The people agree to serve the Lord
1 Joshua called all the Israelite tribes to meet together at Shechem. He called the leaders of clans, the rulers, the judges and the officers to stand in front of the tabernacle. 2 Joshua said to the people, ‘This is what the Lord, Israel's God, says:
24:1Shechem was an important place. When Abraham came to Shechem, God had said to him, ‘I will give this land to your people.’ See Genesis 12:7. Now the people lived in the land.
“A long time ago, your ancestors lived on the other side of the Euphrates river. They included Terah who was the father of Abraham and Nahor. They worshipped other gods. 3 But I took Abraham, your ancestor, away from that land beyond the Euphrates river. I brought him here and I led him through all the land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants. I gave him a son, Isaac. 4 I gave to Isaac two sons, Jacob and Esau. I gave to Esau the hills of Seir. But Jacob and his sons went down to live in Egypt.
5 I sent Moses and Aaron to lead the Israelites when they were in Egypt. I punished the people of Egypt, and I brought you out from there. 6 When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, they reached the Red Sea. The Egyptians chased after them to the sea, with soldiers on horses and in chariots. 7 But your ancestors called to the Lord for help. He made the space between them and the Egyptians become dark. He caused the Egyptian soldiers to drown in the sea. Your ancestors saw what I did to the Egyptians with their own eyes. After that, they lived in the desert for a long time.
8 I brought you to the land of the Amorites, on the east side of the Jordan river. They fought against you, but I helped you to win the fight. I destroyed them in front of you, and you took their land. 9 The king of Moab, Zippor's son Balak, prepared to attack you. When he did this, he asked Balaam, son of Beor, to curse you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam. So he could not curse you but he continued to bless you. In that way I saved you from Balak's power.
11 Then you went across the Jordan river and you came to Jericho city. The people of Jericho fought against you. So did the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites. I helped you to win against all those people. 12 I sent great fear on your enemies as you moved into the land. I chased them all away, as well as the two kings of the Amorites. You did not win because of your strong weapons, but because of me. 13 The land was a gift from me. I gave you a land where you had not worked in its fields. I gave you towns to live in that you did not build. You eat grapes and olives from trees that you did not plant.” ’
24:12fear or hornets (insects that bite).
14 Joshua said to the people, ‘Now you must serve the Lord with fear. You must worship him. You must continue to trust him. Throw away the gods that your ancestors worshipped when they lived beyond the Euphrates river and in Egypt. Worship the Lord. 15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then you should choose another god to worship. Decide today! Will you serve the gods that your ancestors worshipped across the river? Will you serve the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living? You choose! But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.’
16 The people answered Joshua, ‘We would never turn against the Lord to serve other gods! 17 We and our fathers were slaves in Egypt. But the Lord our God brought us out from there. We saw the great miracles that he did there. He kept us safe all the time on our journey, as we travelled through other nations. 18 The Lord chased all the nations out as we moved into the land. He chased out the Amorites and the other people who lived in the land. So we too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.’
19 Joshua said to them, ‘The Lord is a holy God. You will not be able to serve him. He wants you to belong to him. If you turn against him or you do not obey him, he will not forgive you. 20 If you turn away from the Lord and you serve foreign gods, he will turn against you. He has been kind and he has helped you until now. But he will bring trouble to you and he will destroy you, if you turn away from him.’
21 The people said to Joshua, ‘Never! We will only serve the Lord.’
22 Joshua said to them, ‘You yourselves have chosen to serve the Lord. Agree now that you have done that.’
They replied, ‘Yes, we agree!’
23 Joshua said, ‘Now you must throw away the foreign gods that you still keep. Trust the Lord, Israel's God, and obey him.’
24 The people said to Joshua, ‘We will serve the Lord our God and we will obey him.’
25 That same day, Joshua made an agreement for the people to accept. There at Shechem, he made a list of rules and laws for them to obey. 26 Joshua wrote these things in the Book of God's Law. Then he took a big stone. He stood it there under the oak tree that was near the Lord's holy place.
27 Joshua said to all the people, ‘Look at this stone! It has heard everything that the Lord has said to us today! It will speak against you if you fail to obey your God!’
24:27The stone could not really hear or speak. But Joshua wanted the people to remember what they had promised to God. The stone would help them to remember their promises.
28 Then Joshua sent the people away. They went to the parts of the land that now belonged to each of them.