Joshua 23 Commentary


Nothing is recorded of events that occurred between Joshua’s division of the land and his farewell addresses to the nation many years later. His life was now drawing to a close (see v. 14), and he called Israel’s leaders together to pass on some encouragement and warning (23:1-2). He assured them that God would continue to fight for his people till all the remaining Canaanites were destroyed, provided his people remained true to the covenant. They were to love God, keep his commandments, and avoid the worship of all other gods (3-11). They were not to intermarry with the Canaanites who still lived among them (12-13), and were to remember that loyalty to God would bring his continued blessing, but disloyalty would bring his judgment (14-16).

Just as the people had once gone to Shechem to declare their loyalty to the covenant (see 8:30-35), so now the leaders, on behalf of the people, returned to Shechem to make a fresh declaration of loyalty (24:1). The covenant had originated with God, who brought Abraham from Mesopotamia into Canaan


and promised to make from him a nation that would one day possess Canaan as its homeland (2-4). Centuries later God fulfilled that promise when he brought Israel out of Egypt (5-7), through the wilderness (8-10) and finally into Canaan (11-13). Sadly, the Israelites had demonstrated a tendency towards idolatry, whether the idolatry of Abraham’s ancestors, of the Egyptians, or of the Canaanites. Therefore, they had to make a firm decision whether they were going to serve one of these gods or serve the true God, Yahweh (14-15).

The people readily declared that they would serve Yahweh alone (16-18). Joshua knew that to declare loyalty was easy, but to maintain it was not so easy. He therefore reminded the people of the terrible consequences if they broke their covenant with such a holy God (19-20). When the people swore that they knew what they were doing, Joshua challenged them to put their professed loyalty into practice immediately (21-24). He then ceremonially sealed the renewed covenant, wrote the covenant laws in a book, and set up a stone as a memorial of the people’s promise to be loyal and obedient (25-28).

Joshua died in the knowledge that his strong leadership had helped the people maintain their allegiance to God. He was buried in his own piece of land in the tribal area of Ephraim (29-31). Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought with them from Egypt, were also buried within the area of the Joseph tribes. This was in accordance with Joseph’s instructions, given centuries earlier, by which he had openly declared his faith in God’s promises (32; cf. Gen 50:24-25; Exod 13:19; Heb 11:22). The high priest also was buried in Ephraim (33).

Privacy Policy