Joshua Reads the Law

Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses – an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the LORD burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses.

Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law – the blessings and the curses – just as it is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.

Joshua 8:30-32, 34-35

A couple of things I thought of when I read this and imagined it:  1) they must have stood there a long time, and, 2) considering how large the group of people was (half the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half in front of Mount Ebal v.33), how did everyone hear what was said?

I would imagine that people had to pass the message along among themselves somewhat, and that the occasional crying baby or mischievous children wouldn’t have helped.  There were no loudspeakers available or comfy seating.  Copies of the law were not passed out among the population like there may have been today. They couldn’t go and visit a website for clarification or translation if Hebrew wasn’t their first language.  And even if there had been it wouldn’t help if you’re illiterate. Except for those words in stone, it was based on word of mouth and memory.  If you forgot something, or didn’t understand, you would have to go to the right person and ask.

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