And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, “Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies’?”
He said, “Neither. I’m commander of God’s army. I’ve just arrived.” Joshua fell, face to the ground, and worshiped. He asked, “What orders does my Master have for his servant?”
God’s army commander ordered Joshua, “Take your sandals off your feet. The place you are standing is holy.”
Joshua did it.
Jericho was shut up tight as a drum because of the People of Israel: no one going in, no one coming out.
God spoke to Joshua, “Look sharp now. I’ve already given Jericho to you, along with its king and its crack troops. Here’s what you are to do: March around the city, all your soldiers. Circle the city once. Repeat this for six days. Have seven priests carry seven ram’s horn trumpets in front of the Chest. On the seventh day march around the city seven times, the priests blowing away on the trumpets. And then, a long blast on the ram’s horn—when you hear that, all the people are to shout at the top of their lungs. The city wall will collapse at once. All the people are to enter, every man straight on in.”
So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and told them, “Take up the Chest of the Covenant. Seven priests are to carry seven ram’s horn trumpets leading God’s Chest.”
Then he told the people, “Set out! March around the city. Have the armed guard march before the Chest of God.”
And it happened. Joshua spoke, the people moved: Seven priests with their seven ram’s horn trumpets set out before God. They blew the trumpets, leading God’s Chest of the Covenant. The armed guard marched ahead of the trumpet-blowing priests; the rear guard was marching after the Chest, marching and blowing their trumpets.
Joshua had given orders to the people, “Don’t shout. In fact, don’t even speak—not so much as a whisper until you hear me say, ‘Shout!’—then shout away!”
He sent the Chest of God on its way around the city. It circled once, came back to camp, and stayed for the night. Joshua was up early the next morning and the priests took up the Chest of God. The seven priests carrying the seven ram’s horn trumpets marched before the Chest of God, marching and blowing the trumpets, with the armed guard marching before and the rear guard marching after. Marching and blowing of trumpets!
On the second day they again circled the city once and returned to camp. They did this six days.
When the seventh day came, they got up early and marched around the city this same way but seven times—yes, this day they circled the city seven times. On the seventh time around the priests blew the trumpets and Joshua signaled the people, “Shout!—God has given you the city! The city and everything in it is under a holy curse and offered up to God.
“Except for Rahab the harlot—she is to live, she and everyone in her house with her, because she hid the agents we sent.
“As for you, watch yourselves in the city under holy curse. Be careful that you don’t covet anything in it and take something that’s cursed, endangering the camp of Israel with the curse and making trouble for everyone. All silver and gold, all vessels of bronze and iron are holy to God. Put them in God’s treasury.”
The priests blew the trumpets.
When the people heard the blast of the trumpets, they gave a thunderclap shout. The wall fell at once. The people rushed straight into the city and took it.
They put everything in the city under the holy curse, killing man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey.
Joshua ordered the two men who had spied out the land, “Enter the house of the harlot and rescue the woman and everyone connected with her, just as you promised her.” So the young spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, and brothers—everyone connected with her. They got the whole family out and gave them a place outside the camp of Israel. But they burned down the city and everything in it, except for the gold and silver and the bronze and iron vessels—all that they put in the treasury of God’s house.
But Joshua let Rahab the harlot live—Rahab and her father’s household and everyone connected to her. She is still alive and well in Israel because she hid the agents whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
Joshua swore a solemn oath at that time:
Cursed before God is the man
who sets out to rebuild this city Jericho.
He’ll pay for the foundation with his firstborn son,
he’ll pay for the gates with his youngest son.
God was with Joshua. He became famous all over the land.
Then the People of Israel violated the holy curse. Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah, took some of the cursed things. God became angry with the People of Israel.
Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai (The Ruin), which is near Beth Aven just east of Bethel. He instructed them, “Go up and spy out the land.” The men went up and spied out Ai.
They returned to Joshua and reported, “Don’t bother sending a lot of people—two or three thousand men are enough to defeat Ai. Don’t wear out the whole army; there aren’t that many people there.”
So three thousand men went up—and then fled in defeat before the men of Ai! The men of Ai killed thirty-six—chased them from the city gate as far as The Quarries, killing them at the descent. The heart of the people sank, all spirit knocked out of them.
Joshua ripped his clothes and fell on his face to the ground before the Chest of God, he and the leaders throwing dirt on their heads, prostrate until evening.
Joshua said, “Oh, oh, oh . . . Master, God. Why did you insist on bringing this people across the Jordan? To make us victims of the Amorites? To wipe us out? Why didn’t we just settle down on the east side of the Jordan? Oh, Master, what can I say after this, after Israel has been run off by its enemies? When the Canaanites and all the others living here get wind of this, they’ll gang up on us and make short work of us—and then how will you keep up your reputation?”
God said to Joshua, “Get up. Why are you groveling? Israel has sinned: They’ve broken the covenant I commanded them; they’ve taken forbidden plunder—stolen and then covered up the theft, squirreling it away with their own stuff. The People of Israel can no longer look their enemies in the eye—they themselves are plunder. I can’t continue with you if you don’t rid yourselves of the cursed things.
“So get started. Purify the people. Tell them: Get ready for tomorrow by purifying yourselves. For this is what God, the God of Israel, says: There are cursed things in the camp. You won’t be able to face your enemies until you have gotten rid of these cursed things.
“First thing in the morning you will be called up by tribes. The tribe God names will come up clan by clan; the clan God names will come up family by family; and the family God names will come up man by man. The person found with the cursed things will be burned, he and everything he has, because he broke God’s covenant and did this despicable thing in Israel.”
Joshua was up at the crack of dawn and called Israel up tribe by tribe. The tribe of Judah was singled out. Then he called up the clans and singled out the Zerahites. He called up the Zerahite families and singled out the Zabdi family. He called up the family members one by one and singled out Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah.
Joshua spoke to Achan, “My son, give glory to God, the God of Israel. Make your confession to him. Tell me what you did. Don’t keep back anything from me.”
Achan answered Joshua, “It’s true. I sinned against God, the God of Israel. This is how I did it. In the plunder I spotted a beautiful Shinar robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a fifty-shekel bar of gold, and I coveted and took them. They are buried in my tent with the silver at the bottom.”
Joshua sent off messengers. They ran to the tent. And there it was, buried in the tent with the silver at the bottom. They took the stuff from the tent and brought it to Joshua and to all the People of Israel and spread it out before God.
Joshua took Achan son of Zerah, took the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his ox, donkey, sheep, and tent—everything connected with him. All Israel was there. They led them off to the Valley of Achor (Trouble Valley).
Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? God will now trouble you. Today!” And all Israel stoned him—burned him with fire and stoned him with stones. They piled a huge pile of stones over him. It’s still there. Only then did God turn from his hot anger. That’s how the place came to be called Trouble Valley right up to the present time.