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CHARLES. I suppose now the two and half tribes were disposed to resent so harsh an accusation.
Mrs. M. Those who are conscious of the purity of their intentions, my son, are generally less ready to resent than to grieve, when their actions are misunderstood. The eastern tribes, on this occasion, were astonished at the expostulation of the elders; but they meekly answered, that 66 the searcher of all hearts could witness for them, that they thought not of rebellion against Him! They meant not to offer burnt-offerings or peace-offerings, on the altar they had reared; but to testify to posterity their relation to the God of Israel, if in time to come their children should be denied access to the Tabernacle, on the pretext that they were excluded by the permanent barrier of Jordan.” “ God forbid," said they, in the conclusion of their pious defence, “ that we should build an altar for sacrifices, beside the altar of the Lord our God, that is before his Tabernacle.” With this explanation, the elders returned perfectly satisfied ; and their brethren offered thanks to the Lord, who had mercifully preserved them from shedding the blood of their relatives.
After these transactions, Joshua lived seven years, during which time no events worthy of particular notice seem to have occurred. The people were peaceably occupied in settling their new possessions without interruption from the natives. He had now reached his hundred and tenth year, seventeen of which he had presided : and, being sensible that he must soon sleep with his fathers, after the example of his illustrious predecessor, he summoned the whole nation with their officers of every department, to attend him at Shechem, between Ebal and Gerizzim, and receive his last blessing and instructions. The recollection of many and inestimable favours, will always be a powerful incentive, in a generous mind, to the performance of correspondent duties. To this noble feeling the Hebrew leader judiciously applied, whilst he began his address to the listening multitude by relating, briefly, the history of their nation from the calling of Abraham to the present day—the supernatural power by which they had been sustained and the unceasing mercy which had at length given them possession of “ cities which they did not build --of vineyards, and olive trees, not planted by their hands.' “ Now, therefore,” continued he, “ fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which
your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.”
“ And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land
ye dwell : but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” CATHERINE. I hope the advice of Joshua, “to put
, away" the gods whom their fathers had served, did not imply that the Israelites were at this time addicted to idolatry ?
Mrs. M. It can mean no less. I have heretofore observed to you the unhappy propensity of the Israelites to imitate the heathens. These people were ever with them, and around them. Abraham, their progenitor, was taken from the people who served idols “on the other side of the flood,” or on the other side of the river Euphrates ; which, being a great river, was sometimes called, the flood. In Egypt, his posterity were subjected to idolaters, and occasionally mingled with them in the wilderness. No wonder, then, that such multiplied temptations were often too powerful.
Yet you are not to suppose that they ever entirely forsook their own Omnipotent Sovereign : their error consisted in giving to the gods of the gentiles, together with Jehovah, that homage which was due to him alone. Hence, they were ever ready to profess their allegiance, and promise amendment. When, therefore, their departing General reminded them of the obligation they were under, yet added, in order to place their sinful weakness in a forcible light-'if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose ye this day whom ye
will serve-but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,”--they cried out with one accord—“God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods. He it is, that brought us up, and our fathers out of the house of bondage; and which did these great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way which he went-therefore will we also serve the Lord, for He is our God." But this was a most interesting moment-Joshua was about to leave them to themselves : and in this last public interview with his charge, he was particularly desirous to make a lasting impression. He would not, therefore, easily accept of their proffered devotion. “ Ye cannot (said he) serve the Lord-for he is an holy God-he is a jealous God: he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you after that he bath done you good.” Still, however, full of ardour, they continued to declare—“ Nay, but we will serve the Lord.” Thus was the covenant to serve the Lord again ratified by the whole people of Israel. A record of the transaction was made by Joshua, and a
great stone set up for a memorial, under an oak near the sanctuary at Shiloh.
Soon after this Joshua died, and was buried in his own territory, on Mount Ephraim. Eleazer the Priest, the son of Aaron, died also about this time; and at the same period we are told the remains of Joseph were entombed in a piece of ground which Jacob his father had purchased from the natives when he returned from his long exile in Mesopotamia, and which had now fallen to the lot of Ephraim. (B. C. 1443.)
CHARLES. The title of this book I suppose implies its having been written by Joshua ?
MRs, M. It is so understood by some learned commentators, who have moreover endeavoured to establish their opinion by internal evidence---excepting, however, some passages which were evidently inserted by some other hand, in a subsequent period of time, particularly that which relates the death of Joshua, Other names of equal weight contend, that this portion of history was called the book of Joshua, because it narrates the exploits of that chief: and they also appeal to internal evidence that he was not the author—but conjecture ratherfor none undertake to decide—that it was written by Eleazer, by Phinehas his son, or by the prophet Samuel, and some reduce its date still lower. But whoever was the author, it is agreed on all hands, that if not written chiefly by the great captain of the Israelites, it was compiled from authentic documents, left by Joshua himself, or the cotemporary priests, whose business it was to preserve the records of the nation.
• Mrs. M. The Israelites, by the death of Joshua, being left without a visible leader to the conquest of Canaan, now repaired to the Tabernacle with the question,-“ Who shall go up first to fight with the Canaanites.” They were answered, “ Judah shall go up first.” Judah was the fourth son of Jacob, and to him the natural prerogatives of Reuben the elder, seem to have been transferred. He was distinguished by his father's prophetic blessing, and from him were to come the Star and the Seeptre foretold by Balaam. The tribe of Judah was the most populous of the twelve, when the people were all numbered in the wilderness of Sinai by Moses and Aaron; and the district of Canaan, which fell to their lot, was amongst the most delightful of the land of promise.
It was beautifully variegated with fountains, hills, and plains, and fertile in corn, and wine, and pastures. Here Abraham and Isaac had sojourned, and here were the places most famous in sacred history, Jerusalem, Emmaus, Bethlehem, and others. In the territory of Judah the splendid temple of Solomon arose, and it was his privilege to preserve the pure religion of his fathers, when in after ages it was corrupted by many of the tribes : and, indeed, such was the ascendancy of this tribe, that we frequently