The Book of Joshua, chapter 23. Joshua Gives a Departure Message Before his Death.
[Joshua 23:1] AND IT CAME TO PASS A LONG TIME AFTER THAT THE LORD HAD GIVEN
REST UNTO ISRAEL FROM ALL THEIR ENEMIES ROUND ABOUT, THAT JOSHUA WAXED OLD
AND STRICKEN IN AGE.
Chapters 23 and 24 speak of the Last words of Joshua to the people. It is
uncertain if one final assembly is being described or two separate ones.
[Joshua 23:2] AND JOSHUA CALLED FOR ALL ISRAEL, AND FOR THEIR ELDERS, AND
FOR THEIR HEADS, AND FOR THEIR JUDGES, AND FOR THEIR OFFICERS, AND SAID
UNTO THEM, I AM OLD AND STRICKENÂ IN AGE:
<<ELDERS>>: There were seventy elders who formed the first Sanhedrinor
Grand Council.Â They had authority to decide how the Law should be applied
on a practical level. This authority was passed onto their successors and
has continued to the present day through consensus of the sages in
religious legal matters.
<<AND THE LORD SAID UNTO MOSES, GATHER UNTO ME SEVENTY MEN OF THE ELDERS OF
ISRAEL, WHOM THOU KNOWEST TO BE THE ELDERS OF THE PEOPLE, AND OFFICERS OVER
THEM; AND BRING THEM UNTO THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION, THAT THEY MAY
STAND THEREÂ WITH THEE.
AND I WILL COME DOWN AND TALK WITH THEE THERE: AND I WILL TAKE OF
THEÂ SPIRIT WHICH IS UPON THEE, AND WILL PUT IT UPON THEM; AND THEY SHALL
BEAR THE BURDEN OF THEÂ PEOPLE WITH THEE, THAT THOU BEAR IT NOT THYSELF
ALONE>> [Numbers 11:16-17]Â .
<< THEIR HEADS>>: The 12 Princes of the Tribes. Each Tribe had its own
<<THEIR JUDGES>>: Local judges who sat in the gateway and resolved
conflicts. These days such an institution is lacking since most have
neither the means nor the energy to go to court when perhaps we should or
when the public welfare would be served by us doing so.
<<THEIR OFFICERS>>: In Hebrew shotrov meaning in Modern Hebrew, their
policmen but according to Yehudah Kiel (Daat Mikra Commentary) in Biblical
Hebrew meaning public official.
[Joshua 23:3] AND YE HAVE SEEN ALL THAT THE LORD YOUR GOD HATH DONE UNTO
ALL THESE NATIONS BECAUSE OF YOU; FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS HE THAT HATH
FOUGHT FOR YOU.
The people had seen miracles and even things that had occurred to them in a
natural manner were recognized by them as due to the intervention of the
Almighty. God fought for them.
I have just finished reading a book concerning the evacuation of the
British Army from Dunkirk in WW2 and there was something miraculous about
the combination of coincidencesthat enable the British Army to be saved and
thus maintain the struggle against the enemy.
[Joshua 23:4] BEHOLD, I HAVE DIVIDED UNTO YOU BY LOT THESE NATIONS THAT
REMAIN, TO BE AN INHERITANCE FOR YOUR TRIBES, FROMÂ JORDAN, WITH ALL THE
NATIONS THAT I HAVE CUT OFF, EVEN UNTO THE GREAT SEA WESTWARD.
<<THE GREAT SEA WESTWARD>>: This is the Mediterranean in this case.
[Joshua 23:5] AND THE LORD YOUR GOD, HE SHALL EXPEL THEM FROM BEFORE YOU,
AND DRIVE THEM FROM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT; AND YE SHALL POSSESS THEIR LAND, AS
THE LORD YOUR GOD HATH PROMISED UNTO YOU.
[Joshua 23:6] BE YE THEREFORE VERY COURAGEOUS TO KEEP AND TO DO ALL THAT IS
WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW OF MOSES, THAT YE TURN NOT ASIDE THEREFROM
TO THE RIGHT HAND OR TOÂ THE LEFT;
They needed courage not only to expel the foreigners but also to keep the Law.
[Joshua 23:7] THAT YE COME NOT AMONG THESE NATIONS, THESE THAT REMAIN AMONG
YOU;Â NEITHER MAKE MENTION OF THE NAME OF THEIR GODS, NOR CAUSE TO SWEAR BY
THEM, NEITHERÂ SERVE THEM, NOR BOW YOURSELVES UNTO THEM:
They were forbidden to intermarry with other peoples nor serve their gods nor render them any recognition.
[Joshua 23:8] BUT CLEAVE UNTO THE LORD YOUR GOD, AS YE HAVE DONE UNTO THIS DAY.
We all should try to cleave to the Almighty as much as we can.
[Joshua 23:9] FOR THE LORD HATH DRIVEN OUT FROM BEFORE YOU GREAT NATIONS
AND STRONG:Â BUT AS FOR YOU, NO MAN HATH BEEN ABLE TO STAND BEFORE YOU UNTO THIS DAY.
[Joshua 23:10] ONE MAN OF YOU SHALL CHASE A THOUSAND: FOR THE LORD YOUR
GOD, HE IT IS THAT FIGHTETH FOR YOU, AS HE HATH PROMISED YOU.
Things like this sometimes happened. Even in the Battle of Britain there
were cases where British or American or Czech pilots (flying for the RAF)
attacked hundreds of German planes and sometimes drove them off and won a
strategic victory even though the Germans were just as well trained, had
almost as good planes, and could be just as good or better fighters on occasion.
[Joshua 23:11] TAKE GOOD HEED THEREFORE UNTO YOURSELVES, THAT YE LOVE THE
LORD YOUR GOD.
This is for our own good. We are not doing anybody any favors. God requires
that we love Him so that he may be with us and this is to our benefit and
the good of those we hold dear.Â We should not forget this though all of us
may do so in moments of weakness.
[Joshua 23:12] ELSE IF YE DO IN ANY WISE GO BACK, AND CLEAVE UNTO THE
REMNANT OF THESE NATIONS, EVEN THESE THAT REMAIN AMONG YOU, AND SHALL MAKE
MARRIAGES WITH THEM, ANDÂ GO IN UNTO THEM, AND THEY TO YOU:
[Joshua 23:13] KNOW FOR A CERTAINTY THAT THE LORD YOUR GOD WILL NO MORE
DRIVE OUTÂ Â ANY OF THESE NATIONS FROM BEFORE YOU; BUT THEY SHALL BE SNARES
AND TRAPS UNTO YOU, ANDÂ SCOURGES IN YOUR SIDES, AND THORNS IN YOUR EYES,
UNTIL YE PERISH FROM OFF THIS GOOD LAND WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD HATH GIVEN YOU.
These are good points. We are forbidden to marry other peoples in principle
unless those peoples make themselves part of us. The reason given for this
prohibition is so that we not learn foreign ways. This is not racial.
[Joshua 23:14] AND, BEHOLD, THIS DAY I AM GOING THE WAY OF ALL THE EARTH:
AND YE KNOW IN ALL YOUR HEARTS AND IN ALL YOUR SOULS, THAT NOT ONE THING
HATH FAILED OF ALL THE GOOD THINGS WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD SPAKE CONCERNING
YOU; ALL ARE COME TO PASS UNTOÂ YOU, AND NOT ONE THING HATH FAILED THEREOF.
All good things promised by the Almighty must come to pass. Bad things can
be averted or mitigated by good deeds and repentance.
[Joshua 23:15] THEREFORE IT SHALL COME TO PASS, THAT AS ALL GOOD THINGS ARE
COME UPON YOU, WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD PROMISED YOU; SO SHALL THE LORD
BRING UPON YOU ALL EVIL THINGS, UNTIL HE HAVE DESTROYED YOU FROM OFF THIS
GOOD LAND WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD HATH GIVEN YOU.
<<THIS GOOD LAND>>: The land of Israel really is good. I would encourage
all those of you who can visit the Land of Israel to do as frequently as possible.
[Joshua 23:16] WHEN YE HAVE TRANSGRESSED THE COVENANT OF THE LORD YOUR GOD,
WHICH HE COMMANDED YOU, AND HAVE GONE AND SERVED OTHER GODS, AND BOWED
YOURSELVES TO THEM; THEN SHALL THE ANGER OF THE LORD BE KINDLED AGAINST
YOU, AND YEÂ SHALL PERISH QUICKLY FROM OFF THE GOOD LAND WHICH HE HATH
GIVEN UNTO YOU.
Keep away from paganism and false gods and anything connected with them.