to Shechem

Joshua 24:1

24:1 to Shechem. It is noteworthy that Joshua’s valedictory to the tribes was given at the same location where Abraham long ago had built his first altar in the promised land (Genesis 12:6, 7).

24:2 the flood. The “flood” here does not refer to the Noahic flood, of course, but to the flood plain of the great river Euphrates. Terah (the father of Abraham, Nahor and Haran) had known the true God. In fact, Laban (Nahor’s grandson, still living by the “flood” in Mesopotamia), spoke to Jacob about “the God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father” (Genesis 31:53). Terah had probably written the brief patriarchal document ending with “these are the generations of Terah” (Genesis 11:10-27). Nevertheless, Terah and Nahor had begun to compromise with the increasingly paganized culture and religion of the Chaldeans. Terah had even taken Abraham out of their original home in Ur of the Chaldees “to go into the land of Canaan,” but instead he traveled up the Euphrates valley “unto Haran, and dwelt there” (Genesis 11:31), still in the same kind of environment. Accordingly, God finally called “Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan” (Joshua 24:3).

24:12 the hornet. Joshua had to remind his people that, even though they had fought their enemies, it was really God who had won the victory for them (Exodus 23:28). The Biblical hornet was a viciously stinging wasp, and the term is probably used here to symbolize the fear which God sent among the Canaanites in advance of the Israelite armies.

24:15 choose you this day. This is the same choice confronting each person in every age. One can either choose to serve the true God of creation and redemption, now revealed in Jesus Christ, or the pagan nature-gods of the world system (evolutionary pantheism), or attempt to serve both (as Terah and Nahor had done). But the true God “is a jealous God” (Joshua 24:19). He will not share His glory with another. Joshua’s exhortation is still needed: “Put away...the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23).

24:15 gods which your fathers served. Abraham’s father Terah had indeed, in some sense at least, served the gods of the Chaldeans when he was in Ur, on the other side of the “flood” (meaning the great river Euphrates). Pantheism and polytheism did become widespread soon after Nimrod’s introducing it at Babel. At Ur, the principal deity was the moon god, but there were also shrines to many other gods.

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