Joshua 24

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1 And Joshua gathereth all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and calleth for the elders of Israel, and for its heads, and for its judges, and for its authorities, and they station themselves before God.

2 And Joshua saith unto all the people, `Thus said Jehovah, God of Israel, Beyond the River have your fathers dwelt of old -- Terah father of Abraham and father of Nachor -- and they serve other gods;

3 and I take your father Abraham from beyond the River, and cause him to go through all the land of Canaan, and multiply his seed, and give to him Isaac.

4 And I give to Isaac, Jacob and Esau; and I give to Esau mount Seir, to possess it; and Jacob and his sons have gone down to Egypt.

5 And I send Moses and Aaron, and plague Egypt, as I have done in its midst, and afterwards I have brought you out.

6 And I bring out your fathers from Egypt, and ye go into the sea, and the Egyptians pursue after your fathers, with chariot and with horsemen, to the Red Sea;

7 and they cry unto Jehovah, and He setteth thick darkness between you and the Egyptians, and bringeth on them the sea, and covereth them, and your eyes see that which I have done in Egypt; and ye dwell in a wilderness many days.

8 `And I bring you in unto the land of the Amorite who is dwelling beyond the Jordan, and they fight with you, and I give them into your hand, and ye possess their land, and I destroy them out of your presence.

9 `And Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, riseth and fighteth against Israel, and sendeth and calleth for Balaam son of Beor, to revile you,

10 and I have not been willing to hearken to Balaam, and he doth greatly bless you, and I deliver you out of his hand.

11 `And ye pass over the Jordan, and come in unto Jericho, and fight against you do the possessors of Jericho -- the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Girgashite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite -- and I give them into your hand.

12 And I send before you the hornet, and it casteth them out from your presence -- two kings of the Amorite -- not by thy sword, nor by thy bow.

13 `And I give to you a land for which thou hast not laboured, and cities which ye have not built, and ye dwell in them; of vineyards and olive-yards which ye have not planted ye are eating.

14 `And now, fear ye Jehovah, and serve Him, in perfection and in truth, and turn aside the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve ye Jehovah;

15 and if wrong in your eyes to serve Jehovah -- choose for you to-day whom ye do serve; -- whether the gods whom your fathers served, which [are] beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorite in whose land ye are dwelling; and I and my house -- we serve Jehovah.'

16 And the people answer and say, `Far be it from us to forsake Jehovah, to serve other gods;

17 for Jehovah our God [is] He who is bringing us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a house of servants, and who hath done before our eyes these great signs, and doth keep us in all the way in which we have gone, and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed;

18 and Jehovah casteth out the whole of the peoples, even the Amorite inhabiting the land, from our presence; we also do serve Jehovah, for He [is] our God.'

19 And Joshua saith unto the people, `Ye are not able to serve Jehovah, for a God most holy He [is]; a zealous God He [is]; He doth not bear with your transgression and with your sins.

20 When ye forsake Jehovah, and have served gods of a stranger, then He hath turned back and done evil to you, and consumed you, after that He hath done good to you.'

21 And the people saith unto Joshua, `No, but Jehovah we do serve.'

22 And Joshua saith unto the people, `Witnesses ye are against yourselves, that ye have chosen for you Jehovah to serve Him (and they say, `Witnesses!')

23 and, now, turn aside the gods of the stranger which [are] in your midst, and incline your heart unto Jehovah, God of Israel.'

24 And the people say unto Joshua, `Jehovah our God we serve, and to His voice we hearken.'

25 And Joshua maketh a covenant with the people on that day, and layeth on it a statute and an ordinance, in Shechem.

26 And Joshua writeth these words in the Book of the Law of God, and taketh a great stone, and raiseth it up there under the oak which [is] in the sanctuary of Jehovah.

27 And Joshua saith unto all the people, `Lo, this stone is against us for a witness, for it hath heard all the sayings of Jehovah which He hath spoken with us, and it hath been against you for a witness, lest ye lie against your God.'

28 And Joshua sendeth the people away, each to his inheritance.

29 And it cometh to pass, after these things, that Joshua son of Nun, servant of Jehovah, dieth, a son of a hundred and ten years,

30 and they bury him in the border of his inheritance, in Timnath-Serah, which [is] in the hill-country of Ephraim, on the north of the hill of Gaash.

31 And Israel serveth Jehovah all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who prolonged days after Joshua, and who knew all the work of Jehovah which He did to Israel.

32 And the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up out of Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in the portion of the field which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor father of Shechem, with a hundred kesitah; and they are to the sons of Joseph for an inheritance.

33 And Eleazar son of Aaron died, and they bury him in the hill of Phinehas his son, which was given to him in the hill-country of 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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