Joshua assembles the Israelites for a second covenant renewal ceremony at the end of his life. They assemble at Shechem, where Joshua recounts their history, from Abraham's father Terah, through the time of the patriarchs, to the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan. He then tells them to serve the Lord, saying that, if they refuse, they should choose "this day" whom they will serve: the gods of Terah or of the Canaanites. In words familiar to many Christians, Joshua concludes, "But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
The Israelites choose to serve the Lord, and Joshua makes a covenant with them, writing in the book of the law and setting up a stone at Shechem to serve as a witness against Israel, should it break the covenant.
This passage highlights one of the central theological claims of the book of Joshua: the Lord is God and is the only deity worthy of worship. Neither the gods of the Canaanites nor the gods of Israel's own pre-Abrahamic ancestors are to be worshiped. The Lord demands complete covenant loyalty from Israel and will bless such loyalty with divine favor.
15Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011