Israel Captures Jericho
When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him. The man was holding a sword. He was ready for battle. Joshua went up to him. He asked, “Are you on our side? Or are you on the side of our enemies?”
“I am not on either side,” he replied. “I have come as the commander of the Lord’s army.” Then Joshua fell with his face to the ground. He asked the man, “What message does my Lord have for me?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals. The place you are standing on is holy ground.” So Joshua took them off.
The gates of Jericho were shut tight and guarded closely because of the Israelites. No one went out. No one came in.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “I have handed Jericho over to you. I have also handed over to you its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all your fighting men. In fact, do it for six days. Have seven priests get trumpets made out of rams’ horns. They must carry them in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times. Tell the priests to blow the trumpets as you march. You will hear them blow a long blast on the trumpets. When you do, tell the whole army to give a loud shout. The wall of the city will fall down. Then the whole army will march up to the city. Everyone will go straight in.”
So Joshua, the son of Nun, called for the priests. He said to them, “Go and get the ark of the covenant of the Lord. I want seven of you to carry trumpets in front of it.” He gave an order to the army. He said, “Move out! March around the city. Some of the fighting men must march in front of the ark of the Lord.”
When Joshua had spoken to the men, the seven priests went forward. They were carrying the seven trumpets as they marched in front of the ark of the Lord. They were blowing the trumpets. The ark of the Lord’s covenant was carried behind the priests. Some of the fighting men marched ahead of the priests who were blowing the trumpets. The others followed behind the ark and guarded all the priests. That whole time the priests were blowing the trumpets. But Joshua had given an order to the army. He had said, “Don’t give a war cry. Don’t raise your voices. Don’t say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city once. Then the army returned to camp. They spent the night there.
Joshua got up early the next morning. The priests went and got the ark of the Lord. The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets started out. They marched in front of the ark of the Lord. They blew the trumpets. Some of the fighting men marched ahead of them. The others followed behind the ark and guarded all of them. The priests kept blowing the trumpets. On the second day they marched around the city once. Then the army returned to camp. They did all those things for six days.
On the seventh day, they got up at sunrise. They marched around the city, just as they had done before. But on that day they went around it seven times. On the seventh time around, the priests blew a long blast on the trumpets. Then Joshua gave a command to the army. He said, “Shout! The Lord has given you the city! The city and everything in it must be set apart to the Lord to be destroyed. But the prostitute Rahab and all those with her in her house must be spared. That’s because she hid the spies we sent. But keep away from the things that have been set apart to the Lord. If you take any of them, you will be destroyed. And you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. You will cause it to be destroyed. All the silver and gold is holy. It is set apart to the Lord. So are all the things made out of bronze and iron. All those things must be added to the treasures kept in the Lord’s house.”
The priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the army heard the sound, they gave a loud shout. Then the wall fell down. Everyone charged straight in. So they took the city. They set it apart to the Lord to be destroyed. They destroyed every living thing in it with their swords. They killed men and women. They wiped out young people and old people. They destroyed cattle, sheep and donkeys.
Then Joshua spoke to the two men who had gone in to check out the land. He said, “Go into the prostitute’s house. Bring her out. Also bring out everyone with her. That’s what you promised her you would do.” So the young men who had checked out the land went into Rahab’s house. They brought her out along with her parents and brothers and sisters. They brought out everyone else there with her. They put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.
Then they burned the whole city and everything in it. But they added the silver and gold to the treasures kept in the Lord’s house. They also put there the things made out of bronze and iron. But Joshua spared the prostitute Rahab. He spared her family. He also spared everyone else in the house with her. He did it because she hid the spies he had sent to Jericho. Rahab lives among the Israelites to this day.
At that time Joshua made a promise and called down a curse. He said, “May the person who tries to rebuild this city of Jericho be under the Lord’s curse.
“If that person lays its foundations,
it will cost the life of his oldest son.
If he sets up its gates,
it will cost the life of his youngest son.”
So the Lord was with Joshua. And Joshua became famous everywhere in the land.
Achan Sins Against the Lord
But the Israelites weren’t faithful to the Lord. They didn’t destroy what had been set apart to him. So they did not do what they had been told to do. Achan had taken some of those things. So the Lord became very angry with Israel. Achan was the son of Karmi. Karmi was the son of Zimri. And Zimri was the son of Zerah. Achan and all his relatives were from the tribe of Judah.
Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai. Ai is near Beth Aven east of Bethel. Joshua told the men, “Go up and check out the area around Ai.” So the men went up and checked it out.
Then they returned to Joshua. They said, “The whole army doesn’t have to go up and attack Ai. Send only two or three thousand men. They can take the city. Don’t make the whole army go up there. Only a few people live in Ai.” So only about 3,000 troops went up. But the men of Ai drove them away. They chased the Israelites from the city gate all the way to Shebarim. They killed about 36 of them on the way down. So the Israelites were terrified.
Joshua and the elders of Israel became sad. Joshua tore his clothes. He fell in front of the ark of the Lord with his face to the ground. He remained there until evening. The elders did the same thing. They also sprinkled dust on their heads. Joshua said, “Lord and King, why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan River? Did you want to hand us over to the Amorites? Did you want them to destroy us? I wish we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! Lord, our enemies have driven us away. What can I say? The Canaanites will hear about it. So will everyone else in the country. They will surround us. They’ll erase any mention of our name from the face of the earth. Then what will you do when people don’t honor your great name anymore?”
The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! What are you doing down there on your face? Israel has sinned. I made a covenant with them. I commanded them to keep it. But they have broken it. They have taken some of the things that had been set apart to me in a special way to be destroyed. They have stolen. They have lied. They have taken the things they stole and have put them with their own things. That is why the Israelites can’t stand up against their enemies. They turn their backs and run. That’s because I have decided to let them be destroyed. You must destroy the things you took that had been set apart to me. If you do not, I will not be with you anymore.
“Go and set the people apart. Tell them, ‘Make yourselves pure. Get ready for tomorrow. Here is what the Lord, the God of Israel, wants you to do. He says, “People of Israel, you have kept some of the things that had been set apart to me to be destroyed. You can’t stand up against your enemies until you get rid of those things.”
“ ‘In the morning, come forward tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses will come forward group by group. The group the Lord chooses will come forward family by family. And the men in the family the Lord chooses will come forward one by one. Whoever is caught with the things that had been set apart to the Lord will be destroyed by fire. Everything that belongs to that person will also be destroyed. He has broken the Lord’s covenant. He has done a very terrible thing in Israel!’ ”
Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes. The tribe of Judah was chosen. The groups of Judah came forward. The group of Zerah was chosen. Joshua had the group of Zerah come forward by families. The family of Zimri was chosen. He had their men come forward one by one. Achan was chosen. Achan was the son of Karmi. Karmi was the son of Zimri. And Zimri was the son of Zerah. Zerah was from the tribe of Judah.
Joshua said to Achan, “My son, the Lord is the God of Israel. So give him glory and honor him by telling the truth! Tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”
Achan replied, “It’s true! I’ve sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. Here is what I’ve done. I saw a beautiful robe from Babylonia among the things we had taken. I saw five pounds of silver. And I saw a gold bar that weighed 20 ounces. I wanted them, so I took them. I hid them in the ground inside my tent. The silver is on the bottom.”
So Joshua sent some messengers. They ran to Achan’s tent. And there was everything, hidden in his tent! The silver was on the bottom. They brought the things out of the tent. They took them to Joshua and all the Israelites. And they spread them out in the sight of the Lord.
Then Joshua and all the people grabbed Achan, the son of Zerah. They took the silver, the robe and the gold bar. They took Achan’s sons and daughters. They took his cattle, donkeys and sheep. They also took his tent and everything he had. They carried all of it out to the Valley of Achor. Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”
Then all the people killed Achan by throwing stones at him. They also killed the rest of his family with stones. They burned all of them up. They placed a large pile of rocks on top of Achan’s body. The place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since. That pile is still there to this day. After the people killed Achan, the Lord was no longer angry with them.