Joshua 20-24

Joshua 20‑24  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
M. Here the Lord reminded Joshua about the cities of refuge, and Hebron became a city of refuge, and they appointed them in all their tribes. Then they appointed the cities for the Levites to live in, and Hebron was given to the children of Aaron to live in by the tribe of Judah, but it belonged to Caleb, and the fields and villages of it were his possession. And the Lord gave them rest round about as He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He did all the good things that He had spoken of.
And as soon as the Lord had given them rest, Joshua called the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh to him, and said, that they had obeyed Moses and had done all that he had commanded, and now they were to go back to their tents and their possessions, which Moses had given them on the other side of Jordan. But Joshua said, Take diligent heed that you do the commandments and the law which Moses gave you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to serve Him with all your heart, and with all your soul. So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away, and he told them to take much riches back with them. And they went away, but when they came to the borders of Jordan, they felt that they were going to leave the land of Canaan, so they built a great altar for a witness.
S. Was that to show that they belonged to Canaan still?
M. Yes. They were leaving Canaan, because they had preferred a place for their cattle, and now they felt that they wanted some proof which could be seen, to show that they belonged to Canaan. It is like a person trying to look heavenly who is not heavenly, and he only makes mistakes.
S. Was it wrong to build an altar to be seen?
M. The children of Israel thought so, for they were very angry when they heard it, and they all came together to Shiloh, to go to war with the two tribes and a half. But first they sent Phinehas with ten princes, to ask them why they had done so. And they answered very humbly, and said, the Lord knew whether they did it in rebellion or not; that they had only done it because they were afraid that when their Children grew up, those who lived in Canaan would say to those who lived on the other side of Jordan, What have you to do with the Lord God of Israel? and they thought the altar would be a witness between them. It was a thought of their own, but it was not faith. And when Phinehas and the priests heard what they said, they were satisfied, and they went back and told the children of, Israel; and they blessed God that the two and a half tribes had not sinned. So they called their altar, A Witness that the Lord was their God.
S. Had all the tribes got their own land then?
M. Yes. And a long time after the Lord had given them rest, Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders and judges, and he said to them, I am very old, and you have seen all that God did for you, and now be very courageous to keep all that is written in the law of Moses; do not go among the wicked nations, and do not even say the names of their idols, but love the Lord your God and cleave to Him; for if you go back and make marriages with the nations, know surely that the Lord will not drive them out, but they shall be traps to catch you, and thorns to hurt you, until you perish out of this good land that God has given you. And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem; and all the heads of the people presented themselves before God. Then Joshua told them all their history. How the people of the earth had served idols, and then God called out Abraham; how God gave him Isaac, who was the child of promise; and Joshua reminded them of all that God did for them in Egypt; and in the wilderness; and in Canaan; and how He had given them a land for which they did not labor; and cities which they did not build; and vineyards which they did not plant. And he told them to fear the Lord, and to serve Him, and to put away all false gods from among them. And the people answered, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods: the Lord is our God, for He has brought us up out of Egypt, and He has done great signs in our sight, and He has kept us safely all the way we came. We will serve the Lord. So Joshua said, Now you have chosen the Lord. And they said, The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey. Then Joshua made a covenant with them, and he wrote the words that they said in the book of the law of God, and he took a great stone and set it up under an oak tree, and he told the people that the stone was for a witness of all that they had said; so they all went home to their inheritance.
S. Did Joshua go back to his city?
M. Yes. And there he died; he was one hundred and ten years old, and they buried him in the border of his own inheritance: and Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who lived longer than Joshua; that is those who knew all that the Lord had done for Israel; as long as their leaders were faithful to God, the people were faithful. Joshua was a blessed servant of the Lord; he first sheaved his faithfulness by fighting against Amalek, and he was the one the Lord chose to lead His people over Jordan, and to give them possession of the promised land.
S. Shall we not hear any more about Joshua?
M. No. This is the end of the book of Joshua. But there is one thing God would not have left out, because it showed how He remembered for hundreds of years the faith of His servant Joseph, and what he said when he was dying.
S. Oh yes, he asked them to bury him in the good land; and they put his body in a coffin in Egypt; but did they carry it about all the time they were in the wilderness?
M. They did indeed! And if they looked at it they must have remembered what he said, God will surely bring you up. And Joseph's faith was answered, for they buried his bones in Shechem, in the very spot which his father Jacob had bought for a possession for a hundred pieces of silver, and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.
And Eleazar, the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that belonged to his son Phinehas.