Joshua 24

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1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith Jehovah the God of Israel: Your fathers dwelt of old on the other side of the river, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.

3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the river, and led him throughout the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed and gave him Isaac.

4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau; and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; and Jacob and his sons went down into Egypt.

5 And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them; and afterwards I brought you out.

6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.

7 Then they cried to Jehovah, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt; and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long time.

8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, who dwelt beyond the Jordan, and they fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and ye took possession of their land, and I destroyed them from before you.

9 And Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you;

10 but I would not hearken unto Balaam, and he blessed you expressly, and I delivered you out of his hand.

11 And ye went over the Jordan, and came unto Jericho, and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.

12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out from before you, [as] the two kings of the Amorites; not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.

14 And now fear Jehovah and serve him in perfectness and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river, and in Egypt; and serve Jehovah.

15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods whom your fathers that were on the other side of the river served, or the gods of the Amorite, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.

16 And the people answered and said, Far be it from us that we should forsake Jehovah, to serve other gods;

17 for Jehovah our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did those great signs before our eyes, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed!

18 And Jehovah drove out from before us all the peoples, and the Amorites the inhabitants of the land: so therefore we will serve Jehovah, for he is our God.

19 And Joshua said to the people, Ye cannot serve Jehovah, for he is a holy God; he is a jealous ùGod; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

20 If ye forsake Jehovah, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

21 And the people said to Joshua, No; but we will serve Jehovah.

22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you Jehovah, to serve him. And they said, [We are] witnesses.

23 Now therefore put away the strange gods that are among you, and incline your heart unto Jehovah the God of Israel.

24 And the people said unto Joshua, Jehovah our God will we serve, and to his voice will we hearken.

25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of Jehovah.

27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us, for it hath heard all the words of Jehovah which he spoke unto us; and it shall be a witness against you, lest ye deny your God.

28 And Joshua dismissed the people, every man to his inheritance.

29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Jehovah, died, a hundred and ten years old.

30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the mountain of Gaash.

31 And Israel served Jehovah all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders whose days were prolonged after Joshua, and who had known all the works of Jehovah, which he had done for Israel.

32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem in the portion of the field which Jacob had bought of the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, for a hundred kesitahs; and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in the hill of Phinehas his son, which had been given him in mount Ephraim.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 24      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua 24: The covenant at Shechem and the death of Joshua.

In the beginning of this final chapter, Joshua recounts God’s work for Israel in great detail, spanning the time before Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, the Israelites’ time as slaves in Egypt, and the exodus through the wilderness for many years, culminating with crossing the Jordan and taking Jericho.

Joshua then told the people of Israel that they were to choose whom they would serve: the gods of their fathers, or the Lord God of Israel. The people strongly affirmed that they would follow the Lord and be faithful to Him. They repeated this several times. Then Joshua told them that they were witnesses of their choice, and he renewed the covenant with them there, at Shechem. To mark the covenant, Joshua took a large stone and set it up as a witness to remind the Israelites of what they had sworn that day.

And after all of this, Joshua died, and was buried within his inheritance at Timnath Serah. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and continued to serve the Lord for some time after. And also Eleazar, the chief priest of Israel, died.

The bones of Joseph, which had been carried by Israel since they left slavery in Egypt, were then given their final resting place at Shechem in a plot of land originally bought by the family of Joseph.

The spiritual meaning of this chapter is all about commitment and devotion in our relationship with the Lord. Joshua’s review of events at the beginning is a reminder that the Lord leads us through life, with all its trials and blessings (see Swedenborg’s work, Heaven and Hell 18). In the work of regeneration, a high state of peace and of the Lord’s presence in us is followed by a state where we are in temptation and under attack from hell. In contrast, a state of temptation in which we stand firm and depend on the Lord leads to a state of trust, confidence, and the return of the Lord’s peace (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 933[2]).

Our spiritual life involves many repeated choices. This is why it is significant that the Israelites repeated their promise to serve the Lord so many times. We may feel that our decision to follow the Lord is a final one, but the reality is that we uphold (or refute) this decision in our actions each and every day. We will need to choose time and time again, even though we believe we would always choose the Lord (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 321[5]).

A covenant is a formal agreement. Biblical covenants are between people and the Lord. The Lord will always honor his part in the covenant, and we are to ensure that we will honor our part. Spiritually, the covenant is about the empowerment in declaring our commitment to the Lord. ‘This I will do.’ There is no longer any uncertainty or vagueness about our commitment to God. It has been sealed (Arcana Caelestia 1038).

The fact that Joshua commemorates the covenant with a stone also has important spiritual significance for us. A stone represents the strength and durability of truth when it becomes a permanent factor in our life. Committing to follow the Lord’s truths gives us a sturdy foundation in life.

When a story in the Bible mentions death, it always reflects the changing of some state in us. When Joshua and Eleazar the priest die, it is like moving on from a state which has served us well into a new and different state. In our regeneration, the Lord wants us to keep exploring new thoughts and decisions, so that we are always progressing and never complacent (Arcana Caelestia 1382).

The mention of Joseph’s bones at the very end of the chapter is also very significant. These bones of Joseph stand for the continuity of the Lord’s truth, wisdom and providence with us and for us. They also stand for the preservation of all that happens in a person’s life. All of these events make us the people we are, and will always keep shaping our spirit (Arcana Caelestia 6592).

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