C Jericho & Ai
The battle of Jericho
1: Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. 2: And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 3: And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4: And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. 5: And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. 6: And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD. 7: And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD. 8: And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. 9: And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 10: And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. 11: So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp. 12: And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13: And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 14: And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. 15: And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. 16: And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. 17: And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18: And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19: But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD. 20: So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21: And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. 22: But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. 23: And the young men that were spies went in, and brought Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. 24: And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25: And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. 26: And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it. 27: So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.
The sin of Achan
1: But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. 2: And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. 3: And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. 4: So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. 5: And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. 6: And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. 7: And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! 8: O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! 9: For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? 10: And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 11: Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. 12: Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 13: Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. 14: In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man. 15: And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel. 16: So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: 17: And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: 18: And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19: And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. 20: And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 21: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. 22: So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. 23: And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. 24: And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. 25: And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. 26: And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.
The battle of Ai
1: And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land: 2: And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it. 3: So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night. 4: And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready: 5: And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, 6: (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them. 7: Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. 8: And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you. 9: Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people. 10: And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11: And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai. 12: And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 13: And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley. 14: And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city. 15: And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 16: And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city. 17: And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel. 18: And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city. 19: And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire. 20: And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers. 21: And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai. 22: And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape. 23: And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua. 24: And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword. 25: And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai. 26: For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27: Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua. 28: And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day. 29: And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.
D Victory in the south
Joshua reads the Law on Mt Ebal
30: Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal, 31: As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32: And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. 33: And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34: And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35: There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.
In todays Bible reading we have a record of the two must import battles of the invasion of Canaan, Jericho and Ai. Between these two victories we have the sad incident of the sin of Achan. Then from ch 8 onward we have the ongoing development of the campaigns of Joshua beginning with the reading of the Law on Mt Ebal. Coming back to the battle of Jericho the city was besieged – nobody went in or out. Then the Lord appeared to Joshua to give him the battle plan. This was probably the most strange battle plan ever put forward. First the Lord assured Joshua that the enemy has been contained and delivered into his hand. It’s interesting that in the battles of Joshua he was extraordinarily faithful to follow exactly the plan that the Lord put forward. It is true that after the battle of Jericho the sin of Achan caused the next battle to falter. But this was as a result of a secret sin that Joshua was completely unaware of. Joshua dealt with this problem and then turned an initial reversal into a complete victory at Ai. One immediately sees the use of the number seven appearing. The children of Israel will walk around the city for seven days. Seven men will carry before the Ark of the Covenant seven rams horns blowing on them. And on the seventh day the people will encircle the city seven times and when they hear the seven rams horns they will give a great shout and the wall of the city will fall down flat. The city being completely surrounds will be attack straight forward from every side. Suffice to say that the battle went on exactly as planned and the whole city was taken but Joshua told the two spies to rescue Rahad the harlot and her household. Joshua gave strict instructions that everyone was to be put to the sword and that all the precious things were devoted to the Lord. They were to be brought into the treasury. (Archaeologists say that the city was built on stone but with a timber palisade. If this is true then it would explain how ‘the wall’ could fall ‘flat’. We also read that the city was burnt with fire which indicates at lot of timber.) Rahab’s parents, brothers and the extended family initially, were outside the camp. Only later were they brought into the nation of Israel. Then Joshua cursed the man who would rebuild city, He said he will lay the foundation on the death of his firstborn and the death of his youngest son the gates of the city. Then we have a great big BUT. But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the cursed things, because Achan took something that was devoted to the Lord to himself. He stole from the Lord. The anger of the Lord was kindled against the Whole nation yet it was unknown until they faced defeat in battle. Joshua sent a small force to view the country around Ai. The report was that they city was small and that a few thousand would easily conquer it. But they had a shock when 36 men were killed by the inhabitants of Ai. Joshua tore his clothes and fell on his face before the Ark of the Covenant until the evening. Then Joshua spoke to the Lord and tells the Lord all his fears. The LORD spoke to him saying, Get up – Israel has sinned!! The secret of Israel’s success was not stratedgy but their relationship with their God. And when Israel sins their God will not be with them. The sin of Achan was discovered and confessed and the judgment of God came upon him and all his family. They took him to the valley of Achor and stoned him there and burnt him and built over him a great pile of stones which remain to this day – says the writer and so the sin of Achan was removed and the people were restored, to the Lord their God. It’s interesting as an aside that The NT Church also had exactly the same issue right at the start concerning those things that were devoted to the Lord but held back. The same judgment fell on Anianas and Saphirra as on Achan. The next battle was for the city of AI. The LORD spoke to Joshua to encourage him and give him the battle plan. This battle plan according to Viscount BL Montgommery was the great tactical battle of all history. Having all the features of a master plan. Surprise, secrecy, resisting enemy counterattack, feint, control and resulted in total victory. Ai was to be totally destroyed but the cattle was to be spoil this time. The first thing was that 30,000 (Ten times as many as in the previous encounter) mighty men of valour were sent at night to the rear of the city to lie in wait. Then the children of Israel approached the city in the open plain. When the people of the city saw them they came out of the city to chase them leaving no one in the city. The children of Israel were to retreat into the open plain (leading them to the chosen ground of battle) Then the mighty men who lay in wait entered the city and burnt it. At the same time another small force of 5,000 blocked the western route to prevent another enemy from coming to the rescue of AI. Then Joshua performed one of the most amazing military feats of history he turned the retreating force around to face the enemy and at that moment the mighty men came out of the city to close in on the men of Ai in a pincer movement. The men of Ai were completely exposed and attacked on both sides and fell in battle at the very place of Joshua’s choosing. 12,000 died of Ai that day and the king who was captured alive was hung on a tree and after he was dead they cut him down and buried him under a huge pile of stones which remained to this day - The writer’s day. Then Joshua moved up into the central highlands of Canaan. But first he gathered all the people and read the law to them. And he did this in Mt Ebal. Which was in Samaria near to Sycar. Mt Ebal lookes out south over a valley with Mt Gerizim on the other side. Joshua built an altar of stones and offered burnt and peace offerings. And he wrote the law on the stones there. All the law was read including the blessings and the curses. We see from the battle of Jericho that the people of God are able to have an outstanding victory over huge obstacles if they only walk with God. At the battle of Ai we see that it’s possible to turn defeat into victory. It is accomplished by a might work done in the secret place and weakness displayed in public.