Joshua 24:4-7: Memorial of God’s Covenant Faithfulness to Israel, Part 2

Verse 4:[1] And I gave unto Isaac (Gen. 25:24-26) Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto (Gen. 36:8; Deut. 2:5) Esau mount Seir, to possess it; (Gen. 46:1, 6; Acts 7:15) but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

[Jacob and Esau] He makes mention of Esau as born from the same parents, even indeed in the first place, yet rejected by God, with Jacob at the same time made heir, and that freely, Romans 9:11, so that he might rouse them exceedingly to love God in return, etc. (Masius)

I gave unto Esau Mount Seir to possess it, that he might leave Canaan entire to his brother Jacob and his posterity, Genesis 36:7, 8.

[They went down into Egypt] He relates this in a unique summary, and he skillfully passes over that exceedingly cruel servitude, because it was his intention to bring the benefits to them back into memory, neither was he willing to interrupt their abiding happiness by recording such a sad event (Masius).

Jacob and his children went down into Egypt, where they long lived in grievous bondage; which God having delivered us from, I shall now pass it over.

 

Verse 5:[2] (Ex. 3:10) I sent Moses also and Aaron, and (Ex. 7-10; 12) I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.

[And I smote Egypt, etc.,וָאֶגֹּ֣ף אֶת־מִצְרַ֔יִם כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתִי בְּקִרְבּ֑וֹ וְאַחַ֖ר הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אֶתְכֶֽם׃] And I smote, or, injured, or, afflicted with plagues,[3] Egypt (that is, the Egyptians [Piscator]), just as I did in the midst of it, and finally I led you out (Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus, Dutch, English). Just as, or according as, I did, understanding, plagues, in its midst, that is, for so long as I sent various plagues among them (Vatablus). And I smote Egypt: and after I did that in its midst, I led you out (Munster). [He supplies the ו/and, and translates כַּאֲשֶׁר/ after.]

According to that which I did, that is, in such manner, and with such plagues as I inflicted, and are recorded.

 

Verse 6:[4] And I (Ex. 12:37, 51) brought your fathers out of Egypt: and (Ex. 14:2) ye came unto the sea; (Ex. 14:9) and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.

 

Verse 7:[5] And when they (Ex. 14:10) cried unto the LORD, (Ex. 14:20) he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, (Ex. 14:27, 28) and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and (Deut. 4:34; 29:2) your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness (Josh. 5:6) a long season.

[Your eyes have seen] But almost all that had been in the desert had perished (Masius). Response: They were able to see, even all that [in the time of the murmuring] were less than twenty years old (see Numbers 14; 26 [Estius, Masius]), the Levites (Estius, Lyra) (who are believed to have been free from the sin of murmuring, because no one from that tribe was sent as a spy [Masius]), the women (Estius), Joshua and Caleb (Lyra), and Elders and Tribunes, etc., since those that go before others in age are wont to ascend into the seats of those dignities (Masius).

And your eyes have seen: He speaketh this to the elders, Joshua 24:1, 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 here present had seen those things in Egypt, and being not twenty years old, were exempted from that dreadful sentence of destruction, passed upon all who were then of more years standing, Numbers 14.

[Ye dwelt in the wilderness, etc.] Where the marvelous kindness of God appeared to them, where He miraculously fed and preserved them, and revealed His presence, prescribed the Law, and bore patiently their peevishness (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וָאֶתֵּ֣ן לְיִצְחָ֔ק אֶֽת־יַעֲקֹ֖ב וְאֶת־עֵשָׂ֑ו וָאֶתֵּ֙ן לְעֵשָׂ֜ו אֶת־הַ֤ר שֵׂעִיר֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אוֹת֔וֹ וְיַעֲקֹ֥ב וּבָנָ֖יו יָרְד֥וּ מִצְרָֽיִם׃

[2] Hebrew: וָאֶשְׁלַ֞ח אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֤ה וְאֶֽת־אַהֲרֹן֙ וָאֶגֹּ֣ף אֶת־מִצְרַ֔יִם כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתִי בְּקִרְבּ֑וֹ וְאַחַ֖ר הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אֶתְכֶֽם׃

[3] נָגַף signifies to smite.

[4] Hebrew: וָֽאוֹצִ֤יא אֶת־אֲבֽוֹתֵיכֶם֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם וַתָּבֹ֖אוּ הַיָּ֑מָּה וַיִּרְדְּפ֙וּ מִצְרַ֜יִם אַחֲרֵ֧י אֲבוֹתֵיכֶ֛ם בְּרֶ֥כֶב וּבְפָרָשִׁ֖ים יַם־סֽוּף׃

[5] Hebrew: וַיִּצְעֲק֣וּ אֶל־יְהוָ֗ה וַיָּ֙שֶׂם מַֽאֲפֵ֜ל בֵּינֵיכֶ֣ם׀ וּבֵ֣ין הַמִּצְרִ֗ים וַיָּבֵ֙א עָלָ֤יו אֶת־הַיָּם֙ וַיְכַסֵּ֔הוּ וַתִּרְאֶ֙ינָה֙ עֵינֵיכֶ֔ם אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשִׂ֖יתִי בְּמִצְרָ֑יִם וַתֵּשְׁב֥וּ בַמִּדְבָּ֖ר יָמִ֥ים רַבִּֽים׃

Joshua 24:3: Memorial of God’s Covenant Faithfulness to Israel, Part 1

Verse 3:[1] And (Gen. 12:1; Acts 7:2, 3) I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and (Gen. 21:2, 3; Ps. 127:3) gave him Isaac.

[I brough, therefore, your father Abraham[2]] I think that I took has been put in the place of I called out, so that the kindness of God might appear the more illustrious, who brought him to Himself, taking him by the hand, as it were, not only freely, but while he was drawing back and turning away in the worship of rival gods (Masius).

I took your father; I apprehended him by my grace, and snatched him out of that idolatrous and wicked place, and took him into acquaintance and covenant with myself, which was the highest honour and happiness he was capable of.

[From Mesopotamia, מֵעֵ֣בֶר הַנָּהָ֔ר] From the farther part of the river (Syriac); from the place or region that is across the river (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Bonfrerius). By which periphrasis Chaldea is also able to be indicated (which is called Mesopotamia repeatedly, although improperly [Bonfrerius]). It is certain that he was first called from Chaldea (Bonfrerius, Masius). Now, when he had persuaded his father Terah and Nachor, etc., to depart with him, and had arrived at Haran, they stopped there a number of years, either with the Divine stimuli gradually fading in the soul of Abraham, or because the purpose was irksome to the others. But a sense of responsibility was easily restraining him, since he was unwilling to leave his aged father. Being stirred by the death of his father, or by fresh inspiration, or even being properly mindful of the above, he conveyed himself to Canaan. But concerning these things see more on Genesis 12:1 and Acts 7:4 (Masius).

[I led him unto the land of Canaan[3]] And I led him throughout all the land of Canaan (Junius and Tremellius). He brings the Israelites back to the memory of that admirable goodness of God whereby God formerly preserved their father Abraham, a stranger and pilgrim no less,[4] magnified him with the greatest wealth,[5] and made him to be revered even by Kings[6] (Masius).

Led him throughout all the land of Canaan, that is, I brought him after his father’s death into Canaan, Genesis 12:1, and I conducted and preserved him in safety in all his travels through the several parts of Canaan.

[And I multiplied his seed, verse 4,[7] and gave him Isaac] The latter member is ἐξηγητικὸν/exegetical of the former, and the language of seed has regard to one, even Isaac, according to Genesis 21:12, in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Romans 9:8. Thus he shows the marvelous grace of God toward them, who, with others repudiated, had to do with only one, even Isaac; so that now they are obliged to appear most ungrateful, if they are not kept in mutual charity and piety toward Him. But why is the seed of Abraham said to have been multiplied, since only one son, Isaac, is mentioned as being born to him? Response: The multitude has regard to the posterity of Isaac (Masius). And I gave to him Isaac, that is, after I gave to him Isaac; that is, through Isaac I gave to him a numerous offspring (Vatablus).

Multiplied his seed, that is, gave him a numerous posterity, not only by Hagar and Keturah, but even by Sarah and by Isaac, as it follows. Gave him Isaac, by my special power and grace, to be the heir of my covenant, and all my promises, and the seed in or by which all nations were to be blessed, Genesis 12:3; 21:2.

[1] Hebrew: וָ֠אֶקַּח אֶת־אֲבִיכֶ֤ם אֶת־אַבְרָהָם֙ מֵעֵ֣בֶר הַנָּהָ֔ר וָאוֹלֵ֥ךְ אוֹת֖וֹ בְּכָל־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וָאֶרֶב֙ אֶת־זַרְע֔וֹ וָֽאֶתֶּן־ל֖וֹ אֶת־יִצְחָֽק׃

[2] Hebrew: וָ֠אֶקַּח אֶת־אֲבִיכֶ֤ם אֶת־אַבְרָהָם֙ .

[3] Hebrew: וָאוֹלֵ֥ךְ אוֹת֖וֹ בְּכָל־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן.

[4] See Psalm 105:9-14; Genesis 12:17; 20:3.

[5] See, for example, Genesis 13:2; 24:35.

[6] See Genesis 14; 20:14-18; 21:21-32.

[7] In the Vulgate.

Joshua 24:2: History of Idolatry in Terah’s Family

Verse 2:[1] And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, (Gen. 11:26, 31; Judith 5:6, 7[2]) Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and (Gen. 31:53) they served other gods.

Unto all the people, that is, that people which were present, to wit, to the elders, etc., by whom it was to be imparted to all the rest, and to as many of the people as came thither.

[Thus saith the Lord] That is, through me (Vatablus).

[The God of Israel] This exordium[3] is perfectly suited to the following narration, since the whole of it is taken up in explaining the goodness of God toward the family of Israel (Masius).

[Across the river] That is, Euphrates; which Jonathan and the Syriac have here. [All interpreters agree.]

The flood, or, the river, to wit, Euphrates, as all agree; so called by way of eminency.

[Your fathers…and they served strange gods] He shows that he speaks of their near ancestors, not of the more remote, of which sort were Shem and Noah. This is done, so that it might be evident that they were graciously adopted by God for a people, not only freely, but even while they were enemies (Masius).

[Terah, the father of Abraham and Nachor] He names these, because from these the entire stock of Israel was descended. For from Nahor the maternal lineage is traced through Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel (Masius). Question: Whether Abraham also worshipped idols? Response: Some deny this (thus Lapide, Tostatus and Cajetan in Serarius, Pererius in Lapide). Some affirm that he, when he was younger, was an idolater (thus Masius, Serarius out of the Rabbis). And there are those that think that for that reason Abraham was called ἀσεβῆ/ungodly, Romans 4:5 (Serarius). I am not able to heed those that with great effort seek to vindicate Abraham from this sin, I know not with what arguments. But, supposing that to be the case, the grace of God, with which He embraced him, would not be the more illustrious, the more sinful he was; and not for the admirable kindness of God would the Sacred History commemorate and inculcate so many times in our souls, that He rescued him, as if taken by the hand, from his homeland and the company of idolaters, as we called them (Masius, similarly Malvenda). Concerning this question see what things we have on Genesis 12:1 (Bonfrerius).

They served other gods, 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 born God’s free grace, and not for their own merit or righteousness, as the Jews were very apt to conceit.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ אֶל־כָּל־הָעָ֗ם כֹּֽה־אָמַ֣ר יְהוָה֮ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַנָּהָ֗ר יָשְׁב֤וּ אֲבֽוֹתֵיכֶם֙ מֵֽעוֹלָ֔ם תֶּ֛רַח אֲבִ֥י אַבְרָהָ֖ם וַאֲבִ֣י נָח֑וֹר וַיַּעַבְד֖וּ אֱלֹהִ֥ים אֲחֵרִֽים׃

[2] Judith 5:6, 7:  “This people are descended of the Chaldeans:  And they sojourned heretofore in Mesopotamia, because they would not follow the gods of their fathers, which were in the land of Chaldea.”

[3] That is, the introduction.

Joshua 24:1: Assembly at Shechem

Verse 1:[1] And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to (Gen. 35:4) Shechem, and (Josh. 23:2) called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they (1 Sam. 10:19) presented themselves before God.

[And he gathered, וַיֶּאֶסֹף] He gathered then (Junius and Tremellius), or, also, that is, thereafter (Masius). Now, he gathered, supplying, again. He assembles the people a second time (Vatablus, Masius). Since he had survived longer than he expected after the last assembly, yet in the same year, as it appears, having an even stronger presentiment now of the nearness of death, or even learning by revelation that it is near, being solicitous of their well-being, he calls them together again, he involves himself in every respect, so that he might inculate in them constancy in worship and the Divine covenant (Bonfrerius).

Gathered all the tribes of Israel, to wit, by their representatives, as Joshua 23:2.

[To Shechem] Thus all interpreters except the Septuagint, which has in the Roman codex, to Shiloh. But other codices [of the Septuagint], the Complutensian, Royal, Basilian,[2] and of Masius, have Shechem (Bonfrerius). That is error is ancient [in the Roman codex], there is able to be no doubt, which sort are certainly almost infinite in the Greek edition (Masius in his notes on his edition of the Septuagint). Question 1: Where then was this gathering? Response 1: In Shiloh (Serarius, Drusius, Junius, Menochius, Tirinus, Grotius). They prove this out of verse 1, they stood in the sight of God; and out of verse 26, they set it [that is, the stone] under an oak that was in the sanctuary of the Lord (Serarius). You will say, But this place is called Shechem. Response: Therefore Shechem here is not the city of Shechem, but Shechemite territory, in which Shiloh was (Serarius, Junius). Thus Gibeon is put in place of its territory, and Jericho (Drusius) [as previously noted]. Thus Hebron was given to Caleb, Joshua 14:14, although not the city itself, but its territory, was given to him, Joshua 21:12. Thus in Joshua 24:32 the bones of Joseph are said to be buried in Shechem, and it is immediately subjoined, in the parcel of ground that Jacob bought; but, that that field was not in the city is evident from Genesis 33:18 (Junius, Drusius, Serarius). But the reasoning is unequal: for that field of Jacob was a suburb of the city of Shechem, and set in proximity, Genesis 33; but Shechem was ten miles distant from Shiloh, as Jerome testifies. And it would be truly remarkable, that, while everywhere Shiloh is expressly named as the site of the Tabernacle, the same is called Shechem only in this place and never elsewhere (Bonfrerius). Why was it necessary to denominate the place, otherwise famous, by an external field, and not by itself (Malvenda)? Response 2: Others maintain that it was not in Shiloh, but in Shechem (thus Vatablus, Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Malvenda). At that time the Ark of the covenant was moved from Shiloh to Shechem (Vatablus, Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius), so that the covenant might be entered upon before the Ark: which is discovered from the end of this book. For the book was shut up in the Ark of the covenant, but he says that he wrote in the book of the Law (Vatablus). The matter is certain and is shown by many examples, that it was not unlawful for the King to transport the Ark here and there when there was need; 1 Samuel 4:3; 2 Samuel 15:24 (Masius). Moreover, by the Sanctuary, Joshua 24:26, the Tabernacle is not understood (for it was unheard of that there was an oak in the Tabernacle, which was only ten cubits tall,[3] especially since it was prohibited in Deuteronomy 16:21, that a grove or tree should not be planted by the Altar of God), but the place in which the Ark was resting for the present until the meetings were finished (in which, or near which, was that oak, under which that stone was placed as a monument): it is not strange that this place was called the Sanctuary, since by the presence of the Ark the Tabernacle also was regarded as holy (Bonfrerius). Question 2: Why did he assembly them at Shechem? Response: Joshua thought that this covenant was to be renewed in that place, 1. Because there the covenant was first ratified by Abraham, and then by all the Israelites, as we showed in Joshua 8. That place certainly ought to have stirred, and that not a little, the souls of all, in which place the remains of Abraham were yet present; who, after he had left his native land, was there first of all initiated into that religion and those sacred rites that they were yet cherishing and were obliged to cherish, and was made by God the heir of this land, whose possession they were now enjoying (Masius). Wherefore Joshua wanted his posterity solemnly to swear unto the Law of God, with the inheritance now received (Lapide). 2. Because near Shechem on the mountains of Gerezim and Ebal, which were in view, Joshua had formerly renewed the same covenant of the people with God upon their entrance into the Promised Land, Joshua 8. And so that event was powerful to recall into mind the memory of the original covenant (Bonfrerius out of Lapide). In Shechem Abraham first offered sacrifice to God, Genesis 12:6, 7. In Shechem the Patriarchs were buried (Lapide). 3. In Shechem rather than Shiloh, the former was closer to Timnath-serah, the city of their now aged Commander-in-Chief (Malvenda).

To Shechem; either, 1. To Shiloh, where the ark and tabernacle was; because they are here said to present themselves before God; and because the stone set up here is said to be set up in or by the sanctuary of the Lord; of both which I shall speak in their proper places. And they say Shiloh is here called Shechem, because it was in the territory of Shechem; but that may be doubted, seeing Shiloh was ten miles distant from Shechem, as St. Jerome affirms. And had he meant Shiloh, why should he not express it in its own and proper name, by which it is called in all other places, rather than by another name no where else given to it? Or rather, 2. To the city of Shechem, a place convenient for the present purpose, not only because it was a Levitical city, and a city of refuge, and a place near to Joshua’s city, but especially for the two main ends for which he summoned them thither. 1. For the solemn burial of the bones of Joseph, as is implied here, Joshua 24:32, and of the rest of the patriarchs, as is noted Acts 7:15, 16, for which this place was designed. 2. For the solemn renewing of their covenant with God; which in this place was first made between God and Abraham, Genesis 12:6, 7, and afterwards was there renewed by the Israelites at their first entrance into the land of Canaan, between the two mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, Joshua 8:30, etc., which were very near Shechem, as appears from Judges 9:6, 7; and therefore this place was most proper, both to remind them of their former obligations to God, and to engage them to a further ratification of them. Before God; either, 1. Before the ark or tabernacle, as that phrase is commonly used; which might be either in Shiloh, where they were fixed; or in Shechem, whither the ark was brought upon this great occasion, as it was sometimes removed upon such occasions, as 1 Samuel 4:3; 2 Samuel 15:24. Or, 2. In that public, and venerable, and sacred assembly met together for religious exercises; for in such God is present, Exodus 20:24; Psalm 82:1; Matthew 18:20. Or, 3. 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. Thus Isaac is said to bless Jacob before the Lord, that is, in his name and presence, Genesis 27:7; and Jephthah is said to utter all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh,[4] that is, as in God’s presence, calling him in to be witness of them.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֶּאֶסֹ֧ף יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ אֶת־כָּל־שִׁבְטֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל שְׁכֶ֑מָה וַיִּקְרָא֩ לְזִקְנֵ֙י יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל וּלְרָאשָׁ֗יו וּלְשֹֽׁפְטָיו֙ וּלְשֹׁ֣טְרָ֔יו וַיִּֽתְיַצְּב֖וּ לִפְנֵ֥י הָאֱלֹהִֽים׃

[2] Aldus Manutius published an edition of the Septuagint in Venice, 1518.  His edition was closer to Vaticanus than the Complutensian.  A corrected edition was published in Basil in 1545 with a preface by Melancthon.

[3] See Exodus 26:16; 36:21.

[4] Judges 11:11.

Joshua 24 Outline

Joshua assembles all the tribes at Shechem, 1. A brief history of God’s benefits from Terah: he exhorts them faithfully to serve the true God, 2-13. Reneweth a covenant between them and God; promising for himself and his house; the people four several times promising for themselves, 11-25. He writes this in the book of the law, and sets up a stone for a witness, 26-28. His age, death, and burial, 29-31. The burying of Joseph’s bones, 32. The death and burial of Eleazar, 33.