Joshua has divided the land between the tribes of Israel, and some years have passes. The last two chapters of Joshua are remembered as his farewell speech and final words at the covenant renewal ceremony at Shechem. This latter is laid out just like an ancient treaty or covenant between a suzerain (a superior or dominant entity) and its vassals (or subjects). Such treaties contain a preamble introducing the sovereign (verse 2), a historical prologue of past graciousness with the vassals (verse 2-13), stipulations of the vassal’s responsibilities (verses 14-24), written record preserving the covenant agreement (verse 26), named witnesses (verses 26-27), and blessings and curses (verse 20 and throughout).
Joshua’s famous charge to them in verse 15 to “choose who you will serve” along with the warning in verse 20 should serve as a chilling reminder to them that God will not tolerate apostasy from them. Unfortunately, the insistence of the people that they will serve only the Lord will all too soon be forgotten by many, as we see the pattern of the judges.
Verses 29-33 detail the death and burial of Joshua at the place of his inheritance at Timnath-serah, Eleazar’s burial at Gibeah, and the burial of Joseph’s bones at Shechem.
(Side note: Archaeologists have found Shechem to have been a large center of pagan worship. A great article on Shechem can be found at the following link to Bibleplaces.com)
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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