Israel's total annihilation of Jericho and Ai had the strategic military effect of cutting Canaan in two.
There would be a northern campaign and a southern campaign but, as we shall see in our study this
morning, there would be yet another "pause" in the conquest of the Promised Land. This time the
entire nation -- not just the "mighty men of valor" -- would travel some twenty miles north to the city
of Shechem, situated between the "twin peaks" of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. God had given
His people great victory and, in the midst of this good success, it was important that they keep them-
selves spiritually focused.
God's people today, too, need to remember to remain focused spiritually. Our lives are so busy; our
personal agendas so filled with business, and household chores, and errands, and recreation, and
coming and going that we often overlook our basic spiritual needs, one of the most important of
which is solitude with God -- the stilling of all worldly activity for the purpose of worshipping and
listening to God. Perhaps we can learn some important lessons in this regard from our study of
Israel's journey to the valley of Shechem.
1. The account recorded here is so matter-of-fact that we might easily miss it. Very simply:
a. The nation of Israel arrives at Mount E __ __ __ and Mount G __ __ __ __ __ __.
b. An a __ __ __ __ is built by Joshua on Mount Ebal.
(1) The altar is made of u __ __ __ __ stones.
(2) B __ __ __ __ offerings are sacrificed.
(3) P __ __ __ __ ("fellowship") offerings are sacrificed.
"These same offerings were offered when Israel first received the Law at Mount
Sinai (Exodus 20:24). The Mount Ebal event was a renewal and reminder of the
covenant made at Sinai.
Burnt offerings were given wholly to God through fire. They were atonement for
unintentional sin in general and an expression of devotion, commitment and com-
plete surrender to God. Fellowship offerings included a communal meal with the
sacrifice. They expressed the relationship of peace and wholeness with God and
fellow Israelites that the atonement sacrifice restored. They were acts of thanks-
giving and joy."
( Navigators' "Life Change Commentary," Joshua, p. 90 )
c. The Law of Moses is written on "the stones."
d. The nation divided itself into two parts -- one half stood on Mount Ebal and the other half
on Mount Gerizim -- while the priests and elders stood between the two mountains with the
a __ __ of the c __ __ __ __ __ __ __, which all the people faced.
e. Joshua stood on Mount Ebal and read "all the words of the Law, the blessings and the
cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law." (v.34)
(1) "Ebal and Gerizim are about a mile and a half apart at the top but only about five
hundred yards apart at the bottom. Gerizim reaches to approximately 2,895 feet
above sea level, Ebal to 3,077 feet. This means that Gerizim stands about 800 feet
above the valley and Ebal about 1,000 feet. The names Gerizim and Ebal have the
same meaning: barren.
There are two interesting things about these mountains. First, from the top of Ebal
or Gerizim we can see a great deal of the promised land. Second, at one place a
natural amphitheater exists and as we stand on the top or on the sides of these
mountains, we can see and hear everything that is occurring on both of the mountains
and in the valley below. Through the years many people have tested this. They have
stood on one of the mountains and had other people stand on other parts of the two
mountains or in the valley. As they read something in a loud voice but without
amplification, the other persons were able to hear all that was spoken. It is God's
( Francis A. Scaeffer: Joshua and Flow of Biblical History )
(2) Note that the entire nation is gathered together before the Lord, "...with the women,
the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them." (v.35)
2. V.31 reminds us that all this had been commanded long before by M __ __ __ __, as it is
recorded in Deuteronomy 27-28. Let us turn back to those chapters to learn more details of
this remarkable ceremony.
a. 27:1-8 explains that two structures were to be built on Mount Ebal:
(1) an altar of uncut stones for the sacrifice of two kinds of offerings, and
(2) a plaster-covered stone monument on which was to be inscribed the Law.
b. The peculiar arranging of the tribes is outlined in 27:11-13.