Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, and in Egypt; and serve you the LORD.
Read Chapter 24
George Leo Haydock
The gods. Some still retained in their hearts an affection for these idols, though privately; (Calmet) so that Josue could not convict them, or bring them to condign punishment; as no doubt he, and Moses before him, would have done, if they had been apprized of any overt act of idolatry. Amos (v. 26,) says, You carried a tabernacle for your Moloch and the image of your idols, which is confirmed by Ezechiel xxiii. 3, 8., and Acts vii. 42. For these acts many of the people were punished, (Numbers xxv. 3, 9,) and the rest were either sincerely converted, or took care to hide their impiety till after the death of Josue. Yet the secret inclination of many was still corrupt; and these no sooner found a proper opportunity than they relapsed repeatedly into the worship of idols, for which reason the prophets represent their disposition as criminal from their youth. (Haydock)
St. Augustine (q. 29,) cannot think that the people, who are so often praised for their fidelity during the administration of Josue and of the ancients, (chap. xxii. 2., and xxiii. 3, 8., and xxiv. 31,) and who had testified such zeal against every appearance of idolatry in Ruben, (chap. xxii.) should be themselves infected with this deadly poison. He therefore supposes that Josue exhorts them to repent, if any of them should have retained a predilection for the worship of their ancestors in Mesopotamia, and in Egypt, (Calmet) which, by the prophetic light he saw, was secretly the case. (Worthington)
Yet, though the great majority was clear of this crime, it seems many concealed from their leaders their secret attachment to it, ver. 23; (Calmet) or if they were sincere, for a time, their former bad habits soon gained the ascendancy, and involved them in perdition. (Haydock)
Fathers. He does not exempt Abraham, and the Jews acknowledge that he was once an idolater, which is the opinion of St. Ephrem, of the author of the Recognitions, B. i., and of many moderns; some of whom think that St. Paul gives him the epithet of impious, or ungodly, on that account, Romans iv. 5. The idolatry of the Hebrews in Egypt, is no less certain than that of their ancestors in Mesopotamia, Ezechiel xxiii. 2, 8, 27. (Calmet)