1 And Joshua [Yehoshua] gathered all the tribes of Israel [Kol Shivtei Yisroel] to Shechem , and called for the elders of Israel [Ziknei Yisroel], and for their heads [Rashim], and for their judges [shofetim], and for their officers [shoterim]; and they presented themselves before Elohim.
Performing his last official act as leader over God's people, Joshua summoned all the appointed representatives of the tribes to gather before him at Shechem...It is worthy of repetition to state here that the name signifies "the hinder part of both shoulder places, the part upon which a load was to be borne" - hence, "the burden-bearer" - a type of Christ.
It was a city of refuge, and stood in the shadow of Mounts Ebal and Gerizim.Why was Shechem chosen by Joshua for this final historical meeting between himself and his people? Because it was the site to which he had marched the nation for the most solemn ritual of renewing the covenant soon after their entrance into the land (8:30-35).
Now, not long before his death, Joshua again assembled the nation at this place, that they might again renew the covenant. It is not without significance to the modern-day Believer that the book of Joshua concludes by emphasising the need for repeated rededication to Yahweh.
In the present dispensation, all true Believers are required to present themselves before the Lord's table of remembrance each first day of the week. There, they assemble before their Heavenly Father and His Son. They gather together to be exhorted out of the word of God - as were these people; and to renew their covenant by partaking of bread and wine in memory of the death of their Lord. In all this, they are reminded of their deliverance from the darkness of spiritual Egypt; of passing through the waters (baptism), and of the blessings which Yahweh continues to provide, until finally He brings them into their inheritance.
Constant re-dedication to these principles and ideals is essential. Human nature is naturally prone to drift from the pathway of righteousness. Reverence for God's commandments, and obedience thereto must be continually brought to the mind of Christ's disciples. Unless Believers continue to consecrate and devote their lives submissively to Yahweh, their enthusiasm and zeal for the holy things of God will wane.
In the twenty third chapter Joshua warned against evil-doing and laxity, and impressed upon the people the need to maintain diligent faithfulness. Now, having prepared them with exhortation, and after further exhorting them, he led them to a formal renewal of their covenant relationship with God.
This was certainly a more solemn and vital gathering than the one described in the twenty third chapter; although it is evident that the two gatherings were not unrelated: the former to prepare the people for the latter.
Here, at Shechem, the people would have been reminded of their earlier gathering at this place (8:30-35). But there was more for them to remember. It was at Shechem that Yahweh first spoke to Abram after he entered the land, and promised that his seed would inherit this land (Gen. 12:7).
Here, Abraham had built an altar. Jacob, one of the patriarchs, had come to this place under most significant circumstances. Indeed, Shechem was rich in spiritual history for the people of Israel. Assembled as they now were, they were in an awesome place.
'They presented themselves before God". This is an expression which would denote the presence of the Ark. And, if the Ark, why not the Tabernacle? It would have been a simple matter for the Levites to transport the Tabernacle, together with the various objects associated therewith, the ten miles from Shiloh. For such a solemn occasion, such action would not be at all unlikely.
The presence of the Tabernacle would add to the solemnity of the gathering. In this final address to his people, Joshua emphasised that he was to convey to them a direct message from Yahweh: 'Thus saith Yahweh Elohim of Israel . . . " The words which were to follow were of divine inspiration; as, needless to say, is the entire scripture (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
Bro John Ullman - Joshua His Life and Times
21 And the people [HaAm] said unto Joshua [Yehoshua], Nay [No]; but we will serve Yahweh.
We are absolutely nothing, except as God chooses to use us in His purpose. All our meaning and value lies in being part of His work. Outside of that, we are empty, uninteresting chunks of flesh, like the cattle. If we wish to have any meaning or permanence -- to be anything other than dumb, perishing animals -- we must fill our minds with God's Word, and fill our lives with His service.
33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.
... the closing words of the Book appear to be an anomaly.
Whereas the book of Joshua had commenced upon a note of positive encouragement, it concludes with the emphasis laid upon three graves!
In view of all that had been accomplished during Joshua's ministry, why should the Book conclude upon such a sobering note?
Surely it is to highlight the fact that God's people can have "no confidence in the flesh" but only in Yahweh; for "Yahweh saves". Such a message burned brightly within the hearts of the three men whose graves are mentioned in the closing verses of the Book.
Although recognising that by nature they were flesh, all three held a hope. That hope was the expectation of renewed life, for all eternity, when Israel's Saviour comes to reward his faithful servants.
Bro John Ullman