Joshua implements the Cities of Refuge as the closing chapters begin and since the Levites are not allowed a territory as an inheritance, they are provided with specific towns and pastures.
The Trans-Jordanian tribes (Reuben, Gad and half-tribe of Manasseh) are honored:
For a long time now–to this very day–you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you. Now that the Lord your God has given them rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. Joshua 22:3-4
Those tribes who went back across the Jordan setup an “imposing altar” as a symbol of their faith, but this was misunderstood by the rest of Israel…at first: “the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them” (Joshua 22:12).
A Witness Between Us — that the Lord is God
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and they were able to explain the meaning of the altar: It stands as a reminder for generations to come that the Lord is God. “Far be it from us to rebel against the Lord and turn away from him today” (Joshua 22:29).
Joshua’s Farewell to the Leaders:
Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. But…if you violate the covenant of the Lord your God…the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you. Joshua 23:14-16
Joshua summarizes the history of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; highlights Balaam (again), and warns them not to stray from all that has been taught. The people firmly and openly commit themselves to the Lord God. A ripe old age of 110, Joshua died in peaceful times for Israel.
Joshua is one of the most remarkable characters in the Bible. He emerged as a loyal follower of Moses, dedicated to the Lord his entire life with few mistakes through incredible trials. This pass through the Bible, he really sticks out in my mind.
And so the story begins…