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God Chooses Joshua to Lead Israel

Moses was the Lord’s servant, and Joshua son of Nun was Moses’ helper. After Moses died, the Lord spoke to Joshua and said, “My servant Moses is dead. Now you and all these people must go across the Jordan River. You must go into the land I am giving to the Israelites. I promised Moses that I would give you this land, so I will give you all the land wherever you go. All the land from the desert to Lebanon all the way to the great river (that is, the Euphrates River) and all the land of the Hittites will be yours. And all the land from here to the Mediterranean Sea in the west (that is, the place where the sun sets) will be within your borders. Just as I was with Moses, I will be with you. No one will be able to stop you all your life. I will not abandon you. I will never leave you.

“Joshua, you must be strong and brave! You must lead these people so that they can take their land. I promised their fathers that I would give them this land. But you must be strong and brave about obeying the commands my servant Moses gave you. If you follow his teachings exactly, you will be successful in everything you do. Always remember what is written in that book of law. Speak about that book and study it day and night. Then you can be sure to obey what is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything you do. Remember, I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua Takes Command

10 So Joshua gave orders to the leaders of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get some food ready. Three days from now we will go across the Jordan River and take the land that the Lord our God is giving us.’”

12 Then Joshua said to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, 13-14 “Remember what the Lord’s servant Moses told you. He said that the Lord your God would give you a place to live. So he has given you this land east of the Jordan River. But now you must help your relatives get their land. Your wives and children can stay here with your animals. But all your fighting men must prepare for battle and lead the men of the other tribes across the river. 15 The Lord has given you a place to live, and he will do the same for your brothers. But you must help them until they take control of the land the Lord your God is giving them. Then you can come back and settle here on the east side of the river. This is the land that the Lord’s servant Moses said would be yours.”

16 Then the people answered Joshua, “We will do whatever you command us to do. We will go wherever you tell us to go. 17 We will obey whatever you say, just as we obeyed Moses. We only ask that the Lord your God be with you just as he was with Moses. 18 Then anyone who refuses to obey your commands or turns against you will be killed. Just be strong and brave!”

Spies in Jericho

Joshua son of Nun and all the people were camped at Acacia.[a] Joshua sent out two spies. No one knew that Joshua sent out these men. Joshua said to them, “Go and look at the land, especially the city of Jericho.”

So the men went to the city of Jericho and stayed at the house of a prostitute named Rahab.

But someone told the king of Jericho, “Last night some men from Israel came to look for weaknesses in our country.”

So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Do not hide the men who came and stayed in your house. Bring them out. They have come to spy on our country.”

Rahab had hidden the two men, but she said, “They did come here, but I didn’t know where they came from. In the evening, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know where they went. But if you go quickly, maybe you can catch them.” (Rahab said this, but really she had taken the men up to the roof and had hidden them in the flax[b] that she had piled up there.)

So the king’s men went out of the city, and the people closed the city gates. The king’s men went to look for the two men from Israel. They went to the Jordan River and looked at all the places where people cross the river.

The two men were ready to sleep for the night, but Rahab went to the roof to talk to them. She said, “I know that the Lord has given this land to your people. You frighten us. Everyone living in this country is afraid of you. 10 We are afraid because we have heard about the ways that the Lord helped you. We heard that he dried up the Red Sea when you came out of Egypt. We also heard what you did to the two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og. We heard how you destroyed those kings living east of the Jordan River. 11 When we heard about this, we were very afraid. And now, not one of our men is brave enough to fight you, because the Lord your God rules the heavens above and the earth below! 12 So now, I want you to make a promise to me. I was kind to you and helped you. So promise me before the Lord that you will be kind to my family. Please tell me that you will do this. 13 Tell me that you will allow my family to live—my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all their families. Promise me that you will save us from death.”

14 The men agreed and said, “We will trade our lives for yours. Don’t tell anyone what we are doing. Then, when the Lord gives us the land, we will be kind to you. You can trust us.”

15 Rahab’s house was built into the city wall, so she used a rope to let the men down through a window. 16 Then she said to them, “Go into the hills so that the king’s men will not accidentally find you. Hide there for three days. After the king’s men come back, you can go on your way.”

17 The men said to her, “We made a promise to you. But you must do one thing, or we will not be responsible for our promise. 18 When we come back to this land, you must tie in your window this red rope you are using to help us escape. You must bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your family into your house with you. 19 We will protect everyone who stays in this house. If anyone in your house is hurt, we will be responsible. But if they go out of your house and are killed, we will not be responsible. It will be their own fault. 20 We are making this agreement with you. But if you tell anyone about what we are doing, we will be free from this agreement.”

21 Rahab answered, “I will do just what you said.” She said goodbye, and the men left her house. Then she tied the red rope in the window.

22 The men left her house and went into the hills. They stayed there for three days. The king’s men looked all along the road. After three days, they stopped looking and went back to the city. 23 Then the two men went back to Joshua. They left the hills and crossed the river. They went to Joshua and told him everything that they had learned. 24 They said to him, “The Lord really has given us all the land. All the people in that country are afraid of us.”

Miracle at the Jordan River

Early the next morning, Joshua and all the Israelites got up and left Acacia. They traveled to the Jordan River and camped there before they crossed it. After three days the leaders went through the camp. They gave orders to the people: “When you see the Levite priests carrying the Box of the Agreement of the Lord your God, follow them. But do not follow too closely. Stay about 1000 yards[c] behind them. You have not been here before, but if you follow them, you will know where to go.”

Then Joshua told the people, “Make yourselves pure. Tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among us.”

Then Joshua said to the priests, “Take the Box of the Agreement and go across the river in front of the people.” So the priests lifted the Box and carried it in front of the people.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great man for all the Israelites to see. Then the people will know that I am with you just as I was with Moses. The priests will carry the Box of the Agreement. Tell them this, ‘Walk to the shore of the Jordan River and stop just before you step into the water.’”

Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 Here is proof that the living God is really with you and that he will surely defeat your enemies. He will defeat the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites; he will force them to leave their land. 11 The Box of the Agreement of the Lord of the whole world will go before you as you cross the Jordan River. 12 Now choose twelve men, one from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 The priests will carry the Holy Box of the Lord. He is the Lord of the whole world. They will carry that Box in front of you into the Jordan River. When they enter the water, the water of the Jordan River will stop flowing and fill behind that place like at a dam.”

14 The priests carried the Box of the Agreement, and the people left the place they had camped. The people started going across the Jordan River. 15 (During harvest time the Jordan River overflows its banks, so the river was at its fullest.) The priests who were carrying the Box came to the shore of the river. When they stepped into the water, 16 immediately the water stopped flowing and piled up like a wall. The water piled up high a long way up the river—all the way to Adam (a town near Zarethan). And the water flowing down to the sea of Arabah (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. The people crossed the river near Jericho. 17 The ground at that place became dry, and the priests carried the Box of the Agreement of the Lord to the middle of the river and stopped. They waited there while all the Israelites walked across the Jordan River on dry land.

Rocks to Remind the People

After all the people had crossed the Jordan River, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them to look in the river where the priests were standing and get twelve rocks from that place. Carry these rocks with you and put them where you stay tonight.”

So Joshua chose one man from each tribe. Then he called the twelve men together. He said to them, “Go out into the river where the Holy Box of the Lord your God is. Each of you must find one rock. There will be one rock for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Carry that rock on your shoulder. These rocks will be a sign for you. In the future, your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ You will tell them that the Lord stopped the water from flowing in the Jordan River. When the Holy Box of the Lord’s Agreement crossed the river, the water stopped flowing. These rocks will help the Israelites remember this forever.”

So the Israelites obeyed Joshua. They carried twelve rocks from the middle of the Jordan River. There was one rock for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. They did this as the Lord had commanded Joshua. The men carried the rocks with them. Then they put the rocks at the place where they made their camp. Joshua also put twelve rocks in the middle of the Jordan River. He put them at the place where the priests had stood while carrying the Holy Box. These rocks are still there today.

10 The Lord had commanded Joshua to tell the people what to do. This is what Moses had said Joshua must do. So the priests carrying the Holy Box stood in the middle of the river until everything was done. Meanwhile, the people hurried across the river. 11 After the people finished crossing the river, the priests carried the Lord’s Holy Box to the front of the people.

12 The men from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh obeyed Moses. These men crossed the river in front of the other people. These men were prepared for war. They were going to help the rest of the Israelites take the land God had promised to give them. 13 About 40,000 soldiers, prepared for war, passed before the Lord. They were marching toward the plains of Jericho.

14 That day the Lord made Joshua a great man to all the Israelites. From that time on, they respected Joshua just as they had Moses.

15 Then the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the Box that holds the Agreement[d] to come out of the river.”

17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come out of the Jordan River.”

18 The priests obeyed Joshua. They carried the Box of the Lord’s Agreement with them and came out of the river. When their feet touched the land on the other side of the river, the water in the river began flowing again. The water again overflowed its banks just as it had before the people crossed.

19 The people crossed the Jordan River on the tenth day of the first month and camped at Gilgal, east of Jericho. 20 They carried with them the twelve rocks that they had taken from the Jordan River, and Joshua set them up at Gilgal. 21 Then Joshua told the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ 22 Tell them, ‘These rocks help us remember the way the people of Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry land.’ 23 The Lord your God caused the water in the Jordan River to stop flowing so that you could cross it on dry land—just as the Lord had stopped the water at the Red Sea so that we could cross it on dry land. 24 The Lord did this so that all the people in this country would know that he is very powerful. Then they will always be afraid of the Lord your God.”


  1. Joshua 2:1 Acacia Or “Shittim,” a town east of the Jordan River. Also in 3:1.
  2. Joshua 2:6 flax A plant used to make linen.
  3. Joshua 3:4 1000 yards Literally, “2000 cubits” (888 m).
  4. Joshua 4:16 Box that holds the Agreement Literally, “Testimony.” See “Agreement” in the Word List.

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