This week in our Joshua, Judges and Ruth class was a time of transition from Joshua to the Judges. There is a little bit of overlap between the two books as the second chapter of Judges talks about the death of Joshua.
The rest of the tribes were up in arms as they misunderstood the meaning behind the large altar. It was meant to be an altar of remembrance or witness. The tribes worked out their differences and the altar remained.
The people of Reuben and the people of Gad called the altar Witness, “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.” (Joshua 22:34, ESV)
When I read this same verse in the KJV it always brings a smile to my face 🙂
And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the Lord is God. (Joshua 22:34, KJV)
It is interesting that the name of the altar was Ed. I have a friend named Ed who I always think of when I read this verse. Witness is the meaning of the Hebrew word Ed. It is interesting that they did not translate the word in the KJV.
There is some question as to where exactly this altar was built, but it was most likely built somewhere near Gilgal as this is where the fighting men of the Eastern tribes would have crossed back over to join their families.
In chapter 23 Joshua charges the leaders of the people to remain faithful to God and then in chapter 24 all the tribes are gathered together at Shechem to renew the covenant.
Joshua again reminds the people what God has done and will do for them. This leads up to the most quoted phrase from the book of Joshua. I deliberately did not say verse here as it is only the last part of this verse that we normally hear or see. We should also remember the rest of the verse.
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15, ESV)
We actually see three choices here, but Joshua and his house make the right choice. Whenever I hear the last sentence of this verse I always think of this plaque that always hung in our house while I was growing up.
Joshua continues his farewell address to the people and reminds them that they are witness to each other of their decision and that if they follow the Lord, they must also put away other gods. He also sets up a large stone that is a witness to all the words spoken by God.
Then we find that after these things Joshua dies. He only had to keep his promise for a very short time. We also find in the closing verses that the bones of Joseph finally come to rest in Shechem after their long journey from Egypt.
The book of Judges starts out with a recap of the state of the conquest and then again reminds us of the death of Joshua. A generation has passed away and a new generation has risen that will fall away from God.
There are a lot of interesting accounts in the book of Judges and Ruth and I look forward to discussing them in class.
If you want to catch up with the class, here are the previous posts:
To view links to the entire class series click on Walls of Jericho.