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Go to Bible: Joshua 24
“and they presented themselves before God.” They seem not to be in front of the Tabernacle, because it was at Shiloh (Josh. 18:1). So they were before God in the sense that they were before the representatives of God, Joshua and likely the priests.(top)
“served.” The Hebrew means “to work for, to serve.” The worship of pagan gods (and Yahweh) often required quite heavy work, such as getting water, wood, and sacrifices.
“other gods.” The fact that Abraham’s ancestors did not worship Yahweh is at least part of the reason that when God called Abraham to go to the Promised Land, He said, “Get out of your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house and go to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). God did not want Abraham’s family taking their pagan gods with them into the Promised Land, so He told Abraham to leave his family behind.(top)
“from beyond the River.” That is, from the other side of the Euphrates River.
“led him throughout all the land of Canaan.” Indicative that God was going to give “all the land” to Abraham and his descendants.
“and multiplied his seed.” Abraham fathered eight children: Isamael by Hagar the Egyptian, Isaac by Sarah, and six children by Keturah after Sarah died, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah (Gen. 25:1-2).(top)
“and I gave Mount Seir to Esau.” Mount Seir is the biblical name for the mountainous area stretching between the south end of the Dead Sea and the north end of the Gulf of Aqabah. It is not all of biblical Edom, but the northwest part of it. It was originally controlled by a Horite name Seir (Gen. 14:6; 36:20), but Esau and his descendants conquered it and took it from the Horites and then lived in the area (Deut. 2:12, 22).
“but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.” It is interesting that God gave Esau the area of Mount Seir, Edom, and Esau became a nation there. But the spiritual battle around the Promised Land was such that although Jacob had been given the land of Israel, the Israelites did not become a nation there, but were made into a nation while they were slaves in Egypt, and came out and traveled and fought as one nation although composed of different tribes.(top)
“and afterward.” That is, after the plagues.(top)
“with chariots and with horsemen.” Even after the plagues the Egyptian military was intact, and then God dealt with them in the Red Sea.(top)
“he put darkness.” Joshua switches from God in first person to God in third person, “he.”
“between you and the Egyptians.” Although most of the people with Joshua were dead, some were likely under 20 at the time of the Exodus and thus alive with Joshua, having seen the plagues and the Exodus. Also, the Jewish people tend to see themselves as part of the Exodus.
“And your eyes saw what I did.” There are many examples in history of the power of God and the futility of fighting against Him. The wise believer submits to God and obeys Him. Even if it is hard at first due to sin nature and human stubbornness, in the end there is true peace in following God. In contrast, the end of standing arrogantly against God is destruction.(top)
“the Amorites that lived beyond the Jordan.” That is, the Amorites that lived on the east side of the Jordan, in the Transjordan (Num. 21:21-35).
“I gave them into your hand.” An idiom meaning that God put them under the power (“hand”) of Israel.
“I destroyed them.” Israel did the fighting, but the battle was fought with God’s power and God gave the victory.(top)
“Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab.” The army of Israel traveled around Moab and then conquered the territories north of it; the Amorite kingdoms of Sihon and Og. Then they turned south again and camped just east of the Jordan River and across from Jericho in the plains of Moab (Num. 22:1).
“arose and fought against Israel: he sent.” Balak “fought against Israel,” but initially the fighting was in the spiritual world; curses against Israel.
“called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you.” This record starts in Numbers 22:1-6.(top)
“blessed, yes, blessed.” The Hebrew uses the figure of speech polyptoton for emphasis (for more on polyptoton and its translation, see commentary on Gen. 2:16).(top)
“leaders of Jericho.” The Hebrew word translated “leaders” is Baal, which was used of lords, leaders, landowners, and occasionally of free citizens. The men of Jericho fought as well, but the people were represented by the leaders.
“Amorite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Girgashite, the Hivite and the Jebusite.” These are the seven nations mentioned in Deuteronomy 7:1 that Israel was commanded to destroy when they got into the Promised Land (see commentary on Deut. 7:1).(top)
“I sent the hornet before you.” There is no mention of literal physical hornets in the text, but it may represent that God was working to give Israel the lands that were not immediately visible to Israel (Exod. 23:28; Deut. 7:20). Also, the hornet can be a metaphor for fear, and the fear of Israel did go ahead of the Israelites and caused the Canaanites to panic or lose heart.(top)
“cities that you did not build.” When Israel conquered Canaan they generally did not destroy the cities, but moved into them intact and began living in them (cp. Deut. 6:10-12; Josh. 11:13). Joshua burned only three cities in the conquest of Canaan; Ai, Jericho, and Hazor (Josh. 6:24; 8:28; 11:11).(top)
“beyond the River.” That is, beyond the Euphrates River, where Abraham came from. It is possible that some of the gods of Mesopotamia were still hanging around the people after hundreds of years, or, more likely, the gods of the Canaanites were the same as some of those Mesopotamian gods.(top)
“if it seems evil.” In this context, “evil” does not mean morally evil, but “unprofitable,” somehow hurtful. Joshua is saying that if the people see no value in serving Yahweh, then they should choose who they will serve.
“the gods that were beyond the Euphrates River.” The gods go with the land, and influence what happens in their domain.(top)
“Far be it from us.” See commentary on Joshua 22:29.(top)
“house of slavery.” The Hebrew is literally, “house of slaves,” where the genitive points to quality, it was a house of slavery.(top)
“the Amorites.” The Amorites were prominent enemies.
“We also will serve Yahweh, for he is our God.” This is the first of three times that the people of Israel say they will serve God. The Law stated that a matter was settled with two or three witnesses. After they stated it a second time (Josh. 24:21), Joshua says they are witnesses against themselves, which they agree to (Josh. 24:22). Then, in Joshua 24:24 Israel says they will serve God a third time.(top)
“You will not be able to serve Yahweh.” Joshua is not saying the people cannot serve Yahweh. But Joshua is saying that as things are, and especially as time goes on and years and years go by, the people will have a hard time serving Yahweh. As we know, even as Joshua was telling people to serve Yahweh, he was also having to tell them to get rid of their other gods. Joshua also knew the predictions of Moses, that Israel would turn away from Yahweh (Deut. 29:16-28; 32:4-33). So given the present situation and Moses’ statements about Israel’s future, Joshua understood only too well that Israel would not be able to serve only Yahweh as God unless they had a change of heart toward the pagan gods and made an extreme effort to keep themselves pure in the eyes of Yahweh.
“He will not forgive your disobedience.” God forgives sin, but in this context, after the Israelites had ignored God’s holiness and stirred up His jealousy, there would be consequences that could not just be “wished away.” Many times when people sin they can confess their sin and be forgiven on a spiritual level, but the consequences in the physical world still occur. King David is a good example. He confessed his sin to Nathan the prophet who told him his sin was forgiven but the child born of adultery would still die ( 2 Sam. 12:13-14).(top)
|Jos 24:20||- (top)|
“we will serve Yahweh.” This is the second time Israel says they will serve Yahweh (see commentary on Josh. 24:18).(top)
“You are witnesses.” The people have now twice said they will serve Yahweh.
“We are witnesses!” The Hebrew text expresses the emotion and determination of the people, who simply said, “Witnesses!”(top)
“stretch out your heart to God.” Joshua is using a strong active verb to encourage the people. They must put away their pagan gods, to which they would have certainly been attached for various reasons, and then stretch out their hearts to Yahweh. We often speak of people having to “stretch themselves” when they are doing something unfamiliar or difficult, and that is the case here. The people had not been single-hearted towards Yahweh, and now they must stretch themselves to be that way.(top)
“We will serve Yahweh our God.” This is the third time that Israel said they would serve God (see commentary on Josh. 24:18).
“we will listen to his voice.” In this context, “listen” has what is sometimes called the pregnant sense, and means “obey.”(top)
“set down for them a statute and a judgment.” Joshua wrote these in the book, as per Joshua 24:26.(top)
“the sacred precinct.” Although many versions say “sanctuary,” the Hebrew word can refer to a holy place, which Shechem surely was, going back to the time of Abraham. The NIV reads “holy place,” while the TNK reads “sacred precinct.” There is no evidence that the Tabernacle was moved from Shiloh (Josh. 18:1) to Shechem for this event.
“took a large stone and set it up there.” There is still a huge stone (although some of it has been broken off) in an ancient cultic site in Shechem, that seems to have ruins associated with it, or near it, that date from this time or earlier. There is no way to tell for sure, but that could well be the very stone that Joshua had set up. This standing-stone that Joshua set up was to be a memorial and a witness of the covenant that he made with Israel concerning the worship of Yahweh. [For more on standing-stones, see commentary on Gen. 28:18].(top)
“this stone will be a witness against us.” The idea that inanimate things that would be around for a long time could be witnesses to an oath was common in the culture and occurs a couple of different times in the Bible (cp. Gen. 31:52; Deut. 30:19). This does not mean the people thought that inanimate objects were alive and could talk, but rather that as part of God’s creation they represented Him.(top)
|Jos 24:28||- (top)|
|Jos 24:29||- (top)|
|Jos 24:30||- (top)|
“had known.” This is the use of “know” that means more than knowledge, it means to experience.(top)
“in the parcel of ground that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for 100 qisitah.” This transaction is recorded in Genesis 33:19. The Septuagint took the qisitah (a unit of money the value of which is no longer known) as the value of a lamb, but there is no way to verify that.
“and they became.” This likely refers to the bones of Joseph. Some commentators say that the plural “they” actually refers to the plot of land (singular), but the Hebrew text is plural. The bones of famous people were highly regarded and thought of as important property which is why places such as the burial plot of Abraham is still known to this day. There is no specific textual reason to ignore the plural “they” in the Hebrew text.(top)
“the hill of Phinehas his son.” The location of this hill is unknown.(top)