Good morning! Today’s passage (Joshua 23-24) completes the book of Joshua with the leader’s closing exhortation, and a recapitulation of the need for perpetual faithfulness to stay on the “good side” of the God who has made so much success possible in Canaan.
Joshua’s closing address in chapter 23 is similar in tone to that which Moses gives at the end of Deuteronomy. He calls their attention to all the ways that God has fulfilled the promises of the covenant, and calling the people to remain loyal to God as a result. Here Joshua is especially concerned with warnings against idolatry. Resist the temptation to intermingle with Canaanite survivors and intermarry with them, Joshua says, because that will seduce you away from obedience to God. The penalty for such idolatry will be the loss of God’s favor, manifest in battle failures that ultimately lead to rejection from the land.
The address continues along the same themes, though with a different setting, in chapter 24. Joshua gathers leaders of Israel in Shechem (where the tent of meeting still is), then recounts salvation history for them, from Abraham through Egyptian captivity and the conquest of Canaan. The land has been a sheer gift from God, won not through battle prowess but by divine aid. Joshua says “choose this day whom you will serve” in a similar way to Moses in Deuteronomy 30. He presumes (insightfully) that these Israelites—like all people—will give allegiance to SOME highest power. If it’s not the God of the Hebrews, then it’ll be the foreign gods of Egypt or the gods of the displaced Amorites. Joshua doubts their obedience to the renewed covenant and they reassert it, which serves as a witness lest they fall short in future years. The stone over which Israelite leaders swore is set up as a witness also of their intention to be faithful, and this is as far as Joshua can take them. As the chapter and the book finish, Joshua and all the elders of his time pass away, yielding to a new generation of leaders. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Judges 1-3. Thanks for reading!