We finally get an actual plot twist. The tribes that are to settle on the east side of the Jordan head back there after the fighting is over in Canaan. But on the way they build an altar. When the other tribes find out, there are accusations of idolatry. But the east side tribes deny that. They say they built it to teach their children about Yahweh, since they will no longer be living with the majority of the tribe and within traveling distance of the tabernacle. I think this is the first mention of the religion expanding beyond the location of its origin; a necessary step if it is to grow.
This is Joshua’s farewell speech. It’s nothing special. But in verse 10 he says he will die, and ‘go the way of everything on earth’. Notice no mention of an afterlife. That comes much later in the bible, mostly in the New Testament.
Here is the wrap-up of the farewell speech, a quick recounting of all the exploits of the Israelites from Abraham to the present time, including a fair bit of bragging about all the damage and genocide they left in their wake. Reminding the people not to turn to other gods, Joshua utters the oft-quoted line “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (v 15).
So Joshua dies, and then the bones of Joseph, which had been brought all the way from Egypt, are buried as well, in the plot of land that Jacob bought way back in Genesis 33. OK, someone help me understand this ….. I went back and looked up Gen 33, and sure enough, the land that Jacob bought was in Shechem, in the land of Canaan (see map) – so the Israelites are right back where they started!!! WTF? How many years of wandering, and for what???