This is Episode #71 and today we’ll read Joshua chapters 5-8 together. The infamous walls of Jericho come down and the Israelites are victorious. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite as well at Ai. Well…not the first time around.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #71 and today we’ll read Joshua chapters 5-8 together. The infamous walls of Jericho come down and the Israelites are victorious. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite as well at Ai. Well…not the first time around.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Joshua Chapter 5
Circumcision of the Israelites
When all the Amorite kings across the Jordan to the west and all the Canaanite kings near the sea heard how the Lord had dried up the water of the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, they lost heart and their courage failed because of the Israelites.
At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelite men again.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelite men at Gibeath-haaraloth. This is the reason Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males — all the men of war — had died in the wilderness along the way after they had come out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out were circumcised, none of the people born in the wilderness along the way were circumcised after they had come out of Egypt.
For the Israelites wandered in the wilderness forty years until all the nation’s men of war who came out of Egypt had died off because they did not obey the Lord. So the Lord vowed never to let them see the land he had sworn to their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. He raised up their sons in their place; it was these Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised, since they had not been circumcised along the way. After the entire nation had been circumcised, they stayed where they were in the camp until they recovered. The Lord then said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.” Therefore, that place is still called Gilgal today.
Food from the Land
While the Israelites camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month. The day after Passover they ate unleavened bread and roasted grain from the produce of the land. And the day after they ate from the produce of the land, the manna ceased. Since there was no more manna for the Israelites, they ate from the crops of the land of Canaan that year.
Commander of the Lord’s Army
When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua approached him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied. “I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.”
Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in homage and asked him, “What does my lord want to say to his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did that.
Joshua Chapter 6
The Conquest of Jericho
Now Jericho was strongly fortified because of the Israelites — no one leaving or entering. The Lord said to Joshua, “Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its best soldiers over to you. March around the city with all the men of war, circling the city one time. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry seven ram’s-horn trumpets in front of the ark. But on the seventh day, march around the city seven times, while the priests blow the ram’s horns. When there is a prolonged blast of the horn and you hear its sound, have all the troops give a mighty shout. Then the city wall will collapse, and the troops will advance, each man straight ahead.”
So Joshua son of Nun summoned the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and have seven priests carry seven ram’s horns in front of the ark of the Lord.” He said to the troops, “Move forward, march around the city, and have the armed men go ahead of the ark of the Lord.”
After Joshua had spoken to the troops, seven priests carrying seven ram’s horns before the Lord moved forward and blew the ram’s horns; the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. While the ram’s horns were blowing, the armed men went in front of the priests who blew the ram’s horns, and the rear guard went behind the ark. But Joshua had commanded the troops, “Do not shout or let your voice be heard. Don’t let one word come out of your mouth until the time I say, ‘Shout!’ Then you are to shout.” So the ark of the Lord was carried around the city, circling it once. They returned to the camp and spent the night there.
The Wall Collapsed
Joshua got up early the next morning. The priests took the ark of the Lord, and the seven priests carrying seven ram’s horns marched in front of the ark of the Lord. While the ram’s horns were blowing, the armed men went in front of them, and the rear guard went behind the ark of the Lord. On the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
Early on the seventh day, they started at dawn and marched around the city seven times in the same way. That was the only day they marched around the city seven times. After the seventh time, the priests blew the ram’s horns, and Joshua said to the troops, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. But the city and everything in it are set apart to the Lord for destruction.
“Only Rahab the prostitute and everyone with her in the house will live, because she hid the messengers we sent. But keep yourselves from the things set apart, or you will be set apart for destruction. If you take any of those things, you will set apart the camp of Israel for destruction and make trouble for it. For all the silver and gold, and the articles of bronze and iron, are dedicated to the Lord and must go into the Lord’s treasury.”
So the troops shouted, and the ram’s horns sounded. When they heard the blast of the ram’s horn, the troops gave a great shout, and the wall collapsed. The troops advanced into the city, each man straight ahead, and they captured the city. They completely destroyed everything in the city with the sword — every man and woman, both young and old, and every ox, sheep, and donkey.
Rahab and Her Family Spared
Joshua said to the two men who had scouted the land, “Go to the prostitute’s house and bring the woman out of there, and all who are with her, just as you swore to her.” So the young men who had scouted went in and brought out Rahab and her father, mother, brothers, and all who belonged to her. They brought out her whole family and settled them outside the camp of Israel.
They burned the city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. However, Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, her father’s family, and all who belonged to her, because she hid the messengers Joshua had sent to spy on Jericho, and she still lives in Israel today.
At that time Joshua imposed this curse:
The man who undertakes
the rebuilding of this city, Jericho,
is cursed before the Lord.
He will lay its foundation
at the cost of his firstborn;
he will finish its gates
at the cost of his youngest.
And the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.
Joshua Chapter 7
Defeat at Ai
The Israelites, however, were unfaithful regarding the things set apart for destruction. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of what was set apart, and the Lord’s anger burned against the Israelites.
Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and scout the land.” So the men went up and scouted Ai.
After returning to Joshua they reported to him, “Don’t send all the people, but send about two thousand or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since the people of Ai are so few, don’t wear out all our people there.” So about three thousand men went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai. The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of them and chased them from outside the city gate to the quarries, striking them down on the descent. As a result, the people lost heart.
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord until evening, as did the elders of Israel; they all put dust on their heads. “Oh, Lord God,” Joshua said, “why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies? When the Canaanites and all who live in the land hear about this, they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. Then what will you do about your great name?”
Israel Has Sinned
The Lord then said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why have you fallen facedown? Israel has sinned. They have violated my covenant that I appointed for them. They have taken some of what was set apart. They have stolen, deceived, and put those things with their own belongings. This is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. They will turn their backs and run from their enemies, because they have been set apart for destruction. I will no longer be with you unless you remove from among you what is set apart.
“Go and consecrate the people. Tell them to consecrate themselves for tomorrow, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are things that are set apart among you, Israel. You will not be able to stand against your enemies until you remove what is set apart. In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord selects is to come forward clan by clan. The clan the Lord selects is to come forward family by family. The family the Lord selects is to come forward man by man. The one who is caught with the things set apart must be burned, along with everything he has, because he has violated the Lord’s covenant and committed an outrage in Israel.”
Joshua got up early the next morning. He had Israel come forward tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was selected. He had the clans of Judah come forward, and the Zerahite clan was selected. He had the Zerahite clan come forward by heads of families, and Zabdi was selected. He then had Zabdi’s family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was selected.
So Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make a confession to him. I urge you, tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me.”
Achan replied to Joshua, “It is true. I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, five pounds of silver, and a bar of gold weighing a pound and a quarter, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the silver under the cloak.” So Joshua sent messengers who ran to the tent, and there was the cloak, concealed in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took the things from inside the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and spread them out in the Lord’s presence.
Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the cloak, and the bar of gold, his sons and daughters, his ox, donkey, and sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and brought them up to the Valley of Achor. Joshua said, “Why have you brought us trouble? Today the Lord will bring you trouble!” So all Israel stoned them to death. They burned their bodies, threw stones on them, and raised over him a large pile of rocks that remains still today. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore that place is called the Valley of Achor still today.
Joshua Chapter 8
Conquest of Ai
The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all the troops with you and go attack Ai. Look, I have handed over to you the king of Ai, his people, city, and land. Treat Ai and its king as you did Jericho and its king, except that you may plunder its spoil and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”
So Joshua and all the troops set out to attack Ai. Joshua selected thirty thousand of his best soldiers and sent them out at night. He commanded them, “Pay attention. Lie in ambush behind the city, not too far from it, and all of you be ready. Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out against us as they did the first time, we will flee from them. They will come after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us as before.’
“While we are fleeing from them, you are to come out of your ambush and seize the city. The Lord your God will hand it over to you. After taking the city, set it on fire. Follow the Lord’s command — see that you do as I have ordered you.” So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the ambush site and waited between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai. But he spent that night with the troops.
Joshua started early the next morning and mobilized them. Then he and the elders of Israel led the people up to Ai. All the troops who were with him went up and approached the city, arriving opposite Ai, and camped to the north of it, with a valley between them and the city. Now Joshua had taken about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. The troops were stationed in this way: the main camp to the north of the city and its rear guard to the west of the city. And that night Joshua went into the valley.
When the king of Ai saw the Israelites, the men of the city hurried and went out early in the morning so that he and all his people could engage Israel in battle at a suitable place facing the Arabah. But he did not know there was an ambush waiting for him behind the city. Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten back by them and fled toward the wilderness. Then all the troops of Ai were summoned to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel, leaving the city exposed while they pursued Israel.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Hold out the javelin in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the city over to you.” So Joshua held out his javelin toward it. When he held out his hand, the men in ambush rose quickly from their position. They ran, entered the city, captured it, and immediately set it on fire.
Ai Struck Down
The men of Ai turned and looked back, and smoke from the city was rising to the sky! They could not escape in any direction, and the troops who had fled to the wilderness now became the pursuers. When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that smoke was rising from it, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. Then men in ambush came out of the city against them, and the men of Ai were trapped between the Israelite forces, some on one side and some on the other. They struck them down until no survivor or fugitive remained, but they captured the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.
When Israel had finished killing everyone living in Ai who had pursued them into the open country, and when every last one of them had fallen by the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the sword. The total of those who fell that day, both men and women, was twelve thousand — all the people of Ai. Joshua did not draw back his hand that was holding the javelin until all the inhabitants of Ai were completely destroyed. Israel plundered only the cattle and spoil of that city for themselves, according to the Lord’s command that he had given Joshua.
Joshua burned Ai and left it a permanent ruin, still desolate today. He hung the body of the king of Ai on a tree until evening, and at sunset Joshua commanded that they take his body down from the tree. They threw it down at the entrance of the city gate and put a large pile of rocks over it, which still remains today.
Renewed Commitment to the Law
At that time Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal to the Lord, the God of Israel, just as Moses the Lord’s servant 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 has been used. Then they offered burnt offerings to the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings on it. There on the stones, Joshua copied the law of Moses, which he had written in the presence of the Israelites.
All Israel — resident alien and citizen alike — with their elders, officers, and judges, stood on either side of the ark of the Lord’s covenant facing the Levitical priests who carried it. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the Lord’s servant had commanded earlier concerning blessing the people of Israel. Afterward, Joshua read aloud all the words of the law — the blessings as well as the curses — according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read before the entire assembly of Israel, including the women, the dependents, and the resident aliens who lived among them.
Okay…I don’t think we have to think long or hard about the lesson that God is conveying here. Here’s the question: If a bunch of people march around a city and shout at the top of their lungs and the walls fall down, who made the walls fall down – the shouters or God? Anyone? Anyone? We tell the kids in Sunday school that a miracle is something only God can do. When He creates a ridiculous situation like shouting down walls, He doesn’t want there to be any question as to Who’s in control. The last part of the first chapter of 1 Corinthians tells us that the only boasting we should do is in the Lord. Share your thoughts with me at Lifting Her Voice.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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