Bible Commentaries

Joshua 24

Verses 1-33

Here we have the record of the final address of Joshua. In it he first concisely and comprehensively traced the Hebrews' history from the call of Abraham and did so in the form of the speech of Jehovah to them. In the brief compass of eleven verses the pronoun "I" as referring to Jehovah occurs no less than seventeen times. The whole movement emphasized the truth that everything of greatness in the history of the people was the result of divine action.

Then he appealed to them with a touch of fine irony. If they would not serve God, he called them to choose whom they would serve, asking them whether they would go back to the gods of their fathers beyond the river or turn to the gods of the Amorites in whose land they were now dwelling. Thus, by presenting the alternatives to loyalty to Jehovah he made patent the foolhardiness of disloyalty. He ended with the declaration of personal decision. "As for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah."

Then we have a dramatic description of what followed. The people declared their choice of God as against any other gods. From an intimate knowledge of them Joshua declared that in spite of their declared choice they were not able to serve God. It was a strange outburst and one wonders whether the tone was of scorn or of intense pity. The subsequent history of the people shows that the words were prophetic. Again the people affirmed their determination to serve the Lord and Joshua called them to put away all strange gods. Everything ended with the making of a covenant and the erection of a memorial.

The Book closes with an account of the death of Joshua and the death of Eleazer. It is significant that in the midst of the darkness of death there was something almost weird and yet full of the suggestion of hope. The bones of Joseph were buried in the land.