Lesson 75

Joshua 11–24

“Lesson 75: Joshua 11–24,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Introduction

After fulfilling the Lord’s command to conquer the promised land and to destroy the wicked nations that were there, Joshua divided the land among the tribes of Israel. Joshua called the Israelites together and warned them against cleaving to other nations and worshipping other gods. He invited them to cleave to the Lord.

Note: In the next lesson (lesson 76) you may decide to ask several students to be prepared to summarize an assigned scripture account for the class. You may want to give those students their assignment the day you teach this lesson.

Suggestions for Teaching

Joshua 11–22

The promised land is divided among the tribes of Israel

Write the following questions on the board for students to see as they come into class:

How many years do you have until it is time for you to leave home?

What are some of your concerns about leaving your home and living somewhere new?

As class begins, invite a few students to respond to these questions. You might list some of their answers to the second question on the board. You may want to explain that even if students are not leaving home soon, they may have to face a similar circumstance, such as living in a new place, that could be challenging for them. Explain that near the end of his life, Joshua gave the Israelites counsel concerning what to do after he was gone. Invite students to look for principles, as they study Joshua 11–24, that can help them make the right choices as they become more independent.

Explain that the Israelites’ obtaining the promised land could be compared to when a young adult is preparing to leave home or live somewhere new. The Lord had brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, taken care of them in the wilderness, and prepared them to make and keep covenants. In Joshua 11 we read how the Israelites were able, with the Lord’s help, to possess the promised land.

Invite a student to read Joshua 11:23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Joshua did with the land Israel had conquered. Invite students to report what they find.

Ask students to turn to Bible Maps, no. 3, “The Division of the 12 Tribes” (in the Bible appendix) and look for how the promised land was divided among the tribes of Israel. Summarize Joshua 12–21 by explaining that Joshua gave each tribe an inheritance in the promised land and that the tabernacle was set up at a place called Shiloh (see Joshua 18:1). Explain that the Levites were not given a specific piece of land but were given 48 cities among each of the other tribes’ inheritances. This would allow the Levites to continue their priesthood service among the Israelites.

Invite a student to read Joshua 21:43–45 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for how the Lord had blessed the Israelites so far.

  • How had the Lord blessed the Israelites?

Explain that in Joshua 22, Joshua gave some parting advice to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. Invite a student to read Joshua 22:4–5 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for what Joshua told these tribes to do as they went to make their homes on the east side of the Jordan River.

  • What did Joshua counsel them to do?

Summarize Joshua 22:7–34 by explaining that when the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh traveled to their own lands, they built an altar to witness that Jehovah was their God.

Joshua 23

Joshua calls Israel together and warns them to not worship other gods but to cleave to the Lord

Write God and Israelites as column headings on the board. Summarize Joshua 23:1–2 by explaining that after several years of peace, Joshua had grown old, and so he gathered all of the Israelites together to counsel them.

Divide the class in half. Assign one half to read Joshua 23:3–11, looking for what Joshua said God had done and would continue to do for the Israelites. Assign the other half to read the same verses but to look for what Joshua counseled the Israelites to do. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find. (Note: You might want to explain that there were still remnants of the conquered nations in and around the promised land [see Joshua 23:5, 7].)

After two or three minutes, invite a few students to come to the board and write under the corresponding heading what they found in their verses. Their lists might be similar to the following:

God

Israelites

He fought and will continue to fight for Israel (verses 3, 5, 10).

He gave Israel land for an inheritance (verse 4).

He will expel the other nations from the land (verse 5).

He has kept and will continue to keep His promises to Israel (verses 5, 10).

Be very courageous (verse 6).

Keep the law of Moses (verse 6).

Don’t serve or worship other gods (verse 7).

Cleave unto the Lord (verse 8).

Love the Lord (verse 11).

Underline the word cleave in the list on the board. Explain that as it is used in verse 8, the word cleave means to cling, adhere, or be loyal to something or someone.

  • What behaviors or actions might you see in a person who is trying to cleave unto the Lord?

  • Whom do you know who is a good example of someone cleaving unto the Lord? How have you seen the Lord bless that person for being devoted to Him?

  • From what we have learned from Joshua 23:3–11, what can we do to have the Lord with us and strengthen us? (Students may identify a principle similar to the following: If we cleave unto the Lord and obey Him, then He will be with us and strengthen us.)

  • How can this principle be helpful to you as you prepare to leave home?

If possible, bring some thorns to class (or you could show a picture of thorns or draw one on the board).

branches with thorns

Ask students if they have ever “cleaved” to any thorns before. You might invite a couple of students to share an experience they have had with thorns. Then invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Joshua 23:12–16. Ask students to follow along, looking for who had the potential to be like thorns to the Israelites. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What consequences did Joshua say Israel would experience if they chose to serve or cleave unto other nations or gods?

  • From what we learn in these verses, what could happen to us if we cleave to other gods? (After students respond, consider writing the following principle on the board: If we cleave to other gods, we will bring negative consequences upon ourselves and lose the blessings of the Lord.)

  • How could this principle be a helpful warning to someone preparing to make important life choices?

  • What are some things people might cleave unto instead of the Lord? What could be some negative consequences or lost blessings for doing so?

Joshua 24

Before Joshua dies, he encourages Israel to serve the Lord

Ask students to think of someone in their lives who has done a lot for them and to write the person’s name in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Invite students to take 30 seconds and record a few things that person has done for them.

  • After doing this activity, how do you feel about that person?

Explain that we read in Joshua 24 that Joshua related to Israel the things God said He had done for them and their ancestors. Invite students to scan Joshua 24:2–13 silently, looking for things God had done for the Israelites. You might want to suggest that they mark each time the Lord used the word I. Invite a few students to report one way the Lord had helped Israel.

  • If you had been an ancient Israelite, what feelings might you have had toward God after being reminded of what He had done for you?

Invite a student to read Joshua 24:14–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Joshua’s invitation to Israel. Ask them to report what they find.

  • How do you think remembering what the Lord had done for them might have affected the Israelites’ determination to accept Joshua’s invitation?

  • How will remembering what the Lord has done for us affect our determination to love and serve Him? (Students may share a principle similar to the following: Remembering what God has done for us strengthens our resolve to love and serve Him.) Invite students to list in their class notebooks or scripture study journals some of the things the Lord has done for them.

Invite students to reread aloud, in unison, Joshua 24:15.

  • What might the phrase “this day” indicate about when we should choose to be devoted to the Lord? How would it bless you to make that choice earlier rather than later in life?

  • What phrase in this verse indicates that Joshua chose this path for himself, regardless of what others might choose? (“But as for me and my house.”)

  • What principle about agency can we learn from this verse? (Students’ responses may be similar to the following: We can choose to serve the Lord regardless of what others choose.)

  • What are some examples of situations in which it could be helpful to follow this principle?

  • When have you or someone you know chosen to follow the Lord regardless of what others chose to do?

Summarize Joshua 24:17–33 by explaining that the Israelites covenanted to serve the Lord. Joshua designated a great stone as a reminder of this covenant. The people served the Lord throughout the rest of Joshua’s life and for many years after.

Conclude today’s lesson by inviting students to share what they learned about how to show the Lord that they love Him and choose to follow Him.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Joshua 24:15

You may want to suggest that students mark the phrases “choose you this day whom ye will serve” and “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” in Joshua 24:15. Invite students to stand and repeat these phrases several times until they have them memorized.

  • Why is it important to make the decision to serve God today, instead of waiting until some future date?

Give each student a piece of paper. Then allow them a few minutes to create a poster that illustrates these phrases. Invite students to put their poster where they can see it daily to remind them to choose to serve God every day.

Commentary and Background Information

Joshua 24:15. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve”

President Howard W. Hunter explained Joshua’s conviction to serve the Lord regardless of others’ choices:

“After Israel had rested from the wars with their enemies, Joshua, who was now very old, called all Israel together. In his farewell address he reminded them they had been victorious because God had fought for them, but if they now ceased to serve the Lord and keep his law they would be destroyed. …

“This great military and spiritual leader then urged a commitment, and made one himself and for his family: ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ (Josh. 24:15.)

“Here was a great statement of full commitment of a man to God. … He was telling the Israelites that regardless of how they decided, he would do what he knew was right. He was saying that his decision to serve the Lord was independent of whatever they decided; that their actions would not affect his; that his commitment to do the Lord’s will would not be altered by anything they or anyone else would do. Joshua was firmly in control of his actions and had his eyes fixed on the commandments of the Lord. He was committed to obedience.

“Surely the Lord loves, more than anything else, an unwavering determination to obey his counsel. Surely the experiences of the great prophets of the Old Testament have been recorded to help us understand the importance of choosing the path of strict obedience” (“Commitment to God,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 58; see also Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, June 1976, 2–6).

President Thomas S. Monson shared how a picture in his office helps him remember Joshua’s declaration to choose to follow the Savior:

Jesus Christ

“Joshua of old declared, ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ [Joshua 24:15]. …

“… Positioned on the wall of my office, directly opposite my desk, is a lovely print of the Savior, painted by Heinrich Hofmann [see Jesus Christ, Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 1]. I love the painting, which I have had since I was a 22-year-old bishop and which I have taken with me wherever I have been assigned to labor. I have tried to pattern my life after the Master. Whenever I have a difficult decision to make, I have looked at that picture and asked myself, ‘What would He do?’ Then I try to do it. We can never go wrong when we choose to follow the Savior” (“Choose You This Day,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 67).