Joshua assembling the people, recounts what great
things God had done for them, ver. 1 - 13.
Exhorts them to serve God, which they engage to do, ver. 14 - 28.
His age, death, and burial, ver. 29 - 31.
The burying of Joseph's bones, ver. 32.
The death and burial of Eleazar, ver. 33.
1: All Israel - Namely, their representatives. Shechem - To the
city of Shechem, a place convenient for the purpose, not only because
it was a Levitical city, and a city of refuge, and a place near
Joshua's city, but especially for the two main ends for which he
summoned them thither.
For the solemn burial of the bones of Joseph, and the rest of
the patriarchs, for which this place was designed.
For the solemn renewing of their covenant with God; which in this
place was first made between God and Abraham, (Ge 12:6,7),
and afterwards renewed by the Israelites at their first entrance
into the land of Canaan, between the two mountains of Ebal
and Gerizzim, (Jos 8:30), &c. which were very near
Shechem: and therefore this place was most proper, both to remind
them of their former obligations to God, and to engage them to a
farther ratification of them.
Before God - As in God's presence, to hear what Joshua was to speak to
them in God's name, and to receive God's commands from his mouth. He had
taken a solemn farewell before: but as God renewed his strength, he desired
to improve it for their good. We must never think our work for God done,
'till our life is done.
2: The people - To the elders, by whom it was to be imparted to
all the rest, and to as many of the people as came thither. He spake to
them in God's name, and as from him, in the language of a prophet, Thus
saith the Lord. Jehovah, the great God, and the God of Israel, whom
you are peculiarly engaged to hear. The flood - Or, the river,
namely, Euphrates, so called by way of eminency. They served - That
is, Both Abraham and Nahor were no less idolaters than the rest of
mankind. This is said to prevent their vain boasting in their worthy
ancestors, and to assure them that whatsoever good was in, or had been done
by their progenitors, was wholly from God's free grace, and not for their
own merit or righteousness.
3: I took - I snatched him out of that idolatrous place, and took him
into acquaintance and covenant with myself, which was the highest honour and
happiness he was capable of. And led - That is I brought him after
his father's death into Canaan, (Ge 12:1), and I conducted and
preserved him in all his travels through the several parts of Canaan.
And multiplied - That is, gave him a numerous posterity, not only by
Hagar and Keturah, but even by Sarah and by Isaac. Gave
Isaac - By my special power and grace to be heir of my covenant, and all
my promises, and the seed in or by which all the nations were to be blessed.
4: Mount Seir - That he might leave Canaan entire to his brother
Jacob and his posterity, (Ge 36:7,8).
Into Egypt - Where they long lived in grievous bondage; which God having
delivered us from, I shall now pass it over.
7: Your eyes - He speaketh this to the elders, ver.(1), who
were so, not only by power and dignity, but many of them by age; and there
being now not sixty years past since those Egyptian plagues, it is very
probable that a considerable number of those present, had seen those things
in Egypt, and being not twenty years old, were exempted from that
dreadful sentence passed upon all who were older, (Nu 14:29).
9: Balak warred - Balak warred, tho' not by open force, yet by
crafty counsel and warlike stratagems, by wicked devices.
10: Unto Balaam - Who hereby appears to have desired of God leave to
curse Israel; and therefore it is not strange, that God who permitted
him simply to go, was highly angry with him for going with so wicked an
intent, (Nu 22:20,22,32).
Delivered you - That is, from Balak's malicious design against you.
11: Deliver them - Namely, successively; for in these few words he
seems to comprise all their wars, which being so fresh in their memory, he
thought it needless particularly to mention.
12: Sent the hornet - When they were actually engaged in battle with
the Canaanites. These dreadful swarms which first appeared in their war
with Sihon and Og, tormented them with their stings and terrified
them with their noise, so that they became an easy prey to Israel.
God had promised to do this for them, (Ex 23:27,28), and here
Joshua observes the fulfilling the promise.
14: The gods - Whereby it appears, that although Joshua had
doubtless prevented and purged out all public idolatry, yet there were
some of them who practised it in their private houses and retirements.
Your fathers - Terah, and Nahor, and Abraham, as ver.(2),
and other of your ancestors. In Egypt - See (Eze 23:3,8,19,21,27).
Under these particulars, no doubt he comprehends all other false gods,
which were served by the nations amongst whom they were, but only mentions
these, as the idols which they were in more danger of worshipping than
those in Canaan; partly because those of Canaan had been now lately
and palpably disgraced by their inability to preserve their worshippers from
total ruin; and partly, because the other idols came recommended to them by
the venerable name of antiquity, and the custom of their forefathers.
15: Seem evil - Unjust, unreasonable or inconvenient. Choose
ye - Not that he leaves them to their liberty, whether they would serve God
or idols; for Joshua had no such power himself, nor could give it to any
other; and both he and they were obliged by the law of Moses, to give
their worship to God only, and to forbear all idolatry in themselves, and
severely to punish it in others; but it is a powerful insinuation, whereby
he both implies, that the worship of God is so highly reasonable, necessary
and beneficial; and the service of idols so absurd, and vain, and
pernicious, that if it were left free for all men to take their choice,
every man in his right wits must needs chuse the service of God, before
that of idols; and provokes them to bind themselves faster to God by their
own choice. He will - But know this, if you should all be so base and
brutish, as to prefer senseless and impotent idols, before the true and
living God, it is my firm purpose, that I will, and my children, and
servants (as far as I can influence them) shall be constant and faithful to
the Lord. And that, whatever others do. They that resolve to serve God,
must not start at being singular in it. They that are bound for heaven
must be willing to swim against the stream, and must do, not as most do,
but as the best do.
19: Ye cannot - He speaks not of an absolute impossibility, (for then
both his resolution to serve God himself, and his exhortation to them had
been vain) but of a moral impossibility, or a very great difficulty, which
he alledgeth not to discourage them from God's service, but to make them
more considerate in obliging themselves; and more resolved in answering
their obligations. The meaning is, God's service is not, as you seem to
fancy, a slight and easy thing, but it is a work of great difficulty, and
requires great care, and courage and resolution; and when I consider the
infinite purity of God, that he will not be mocked or abused; and withal
your proneness to superstition and idolatry, even during the life of
Moses, and in some of you, while I live, and while the obligations which
God had laid upon you in this land, are fresh in remembrance; I cannot but
fear that after my decease you will think the service of God burdensome, and
therefore will cast it off and revolt from him, if you do not carefully
avoid all occasions of idolatry. A jealous God - In the Hebrew, He is
the holy Gods, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit. He will not endure a
partner in his worship; you can not serve him and idols together.
Will not forgive - If you who own yourselves his people and servants,
shall wilfully transgress his laws, he will not let this go unpunished in
you, as he doth in other nations; therefore consider what you do, when
you take the Lord for your God; weigh your advantages and inconveniences
together; for as if you be sincere and faithful in God's service, you will
have admirable benefits by it; so if you be false to your professions, and
forsake him whom you have so solemnly avouched to be your God, he will deal
more severely with you than with any people in the world.
20: Will turn - That is, he will alter his course and the manner
of his dealing with you, and will be as severe as ever he was kind and
gracious. He will repent of his former kindnesses, and his goodness
abused will be turned into fury.
21: The Lord - Namely, him only, and not strange gods.
22: Against yourselves - This solemn profession will be a swift
witness against you, if hereafter you apostatize from God.
23: Strange gods - Those idols which you either brought out of
Egypt, or have taken in Canaan, which some of you keep contrary to
God's command, whether for the preciousness of the matter, or rather for
some secret inclination to superstition and idolatry.
25: A statute - He set or established that covenant with them, that
is, the people, for a statute or an ordinance, to bind themselves and
their posterity unto God for ever.
26: These words - That is, this covenant or agreement of the people
with the Lord. In the book - That is, in the volume which was kept in the
ark, (De 31:9,26), whence it was taken and put into this book of
Joshua: this he did for the perpetual remembrance of this great and
solemn action, to lay the greater obligation upon the people to be true to
their engagement; and as a witness for God, against the people, if afterward
he punished them for their defection from God, to whom they had so solemnly
and freely obliged themselves. Set it up - As a witness and monument of
this great transaction, according to the custom of those ancient times.
Possibly this agreement was written upon this stone, as was then usual.
By the sanctuary - That is, near the place where the ark and tabernacle
then were; for tho' they were forbidden to plant a grove of trees near
unto the altar, as the Gentiles did, yet they might for a time set
up an altar, or the ark, near a great tree which had been planted there
27: It hath heard - It shall be as sure a witness against you, as if
it had heard. This is a common figure, whereby the sense of hearing is
often ascribed to the heavens and the earth, and other senseless creatures.
32: The bones of Joseph - Joseph died two hundred years before in
Egypt, but gave commandment concerning his bones, that they should
not rest in a grave, 'till Israel rested in the land of promise. Now
therefore they were deposited in that piece of ground, which his father gave
him near Shechem. One reason why Joshua called all Israel to
Shechem, might be to attend Joseph's bones to the grave. So that he
now delivered as it were both Joseph's funeral sermon, and his own
farewell sermon. And if it was in the last year of his life, the occasion
might well remind him, of his own death now at hand. For he was just of the
same age with his illustrious ancestor, who died being one hundred and ten
years old, (Ge 50:26).
33: Given him - By special favour, and for his better conveniency in
attending upon the ark, which then was, and for a long time was to be in
Shiloh, near this place: whereas the cities which were given to the
priests, were in Judah. Benjamin, and Simeon, which were remote
from Shiloh, tho' near the place where the ark was to have its settled
abode, namely, at Jerusalem. It is probable Eleazar died about the
same time with Joshua, as Aaron did in the same year with Moses.
While Joshua lived, religion was kept up, under his care and influence,
but after he and his contemporaries were gone, it swiftly went to decay.
How well is it for the gospel church, that Christ, our Joshua, is still
with it by his Spirit, and will be always, even to the end of the