Joshua Chapter 24: History of Israel, Death of Joshua

Dec 15th, 2009 | By | Category: Joshua, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Joshua Chapter 24: History of Israel, Death of Joshua

Josh. 24:1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

Joshua had gathered all heads, elders, judges, and officers of Israel together in Shechem to exhort them and give a little historical account (Josh. 23:2). In other words, the account again mentioned the gathering but this time told that the location was Shechem.

Josh. 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

Terah was the father of Abraham, Nahor, and Haran, who died. “The other side of the flood”meant beyond the river Euphrates, for “flood” indicated a large river. Terah and Abraham came from the east side (far side) of the Euphrates. The Abrahamic Covenant was secured when Abraham not merely forsook his father’s land but entered the Promised Land after Terah died.

Both Abraham and Nahor were mentioned because they (including their father Terah) “served other gods” before Abraham was called. Lot and Nahor did not get specific invitations to leave like Abraham, but Lot followed Abraham anyway. As a nephew, Lot cleaved to Abraham. Terah became a believer and also followed Abraham. (In the type, Terah represents the old nature, which must die before one enters “Canaan.”)

Josh. 24:3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.

Josh. 24:4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

It is interesting that Jacob and Esau are both mentioned. Jacob went down to Egypt, but Esau stayed at Mount Seir (Edom) near Petra. Hence Esau got his inheritance, but Abraham died without receiving his. The promise will be fulfilled in the Kingdom. Not until Joshua’s day did the Israelites begin to get into the land promised to Abraham and his seed.

Esau can picture (1) natural Israel; (2) the nominal Church (Babylon), which sold the birthright; (3) a Second Death class; and (4) the Arab nations of the Muslim religion. The nominal Church was given promises of the Kingdom (the opportunity of possessing the land, as it were) but tried to institute them now down here—whereas the Lord’s true people are pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land in the present life. They are aliens on earth, for their home is in heaven. (If Esau had not sold his birthright, it would not have gone to Jacob.) The nominal Church has reigned as kings ahead of time.

In verse 4, the contrast is between (1) pilgrims and strangers (Jacob) who had hard experiences in Egypt and the Wilderness of Sinai and (2) those who were settled (Esau/Edom/Idumea) in a high mountain (Mount Seir). It is like contrasting the nominal Church in the city with the true Church in the wilderness.

Josh. 24:5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.

Josh. 24:6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.

Joshua was saying that Terah and Abraham were ungodly unbelievers in the world, but they were called out. God took Abraham, the Israelites’ forefather, out of that environment and made him a believer. Abraham was brought through the “flood” (across the Euphrates) just as the Israelites were brought through the Red Sea and across the river Jordan. The spiritual lesson is that the heritage of the old man, which is ingrained in our human nature, will again conquer us if we do not fight. We must resist the world, the flesh, and the devil. Joshua was telling the Israelites to resist temptations—to remain obedient. By tracing this history, Joshua showed how God led the Israelites.

Josh. 24:7 And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.

Joshua continued to trace the Israelites’ history from the days of Abraham up to Joshua’s day. (Moses also did this in the Book of Deuteronomy.) When the Israelites cried, God put darkness between them and the Egyptians and closed the sea over the latter. Many Israelites (Joshua, Caleb, the young below a certain age, and the priesthood) had literally seen this happen; they were eyewitnesses of the miraculous deliverance. What at first seemed to the Israelites to be utter annihilation with no way out at the Red Sea turned into a miraculous deliverance. The cream of the crop of Egypt—the country’s best fighting men including Pharaoh—all perished in the Red Sea. The “long season” in the wilderness was a time period of 40 years.

Josh. 24:8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.

Josh. 24:9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:

The land of Moab was originally about twice the size, that is, before the Israelites went through and Reuben got his inheritance there. Moab retained the remaining half of the land because the inhabitants were children of Lot, and that was an everlasting inheritance until the Kingdom.

And the Edomites retained Mount Seir because that was Esau’s inheritance. However, the Amorites did not “legally” possess the land because God never gave it to them. The Israelites got the land when the iniquity of the Amorites came to the full (Gen. 15:16).

Josh. 24:10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.

Notice that the Lord interfered with Balaam: “I would not hearken unto Balaam. Therefore , he  blessed you, and I delivered you out of his hand.” God also helped and/or rescued the Israelites from the pursuing Egyptians, in battles with nations stronger and mightier than they (Josh. 23:9), with the Amorites, etc.

Balaam had quite a history and reputation of which little is known. Because he had manifested great powers and was called a prophet of the Lord, Balak summoned him. Balaam subsequently showed his weakness for money, power, and prestige.

The fact God had to deliver the Israelites out of Balaam’s hand shows that Balaam possessed some uncanny power. Seers’ counsel was usually very penetrating and often full of wisdom (like Ahithophel at the time of Absalom’s rebellion).

Josh. 24:11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.

Seven nationalities are mentioned. Verse 8 said the Amorites were defeated across Jordan, but some were in Israel too, on this side of the Jordan River. The Jebusites were also defeated, but their capital, Jerusalem, was not captured until David’s day more than 500 years later. In other words, the Jebusites were defeated in Joshua’s day except for the Jerusalem mountain stronghold. The situation, therefore, was that while the enemies of Israel were defeated, enough remnants of power were left to cause problems later on (for example, Canaanites, Jebusites, Philistines, and Hittites).

Josh. 24:12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

The King James Version is worded poorly in saying that God would send “the hornet”  (singular). How were the two Amorite kings driven out? In some cases, literal hornets were used, but we think the “hornet” is figurative or spiritual here. If conditions were quiet and a hornet came along, we would hear the buzz. That sound would put us on guard, for we would not want to be stung. Here “the hornet” represents the fear that preceded the actual encounter between Israel and the enemy. In other words, one can be paralyzed with fear before an attack actually occurs. The enemies were so disconcerted about how to fight Israel that they were sitting ducks for the smaller Israelite forces to conquer them. The news of the impending attack unnerved the enemy. Exodus 23:27,28 reads, ”I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.” An example was the inhabitants of Jericho. The Israelites were being circumcised and hence were helpless, yet the Jerichoites did not attack. They were unnerved, knowing what had happened to the Egyptians when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and also that the Jordan had miraculously dried up. Despite the walls falling down, fear had much to do with the defeat of Jericho. Therefore, in regard to the hornet, God was saying, “The news of what I have done for you in defeating other peoples precedes you and causes great fear.”

Josh. 24:13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not[,] do ye eat.

At times when the Israelites conquered an area or city, they went in and occupied the very houses vacated by the enemy, the vineyards, the fortresses, etc. In fact, when they entered the Promised Land, it was spring, so the Israelites got the barley and wheat harvest, and later the vines. They just harvested—they did not have to sow. Since it took six years for the Israelites to conquer and divide the land, they did not have time to plant crops and were providentially provided for by the “vineyards and oliveyards” planted by others.

Josh. 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.

“Fathers … on the other side of the flood [Euphrates]” were Abraham, Terah, and Nahor.

Josh. 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

This verse is a reminder of Moses and the Levites. Moses drew a figurative line and asked, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” Joshua was impressed with Moses as a great leader and hence adopted many of his thoughts and words. Here Joshua also drew a figurative line. It is interesting to see how the Israelites responded in succeeding verses.

Josh. 24:16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;

Josh. 24:17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:

Josh. 24:18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.

Josh. 24:19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

Josh. 24:20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

Josh. 24:21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.

In verses 15-21, Joshua used a psychological method that was effective and forceful. “As for me and my house, we are determined to serve the Lord. Now what about you?” The people repeated, in an abbreviated form, what Joshua had said in verses 2-13. “Yes, all along the way, God has worked on our behalf. We are going to serve Him!” Joshua interjected, “You cannot serve the Lord God, for He is a holy God.” Joshua had just said that he and his house would serve the Lord. Now he was pressing the Israelites in order to bring out more resolution of determination to serve the Lord. With vows, many people loosely blabber what they will and will not do. Here Joshua was trying to impress upon the Israelites the seriousness of taking a stand for the Lord. He was not trying to discourage them but wanted them to say, “Yes! Yes!

We will serve the Lord!” And the people did so respond: “Nay; but we will serve the LORD!” Although Israel did go astray, Joshua’s effect on the people no doubt lasted awhile.

Josh. 24:22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.

Josh. 24:23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.

Josh. 24:24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

Josh. 24:25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

Josh. 24:26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.

Josh. 24:27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.

Josh. 24:28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.

The Israelites’ responses were repetitive—like a chorus. A number of the people shouted like a chant, which is only partly recorded here, “The Lord our God we will serve! We will serve! We will serve!” Then Joshua made a covenant and solemnized the occasion in writing. Next he set a great stone near the sanctuary in Shechem (now called Nablus). Notice that Joshua spoke to the stone. Thus the stone bore witness. We think the stone could actually hear the covenant that was made and at a later time will be able to bring the recording out. In other words, the words were stored in the stone. The principle is the same when words are put into memory on magnetic computer tapes and then played back later. Jesus said the very stones would cry out if the people held their peace (Luke 19:40).

Josh. 24:29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.

Josh. 24:30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.

Josh. 24:31 And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.

Josh. 24:32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

Josh. 24:33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.

Joshua was 110 at his death. The bones of Joseph were finally interred in Shechem.

(1987–1988 Study)

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