Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.2. Joshua’s Two Addresses
The First Address
1. The people gathered (Joshua 23:1-2)
2. God’s faithfulness remembered (Joshua 23:3-5)
3. Exhortations to obedience (Joshua 23:6-11)
4. Warning (Joshua 23:12-13)
5. Conclusion of first address (Joshua 23:14-16)
It was about eight years after the Lord had given rest unto Israel, that the aged Joshua called for all Israel and their elders to assemble in his presence. He was very old and the time of his departure at hand. The purpose of his first address is to remind the people and their elders of the Lord’s faithfulness in keeping all His promises, and to exhort them to be faithful to Him and to warn them of the results of apostasy. He exhorts them with the same message, which the Lord had given to him in the beginning of the book. Compare verse 6 with chapter 1:7. He had been obedient to this command and the Lord had done all for him He had promised. Joshua was a man of faith and courage, an excellent character.
“He is characterized by conscientious fidelity to the Law, and unclouded theocratical sentiments. He is deliberate and prudent when he acts himself, for he conducts the wars of the Lord; but he becomes prompt, bold and decided, when the Lord sends him. His courage is humility, his strength is faith, his wisdom is obedience and the fear of the Lord. He has a gentle spirit, but does not betray weakness; the evidence of the latter is furnished by his strict judgment in the case of Achan, and the scrupulous exactness with which he executes the Lord’s sentence respecting the Canaanites. Such a union of gentleness and rigor, of simplicity and prudence, of humility and grandeur of sentiment, presents evangelical features. This peculiarity of his character, combined with the peculiarity of that age of the kingdom of God in which he lived, and also of the position which he occupied, adapts both himself and the work which he performed to be highly significant types of the future. He conducts the people into the land of promise and of rest; but there remains a better rest into which his archetype, who bears the same name, conducts the people of God (Hebrews 4:8-9); he carries on the wars, and executes the judgments of the Lord, in which are shadowed the victories and judgments of Christ.
“The sentiments which govern Joshua, pervade the people in general in his day. The whole history of the chosen people presents no other period in which they were generally animated by such zeal in the cause of the theocracy, by such conscientious fidelity to the Law, by such vigorous faith and sincere fear of God as that generation manifested. It was the period of first love, and, in this aspect, may be compared with the first centuries of the Christian Church.” (J.H. Kurtz, Sacred History)
And we need, as His people, the courage of faith to stand for the Lord and for His Word in the days of departure from God. And Joshua’s warning was sadly fulfilled in the subsequent history of Israel.