4.13 Joshua -- Joshua's Farewell

Joshua was no young man when he took over from Moses.  He was a contemporary of Caleb who, when he received his inheritance, said it had been 45 years since the time the Israelites turned back from Canaan (Josh 14:19).  If Caleb was 85, Joshua must have been of a similar age during all the battles Israel fought.  His life was lived in two stages:  wandering and warfare.  Finally, he too, like Caleb, received his reward:

          After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then old and well advanced in years, summoned all Israel  (Josh 23:1-2).

         

Like Moses, Joshua gave a farewell speech.  He knew the work of conquering the land was not over: 

          The Lord your God himself will drive them out of your way (Josh 23:5).

He repeated the words spoken to him by God at the start of his leadership:  

 

          Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses (Josh 23:6).

He also warned them against associating with the remaining Canaanite nations and their idols.  If Israel intermarried with them, they would become snares to Israel, "whips on your backs and thorns on your eyes" (Josh 23:13). Then the rest of the Canaanites would not be driven out, and Israel would perish in the land (Josh 23:12-13). Just as God had been faithful to fulfill His promises of good to Israel, so He would surely wreak vengeance on them if they disobeyed the covenant (Josh 23:15-16).

        

Joshua gave a summary of Israel's history, going as far back as Terah (Josh 24).  He exhorted the people to fear the Lord and throw away the gods of their forefathers, gods of Mesopotamia and Egypt (Josh 24:14). The people responded to Joshua's challenge:

         "We will serve the Lord....We are witnesses....We will serve the Lord our God and obey Him" (Josh 24:21-24).

          They then made a covenant at Shechem, and returned to their homes. Joshua died at age 110, ten years younger than Moses was at his death.  

        

Joshua left no designated successor.  This shows the primitive polity of early Israel: neither Moses nor Joshua formed a ruling dynasty.  They knew that God chose the leaders of His people. And no one built any monuments, in the Egyptian style, to these founders of the nation.   It was not a time for human glory. 

        

The final event of the book of Joshua was burial of Joseph's bones on land his father Jacob had purchased when he returned from Laban (Josh 24:32).  This fulfilled a deathbed command that Joseph had made 400 years earlier (Gen 50:25)!