Joshua’s Last Days
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
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
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
“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.