Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel:”
What does, “they presented themselves before God,” mean? Was God there in some special way?
Apparently so. Many special things have happened in Shechem, or on Mount Ebal, just on the north side.
Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. — Joshua 8:30–31
Shechem is where God promised the land to Abraham’s descendants.
Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land.
Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. — Genesis 12:6–7
And Jacob erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel (God, the God of Israel).
Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city. And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel. — Genesis 33:18–20
So, when Joshua calls all the leaders of Israel together, he picks the most holy spot in all the land.
God is there, and they know it.
Joshua begins with, “Thus says the LORD,” (koh ahmar Yahweh כֹּֽה־אָמַ֣ר יְהוָה֮). Prophets say this a lot. What’s next isn’t Joshua speaking; it’s the LORD. In the next verses, “I” means the LORD, not Joshua.
But there’s one thing different about Joshua’s use of, “Thus says the LORD.” Usually, when a prophet says this, what comes next is brutal. For example, see the first use of it, which is in Exodus 4:22–23.
“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.” ’ ”
But here, the LORD isn’t about to light into the audience. He’s going to teach.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.