You guys! This is our last day in Joshua! I’m actually making some progress on this Bible reading thing.
Chapter 22- Joshua tells the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh that they have fulfilled their duty to help the other tribes claim the promised land, and they are free to return to their land on the other side of the Jordan. On their journey, they build an altar. When the Israelites hear about it, they decide to start a war about it, because they think it’s an altar to a foreign god. The tribes of R, G and 1/2M claim they built it as a reminder that the people on both sides of the Jordan worship the same God. This appeases the Israelites, and they call off the war.
Verse 11, “Now the children of Israel heard someone say, ‘Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have build an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan– on the children of Israel’s side.'” And that is, I think, what this is really about. How dare those uppity Easterners build something on the West bank of the Jordan? They should build on their own land!
Chapter 23- Joshua is old and about to die. He reminds the people to stick to the Law, and not to intermarry with the natives. If they do, God promises to destroy them.
“[S]o the Lord will bring upon you all harmful things, until He has destroyed you from the good land with the Lord your God has given you. When you have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to the them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you.” (15, 16) Not exactly the bright, sunshiny verses about love that people like to post on Facebook, is it? How come God gets to be wrathful and jealous while at the same time demanding that His people not be?
Chapter 24- Joshua gives a brief recap of the history of the Israelites (basically the books of Exodus- Deuteronomy condensed into 1 chapter). The people take an oath to follow the Lord. Joshua dies. Eleazar the priest dies.
Moses’s farewell speech lasted the whole stinking book of Deuteronomy. I am very grateful that Joshua’s was much shorter. He gathers the people to Shechem to hear his goodbye speech. Shechem was one of the cities of refuge for accidental murderers, so again I have to wonder what, if any, significance that has.
19 But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.” 21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord!” 22 So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses!”
What in the world is that all about? “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God.” What does that even mean? I think Joshua was subtly telling the people not to follow God. That they should get out while they still can. But, alas, the people insist on making the covenant with God. Joshua calls them “witnesses against themselves” as if to say, “It’s on your head when shit hits the fan.”
And on that somewhat confusing note, we’re done with Joshua! Tune in tomorrow for the book of Judges.