Bible Commentary: Joshua 23

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Joshua 23

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"Hold Fast To the Lord Your God"

Near the end of his life, Joshua summons Israel, especially the leaders, and admonishes them to remain faithful to God. In verse 8, he specifically exhorts them to "hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day." And in verses 12-13, he warns them of the consequences of "clinging" to the remnant of the Canaanites. The Nelson Study Bible notes on verse 12: "The word translated cling is the same word translated hold fast in v. 8, bringing the different instances of clinging into sharp contrast. God wanted His people to cling to Him, not to the Canaanites they were driving out. This required, among other things, that they not make marriages with unbelieving foreigners under any circumstances (Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-4). Years later Solomon ignored this command and proved how destructive the sin of intermarriage could be (1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 11:1-8; 2 Corinthians 6:14)."

Joshua concludes by telling the elders that rejection of God will exact a dire penalty: "You shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you" (verse 16). This, of course, happened in later years, when Israel was taken into captivity and deported by Assyria and Judah was carried away by Babylon. Yet rebellion was not long away, as it would dominate the period of the judges immediately following. Still, Joshua's warning may have done some good, as the elders seem to have remained faithful (Joshua 24:31).