From Eternity Past


Chapter 46—The Blessings and the Curses

This chapter is based on Joshua 8.

After the execution of the sentence on Achan, Joshua was commanded to marshal all the men of war and again advance against Ai. The power of God was with His people, and they were soon in possession of the city. EP 355.1

The people were eager to obtain settlement in Canaan; as yet they had no homes or lands for their families, and to gain these they must drive out the Canaanites. But a higher duty demanded their first attention. They must renew their covenant of loyalty to God. EP 355.2

In the last instructions of Moses, directions had been given for a convocation upon Mounts Ebal and Gerizim at Shechem, for the recognition of the law of God. In obedience, the men, “the women and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them” left Gilgal and marched through the country of their enemies to the vale of Shechem, near the center of the land. Though surrounded by unconquered foes, “the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them” (Genesis 35:5), and the Hebrews were unmolested. EP 355.3

Here both Abraham and Jacob had pitched their tents. Here the latter bought the field in which the tribes were to bury the body of Joseph. Here also was the well that Jacob had dug. EP 355.4

The spot chosen was worthy to be the theater where this impressive scene was to be enacted. The lovely valley, its green fields dotted with olive groves, watered with brooks from living fountains, and hemmed with wild flowers, spread out invitingly between the barren hills. Ebal and Gerizim, upon opposite sides of the valley, nearly approach each other, their lower spurs seeming to form a natural pulpit, every word spoken on one being distinctly audible on the other. The mountainsides, receding, afford space for a vast assemblage. EP 355.5

A monument of great stones was erected upon Mount Ebal. Upon these stones, previously prepared by a covering of plaster, the law was inscribed—not only the ten precepts spoken from Sinai and engraved on tables of stone, but the law communicated to Moses and written in a book. Beside this monument was built an altar of unhewn stone upon which sacrifices were offered unto the Lord. Because of their transgressions of God's law, Israel had justly incurred His wrath, and it would be at once visited but for the atonement of Christ, represented by the altar of sacrifice. EP 356.1

Six tribes were stationed upon Mount Gerizim, the others on Ebal, the priests with the ark occupying the valley between. In the presence of this vast assembly, Joshua read the blessings that follow obedience to God's law. All the tribes on Gerizim responded, “Amen.” He then read the curses, and the tribes on Ebal in like manner gave their assent, thousands upon thousands of voices uniting in the solemn response. Following this came the reading of the law of God, together with the statutes and judgments delivered by Moses. EP 356.2

Israel had received the law from the mouth of God at Sinai, and its sacred precepts, written by His own hand, were preserved in the ark. Now it had been written again, where all could read for themselves the conditions of the covenant under which they were to hold possession of Canaan. It had not been many weeks since Moses gave the whole book of Deuteronomy in discourses to the people, yet now Joshua read the law again. EP 356.3

Not alone the men of Israel, but “all the women and the little ones” listened to the reading of the law, for it was important that they also should know and do their duty. Moses commanded: “At the end of every seven years, ... when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which He shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: and that their children, which have not known anything, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.” Deuteronomy 31:10-13. EP 356.4