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 stood·​·forth before God.

2 And Joshua said to all the people, Thus says Jehovah, the God of Israel: Across the river your fathers dwelt from an age, Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor; and they served other gods.

3 And I took your father Abraham from across the river, and made him to go through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave to him Isaac.

4 And I gave to Isaac Jacob and Esau; and I gave to Esau Mount Seir to possess it; and Jacob and his sons went·​·down·​·into Egypt.

5 And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I struck Egypt according·​·to that which I did among them; and after this I brought· you ·out.

6 And I brought·​·out your fathers out of Egypt; and you came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Suph sea.

7 And they cried to Jehovah, and He set thick·​·darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea over them and covered them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt; and you dwelt in the wilderness many days.

8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorite, who dwelt across Jordan; and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, that you might possess their land, and I blotted· them ·out from before you.

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

10 and I was· not ·willing to hearken to Balaam; and blessing he blessed you; and I rescued you from his hand.

11 And you crossed·​·over the Jordan and came to Jericho; and the citizens of Jericho fought·​·against you, the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Girgashite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; and I gave them into your hand.

12 And I sent the hornet before you, and it drove· them ·out from before you, two kings of the Amorite; not with thy sword, and not with thy bow.

13 And I gave to you a land on which thou didst not toil*, and cities which you built not, and you dwell in them; of vineyards and olive·​·trees which you planted not do you eat;

14 and now fear Jehovah and serve Him in integrity and in truth; and remove the gods which your fathers served across the river, and in Egypt; and serve Jehovah.

15 And if it be·​·evil in your eyes to serve Jehovah, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve; whether the gods whom your fathers served that were across the river, or the gods of the Amorite, in whose land you 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 who brought· us ·up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, and from the house of servitude*, and who did those great signs before our eyes, and kept us in all the way in which we went, and among all the people among whom we passed:

18 and Jehovah drove·​·out from before us all the peoples and the Amorite dwelling in the land; we also will serve Jehovah, for He is our God.

19 And Joshua said unto the people, You are· not ·able to serve Jehovah; for He is a holy God; He is a jealous God; He will not bear your transgressions nor your sins.

20 If you forsake Jehovah and serve foreign gods, then He will turn·​·back and do·​·evil to you and consume· you ·all, after that He has done·​·good to you.

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

22 And Joshua said unto the people, You are witnesses of yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves Jehovah, to serve Him. And they said, We are witnesses.

23 And now remove the foreign gods which are in among you, and incline your heart to Jehovah, the God of Israel.

24 And the people said unto Joshua, Jehovah our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey.

25 And Joshua cut a covenant for the people in that day, and set before them a statute and a judgment in Shechem.

26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and raised· it ·up there under the oak which was at the sanctuary of Jehovah.

27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold this stone shall be a witness for us; for it has heard all the sayings of Jehovah, which He spoke with us; and it shall be a witness of yourselves, lest you deny your God.

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

29 And it was, after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Jehovah, died, a son of a hundred and ten years;

30 and they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serach, which is in Mount Ephraim, to the north of Mount Gaash.

31 And Israel served Jehovah all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who prolonged their days after Joshua, and who had known all the deeds of Jehovah that He had done for Israel.

32 And the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel had brought·​·up from Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in a part of the field which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem with a hundred kesitah, and it became an inheritance for the sons of Joseph.

33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in the hill of Phinehas his son which was 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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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.


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