Dora Bas Rivka Silver O'H
No Weddings, Three Funerals
Joshua gathered the people in Shechem and gave a recap of Jewish history to that point:. Terach was an idolator, but G-d chose his son Abraham and promised the land of Canaan to his descendants. Abraham had Isaac, Isaac had Jacob and Esau, Jacob and his family went down to Egypt... (If this sounds familiar, it's because it's part of the Passover Haggadah.) Then Moses and Aaron, plagues in Egypt, splitting the Red Sea, and 40 years in the wilderness. After struggles with Balak and Balaam, they crossed the Jordan, took Jericho and inherited the land. (It sounds like a Biblical version of "We Didn't Start the Fire," lehavdil.)
Joshua then charged the people to wholeheartedly serve Hashem and only Hashem. The people replied that they would never dream of following foreign idols after all Hashem has done for them. Joshua warned the nation that if they strayed, the consequences would be dire. He then wrote the Book of Joshua until this point.
Joshua passed away at the age of 110. At this juncture, the Navi relates that Joseph's bones, which were taken out of Egypt by Moses, were buried in Shechem, although this no doubt happened much earlier. Elazar the Kohein Gadol (High Priest) died sometime subsequent to Joshua and was succeeded by (and buried by) his son Pinchas.
The Book of Joshua starts by comparing Joshua to his rebbe, Moses. However, in chapter one, Moses is called the "servant of Hashem" and Joshua is merely "the attendant of Moses." The Book ends calling Joshua a "servant of Hashem," the same title previously reserved for Moses. Despite the fact that Joshua did not merit the full 120 years of his teacher, he did earn this rare distinction, bestowed upon him by no less than G-d Himself.
A short Insight into Joshua, Chapter 24As we find over and over in Tanach, subtleties and nuances bear many important lessons and insights.
The end of Sefer Yehoshua is no different. We are hinted at by the spelling of the word “atzmos” (verse 32). The possuk states, “The atzmos (bones) of Yosef, which B'nei Yisroel had brought up from Mitzrayim, they buried in Sh'chem.”
The Mei Zahav points out a difference in the spelling of atzmos here in Sefer Yehoshua to how we see it spelled when Yosef forced B'nei Yisroel to swear to him that they would bring him for burial in Eretz Yisroel. At the end of parshas Va'y'chi (50,25) atzmosai is spelled chaser, without a vav following the mem. However, when Moshe took the remains of Yosef from their burial place in Mitzrayim (Sh'mos 13,19) and in our possuk dealing with Yosef's final resting place, the word atzmos is spelled malei, with a vav following the mem.
The Mei Zahav explains that our tradition teaches that decay of a corpse is indicative of a lack of perfection, a lack of attaining lofty levels of k'dusha. Yosef, he postulates, in his great humility, asked B'nei Yisroel to take back his remains back to Israel even if there is much decay. This is indicated by the vav missing in the spelling of atzmosai in parshas Va'y'chi– indicative of a deficient skeleton. However, both when Moshe retrieved Yosef's remains upon leaving Mitzrayim and upon his eventual burial in Israel atzmos is spelled malei to indicate that Yosef's skeleton remained whole. Contrary to Yosef's humble concern for his skeleton decaying, Yosef's k'dusha clearly was of such lofty heights that his skeleton remained through the time of his burial in Eretz Yisroel.