclined thereunto, and make use of all means that may tend to direct your hearts to him, and his service; so the Targum, “to the worship of the Lord God of Israel.”
Ver. 24 . And the people said unto Joshua , etc.] A third time, that as by the mouth of two or three witnesses everything is confirmed, so by three testimonies of the same persons: the Lord our God will we serve ; as they had before declared, and to which they add: and his voice will we obey ; or his word, as the Targum, not only his word of command, but his essential Word, the Son of God.
Ver. 25 . So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day , etc.] Proposing to them what was most eligible, and their duty to do, and they agreeing to it, this formally constituted a covenant, of which they selves were both parties and witnesses: and set statute and an ordinance in Shechem ; either made this covenant to have the nature of a statute and ordinance binding upon them, or repeated and renewed the laws of Moses, both moral and ceremonial, which had been delivered at Mount Sinai, and now, upon this repetition in Shechem, might be called a statute and ordinance there.
Ver. 26 . And Joshua wrote these words , etc.] Which had passed between him and the people: in the book of the law of God ; written by Moses, and which he ordered to be put in the side of the ark, and that being now present, the book could be easily taken out, and these words inserted in it, ( Deuteronomy 31:26); and took a great stone : on which also might be inscribed the same words: and set it up there under an oak, that [was] by the sanctuary of the Lord ; or “in it” f530 ; that is, in the field or place where the ark was, which made it sacred, and upon which account the place was called a sanctuary, or an holy place; for there is no need to say that the tabernacle or sanctuary itself was brought hither, only the ark; and much less can it be thought that an oak should be in it; though it was not improbable, that had it been thither brought, it might have been placed under, or by an oak, as we render it; and it is a tradition of the Jews, which both Jarchi and Kimchi make mention of, that this was the same oak under which Jacob hid the strange gods of his family in Shechem, ( Genesis 35:4); Mr. Mede is of opinion that neither ark nor tabernacle were here, but that by “sanctuary” is meant a “proseucha”, or place for prayer; such an one as in later times was near Shechem, as Epiphanius relates, built by the Samaritans in imitation of the Jews; but it is a question whether there were any such places so early as the times of Joshua, nor is it clear that such are ever called sanctuaries.
Ver. 27 . And Joshua said unto all the people , etc.] The chief of them now gathered together, and who represented the whole body: behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us ; of the covenant now made, and the agreement entered into, as the heap of stones were between Jacob and Laban, ( Genesis 31:45-47); for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us ; this is said by a figure called “prosopopaeia”, frequent in Scripture, by which inanimate creatures are represented as hearing, seeing, and speaking, and may signify, that should the Israelites break this covenant, and disobey the commands of the Lord they had promised to keep, they would be as stupid and senseless as this stone, or more so, which would rise in judgment against them. Nachmanides a Jewish commentator, interprets this stone of the Messiah, the same as in ( Genesis 49:24 <19B822> Psalm 118:22 Zechariah 3:8,9); it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God ; for a memorial and testimony to prevent them from going into atheism, a denying of the true God, or into apostasy from him, and into idolatry and false worship. The Targum of which is, “behold, this stone shall be to us as the two tables of stone of the covenant, for we made it for a testimony; for the words which are written upon it are the sum of all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us, and it shall be unto you for a memorial, and for a testimony, lest ye lie before the Lord.”
Ver. 28 . So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance .] Dismissed them, and took his final leave and farewell of them, dying soon after; upon which they returned to the possessions and inheritances assigned by lot to the several tribes, of which they were the heads and princes.
Ver. 29 . And it came to pass, after these things , etc.] Some little time after, very probably the same year: that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, [being] an hundred and ten years old ; he wanted ten years of Moses his predecessor, ( Deuteronomy 34:7), and just the age of Joseph, ( Genesis 50:22), from whom he sprung, being of the tribe of Ephraim, ( Numbers 13:8).
Ver. 30 . And they buried him in the border of his inheritance , etc.] In a field belonging to his estate; for they buried not in towns and cities in those times. The Greek version adds, “and they put into the tomb, in which he was buried, the stone knives with which he circumcised the children of Israel at Gilgal, when he brought them out of Egypt;” and an Arabic writer affirms the same, but without any foundation: in Timnathserah, which [is] in Mount Ephraim ; which was his city, and where he dwelt; and of which (see Gill on “ Joshua 19:50”); and his grave was near the city; here, they say f535 , his father Nun, and Caleb also, were buried: on the north side of the hill of Gaash ; of the brooks or valleys of Gnash mention is made in ( 2 Samuel 23:30); which very probably were at the bottom of this hill.
Ver. 31 . And the children of Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua , etc.] Without going into idolatrous practices: and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua ; that lived a few years longer than he; some of them that came young out of Egypt, and were now elderly men; and some of them doubtless were of the court of the seventy elders; these could not overlive Joshua a great many years, for, in the times of Chushanrishathaim, Israel fell into idolatry, ( Judges 2:6-8); and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel ; in Egypt, at the Red sea, in the wilderness, as well as since their coming into the land of Canaan.
Ver. 32 . And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt , etc.] At the request, and by the order of Joseph, ( Genesis 50:25); which were punctually observed by the children of Israel under the direction and command of Moses, and therefore is ascribed to him, as here to them, ( Exodus 13:19); buried they in Shechem ; not in the city, but in a field near it, as the next clause shows. The Jews in their Cippi Hebraici say f536 , that Joseph was buried at a village called Belata, a sabbath day’s journey from Shechem; but Jerom says he was buried in Shechem, and his monument was to be seen there in his time. Not that they buried him at the same time Joshua was buried, but very probably as soon as the tribe of Ephraim was in the quiet possession of this place; though the historian inserts the account of it here, taking an occasion for it from the interment of Joshua: in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for an hundred pieces of silver ; of which purchase (see Gill on “ Genesis 33:19”); and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph ; and particularly of the tribe of Ephraim by lot, agreeably to the gift and disposal of it by Jacob to Joseph, (see Gill on “ Genesis 48:22”).
Ver. 33 . And Eleazar the son of Aaron died , etc.] Very probably in a short time after Joshua; and, according to the Samaritan Chronicle f538 , he died as Joshua did, gathered the chief men of the children of Israel a little before his death, and enjoined them strict obedience to the commands of God, and took his leave of them, and then stripped himself of his holy garments, and clothed Phinehas his son with them; what his age was is not said: and they buried him in a hill [that pertaineth to] Phinehas his son ; or in the hill of Phinehas; which was so called from him, and might have the name given it by his father, who might possess it before him, and what adjoined to it. The Jews in the above treatise say f539 , that at Avarta was a school of Phinehas in a temple of the Gentiles; that Eleazar was buried upon the hill, and Joshua below the village among the olives, and on this hill is said to be a school or village of Phinehas: which was given him in Mount Ephraim ; either to Eleazar, that he might be near to Shiloh, where the tabernacle then was, as the cities given to the priests and Levites were chiefly in those tribes that lay nearest to Jerusalem; though the Jews say, as Jarchi and Kimchi relate, that Phinehas might come into the possession of that place through his wife, or it might fall to him as being a devoted field; but it is most likely it was given to his father by the children of Ephraim, for the reason before observed. The Talmudists say, that Joshua wrote his own book, which is very probable; yet the last five verses, ( Joshua 24:29-33), must be written by another hand, even as the last eight verses in Deuteronomy, ( Deuteronomy 34:5-12), were written by him, as they also say; and therefore this is no more an objection to his being the writer of this book, than the addition of eight verses by him to Deuteronomy is to Moses being the writer of that; and the same Talmudists also observe, that ( Joshua 24:29-32), “Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died”, etc. were written by Eleazar, and ( Joshua 24:33), “and Eleazar, the son of Aaron, died”, etc. by Phinehas, which is not improbable.