Monday, November 08, 2004

Joshua 24

This final chapter reprises in part the previous chapter. Joshua and Israel renew the covenant with God. Joshua and Eleazar, the senior leaders of the nation, die.

Matthew Henry points out that the meeting occurs at Shechem, rather than at the Shiloh shrine ten miles south (

Joshua reviews the history of Israel back to Abraham and establishes the historical land claim to Canaan. He recounts the escape from Egypt and the battle for Canaan. He tells the Israelites that their sword did not win battles, but that God sent the hornet to drive out the Canaanites. He exhorts Israel to choose between the gods of the Amorites and the serving Yahweh, making the majestic statement that expresses the best in the Judeo-Christian tradition of religious freedom: "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

Interestingly, the people promise to serve the Lord, but do not promise to throw away their gods. Notice also that here that again four classes of seniors are mentioned: elders, leaders, judges, and officials present themselves before God.

Joshua also set up a stone at an oak tree. Matthew Henry connects this to the oak at which Jacob buried the family gods and earrings (Gen. 35: 4). After disposing of the gods, the foreigners surrounding Jacob became terrified of him.

Another key claim to the land is reiterated here. The bones of Joseph are buried on land which had been purchased by Jacob. Had the Israelites fulfilled Joseph's wish when he died, they could have avoided the bondage of Egypt.


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