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So the Lord dried up the Jordan River until the Israelites finished crossing it. The kings of the Amorites living west of the Jordan River and the Canaanites living by the Mediterranean Sea heard about this and became very frightened. After that they were not brave enough to stand and fight against the Israelites.

The Israelites Are Circumcised

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make knives from flint rocks and circumcise the men of Israel.”

So Joshua made knives from flint rocks and circumcised the men of Israel at Gibeath Haaraloth.[a]

4-7 This is why Joshua circumcised the men: After the Israelites left Egypt, all the men who were able to serve in the army were circumcised. While in the desert, many of the fighting men did not listen to the Lord. So the Lord promised that they would not see the “land where much food grows.” He promised our ancestors to give us that land, but because of those men, he forced the people to wander in the desert for 40 years. That way all those fighting men would die. So all the fighting men died, and their sons took their place. But none of the boys who were born in the desert on the trip from Egypt had been circumcised. So Joshua circumcised them.

Joshua finished circumcising all the men. The people camped at that place until all the men were healed.

First Passover in Canaan

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “You were slaves in Egypt, and this made you ashamed. But today I have taken away that shame.” So Joshua named that place Gilgal.[b] And that place is still named Gilgal today.

10 The Israelites celebrated Passover while they were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho. This was on the evening of the 14th day of the month. 11 The day after Passover, the people ate food that grew in that land. They ate bread made without yeast and roasted grain. 12 The next morning, the manna from heaven stopped coming. This happened the first day after the people ate the food that grew in the land of Canaan. From that time on, the Israelites did not get the manna from heaven.

The Commander of the Lord’s Army

13 When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him. The man had a sword in his hand. Joshua went to the man and asked, “Are you a friend to our people or are you one of our enemies?”

14 The man answered, “I am not an enemy. I am the commander of the Lord’s army. I have just now come to you.”

Then Joshua bowed his face to the ground to show respect and said, “I am your servant. Does my master have a command for me?”

15 The commander of the Lord’s army answered, “Take off your sandals. The place where you are standing is holy.” So Joshua obeyed him.

The gates of the city of Jericho were closed. The people in the city were afraid because the Israelites were near. No one went into the city, and no one came out.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Look, I will let you defeat the city of Jericho. You will defeat the king and all the fighting men in the city. March around the city with your army once every day for six days. Tell seven of the priests to carry trumpets made from the horns of male sheep and to march in front of the priests who are carrying the Holy Box. On the seventh day march around the city seven times and tell the priests to blow the trumpets while they march. They will make one loud noise from the trumpets. When you hear that noise, tell all the people to begin shouting. When you do this, the walls of the city will fall down and your people will be able to go straight into the city.”

The Battle Against Jericho

So Joshua son of Nun called the priests together and said to them, “Carry the Holy Box of the Lord. Tell seven priests to carry the trumpets and march in front of it.”

Then Joshua ordered the people, “Now go! March around the city. The soldiers with weapons will march in front of the Holy Box of the Lord.”

After Joshua finished speaking to the people, the seven priests with the trumpets began marching before the Lord, blowing the trumpets as they marched. The priests carrying the Lord’s Holy Box followed them. The soldiers with weapons marched in front of the priests who were blowing the horns. And the rest of the men walked behind the Holy Box, marching and blowing their trumpets. 10 Joshua had told the people not to give a war cry. He said, “Don’t shout. Don’t say a word until the day I tell you. Then you will shout.”

11 So Joshua made the priests carry the Holy Box of the Lord around the city one time. Then they went back to the camp and spent the night there.

12 Early the next morning Joshua got up, and the priests carried the Lord’s Holy Box again. 13 The seven priests with the trumpets marched in front of the Lord’s Holy Box, blowing their trumpets. The soldiers with weapons marched in front of them. The rest of the people marched behind the Lord’s Holy Box. During the whole time they marched, the priests were blowing the trumpets. 14 On the second day, they all marched around the city one time. And then they went back to the camp. They continued to do this every day for six days.

15 On the seventh day, they got up at dawn and marched around the city seven times. They marched in the same way they had marched on the days before, but on that day they marched around the city seven times. 16 The seventh time they marched around the city, the priests blew their trumpets. Then Joshua gave the command: “Now, shout! The Lord is giving you this city! 17 The city and everything is to be destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and everyone in her house will be left alive. These people must not be killed because she helped the two spies. 18 Remember, we must destroy everything else. Don’t take anything. If you take anything and bring it into our camp, you yourselves will be destroyed, and you will cause trouble for the rest of our people. 19 All the things made from silver, gold, bronze, and iron belong to the Lord. They must be put in the Lord’s treasury.”

20 So then the priests blew the trumpets. When the people heard the trumpets, they began shouting. The walls fell down, and the people ran up into the city. So the Israelites defeated that city. 21 The people destroyed everything in the city. They destroyed everything that was living there. They killed the young and old men, the young and old women, and the cattle, sheep, and donkeys.

22 Joshua talked to the two spies. He said, “You made a promise to the prostitute. So go to her house and bring her out and all those who are with her.”

23 So the two men went into the house and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, all her family, and all those who were with her. They put all the people in a safe place outside the camp of Israel.

24 Then the Israelites burned the whole city and everything in it except for the things made from silver, gold, bronze, and iron. They put these things in the Lord’s treasury. 25 Joshua saved Rahab the prostitute, her family, and all those who were with her. Joshua let them live because Rahab helped the spies Joshua had sent out to Jericho. Rahab still lives among the Israelites today.

26 At that time Joshua made this important promise. He said,

“Whoever rebuilds Jericho
    will be in danger from the Lord.
When he lays the foundation,
    he will lose his oldest son.
When he sets up the gates,
    he will lose his youngest son.”[c]

27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and Joshua became famous throughout the whole country.

Achan’s Sin

But the Israelites did not obey God. There was a man from the tribe of Judah named Achan son of Carmi, grandson of Zimri, great-grandson of Zerah. Achan kept some of the things that should have been destroyed. So the Lord became very angry with the Israelites.

After they defeated Jericho, Joshua sent some men to Ai.[d] Ai was near Beth Aven, east of Bethel. He told them, “Go to Ai and look for weaknesses in that area.” So the men went to spy on that land.

Later, the men came back to Joshua. They said, “Ai is a weak area. We will not need all of our people to defeat them. Send 2000 or 3000 men to fight there. There is no need to use the whole army. There are only a few men there to fight against us.”

4-5 So about 3000 men went to Ai, but the people of Ai killed about 36 men of Israel. And the Israelites ran away. The people of Ai chased them from the city gates all the way to the quarries.[e] The people of Ai beat them badly.

When the people from Israel saw this, they became very frightened and lost their courage. When Joshua heard about this, he tore his clothes to show his sadness. He bowed down to the ground before the Holy Box and stayed there until evening. The leaders of Israel did the same thing. They also threw dirt on their heads to show their sadness.

Joshua said, “Lord God, you brought our people across the Jordan River. Why did you bring us this far and then allow the Amorites to destroy us? We should have been satisfied and stayed on the other side of the Jordan River. I promise by my life, Lord! There is nothing I can say now. Israel has surrendered to the enemy. The Canaanites and all the other people in this country will hear about what happened. Then they will attack us and kill all of us! Then what will you do to protect your great name?”

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Why are you down there with your face on the ground? Stand up! 11 The Israelites sinned against me. They have broken the agreement that I commanded them to obey. They took some of the things that I commanded them to destroy. They have stolen from me. They have lied. They have taken those things for themselves. 12 That is why the army of Israel turned and ran away from the fight. They did that because they have done wrong. They should be destroyed. I will not continue to help you or be with you unless you destroy everything I commanded you to destroy.

13 “Now go and make the people pure. Tell them, ‘Make yourselves pure. Prepare for tomorrow. The Lord, the God of Israel, says that some people are keeping things that he commanded to be destroyed. You will never be able to defeat your enemies until you throw away those things.

14 “Tomorrow morning you must all stand before the Lord. All the tribes will stand before the Lord, and he will choose one tribe. Only that tribe will stand before him. Then the Lord will choose one family group from that tribe. Only that family group must stand before him. Then he will look at each family in that family group, and the Lord will choose one family. Then he will look at each man in that family. 15 The man who is keeping those things that we should have destroyed will be caught. Then he will be destroyed by fire, and everything that he owns will be destroyed with him. He broke the agreement with the Lord. He has done a very bad thing to the Israelites!”

16 Early the next morning, Joshua led out all the Israelites. Each tribe came forward to stand before the Lord, and he chose the tribe of Judah. 17 So then all the family groups of Judah stood before the Lord, and he chose the Zerah family group. Then all the families of the Zerah group stood before the Lord, and he chose the family of Zimri. 18 Then Joshua told all the men in that family to come before the Lord. He chose Achan the son of Carmi. (Carmi was the son of Zimri. And Zimri was the son of Zerah.)

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Son, you must honor the Lord, the God of Israel. Praise him and confess your sins to him. Tell me what you did, and don’t try to hide anything from me.”

20 Achan answered, “It is true! I sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21 In Jericho, I saw a beautiful coat from Babylonia,[f] about 5 pounds[g] of silver, and about a pound[h] of gold. I wanted these things for myself, so I took them. You will find them buried in the ground under my tent. The silver is under the coat.”

22 So Joshua sent some men to the tent. They ran to the tent and found the things hidden there. The silver was under the coat. 23 The men brought the things out of the tent and took them to Joshua and all the Israelites. They threw them on the ground before the Lord.

24 Then Joshua and all the people led Achan son of Zerah to the Valley of Achor. They also took the silver, the coat, the gold, Achan’s sons and daughters, his cattle, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and everything he owned. They took all these things to the Valley of Achor with Achan. 25 Then Joshua said, “You caused much trouble for us, but now the Lord will bring trouble to you.” Then all the people threw stones at Achan and his family until they died. Then the people burned them and everything he owned. 26 After they burned Achan, they put many rocks over his body. The rocks are still there today. That is why it is called the Valley of Achor.[i] After this the Lord was not angry with the people.

Ai Destroyed

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Don’t be afraid; don’t give up. Lead all your fighting men to Ai.[j] I will help you defeat the king of Ai. I am giving you his people, his city, and his land. You will do to Ai and its king the same thing you did to Jericho and its king. Only this time you can take all the wealth and animals and keep it for yourselves. You will share the wealth with your people. Now, tell some of your soldiers to hide behind the city.”

So Joshua led his whole army toward Ai. Then Joshua chose 30,000 of his best fighting men and sent them out at night. Joshua gave them this command: “Listen carefully to what I tell you. You must hide in the area behind the city. Wait for the time to attack. Don’t go far from the city. Continue to watch and be ready. I will lead the men with me; we will march toward the city. The men in the city will come out to fight against us. We will turn and run away from them as we did before. These men will chase us away from the city, so we will run away. They will think that we are running away from them as we did before. Then you should come out of your hiding place and take control of the city. The Lord your God will give you the power to win.

“You must do what the Lord says. Watch me and I will give you the command to attack the city. When you have taken control of the city, burn it.”

Then Joshua sent them to their hiding place and waited. They went to a place west of Ai, between Bethel and Ai. But Joshua stayed the night with his people.

10 Early the next morning Joshua gathered the men together. Then Joshua and the leaders of Israel led the men to Ai. 11 All the soldiers who were with Joshua marched to Ai. They stopped in front of the city. The army made its camp north of the city. There was a valley between the army and Ai.

12 Then Joshua chose about 5000 men. He sent these men to hide in the area west of the city, between Bethel and Ai. 13 So Joshua had prepared his men for the fight. The main camp was north of the city. The other men were hiding to the west. That night Joshua went down into the valley.

14 Later, the king of Ai saw the army of Israel. The king and his people hurried out to fight the army of Israel. The king of Ai went out the east side of the city toward the Jordan Valley, so he did not see the soldiers hiding behind the city.

15 Joshua and all the men of Israel let the army of Ai push them back. Joshua and his men began running east toward the desert. 16 The people in the city began to shout and started to chase them. All the people left the city. 17 All the men of Ai and Bethel chased the army of Israel. The city was left open—no one stayed to protect the city.

18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Hold your spear toward the city of Ai, because I will give you that city.” So Joshua held his spear toward the city of Ai. 19 When the Israelites who were hiding saw this, they quickly came out from their hiding place and hurried toward the city. They entered the city and took control of it. Then the soldiers started fires to burn the city.

20 The men from Ai looked back and saw their city burning. When they saw the smoke rising into the sky, they lost their strength and courage. They stopped chasing the men of Israel. The Israelites stopped running away. They turned and went to fight the men from Ai. There was no safe place for the men from Ai to run to. 21 When Joshua and his men saw that his army had taken control of the city and that smoke was rising from it, they stopped running away and turned to fight the men of Ai. 22 Then the men who were hiding came out of the city to help with the fight. The army of Israel was on both sides of the men of Ai—the men of Ai were trapped. Israel defeated them. They fought until none of the men from Ai were left alive—none of the enemy escaped. 23 But the king of Ai was left alive. Joshua’s men brought him to Joshua.

A Review of the Fighting

24 During the fighting, the army of Israel chased the men from Ai into the fields and into the desert. So the army of Israel finished killing all the men from Ai in the fields and in the desert. Then the Israelites went back to Ai and killed all the people who were still alive in the city. 25 All the people of Ai died that day; there were 12,000 men and women. 26 Joshua had held his spear toward Ai as a sign to his people to destroy the city. And he did not stop until all the people of Ai were destroyed. 27 The Israelites kept the animals and other things from the city for themselves. This is what the Lord said they could do when he gave Joshua the commands.

28 Then Joshua burned the city of Ai. That city became an empty pile of rocks. It is still like that today. 29 Joshua hanged the king of Ai on a tree and left him hanging there until evening. At sunset Joshua told his men to take the king’s body down from the tree. They threw his body down at the city gate. Then they covered the body with many rocks. That pile of rocks is still there today.

Reading the Blessings and Curses

30 Then Joshua built an altar for the Lord, the God of Israel. He built the altar on Mount Ebal. 31 The Lord’s servant Moses told the Israelites how to build altars. So Joshua built the altar the way it was explained in the Book of the Law[k] of Moses. The altar was made from stones that were not cut. No tool had ever been used on those stones. They offered burnt offerings to the Lord on that altar. They also gave fellowship offerings.

32 There Joshua copied onto the stones the law Moses had written down. This was for all the people of Israel to see. 33 The elders, officers, judges, and all the Israelites were standing around the Box of the Lord’s Agreement. They were standing in front of the priests, the Levites who carried the Holy Box. The Israelites and the other people with them were all standing there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Ebal and the other half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim. The Lord’s servant Moses had told the people to do this. He told them to do this to be blessed.

34 Then Joshua read all the words from the law. He read the blessings and the curses. He read everything the way it was written in the Book of the Law. 35 All the Israelites were gathered together there. All the women and children and all the foreigners who lived with the Israelites were there. And Joshua read every command that Moses had given.


  1. Joshua 5:3 Gibeath Haaraloth This name means “Circumcision Hill.”
  2. Joshua 5:9 Gilgal This name is like the Hebrew word meaning “to roll away.”
  3. Joshua 6:26 When he … son See 1 Kings 16:34.
  4. Joshua 7:2 Ai The name of this town means “the ruins.”
  5. Joshua 7:4 quarries Places where people cut stones from the solid rock.
  6. Joshua 7:21 Babylonia Literally, “Shinar,” which may be a form of the name Sumer.
  7. Joshua 7:21 about 5 pounds Literally, “200 shekels” (2.3 kg).
  8. Joshua 7:21 about a pound Literally, “50 shekels” (575 g).
  9. Joshua 7:26 Achor This name means “trouble.”
  10. Joshua 8:1 Ai See Josh. 7:2. The name of this town means “the ruins.”
  11. Joshua 8:31 Law Or “Teachings.” Also in verses 32, 34.

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