Joshua 1-3

The book of Joshua opens immediately after the book Deuteronomy, with the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan and having just mourned the death of Moses. God commands Joshua to get the people ready to cross the Jordan, and tells him the boundaries of the land he is giving the Israelites. He also tells him not to "let this Book of hte Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night...then you will be prosperous and successful." He tells him that he, the LORD, will be with him wherever he goes. Joshua ordered the officer to go through the camp and prepare the people to depart, and they did so. This included the men of the Reubenites, Gadites and Manasseh who were taking the land on the east side of the Jordan.

In chapter two, Joshua sends two spies into the land, "especially Jericho," and they "entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there." The king of Jericho had been warned that there were Israelite spies, but when he sent a message to Rahab, she hid the spies in the flax on her roof and told the men of Jericho that they had left, and encouraged them to chase "quickly" and they might "catch up with them." That night she told the spies that she knew that the Lord had given the promised land to the Israelites, and that "a great fear of you has fallen on us...all who live in this country are melting in fear." She pleaded with them to swear by the Lord that she and her family would be spared, and they agreed as long as she didn't tell anyone. She let them down out of the city on a rope through a window, and tied a scarlet cord in the window as a sign of protection. After three days of hiding in the hills, the spies went back to Joshua and told him "everything that had happened to them" and that "all the people are melting in fear."

Joshua and the people moved and camped at the edge of the Jordan from three days and then prepared to cross into the promised land. The priests took the ark of the covenant, at Joshua's bidding, and went ahead of the people. As soon as the priests carrying the ark stepped into the Jordan, the LORD stopped the waters, so that they "piled up in a heap a great distance away...while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah was completely cut off." The priests with the ark stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all of the nation crossed over.

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Joshua 4-6

Chapter four of Joshua tells how the Israelites made a pile of stones after they crossed the Jordan. The Lord told Joshua to have one man of each tribe take a stone from where the priests stood in the middle of the river and carry it to the campground. There, they would pile the stones as a sign, and to tell their children that "the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD...and they are there to this day." When all had been done and everyone had crossed, the priests walked out of the river and "the waters of the Jordan returned to their place." They set the stons up at Gilgal.

In chapter five, the Lord commanded Joshua to make flint knives "and circumcise the Israelites again." The generation of men of military age who came out of Egypt had all died off, and they had all been circumcised, but the men born in the desert had not been. The LORD told Joshua to have them all circumcised, and he did, and they "remained where they were in camp until they were healed." After they celebrated the passover, while camped at Gilgal, they ate some of the produce of the land and "the manna stopped the day afgter they ate this food from the land." As Joshua neared Jericho, he saw a man with a drawn sword and asked if he was "for us or for our enemies?" The man replied that he was the "commander of the army of the LORD." Joshua fell facedown and asked what the message was, and was told to "take off your sandals, for theplace where you are standing is holy."

In chapter six, the Israelites take Jericho. Following the LORD's instructions, they marched around the city blowing the trumpets for six days, once per day. On the seventh day, they marched around seven times and then blew the trumpes while all of the poeple gave a loud shout, and "the wall collapsed." The Israelites "destroyed with the sword every living thing in itómen and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys." But the spies who had gone in to the promised land earlier went to the house of Rahab and brought her out, "her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her," so that they were spared while the rest of the city was destroyed. Then they "burned the whole city and everything in it" though they put the silver and gold and bronze in "the treasury of the LORD's house."

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Joshua 7-9

Joshua chapter seven describes the aftermath of the battle of Jericho. One of the Israelites, Achan (of the tribe of Judah) took "some of the devoted things...so the LORD's anger burned against Israel." Joshua, not knowing this, sent men to Ai to "spy out the region" and they returned saying that only a few men were there and two or three thousand Israelites would be sufficient to take the city. But when three thousand went, they were routed and chased away. Joshua "tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD" and asked the LORD why he had let them cross the Jordan. The LORD told him to stand, and told him that Israel had violated the covenant by taking some of the "devoted things" and that he would not be with them anymore unless they destroyed them. The LORD told Joshua to have the people consecrate themselves, and that could not "stand against your enemies" until they removed the "devoted things." The next morning, they went through the tribes and identified Achan as the man who had taken them, and he admitted that he had taken "a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels" and hidden them under his tent. Joshua sent messengers to get the things, and they returned with them, and then they took the things and Achan and "his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had" our to the valley of Achor, where they stoned them all and burned everything. "Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger."

In chapter eight, the Israelites destroy the city of Ai. The LORD told Joshua not to be afraid or discourages, "and go up and attack Ai." Joshua sent thirty thousand men out to set an ambush behind the city during the night and then marched on the city the next morning. The king of Ai saw the approaching army and moved out to mee them in battle "at a certain place overlooking the Arabah." Joshua and his men let themselves be driven back and fled into the desert, with "all the men of Ai" chasing them. Then the LORD told Joshua to hold his spear out towards the city, and the men waiting in ambush rushed into the city and set it afire. The men of Ai saw the smoke, but "had no chance to escape in any direction, for the Israelites who had been fleeing toward the desert had turned back against their pursuers." The Israelites surrounded them and "cut them down, leaving them neither survivors nor fugitives." They destroyed the city, carried off the livestock and plunder, and burned the remains, leaving "a permanent heap of ruins." The king of Ai was "hung...on a tree," and then his body was thrown in the entrance of the city gate and a large pile of rocks raised on it "which remains to this day." Then they build an altar to the LORD on Mount Ebal and Joshua read "all the words of the law - the blessings and the curses" to "the whole assembly of Israel."

In chapter nine, the Gibeonites did not join the other tribes in making war against Joshua and the Israelites. "All the kings west of the Jordan" heard what had happened to Jericho and Ai, and "came together to make ware against Joshua and Israel." But the Gibeonites "resorted to a ruse." They dressed as if they had traveled a long way and went as a delegation to Gilgal and asked to make a treaty. The Israelites wanted to know where they came from even after they told them that they would be their servants. The Gibeonites told them that they had traveled "from a very distant country" because they had heard "of the fame of the LORD your God," including what he had done in Egypt and in the lands on the east side of the Jordan. Joshua made a treaty of peace to let them live "and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath." Just three days later they discovered that they were neighbors, and set out for their cities, but didn't attack "because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the LORD, the God of Israel." The people of Israel "grumbled" but the leaders asserted that they had given their oath by the LORD "and we cannot touch them now." Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and berated them for their deception, and told them that they were "now under a curse: You will never cease to serve as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God." The Gibeonites told him that they had feared for their lives and were now in Israel's hands. So they did not kill the Gibeonites, who were made "woodcutters and water carriers for the community and for the altar of the LORD...And that is what they are to this day."

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Joshua 10-12

In chapter 10, Adoni-Zedek, the king of Jerusalem, saw what had happened to Ai and Jericho and Gibeon, and joined with four other kings of the Amorites, the kings of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon, to attack Gibeon "because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites." When the attack began, the Gibeonites sent word to Joshua at Gilgal, saying "do not abandon your servants." Joshua gathered his entire army and marched up from Gilgal, and the LORD said to him, "I have given them into your hand." The Israelites marched all night and took the five kings and their troops by surprise. They "cut them down allthe way to Azekah and Makkedah" and the LORD sent hailstones down on them which killed even more of them than the Israelite swords had. At the defeat of the Amorites, Joshua "said to the LORD in the presence of Israel" to let the sun "stand still over Gibeon...so the sun stood still...till the nation avenged itself on its enemies." After Joshua returned with the Israelites to Gilgal, he was told that the five kings of the Amorites had hidden in a cave a Makkedah. He said to cover the mouth of the cave with large rocks and guard it, and to pursue and kill the rest of the Amorites "for the LORD your God has given them into your hand." After destroying the armies, they brought out the five kings and Joshua killed them and "hung them on five trees." At sunset, they took the bodies down, threw them into the cave and covered the entrance with large rocks. And "Joshua took Makkedah...he left no survivors."

Joshua "an all Israel" move from Makkedah to Libnah, Lachish, to Eglon, to Hebron and to Debir, and in each city, "they totally destroyed it and everyone in it." "Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon. All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel."

In chapter 11, a similar scenario plays out with the northern kingdoms. Jabin, king of Hazor, many other kings of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites and Jebusites to fight against Israel, but the LORD told Joshua not to be afraid. So Joshua and his whole army attacked them at the Waters of Merom, and "the LORD gave them into the hand of Israel." "Joshua took all these royal cities and their kings and put them to the sword. He totally destroyed them...Joshua took this entire land: the hill country, all the Negev, the whole region of Goshen, the western foothills, the Arabah and the mountains of Israel with their foothills, from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, to Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon." Then the land rested. And in chapter 12, there is a list of the kings and cities that the Israelites under Moses and then Joshua took in the conquest of the promised land.

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Joshua 13-15

At the end of chapter 12, the land was resting from the wars of the conquest. As chapter 13 opens, Joshua is "old and well advanced in years" and the LORD told him that "there are still very large areas of land to be taken over," including the regions held by the Philistines and Geshurites. The LORD tells him that "I myself will drive them out before the Israelites." The rest of chapter 13, as well as chapters 14 and 15, begins to outline, in detail, the allotment and division of the land, starting with Rueben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh on the east side of the Jordan.

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Joshua 16-18

In this section, the division of the land continues. The first allotment discussed is that for Ephraim and Manasseh, the half tribes of Joseph. Manasseh was on the east side of the Jordan, Ephraim was in the promised land on the west. The division continued, with details on the boundaries and towns within different parts of the division. The division continued with Judah in the south, Joseph in the north, and the areas between to be determined by lots, and chapter 18 describes the portion of Benjamin in detail.

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Joshua 19-21

In chapter 19, they finish dividing up the land, apportioning areas and towns to Simeon (which actually was within the territory of Judah, which had more than they need), Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Dan. Finally, Joshua was given Timnath Serah "in the hill country of Ephraim." In chapter 20, they set aside "Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah" as sanctuary cities, as well as "Bezer in the desert on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh" on the east side of the Jordan. And in chapter 21 they allotted cities and pastureland to the descendants of Levi, the Kohathites, Gershonites and Merarites. They gave them forty-eight towns in all, each with the pasturelands surrounding it.

"So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled."

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Joshua 22-24

After having divided the land, in chapter 22 the Israelites and Joshua say good-bye to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who have taken their land on the east side of the Jordan. They had promised to participate in the conquest, and they had done so and returned home with Joshua's blessing, and admonition to keep the law of the LORD. As those tribes leave Israel, they stopped and "built an imposing altar there by the Jordan." When the rest of the Israelites heard this, they prepared to go to war against them. They sent Phinehas the priest to talk to them, along with a delegation of leaders for each remaining tribe, to ask how they could "break faith with the God of Israel...[and] turn away from the LORD." They responded that they hadn't built the altar out of rebellion and had no intention of using it for burnt offerings or sacrifices, but to act "as a witness between us and you and the generations that follow." So Phinehas and the others returned and praised God. "And the Reubenites and the Gadites gave the altar this name: A Witness Between Us that the LORD is God."

In chapter 23, Joshua prepares "to go the way of all the earth," and calls the leaders of Israel together for farewells and admonitions, telling them to "obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left." Then, in chapter 24, he assemled "all the tribes of Israel at Shechem" and they renewed the covenant. Joshua recites for the Israelites the litany of the children of Abraham, how the LORD brought them out of bondages, how they wandered in the desert and how he had led them in the conquest and given them the promised land. He implores them to "fear the LORD and serve him with all fathfulness." He tells them they must choose who they will serve, but "as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." The people cried that they would also serve the LORD, and when Joshua warned that they would fail and he would not "forgive your rebellion and your sin," they still cried that they would serve the LORD, at which point Joshua said that they were witnesses against themselves, and they agreed. Then Joshua "drew up for them decrees and laws...and recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God." Joshua died at 110 years old and was buried in his inheritance at Timnath Serah, and Joseph's bones were buried at Shechem, and Eleazet diead and was buried at Gibeah.

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