<< Joshua 8: Blessings and Curses >>
AND now we read of a solemn gathering of the tribes at Shechem, soon after their coming into the land, that the people might hear again the law, and promise to be faithful to the Lord. Moses had commanded them to hold this meeting: this was his charge, which we read in Deuteronomy xxvii.
And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day. And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee. Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaister them with plaister. And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God: And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God. And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly. And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day. And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.—Deuteronomy XXVII 1-13.
The place of meeting was in the very centre of the land. Here there are two mountains, Mount Ebal on the north and Mount Gerizim on the south, with the valley of Shechem between them. It is a remarkable valley; all travellers who climb the mountain-sides are surprised at the distinctness with which sounds and voices from the city below are heard. At the highest part of the valley there is a recess in the mountain on either side which seems as if made by nature for the gathering of the tribes, six on each side of the valley. Here they listened to the law as Joshua read it, and answered, Amen, from the side of Ebal, to the curses, and from Guerzim, to the blessings.
Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal, As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.—Joshua VIII. 30-35.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
Building an altar >> State of conjunction with the Lord
Whole stones >> Genuine Truths
Burnt offerings >> Love and service to the Lord
Peace offerings >> Love and service to one another
Response to the curses from the northern mountain >> From obscure perception [Mount Ebal]
Response to the blessings from the southern mountain >> From interior perception [Mount Gerizim]