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Jos 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
(Jos 8:30, 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
(Ge 12:6, 7; 33:18-20; 35:2-4).
Jos 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.
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.
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 (see on Ex 23:28).
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.
Jos 24:29, 30. HIS AGE AND DEATH.
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.
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].