Bible Commentaries
Joshua 24

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-33

These chapters form a section by themselves, and give some closing scenes of Joshua’s life, as well as his two farewell discourses to the people.

Verses 1-33

Joshua’s Second and Final Farewell

This discourse (Joshua 24:1-15), with Israel’s response (Joshua 24:16-24), and consequent renewal of the Covenant (Joshua 24:25-28), occupies the bulk of the chapter. The book is then brought to a conclusion in three short paragraphs, recording (a) the death and burial of Joshua (Joshua 24:29-31), (b) the burial of Joseph’s bones (Joshua 24:32), and (c) the death of Eleazar (Joshua 24:33).

1-15. This last address of Joshua, which is admitted by critics to be of great antiquity, recalls, both in spirit and in substance, Samuel’s discourse in 1 Samuel 12. But whereas the latter begins with the work of Moses and Aaron, Joshua starts further back and traces the hand of Providence from the call of Abraham out of idolatrous Mesopotamia, thus enforcing a strict renunciation of any lingering idolatry among his contemporaries (cp. Joshua 24:14, Joshua 24:23). Through patriarchal times he draws his hearers on to the sojourn in Egypt (Joshua 24:4); then he refers to the miraculous exodus (Joshua 24:5-7); next he recounts the wanderings in the wilderness, and the victories E. of Jordan (Joshua 24:7-9); and concludes with the passage of Jordan, and the subsequent conquests (Joshua 24:11.). Finally Joshua offers them the great choice—loyalty or disloyalty to the Lord who has done so much for them (Joshua 24:14-15). His own choice is made.

1. To Shechem] the scene of the blessings and cursings of chapter Joshua 8:30-35. It is here hallowed afresh by a solemn renewal of the Covenant (Joshua 24:25).

3. The other side of the flood] RV ’from beyond the River,’ i.e. Euphrates.

6, 7. And ye came unto the sea, etc.] The full and graphic description of this great miracle is remarkable in so concise a speech. Does it not evidence an eyewitness? Joshua was old enough to lead the host against Amalek that year (Exodus 17:9), and therefore old enough to be impressed by it. He may well have been—as Caleb was—38 years old at the time (see on Joshua 14:10).

11. And ye went over Jordan] Here we pass into the history narrated in the book of Joshua.

12. The hornet] Either the Israelite invasion was actually preceded by a plague of hornets, insects whose sting is exceedingly painful and may soon be fatal; or the hornet is used as a type of the dread which the rumour of their victories spread in advance of them.

14, 15. These very definite references to idolatry imply that previous warnings had failed of their effect. Indeed, we learn from the later historical books that it was not until the Captivity that Israel completely forsook the worship of false gods. There were apparently temptations to three distinct forms of idolatry: (a) the ancestral worship of their Mesopotamian forefathers, represented by the ’teraphim’ which Rachel stole from Laban (Genesis 31:19, Genesis 31:30, cp. Genesis 35:2, Genesis 35:4); (b) the animal-worship to which the Israelites had been accustomed in Egypt (Joshua 24:14), of which the ’golden calf’ or Apis-bull of Exodus 32 is a type; (c) the local Baalim of the Canaanite tribes, which proved, as the book of Judges shows, a constant snare to Israel in succeeding generations.

16-24. The People’s Response.

18. Drave out all the people] A general statement, in line with Joshua 10:40, Joshua 10:43; Joshua 11:23; Joshua 21:43-45 but to be taken together with statements of a qualifying character like Joshua 13:2-7 and Joshua 23:4.

19. Ye cannot serve the lord: for he is an holy God] an extreme statement meant to startle them into a sense of the awful responsibility of intercourse with One who has revealed Himself to be All-Holy: cp. Leviticus 19:2. The whole elaborate scheme of the Levitical sacrifices and ceremonies seems to have this as its primary object, and to bring home to careless minds the inaccessibility of the Deity except to clean hearts and lives.

25-28. Renewal of the Covenant.

26. A great stone] A pillar such as Jacob had set up (Genesis 28:18) as a memorial of his vision at Bethel, and again (Genesis 31:44) as a witness of his covenant with Laban. Moses had set up twelve such pillars (Exodus 24:4) as a memorial of the original Covenant at Sinai; and now a similar monument is erected by Joshua to mark the renewal of that Covenant. On the other hand, an idolatrous ’pillar’ or ’obelisk’ (Deuteronomy 16:22 RV) was expressly forbidden. An oak] RV ’the oak,’ i.e. of Genesis 12:6 RV, etc.

29-33. Death and burial of Joshua. Burial of Joseph’s bones. Death of Eleazar. Repeated in substance Judges 2:6-9.

31. All the days.. the elders] The generation old enough to realise and remember the events recorded in this book. These words must not be pressed too rigidly. They assure. us that Joshua’s inspiring influence was felt up to, and even after, his death. But the next generation (Judges 2:10) fell away. A grandson of Moses and contemporary of Phinehas (cp. Judges 20:28) took a leading part in Danite idolatry (Judges 18:30 RV).

32. Ground which Jacob bought] see Genesis 33:19.

33. Eleazar the son of Aaron died] The traditional Jewish theory being that Joshua wrote the book that bears his name, it was supposed that Joshua 24:29-31 were added by Eleazar, and this v. by ’Phinehas and the Elders.’

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.