No Weddings, Three FuneralsBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
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.