Joshua 21-24

Joshua 21‑24  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 12
Joshua 21 gives the list of the forty-eight Levitical cities, with their suburbs, including the six cities of refuge just spoken of. “And Jehovah gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And Jehovah gave them rest round about, according to all that He sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; Jehovah delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which Jehovah had spoken unto the house of Israel; all had come to pass” (Josh. 21:43-4543And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. 44And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:43‑45)).
The two tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh are then called and blessed and sent away by Joshua in chapter 22. On their return to their possessions beyond Jordan they built an altar by Jordan, “a great altar to see to.” The report of this altar at once roused the whole congregation of the children of Israel, who gathered together at Shiloh. Before proceeding to war however, they sent Phinehas, and with him ten princes representing the other tribes, who taxed them with their trespass against the God of Israel in rebelling against Jehovah. As yet they realized the solidarity of Israel and the honor of Him who dwelt in their midst, and urged on their brethren's consciences the iniquity of Peor and the sin of Achan, offering them room on this side of Jordan, if their land were unclean. To this the two and a half tribes called the God of Israel to witness how far from iniquity or rebellion it was that they had built the altar, for it was with no thought of offering upon it in independence of God's altar, but lest their children should cease from fearing Jehovah: “A witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of Jehovah before Him with our burnt-offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace-offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in Jehovah.” This appeased the rising wrath of their brethren, who owned themselves delivered from the hand of Jehovah for the trespass they had dreaded. Whether it was not an invention of man—in divine things always dangerous, as being a substitute for faith in God and His memorials—is another question.
In Joshua 23 Joshua calls for all Israel, their elders, beads, judges, and officers, and lays before them what Jehovah had done and would do for them if faithful, warning them against affinity or religious fellowship with the Canaanite: else Israel must perish—not their enemies—from off the good land He had given them.
The final charge of Joshua follows in Joshua 24 where we learn the striking fact, never told us before, that their fathers were idolaters, even Terab, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor, on the other side of the river (that is, the Euphrates) when Jehovah took Abraham as the root of promise, and began that line whence they were born. His deliverance of the people from Egypt, care through the wilderness, and gift of the land, are next recounted, all of His grace; on which Joshua challenges them and their allegiance, to which the people answer, owning His mercy, and repudiating all other gods. But Joshua lets them know their insufficiency (ver. 19, 20) and danger, which draws out their resolve to serve Jehovah repeated again and again in various forms. A covenant was made that day, and Joshua wrote the words in the book of the law, and set up a great stone in witness, lest they should deny their God. Then the people departed, and Joshua died; but the people served all the days of the elders that prolonged their days after Joshua.
Joseph's bones too were buried in Shechem, in the ground bought by Jacob of the son of Hamor, the father of Shechem, naturally mentioned with the death of Joshua in mount Ephraim as well as that of Eleazar, Aaron's son, buried in a hill of Phinehas his son, which was given him in the same mountain. Joshua brought the people into the land, as Moses led them out of Egypt, in accordance with the faith of Joseph. But a greater than all will give a deeper meaning in His day.