Joshua 24:29, 30: The Death and Burial of Joshua

[circa 1426 BC] Verse 29:[1] (Judg. 2:8) 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.

[He died] In what year of his government it is not evident (Lapide). Nothing certain is able to be established, since Scripture says nothing of that matter. Nevertheless, although it be so, and there be a certain obscurity in the years of the Judges; still no difficulty appears for the Sacred Chronology, when in 1 Kings 6:1 is found the number of years from the exodus out of Egypt unto the beginning of the edification of the Temple (Bonfrerius). Serarius enumerates here twelve opinions, of which two are more probable. The first give to him seventeen or eighteen years; the second, twenty-seven or twenty-eight (Lapide). Maimonides only gives him fourteen years; but I attribute to him twenty-eight years (Masius out of the Hebrews). But, that it is not possible to ascribe to him more than seventeen or eighteen years, is evident from the years of the Judges, etc. (Bonfrerius), and from that general sum of four hundred and eighty years from the exodus out of Egypt to the foundation of the Temple, which, moreover, Sacred Scripture distributes into these parts; forty years in the desert, two hundred and ninety-nine of the Judges, forty of Eli, forty of Samuel and Saul, forty of David, and four of Solomon unto the beginning of the edification of the Temple. The total sum of these is four hundred and sixty-three. Thus it is necessary that the government of Joshua lasted for seventeen years (Lightfoot). [Concerning these things Bonfrerius, Masius, and others, here debate at length. But I am unwilling to immerse myself in the ocean of chronological questions, except when the untying of some textual difficulty requires it. Perhaps I might place the rest of this sort back at the end of our Work among the Appendices, if God should provide life and strength.]


Verse 30:[2] And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in (Josh. 19:50; Judg. 2:9) Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.

[And they buried him] The care of bodies to be buried, ever customary among all nations, indicates a certain sense in them, that it is going to be that finally the bodies are going to revive, and are going to be restored to their souls. Hence in the Poets souls are not able to rest except with their bodies duly preserved; hence they, as if in the body, among the dead take cognizance of all their affairs. Moreover, in the Sacred Books we often see it recorded in what places the monuments of illustrious men were built. Not only concerning good men, but also concerning the wicked, is this observed; 1. so that there might be an inviolable confidence in the history: 2. so that the common experience of men might be perfectly attested by every memory of the other life: 3. so that men such as these, as if they were remaining in their graves, might be perpetually represented to the eyes of their descendants in a certain measure as examples of virtues to be followed, or of vices to be fled. For it is lawful to preserve the monuments of the saints only for the imitation of their lives, not for religious worship also (Masius).

[In Timnath-Serah, בְּתִמְנַת־סֶרַח[3]] With the letters transposed, it appears that it is to be called תִּמְנַת חֶרֶס, Timnath-heres,[4] as in Judges 2:9. Now, this name was imposed upon the city of Joshua from an image of the Sun erected here by the Israelites in memory of the miracle. See what things we have on Joshua 10. For חֶרֶס signifies Sun, and תְּמוּנָה, a figure (Masius). There is no mention here of the lamentation and grief of the people, as in Genesis 50 and Deuteronomy 34 (Menochius). And so they render גַּעַשׁ/Gaash as tremor,[5] and the Hebrews invent a story that the mountain was shaken violently in the burial of Joshua, because the Jews had not wept over the death of such a man (Munster). But it is to be believed that memorial rites were observed for Joshua in mourning, although it be not expressed (Menochius, Lapide).

[On the north side of the hill Gaash] It is likely that this was a part of mount Ephraim, set over against that city on the South: Judges 2:9 (Masius, Jerome and Adrichomius in Lapide, Bonfrerius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י אַֽחֲרֵי֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וַיָּ֛מָת יְהוֹשֻׁ֥עַ בִּן־נ֖וּן עֶ֣בֶד יְהוָ֑ה בֶּן־מֵאָ֥ה וָעֶ֖שֶׂר שָׁנִֽים׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּקְבְּר֤וּ אֹתוֹ֙ בִּגְב֣וּל נַחֲלָת֔וֹ בְּתִמְנַת־סֶ֖רַח אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּהַר־אֶפְרָ֑יִם מִצְּפ֖וֹן לְהַר־גָּֽעַשׁ׃

[3] תִּמְנָה/Timnah signifies portion or territory; סֶרַח/abundance, from סָרַח, to exceed.

[4] חֶרֶס/heres signifies sun.

[5] גָּעַשׁ signifies to tremble.

2 thoughts on “Joshua 24:29, 30: The Death and Burial of Joshua

  1. Fisher’s Catechism 66.7: ‘What are the things which tend to make a long life a happy and comfortable one? They are these three, among others; growth in grace and holiness, in proportion to our advancing in years, Psalm 92:13, 14; retaining the entire exercise of reason, and some vigour of body, in old age, Deuteronomy 34:7; and continuing useful to others, in our generation, to the end, Joshua 24:25, compared with Joshua 24:29.’

  2. Matthew Henry: ‘The death and burial of Joshua, Joshua 24:29, 30. We are not told how long he lived after the coming of Israel into Canaan. Dr. Lightfoot thinks it was about seventeen years; but the Jewish chronologers generally say it was about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years. He is here called the servant of the Lord, the same title that was given to Moses (Joshua 1:1) when mention was made of his death; for, though Joshua was in many respects inferior to Moses, yet in this he was equal to him, that, according as his work was, he approved himself a diligent and faithful servant of God. And he that traded with his two talents had the same approbation that he had who traded with his five. Well done, good and faithful servant. Joshua’s burying-place is here said to be on the north side of the hill Gaash, or the quaking hill; the Jews say it was so called because it trembled at the burial of Joshua, to upbraid the people of Israel with their stupidity in that they did not lament the death of that great and good man as they ought to have done. Thus at the death of Christ, our Joshua, the earth quaked. The learned bishop Patrick observes that there is no mention of any days of mourning being observed for Joshua, as there were for Moses and Aaron, in which, he says, St. Hierom and others of the fathers think there is a mystery, namely, that under the law, when life and immortality were not brought to so clear a light as they are now, they had reason to mourn and weep for the death of their friends; but now that Jesus, our Joshua, has opened the kingdom of heaven, we may rather rejoice.’

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