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A Farewell Charge

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Introduction

The New American Commentary: Joshua IV. Farewells (22:1–24:33)

The final three chapters all deal with farewells of sorts: (1) Joshua bade farewell to the Transjordan tribes, dismissing them to their inheritances east of the Jordan (chap. 22); (2) he bade farewell to the entire nation in a speech urging them to follow the Lord (chap. 23); and (3) he again bade farewell to the nation and led them in a covenant renewal ceremony, at a different place and with different emphases (chap. 24).

Joshua’s First “Last Address”

The New American Commentary: Joshua (1) Introduction (23:1–2)

He was 110 years old when he died (24:29), and, if he was anywhere near Caleb’s age of eighty-five when the land was distributed (see 14:10), then his farewell speeches would have come about twenty-five years after the main events in the book.

Joshua summed up most of the important motifs introduced throughout the book, passionately urging Israel to be steadfast in loving God, in obeying his law, and in keeping themselves uncontaminated by the religious practices of their neighbors.
David M. Howard Jr., Joshua, vol. 5, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 417.

Reminder of God’s Work

Joshua 23:3 KJV 1900
And ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you.
The New American Commentary: Joshua 3. Joshua’s First Farewell to All Israel (23:1–16)

God’s ownership of the land is emphasized in this speech. Ultimately, the land belonged to God, not Israel. These warnings saw their most dramatic fulfillment when Judah was carried into Babylonian captivity because of its repeated transgression of the covenant (2 Kings 25). But they also were relevant almost immediately, during the period of the judges, when Israel began to do precisely what was warned against here (see esp. Judg 2:16–23, 3:1–6).

Reassurance of God’s Power

Joshua 23:5 KJV 1900
And the Lord your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the Lord your God hath promised unto you.
Deuteronomy 9:3 KJV 1900
Understand therefore this day, that the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord hath said unto thee.
Joshua 3:10 KJV 1900
And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

Responsibility for Obedience

Keep the Law

Joshua 23:6 KJV 1900
Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;
It echoes the command to Joshua
Joshua 1:7 KJV 1900
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

Warning against idolatry

Joshua 23:7 KJV 1900
That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:
The New American Commentary: Joshua (2) Exhortations and Admonitions: Part One (23:3–8)

Thus, while Joshua’s speech was warm-hearted and hortatory in tone, it nevertheless contained ample warnings and signs of the troubles that were to come, troubles that would be caused by Israel’s associations with the nations that remained among them (Josh 23:4, 7, 12–13).

Stay Close to God

Joshua 23:8 KJV 1900
But cleave unto the Lord your God, as ye have done unto this day.
Cleave or stand fast has the idea of clinging, holding fast. It is used in Isaiah for the concept of soldering pieces of metal together.
Hezekiah was commended.
The New American Commentary: Joshua (2) Exhortations and Admonitions: Part One (23:3–8)

For example, Hezekiah, a good king par excellence in Judah, is commended in terms of his trusting and “holding fast” (dbq) to God (2 Kgs 18:5–6).

2 Kings 18:5 KJV 1900
He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.
2 Kings 18:6 KJV 1900
For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.
Joshua tells them to obey or suffer the consequences of God’s wrath
Joshua 23:9 KJV 1900
For the Lord hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.
Joshua 23:10 KJV 1900
One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.
J
The New American Commentary: Joshua (3) Exhortations and Admonitions: Part Two (23:9–13)

These words about the Israelites’ prowess echo the words in Moses’ song in Deut 32:30:

How could one man chase a thousand,

or two put ten thousand to flight,

unless their Rock had sold them,

unless the LORD had given them up?

Deuteronomy 32:30 KJV 1900
How should one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Except their Rock had sold them, And the Lord had shut them up?
Leviticus 26:7–8 KJV 1900
And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

Love Your God

6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses

Stay Pure

Joshua’s Final “Final Address”

The New American Commentary: Joshua 4. Joshua’s Second Farewell to All Israel (24:1–28)

The most significant difference between chaps. 23 and 24 is that the latter contains a covenant renewal ceremony, in which the people actually committed themselves to serving the Lord.

The New American Commentary: Joshua 3. Joshua’s First Farewell to All Israel (23:1–16)

Joshua summed up most of the important motifs introduced throughout the book, passionately urging Israel to be steadfast in loving God, in obeying his law, and in keeping themselves uncontaminated by the religious practices of their neighbors.

It somewhat follows the pattern of ancient eastern treaties with a
1. Preamble: identifies the author of the covenant
2. Historical Prologue: describes the previous relationship between the two parties
3. Stipulations: the vassal’s obligations to the overlord
4. A. Deposit in the Temple B. Periodic Public Reading
5. Witnesses: the gods are called to witness the covenant
6. Curses and blessings: the gods will punish or bless, depending on whether the covenant is kept
David M. Howard Jr., Joshua, vol. 5, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 426.
Not all of the elements are present, and there are significant differences since God is Jehovah and does not change, but the basic structure can be seen.

The Goodness of God

The New American Commentary: Joshua (1) Introduction and Review of the past (24:1–13)

The review of God’s gracious actions on Israel’s behalf goes back to Terah, Abraham’s father, and continues up to the taking of the land. It begins with a reminder that Israel’s ancestors had served other gods (v. 2), and it is followed by an exhortation not to serve these or any gods (vv. 14–15). It ends with yet another reminder that the land was God’s gift to Israel (vv. 12–13; cf. Deut 6:10–11).

The New American Commentary: Joshua (1) Introduction and Review of the past (24:1–13)

That this was God’s work is emphasized in the final statements of the historical review portion of Joshua’s address. Essentially everything they now possessed had been given to them by God. They had not worked the land, built the cities, or planted the vineyards and olive groves that they now were enjoying.

Deuteronomy 6:10 KJV 1900
And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
Deuteronomy 6:11 KJV 1900
And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
Deut

The Example of Joshua

Joshua 24:15 KJV 1900
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.
The New American Commentary: Joshua (2) Covenant Affirmations (24:14–24)

In his famous words at the end of the verse, Joshua took his stand clearly and unambiguously on the Lord’s side. Joshua stands as a good example of a leader willing to move ahead of his people and commit himself, regardless of the people’s inclinations. His bold example undoubtedly encouraged many to follow what he pledged to do, in their affirmations of vv. 16–18.

The New American Commentary: Joshua (2) Covenant Affirmations (24:14–24)

Normally, God was the one who did the choosing, having chosen Israel from among the nations to be his people (see, e.g., Deut 4:37; 7:6–7; 10:15; 14:2). But now, Israel was being asked to choose its loyalties, something the pagan nations did not have to do because they could embrace all the gods. The Israelites were being asked to do what Rahab had done, namely, to embrace this one God and, by doing so, to reject all others

Joshua 24:16 KJV 1900
And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;
Joshua 24:17 KJV 1900
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:
Joshua 24:18 KJV 1900
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.

The Warning by Joshua

Joshua 24:19 KJV 1900
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.
Joshua 24:20 KJV 1900
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.

God is a Holy God

The New American Commentary: Joshua (2) Covenant Affirmations (24:14–24)

The key to understanding these statements comes in two other statements that Joshua made, which affirmed two of God’s defining characteristics: he is a holy God and also a jealous God (v. 19). Both of these characteristics are part of God’s very nature and set him apart from all other gods and from his people. In Lev 19:2 the Israelites are urged to be holy because of God’s own holy nature: “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”

God is a Jealous God

The New American Commentary: Joshua (2) Covenant Affirmations (24:14–24)

God’s jealous nature also set him apart from other gods. They were jealous among themselves, displaying endless petty rivalries. However, God’s jealousy played itself out with the consequences being visited on his own people when they were unfaithful. This was (and is) part of God’s very nature: he would not brook any competition for his people’s loyalties

Exodus 20:5 KJV 1900
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

The Renewal by the People

Joshua 24:21 KJV 1900
And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:24 KJV 1900
And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
Joshua 24:25 KJV 1900
So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
Are there commitments you need to renew?

Three Funeral Services

It is right for God’s people to remember godly leaders and to imitate their faith (Heb. 13:7–8).

Joshua

Joshua 24:29 KJV 1900
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.
The New American Commentary: Joshua (1) Joshua’s Burial (24:29–31)

Joshua’s full name is given for a final time, and now, for the first time, he is called “the servant of the LORD.” The book carefully avoids calling him by this label until now—as opposed to Moses, who is called this fourteen times in the book (and only four more times in the entire Old Testament). Yet by now, Joshua had clearly “grown into the job” that Moses had vacated. God had exalted him

Joshua 24:31 KJV 1900
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.

Joseph

Genesis 50:25 KJV 1900
And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
Exodus 13:19 KJV 1900
And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.
Ex

Joseph’s brothers had promised to bury his remains in Canaan (Gen. 50:25), so the Jews had carried his coffin out of Egypt (Ex. 13:19). This is a picture of our future resurrection, for just as Joseph’s body was redeemed from Egypt, so our bodies will be one day not only at rest in their rightful home, but also transformed to be like the body of Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20–21)

Philippians 3:20 KJV 1900
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Philippians 3:21 KJV 1900
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Eleazar

Joshua 24:33 KJV 1900
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.
The New American Commentary: Joshua Joshua 22–24: Theological Reflections

The Book of Joshua ends with a series of reflections on what has transpired up to this point. More than most Old Testament books, it ends on a settled, peaceful, and harmonious note. Almost every loose end has been tied up, and things have come to a satisfactory conclusion.

“What do you want on your tombstone?”
Will you be faithful until the end?
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