Joshua’s Last Days

Joshua 13-24

Once Joshua had conquered the rest of Canaan, we can see two of God’s promises to Abraham had come true - - his family was indeed a great nation and they had the wonderful land of Canaan for their home. The rest of the Old Testament tells about the Israelites (sometimes called Jews) in later years. And in the New Testament we find the third promise to Abraham comes true when Jesus comes into the world to be a Savior to all men.

Joshua was old now, but had to divide the land so they could get rid of the wicked nations. The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh had been given their part of Canaan east of the Jordan by Moses - - now Joshua made sure the other tribes got enough land for their people, too.

The people of the tribe of Levi did not receive a part like the other tribes - - you remember God put them in charge of His worship in the tabernacle, with the priests coming from the family of Aaron. Since they would not have time to work in the fields, He planned for them to live off the offerings that were made as sacrifices. The Levites were given forty-eight cities scattered throughout Israel with enough pastureland for their animals. And the tabernacle was set up at Shiloh for worship.

Six of the Levites cities were set apart and called “cities of refuge.” Whenever someone was killed in those days, his relatives could avenge his death by killing the murderer. If a man was killed accidentally, though, it was not really murder. The killer could escape to one of the cities of refuge and have a trial there.

Even though the tribe of Levi did not get a part, the land was still divided twelve ways. Ephraim and Manasseh had become heads of tribes in their father Josephs’ place - - their grandfather Jacob had blessed them as his own sons before he died in Egypt.

Two other interesting promises came true during this time. Caleb, the faithful spy who had stood with Joshua at Kadesh Barnea, reminded Joshua that Moses had promised him the mountain of Hebron for his home.

The wicked people who lived in Hebron were large and fierce but Caleb was not afraid. He was 85 years old now and was still strong - - he believed God had kept him alive all those years so he could live there. So Joshua agreed to let Caleb live in Hebron.

The other promise involved the body of Joseph, the grandson of Abraham who was sold by his brothers into Egypt and became a ruler there. Before he died, Joseph made his family promise someone would carry his bones when they left Egypt, then bury him in Canaan. We talked about Moses and the people bringing Joseph’s body along the night Pharaoh drove them out - - now it was time for his burial in his homeland. The Bible says they buried him in a field at Shechem that his father Jacob had bought hundreds of years before.

Just because Joshua died, he called the people to Shechem, to remind them God had kept his promises and given them all the land of Canaan.

“All have come to pass for you, and not one word of them has failed,” Joshua said. He warned the people that just as the good things had happened as God said, so would He keep his word and take the land away if they started serving other gods.

God told Joshua to tell the people, “I have given you a land for which you did not labor and cities which you did not build and you dwell in them; you eat of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.” They should always remember how God had blessed them!

“Choose you for yourselves this day whom you will serve…,” Joshua told the people. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The people answered Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve and His voice will we obey.”

At the age of 110 years, Joshua died and was buried in his home at Timnath Serah, having faithfully brought Israel into the promised land of Canaan.

Talking it Over:

1. How did Joseph show his great faith in asking to be buried in Canaan, even while the Israelites were still in Egypt? Talk about some things the Israelites probably remembered when he was buried.
2. Why didn’t Joseph’s bones decay during the hundreds of years between his death and his final burial? Look up “mummies” in an encyclopedia to find out.
3. Many people today do not believe God really gave Israel all the promised land in the time of Joshua. Read Joshua 21:43-45

Memory Verse:
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Joshua 24:15
Everyone has to make this choice for himself. Why is it so important?

Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times. Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce for use, but not for publication.