Joshua's Parting Words

Joshua was already an old man. All the Jews, however, were not yet settled on their allotted estates. The future was fraught with danger. There was the possibility of assimilation with the Canaanite tribes and the acquisition of their perverted practices. Calling together the elders and the judges, Joshua warned them to guard against assimilation with the pagan natives. He urged them to apply themselves more assiduously to the study of the Torah and to keep its precepts. Only by Israel's devoted loyalty to the Torah would they be assured of a healthy national existence.

Two years before his death, Joshua summoned all the Jews to Shechem. In the presence of the entire assemblage, he reviewed the history of Israel from its birth to that day. With increasing force he concluded, "And if it seems evil to you to serve the L-rd, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the L-rd." Could the Israelites withstand an appeal so just and so earnest? They promised, with all sincerity: "G‑d forbid that we should forsake the L-rd, to serve other gods."

At the age of one hundred and ten, Joshua died and was buried in Timnath-Serah in Mount Ephraim, deeply mourned by his people.