Notes on Joshua chapter 24:11-18
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
Jericho was the first battle that Israel had fought in a long time. Actually they did no fighting: they simply obeyed God’s commands to march around the city as commanded and then give a loud shout. God did the rest: the walls of Jericho fell down, Israel defeated everyone in the city (except Rahab and her family), and destroyed everything except what Achan stole. See Joshua 6 and 7 for the whole story.
God did deliver the other tribes or peoples into Israel’s hands but Israel did not completely drive them out. Example: the Hivites known as the Gibeonites (chapter 9): they tricked Israel into peace and protection when they knew they were marked for destruction.
Incomplete obedience on Israel’s part here led to disaster later, in the time of the Judges.
12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, (even) the two kings of the Amorites; (but) not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
We do not know who the identity of these two kings of the Amorites—but Israel surely did, else Joshua wound not be making mention of them here. These victories, not by sword or bow, show again how God would provide for His people and that He would keep every promise.
Hornets are only mentioned three times in the Old Testament, twice besides here, and always in reference to God driving out the pagans from before Israel (Ex 23:38, Deut. 7:20).
13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.
Every word of this is true. Israel had not labored for any of Canaan before they arrived, nor had they built one single city. They had not planted any vineyards or olive groves, according to the text, but were able to use the produce for their own benefit. Israel was able to eat some of this produce as soon as they had crossed the Jordan and set foot in Canaan (Josh 5:12).
God had promised Israel the land, and they were there.
14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth:
Joshua now gives them a four-fold exhortation: fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and truth, put away the gods (idols) Israel had previously served (why did they have any of these?), and again serve the Lord.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that (were) on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Here is one of the most important verses in the Bible. Joshua gave Israel the choice to either serve the gods of Israel’s past, probably the ones Abram and his ancestors had worshiped in Ur, or even those which they had worshiped in Egypt. After seeing how powerless these deities were during the 10 Plagues, and seeing how powerful the God of Israel was, that didn’t seem likely (at least for now).
They could worship the gods of the Amorites, where they were living, but the events of the last few years proved that these “gods” were not powerful, either, compared to the power of the LORD.
Joshua simply stated that “ . . as for.me and my house, we will serve the LORD”. There has hardly been a greater statement of faith and commitment anywhere.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; 17 For the LORD our God, he (it is) that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: 18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: (therefore) will we also serve the LORD; for he (is) our God.
The people answered in the affirmative but oddly enough did not mention anything about the false gods or idols which some, apparently, had kept with them. Even Amos mentioned that Israel had carried a tabernacle for Moloch and Chiun during the 40 years in the wilderness (Amos 5:25-26)!
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)