The book of Joshua tells of the Jews’ escape from Egypt under the guidance
of Joshua, the son of Nun and Moses’ minister. After Moses’ death, the Lord
commands Joshua to take the children of Israel over the river Jordan and into
the “promised land”, fulfilling the promise already made to Moses before his
death. At the Lord’s command, Joshua prepares his people for the
forthcoming move. The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribes of
Manasseh already live on the east banks of the Jordan, on land given them by
the Lord through Moses. The women and children are to stay there while the
men, who immediately vow allegiance to Joshua, go to battle. Joshua then
sends two messengers as spies to Jericho. They shelter in the home of Rahab,
a prostitute. The King of Jericho hears of these spies and demands Rahab
betray them. Instead, she hides the two men among stalks of flax on the roof.
When the King’s men arrive and question her, Rahab insists the spies are
gone and the King’s men leave on a wild goose chase. Later, Rahab tells
Joshua’s messengers that Jericho’s citizens are afraid after hearing about the
destruction of the Amorite Kings, Sihon and Og and how the Lord dried up
the Red sea for him. In return for her aid she asks that her family, all their
property and their souls must be delivered from death. The two men vouch
for her safety and that of her family and property and swear her to secrecy.
They tell her to tie a red cord in the window and that every person of her
household must hide inside when the Israelites arrive. The messengers return
to Joshua and report their adventure.
The following morning, Joshua gathers his men by the Jordan River where
they stay for three days. At the end of this time, Joshua directs the sons of
Israel to move as soon as they see the Levite priests carrying the ark of the
covenant. Then, according to Jehovah, just as the soles of the priests’ feet
carrying the ark of Jehovah stand in the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will
rise forming a dam on either side and the people will pass the ark of Jehovah
on dry land. This done, the Lord tells Joshua to chose twelve men, one from
each tribe and each man will chose a stone from the place in the Jordan
where the priests stand with the arc of the covenant. They will take these
stones in memory of this day when the waters of the Jordan were cut off
before the arc of the covenant of the Lord. Then Joshua takes another twelve
stones and sets them in the midst of the Jordan where they stay until this day.
When the priests carrying the arc leave the middle of the Jordan, and the
soles of their feet touch dry land, the waters of the Jordan return and
overflow its banks as before. This happens on the fourteenth day.
children of Israel celebrate Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day in
the plains of Jericho.
The children of Israel wander forty years in the wilderness till all the fighting
men disappear. Then the Lord tells Joshua to circumcise the children of Israel
a second time because those born during the escape from Egypt are not yet
circumcised. And the Lord gives Joshua a plan for the downfall of Jericho.
Following this plan, the people walk in absolute silence around the walls of
Jericho for six days while the priests blow the ram’s horn trumpets. On the
seventh day when they hear the ram’s horn trumpets blow and Joshua ‘s cry:
Shout, for the Lord hath given you the city. All the children of Israel join in a
huge cry and the walls fall flat. The Israelites enter and destroy everything in
the city: every man, woman and child, old and young without prejudice. Only
Rahab and her father’s family are spared because she saved the lives of
Joshua’s two messengers.
And now Joshua and the children of Israel proceed to conquer the land
Jehovah promised them. This land being from Gileadd as far as Dan, and all
Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh and all the land of Judah as
far as the western sea, and the Negeb and the District, the valley plain of
Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Besides directing him, the Lord
does wondrous things in support of Joshua and his chosen people: once at
Gibeon, He hurles huge hailstones down on the enemy so that more die from
the pelting by hailstones than from the fighting. And on yet another occasion
when Joshua speaks to the Lord saying, “Sun be motionless over Gibeon and
moon over the low plain of Aijalon.” The sun and the moon stand still until
the nation can wreak vengeance on its enemies. Nowhere else in the history
of the world is such an event recorded. On this day, Jehovah listens to one
man’s voice and time stands still.
Joshua, the son of Nun, faithful servant of Jehovah and the children of Israel,
lives until the age of one hundred and ten. They bury him in the land of his
inheritance: Timnathserah, in the mountainous region of Ephraim, north of