Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
Ordinary A50


Then JoshuaA gatheredB all the tribesC of IsraelD to Shechem,E

Notes on verse 1a

A “Joshua” = Yehoshua. From YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone). This is Joshua, Jeshua, or Yehoshua, which means “the Lord is salvation.”
B “gathered” = asaph. This is to gather, assemble, or bring. It can also mean to take away, destroy, or remove.
C “tribes” = shebet. This is a rod, staff, club, scepter, dart, or tribe. Literally a stick that can be used for punishing, writing, fighting, walking, ruling; thus, used figuratively for a clan.
D “Israel” = yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
E “Shechem” = shekem. From the same as shekem (shoulder, neck, or some other place that bears burdens; figuratively, the spur of a hill, or one’s allotted portion); from shakam (to rise early, begin work early; properly, this is leaning one’s shoulder or back into a load or a burden; also, loading an animal for work). This is Shechem, meaning “ridge.”

and summonedF the elders,G the heads,H the judges,I and the officersJ of Israel;

Notes on verse 1b

F “summoned” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
G “elders” = zaqen. From the same as zaqan (beard or chin – the beard represents old age). This is old, aged, or elder.
H “heads” = rosh. This may come a word that means to shake. It is the head, captain, or chief. It can also be excellent or the forefront. It can be first in position or in statue or in time (i.e. the beginning).
I “judges” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.
J “officers” = shoter. The root may mean write. This is perhaps originally a scribe and so it was used more broadly for an official, officer, ruler, overseer, or magistrate.

and they presentedK themselves beforeL God.M 

Notes on verse 1c

K “presented” = yatsab. This is to set oneself, take a stand, remain, continue, to station or set something in place.
L “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
M “God” = Elohim.

And Joshua said to all the people,N “Thus says the Lord,O the God of Israel: Long agoP your ancestorsQ

Notes on verse 2a

N “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
O “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “Joshua” in v1. See note A above. This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
P “long ago” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
Q “ancestors” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.

—TerahR and his sons AbrahamS and NahorT

Notes on verse 2b

R “Terah” = terach. 13x in OT. Perhaps from tarah (to turn, wander) OR from tor (dove) + ruach (breath, wind, air, cool, spirit; wind, which resembles the breath; figuratively, life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent; air of the sky or the spirit). This is Terah or Terach, maybe meaning “delay, “wanderer,” or “global spirit.” See
S “Abraham” = Abraham. Related to “ancestors” in v2. From the same as Abiram (exalted father, a high father – lofty) {from ab (see note Q above) + rum (rise, bring up, being high, extol, exalt, haughty; to raise in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is Abraham, father of many nations or father of a multitude.
T “Nahor” = nachor. 18x in OT. From the same as nachar (nostril or snorting; root means to snort or snore). This is Nachor or Nahor, meaning “snorer.”

livedU beyondV the EuphratesW and servedX other gods.Y 

Notes on verse 2c

U “lived” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
V “beyond” = eber. From abar (to pass over, pass through, or pass by; cross over or to alienate; used for transitions). This is the place across or beyond, by, from, other, the opposite side, against, over. It often refers to the other side of the Jordan river or toward the east.
W “Euphrates” = nahar. From nahar (to flow, sparkle, be cheerful). This is a stream, river, or flood. Particularly used for the Nile or Euphrates. Figuratively, this can mean prosperity.
X “served” = abad. This is to work, serve, or compel. It can describe any kind of work or service (including religious devotion).  Also, till or cultivate. Used causatively, it can mean to enslave or keep in bondage.
Y “gods” = elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note M above.

Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the RiverZ and ledAA him through all the landBB of CanaanCC and made his offspringDD many.EE I gave him Isaac;FF

Notes on verse 3

Z “River” = nahar. Same as “Euphrates” in v2. See note W above.
AA “led” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
BB “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
CC “Canaan” = kna’an. From kana’ (to be humble, subdue; properly, bend the knee). This is Canaan, his descendants, and the land where they settled. This could mean lowlands, describing their land or subjugated in reference to being conquered by Egypt. See
DD “offspring” = zera. From zara (to sow or scatter seed; conceive or yield). This is seed or sowing. It can, thus, mean a fruit, plant, sowing time, child, offspring, or posterity.
EE “made…many” = rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.
FF “Isaac” = yitschaq. From tsachaq (to laugh, mock, play, make sport; this is laughing out loud whether in joy or in a scornful way). This is Isaac, meaning “he laughs.”

14 “Now therefore revereGG the Lord, and serve him in sincerityHH and in faithfulness;II put awayJJ the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt,KK and serve the Lord. 

Notes on verse 14

GG “revere” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
HH “sincerity” = tamim. From tamam (to finish or accomplish; to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright; consume; to complete in a literal or figurative sense). This is ecntire in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be complete, full, intact, or without defect. Alternately, it could refer to being sound, having integrity, being sincere or perfect.
II “faithfulness” = emet. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This is firmness or stability. Figuratively, it is faithfulness, truth, or trustworthiness. This is the same root that “amen” comes from.
JJ “put away” = sur. This is to turn aside in a literal or figurative sense – to depart, decline, rebel, remove, or withdraw.
KK “Egypt” = mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.

15 Now if you are unwillingLL to serve the Lord, chooseMM this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the AmoritesNN in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household,OO we will serve the Lord.”

Notes on verse 15

LL “are unwilling” = ra’ + ayin. Literally “it seems evil in your sight.” Ra’ is from ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin. Ayin is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
MM “choose” = bachar. This is to choose, appoint, try, excellent.
NN “Amorites” = emori. From amar (to speak, say, answer, command, promise, report). This is Amorite or Emori, perhaps meaning talkers.
OO “household” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.

16 Then the people answered,PP “Far be itQQ from us that we should forsakeRR the Lord to serve other gods; 

Notes on verse 16

PP “answered” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
QQ “far be it” = chalilah. From chalal (to defile, pollute). This is literally something that is profaned. It is used to mean “God forbid” or “far be it.”
RR “forsake” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.

17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,SS and who did those greatTT signsUU in our sight. He protectedVV us along all the wayWW that we went,

Notes on verse 17a

SS “slavery” = ebed. Related to “served” in v2. From abad (see note X above). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
TT “great” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
UU “signs” = ot. From avah (to mark, sign, point out); OR from uth (to agree). This is a sign in a literal or figurative sense. It could be a flag or monument. It could be evidence or a mark. It could also be an omen or a miracle. 
VV “protected” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
WW “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.

and among all the peoples through whomXX we passed;YY 18 and the Lord drove outZZ before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

Notes on verses 17b-18

XX “through whom” = qereb. Perhaps from qarab (to come near or approach). This is among, in the midst, before, the center It is the inward part, whether literal or figurative. It can also be used for the heart, the site of thoughts and feelings. This word is also used as a technical term for the entrails of the animals who are sacrificed.
YY “passed” = abar. Related to “beyond” in v2. See note V above.
ZZ “drove out” = garash. This is to cast out or expel. It can be to exile someone or to divorce them.

19 But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holyAAA God. He is a jealousBBB God;CCC he will not forgiveDDD your transgressionsEEE or your sins.FFF 

Notes on verse 19

AAA “holy” = qadosh. From qodesh (set apart and so sacred; God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart; things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy); related to qadash (set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified; something or someone set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean). This is sacred or holy in a ritual or moral sense. As a noun, it refers to a holy one (like a saint or angel), a holy place (the sanctuary), or God (the Holy One).
BBB “jealous” = qanno. 2x in OT. From the same as qinah (zeal, jealousy, envy, anger, rivalry); from qana (to be jealous, zealous, envious). This is jealous or angry.
CCC “God” = el.
DDD “forgive” = nasa. This to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
EEE “transgressions” = pesha. From pasha (to rebel, offend, quarrel; making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate). This is transgression, rebellion, or sin. It could be a revolt on a national scale or an individual moral one.
FFF “sins” = chatta’ah. From chata’ (to miss or go wrong and so to sin, bear the blame; it can also include the sense of forfeiting or lacking). This is sin itself as well as punishment for sin. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to sin that is habitual.

20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreignGGG gods, then he will turnHHH and do you harm,III and consumeJJJ you, after having done you good.”KKK 

21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!” 

Notes on verses 20-21

GGG “foreign” = nekar. From the same as neker (misfortune, disaster). This is foreign or strange.
HHH “turn” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
III “do…harm” = ra’a’. Related to “unwilling” in v15. See note LL above.
JJJ “consume” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
KKK “done…good” = yatab. This is to be good or pleasing, joyful. It can also mean doing good in an ethical sense or be beautiful, happy, successful, or right.

22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnessesLLL against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.”

And they said, “We are witnesses.” 

23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and inclineMMM your heartsNNN to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 

Notes on verses 22-23

LLL “witnesses” = ed. From ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is a witness, testimony, or one who records testimony. It can also refer to a prince.
MMM “incline” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
NNN “hearts” = lebab. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.

24 The people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and himOOO we will obey.”PPP 25 So Joshua madeQQQ a covenantRRR with the people that day, and made statutesSSS and ordinancesTTT for them at Shechem.

Notes on verses 24-25

OOO “him” = qol. Literally “his voice.” This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.
PPP “obey” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
QQQ “made” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
RRR “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.
SSS “statutes” = choq. From chaqaq (to inscribe, carve, or decree; a lawmaker; literally, this is engraving, but it implies enacting a law because laws were carved into stone or metal). This is statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance It is something that is prescribed or something that is owed.
TTT “ordinances” = mishpat. Related to “judges” = in v1. From shaphat (see note I above). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.

Image credit: “This stone, which is located near the remains of the ‘Old Nablus’ wall on the outskirts of the city of Nablus, is attributed to the ‘Great Stone’ described at the end of the alliance in Nablus” by Yair Dov, 2017.

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