(b) JOSHUA’S LAST CHARGE TO THE PEOPLE.
(1, 2) Joshua gathered all the tribes . . .—At the former address the rulers alone appear to have been present; on this occasion all Israel was gathered. And what is spoken is addressed to the people in the hearing of the rulers. In the speech that now follows Joshua briefly recapitulates the national history; he had not thought this necessary for the rulers. To them he had said, “Ye know;” but “the people” embraced many persons of but little thought and education, whom it was necessary to inform and remind and instruct, even as to the leading events of their national history. The simple lesson which Joshua’s words are intended to enforce is the duty of serving Jehovah, and serving Him alone. It is the first great lesson of the old covenant. “I am Jehovah, thy God; thou shalt have no other gods beside Me.” The ark of this covenant had brought them over Jordan into the promised land.
(2) Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood.—The flood, i.e., the river—probably Euphrates, though it may be Jordan, or both. Flood in our English Bible has been used for river in several places: e.g., Job 22:16, “whose foundation was overflown with a flood,” i.e., a river; Psalm 66:6, “He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood (the river, i.e., Jordan) on foot;” Matthew 7:25; Matthew 7:27, “The rain descended, and the floods (i.e., the rivers) came.”
They served other gods.—They, i.e., Terah, Abraham, and Nachor.
The two kings of the Amorites.—Apparently, but not necessarily, Sihon and Og are intended. There were kings of the Amorites on both sides of Jordan.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.—For Joshua himself the service of Jehovah on earth was nearly over. He pledges his “house” to the same service. What is known of his family? It is a singular fact that no descendant of the great conqueror, no member of his household, is named in the Bible. In the genealogies of Ephraim in 1 Chronicles 7, Joshua’s name is the last in his own line (Joshua 24:27 : “Non his son, Jehoshuah his son”). I cannot but regard the silence of Scripture under this head as profoundly significant. It is one more analogy between the Joshua of the Old Testament and his great Antitype in the Gospel: “whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:6). The house of Joshua embraces all the faithful servants of the Lord.
(22,23) Ye are witnesses . . . that ye have chosen you the Lord . . . Now therefore put away . . . the strange gods.—This was the practical conclusion to which Joshua desired that they should come. But we do not read that they did anything in obedience to these words. We read of no images being buried or burned, as in the days of Jacob by David (Genesis 35:4; 2 Samuel 5:21). There is only a verbal promise: “The Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey.”
 Yet Brugsch states that the Egyptians “addressed to the host of the holy gods the prayer to preserve and lengthen life, if possible, to the most perfect old age of 110 years.” This may be a reminiscence of the life of Joseph, which reached this length (Genesis 50:26).
Joshua 24:30And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.
Joshua 24:31And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.(31) Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and . . . of the elders that overlived Joshua.—It cannot surprise us that the personal influence of the man and of the events of his day was so difficult to efface. There was a primitive Church in Canaan as well as in the Roman Empire. The short duration of the one seems to have an analogy in the case of the other.
(32) The bones of Joseph, and also of his brethren, as appears by Acts 7:16. The precedent set by Joseph is exceedingly likely to have been followed.
And it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.—It may be that this fact helped to fix the position of Ephraim and Manasseh in the centre of the country.
A hill. . . . given him in mount Ephraim.—The inheritance of Phinehas as a priest would lie within the tribe of Judah (Joshua 21:13, &c.) or Benjamin. This gift to Phinehas in Mount Ephraim, near the seat of government, seems to have been a special grant to him over and above his inheritance. But inasmuch as the tabernacle itself was at Shiloh, in Mount Ephraim, it was altogether suitable and natural that some place of abode should be assigned to the priests in that neighbourhood, where they were compelled to reside.
Although Phinehas himself was “zealous for his God,” he lived to see the tribe of Benjamin nearly exterminated from Israel for repeating the sin of the Canaanites. (See Judges 20:28.) We can hardly say that the people served Jehovah all the days of Phinehas. With Eleazar and Joshua the spirit of strict obedience to the law seems to have, in a great measure, passed away.