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Joshua 1-5 Common English Bible (CEB)

Orders from the Lord

After Moses the Lord’s servant died, the Lord spoke to Joshua, Nun’s son. He had been Moses’ helper. “My servant Moses is dead. Now get ready to cross over the Jordan with this entire people to the land that I am going to give to the Israelites. I am giving you every place where you set foot, exactly as I promised Moses. Your territory will stretch from the desert and the Lebanon as far as the great Euphrates River, including all Hittite land, up to the Mediterranean Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you during your lifetime. I will be with you in the same way I was with Moses. I won’t desert you or leave you. Be brave and strong, because you are the one who will help this people take possession of the land, which I pledged to give to their ancestors.

“Be very brave and strong as you carefully obey all of the Instruction that Moses my servant commanded you. Don’t deviate even a bit from it, either to the right or left. Then you will have success wherever you go. Never stop speaking about this Instruction scroll. Recite it day and night so you can carefully obey everything written in it. Then you will accomplish your objectives and you will succeed. I’ve commanded you to be brave and strong, haven’t I? Don’t be alarmed or terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua gives orders

10 Then Joshua gave orders to the people’s officers: 11 “Go through the camp and give orders to the people. Say, ‘Get supplies ready for yourselves because in three days you will be crossing over the Jordan to enter the land and take it over. The Lord your God is going to give it to you as your possession.’”

12 Then Joshua addressed the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh: 13 “Remember the command that Moses the Lord’s servant gave you: ‘The Lord your God will give you rest and give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, children, and cattle may remain in the land that Moses has given you on the east side of the Jordan. But all you brave fighters, organized for war, must cross over in front of your fellow Israelites. You must help them 15 until the Lord gives a rest like yours to your fellow Israelites and they too take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you may return and take over the land that belongs to you, which Moses the Lord’s servant has given you on the east side of the Jordan.”

16 They answered Joshua, “We will obey everything you have commanded us and go anywhere you send us. 17 We will obey you in the same way that we obeyed Moses. Just let the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses! 18 Anybody who stubbornly opposes what you declare and doesn’t obey any of your commands will be put to death. Be brave and strong!”

Joshua sends spies

Joshua, Nun’s son, secretly sent two men as spies from Shittim. He said, “Go. Look over the land, especially Jericho.” They set out and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab. They bedded down there.

Someone told the king of Jericho, “Men from the Israelites have come here tonight to spy on the land.”

So the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab: “Send out the men who came to you, the ones who came to your house, because they have come to spy on the entire land.”

Rahab takes action

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. Then she said, “Of course the men came to me. But I didn’t know where they were from. The men left when it was time to close the gate at dark, but I don’t know where the men went. Hurry! Chase after them! You might catch up with them.” But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the flax stalks that she had laid out on the roof. The men from Jericho[a] chased after them in the direction of the Jordan up to the fords. As soon as those chasing them went out, the gate was shut behind them.

Rahab sets terms

Before the spies bedded down, Rahab went up to them on the roof. She said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land. Terror over you has overwhelmed us. The entire population of the land has melted down in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Reed Sea[b] in front of you when you left Egypt. We have also heard what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites on the other side of the Jordan. You utterly wiped them out. 11 We heard this and our hearts turned to water. Because of you, people can no longer work up their courage. This is because the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. 12 Now, I have been loyal to you. So pledge to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal loyally with my family. Give me a sign of good faith. 13 Spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, and sisters, along with everything they own. Rescue us from death.”

14 The men said to her, “We swear by our own lives to secure yours. If you don’t reveal our mission, we will deal loyally and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.”

The spies escape

15 So she lowered the spies on a rope through the window. Her house was on the outer side of the city wall, and she lived inside the wall. 16 Then she said to them, “Go toward the highlands so that those chasing you don’t run into you. Hide there for three days until those chasing you return. Then you may go on your way.”

17 The men said to her, “We won’t be responsible for this pledge you made us swear 18 unless, when we come into the land, you tie this red woven cord in the window through which you lowered us. Gather your father, your mother, your brothers, and your whole family into the house with you. 19 Those who go outside the doors of your house into the street will have only themselves to blame for their own deaths. We won’t be responsible. If anyone lays a hand on those who are with you in the house, we will take the blame for their death. 20 But if you reveal our mission, we won’t be responsible for this pledge you made us swear.”

21 She said, “These things will happen just like you said.” She sent them away and they went off. Then she tied the red cord in the window.

Mission accomplished

22 The spies went out and entered the highlands. They stayed there for three days until those chasing them came back. Those chasing them had searched all along the road but never found them. 23 Then the two men came back down from the highlands. They crossed the Jordan and came to Joshua, Nun’s son. They told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The Lord has definitely given the entire land into our power. In addition, all of the land’s population has melted down in fear because of us.”

Directions for crossing the Jordan

Joshua took down the camp early in the morning. He and all the Israelites marched out of Shittim and came to the Jordan, where they stayed overnight before crossing. At the end of three days the officers went through the middle of the camp. They commanded the people, “As soon as you see the Lord your God’s chest containing the covenant and the levitical priests carrying it, you are to march out from your places and follow it. But let there be some distance between you and it, about three thousand feet. Don’t come near it! You will know the way you should go, even though you’ve never traveled this way before.”

Joshua said to the people, “Make yourselves holy! Tomorrow the Lord will do wonderful things among you.” Then Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the covenant chest. Go along in front of the people.” So they lifted up the covenant chest and went in front of the people.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you great in the opinion of all Israel. Then they will know that I will be with you in the same way that I was with Moses. You are to command the priests who carry the covenant chest, ‘As soon as you come to the bank of the Jordan, stand still in the Jordan.’”

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come close. Listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 Then Joshua said, “This is how you will know that the living God is among you and will completely remove the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites before you. 11 Look! The covenant chest of the ruler of the entire earth is going to cross over in front of you in the Jordan. 12 Now pick twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one per tribe. 13 The soles of the priests’ feet, who are carrying the chest of the Lord, ruler of the whole earth, will come to rest in the water of the Jordan. At that moment, the water of the Jordan will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand still in a single heap.”

Marching across the Jordan

14 The people marched out from their tents to cross over the Jordan. The priests carrying the covenant chest were in front of the people. 15 When the priests who were carrying the chest came to the Jordan, their feet touched the edge of the water. The Jordan had overflowed its banks completely, the way it does during the entire harvest season. 16 But at that moment the water of the Jordan coming downstream stood still. It rose up as a single heap very far off, just below Adam, which is the city next to Zarethan. The water going down to the desert sea (that is, the Dead Sea) was cut off completely. The people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 So the priests carrying the Lord’s covenant chest stood firmly on dry land in the middle of the Jordan. Meanwhile, all Israel crossed over on dry land, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

Twelve stones at Gilgal

When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Pick twelve men from the people, one man per tribe. Command them, ‘Pick up twelve stones from right here in the middle of the Jordan, where the feet of the priests had been firmly planted. Bring them across with you and put them down in the camp where you are staying tonight.’”

Joshua called for the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one man per tribe. Joshua said to them, “Cross over into the middle of the Jordan, up to the Lord your God’s chest. Each of you, lift up a stone on his shoulder to match the number of the tribes of the Israelites. This will be a symbol among you. In the future your children may ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you will tell them that the water of the Jordan was cut off before the Lord’s covenant chest. When it crossed over the Jordan, the water of the Jordan was cut off. These stones will be an enduring memorial for the Israelites.”

The Israelites did exactly what Joshua ordered. They lifted twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, matching the number of the tribes of the Israelites, exactly as the Lord had said to Joshua. They brought them over to the camp and put them down there. Joshua also set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan where the feet of the priests had stood while carrying the covenant chest. They are still there today.

Crossing completed

10 Meanwhile, the priests carrying the chest were standing in the middle of the Jordan. They stood there until every command that the Lord had ordered Joshua to tell the people had been carried out. This was exactly what Moses had commanded Joshua. The people crossed over quickly. 11 As soon as all the people had finished crossing, the Lord’s chest crossed over. The priests then moved to the front of the people. 12 The people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh crossed over, organized for war ahead of the Israelites, exactly as Moses had told them. 13 Approximately forty thousand armed for war crossed over in the Lord’s presence to the plains of Jericho, ready for battle. 14 The Lord made Joshua great in the opinion of all Israel on that day. So they revered him in the same way that they had revered Moses during all of his life.

15 The Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the chest containing the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.”

17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up from the Jordan.” 18 The priests carrying the Lord’s covenant chest came up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of their feet touched dry ground. At that moment, the water of the Jordan started flowing again. It ran as before, completely over its banks. 19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month.[c] They camped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.

Stones at Gilgal

20 Joshua set up at Gilgal those twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask their parents, ‘What about these stones?’ 22 Then you will let your children know: ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’ 23 This was because the Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you until you crossed over. This was exactly what the Lord your God did to the Reed Sea.[d] He dried it up before us until we crossed over. 24 This happened so that all the earth’s peoples might know that the Lord’s power is great and that you may always revere the Lord your God.”

Enemy kings react

All the Amorite kings on the west side of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings near the sea heard that the Lord had dried up the water of the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over. Then their hearts melted. They lost all courage because of the Israelites.

Circumcision

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make yourself flint knives. Circumcise the Israelites for a second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself. He circumcised the Israelites at Foreskins Hill. This is the reason Joshua did so: All the people who went out of Egypt, that is, all the men who were soldiers, had died in the desert on the way after they left Egypt. All the people who went out were circumcised. But none of the people born in the desert on the way after they had left Egypt had been circumcised. This was because the Israelites journeyed forty years in the desert until the whole nation died off. These were the men old enough to fight who went out from Egypt and who hadn’t obeyed the Lord. The Lord had pledged to them never to show them the land that the Lord had pledged to their ancestors to give us. It is a land full of milk and honey. Joshua circumcised their children, the ones the Lord had set in their place. They were uncircumcised because they hadn’t been circumcised on the way. After the whole nation had undergone circumcision, they remained in the camp until they got well again. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.” So the place was called Gilgal,[e] as it is today.

Passover

10 The Israelites camped in Gilgal. They celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month[f] on the plains of Jericho. 11 On the very next day after Passover, they ate food produced in the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12 The manna stopped on that next day, when they ate food produced in the land. There was no longer any manna for the Israelites. So that year they ate the crops of the land of Canaan.

Commander of the Lord’s heavenly force

13 When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up. He caught sight of a man standing in front of him with his sword drawn. Joshua went up and said to him, “Are you on our side or that of our enemies?”

14 He said, “Neither! I’m the commander of the Lord’s heavenly force. Now I have arrived!”

Then Joshua fell flat on his face and worshipped. Joshua said to him, “What is my master saying to his servant?”

15 The commander of the Lord’s heavenly force said to Joshua, “Take your sandals off your feet because the place where you are standing is holy.” So Joshua did this.

Footnotes:

  1. Joshua 2:7 Heb lacks from Jericho.
  2. Joshua 2:10 Or Red Sea
  3. Joshua 4:19 March–April, Nisan
  4. Joshua 4:23 Or Red Sea
  5. Joshua 5:9 Gilgal sounds like the Heb verb galal, “to roll away.”
  6. Joshua 5:10 March–April, Nisan
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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