The Bible – Old Testament
Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges and their officers. When they stood in ranks before God,
1 Joshua addressed all the people: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: In times past your fathers, down to Terah, father of Abraham and Nahor, dwelt beyond the River and served other gods.
But I brought your father Abraham from the region beyond the River and led him through the entire land of Canaan. I made his descendants numerous, and gave him Isaac.
To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I assigned the mountain region of Seir in which to settle, while Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.
“Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and smote Egypt with the prodigies which I wrought in her midst.
Afterward I led you out of Egypt, and when you reached the sea, the Egyptians pursued your fathers to the Red Sea with chariots and horsemen.
Because they cried out to the LORD, he put darkness between your people and the Egyptians, upon whom he brought the sea so that it engulfed them. After you witnessed what I did to Egypt, and dwelt a long time in the desert,
I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I delivered them into your power. You took possession of their land, and I destroyed them (the two kings of the Amorites) before you.
Then Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab, prepared to war against Israel. He summoned Balaam, son of Beor, to curse you;
but I would not listen to Balaam. On the contrary, he had to bless you, and I saved you from him.
Once you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, but I delivered them also into your power.
2 And I sent the hornets ahead of you which drove them (the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites) out of your way; it was not your sword or your bow.
“I gave you a land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.
“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely. Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
3 If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods.
For it was the LORD, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples through whom we passed.
At our approach the LORD drove out (all the peoples, including) the Amorites who dwelt in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”
4 Joshua in turn said to the people, “You may not be able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God who will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.
If, after the good he has done for you, you forsake the LORD and serve strange gods, he will do evil to you and destroy you.”
But the people answered Joshua, “We will still serve the LORD.”
Joshua therefore said to the people, “You are your own witnesses that you have chosen to serve the LORD.” They replied, “We are, indeed!”
“Now, therefore, put away the strange gods that are among you and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.”
Then the people promised Joshua, “We will serve the LORD, our God, and obey his voice.”
So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem,
which he recorded in the book of the law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was in the sanctuary of the LORD.
And Joshua said to all the people, “This stone shall be our witness, for it has heard all the words which the LORD spoke to us. It shall be a witness against you, should you wish to deny your God.”
Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his own heritage.
After these events, Joshua, son of Nun, servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten.
He was buried within the limits of his heritage at Timnath-serah in the mountain region of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash.
Israel served the LORD during the entire lifetime of Joshua and that of the elders who outlived Joshua and knew all that the LORD had done for Israel.
5 The bones of Joseph, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried in Shechem in the plot of ground Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor, father of Shechem, for a hundred pieces of money. This was a heritage of the descendants of Joseph.
When Eleazar, son of Aaron, also died, he was buried on the hill which had been given to his son Phinehas in the mountain region of Ephraim.
1  Beyond the River: east of the Euphrates; cf ⇒ Genesis 11:28-31.
2  The hornets: see note on ⇒ Exodus 23:28.
3  The gods your fathers served: Abraham’s ancestors were polytheists.
4  You may not be able: fidelity to God’s service is not easy, and therefore those who take such solemn obligations on themselves must be ever vigilant against human weakness.
5  The bones of Joseph: the mummified body of Joseph (⇒ Genesis 50:25-26), which the Israelites took with them as they left Egypt (⇒ Exodus 13:19), was fittingly buried at the ancient city of Shechem, near the border between the two Josephite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.