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God’s Commission to Joshua

Now it happened after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant (attendant), saying,(A) “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore [a]arise [to take his place], cross over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land which I am giving to them, to the [b]sons of Israel. I have given you every place on which the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness [of Arabia in the south] and this Lebanon [in the north], even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates [in the east], all the land of the [c]Hittites (Canaan), and as far as the Great [Mediterranean] Sea toward the west shall be your territory. No man will [be able to] stand before you [to oppose you] as long as you live. Just as I was [present] with Moses, so will I be with you; I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and confident and courageous, for you will give this people as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers (ancestors) to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do [everything] in accordance with the entire law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may prosper and be successful wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be [d]successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua Assumes Command

10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Go throughout the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to cross this [river] Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess [as an inheritance].’”

12 To the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest (peace) and will give you this land [east of the Jordan].’ 14 Your wives, your [e]children, and your cattle shall [be allowed to] stay in the land which Moses gave you on this [eastern] side of the Jordan, but you shall go across [the river] before your brothers (the other tribes) armed for battle, all your brave warriors, and you shall help them [conquer and take possession of their land], 15 until the Lord gives your brothers rest, as He has given you, and they also take possession of the land which the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall [be allowed to] return to your own land, and take possession of that which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

16 [f]They answered Joshua, saying, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so will we obey you; only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses. 18 Any man who rebels against your [g]command and does not obey everything that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous.”

Rahab Shelters Spies

Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as scouts secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially [h]Jericho [the walled city].” So they went and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab, and lodged there. Now the king of Jericho was told, “Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to spy and search out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, because they have come [as spies] to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them; so she said, “Yes, two men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. When it was time to close the [city] gate at dark, the men left; I do not know where they went. Pursue them quickly, for [if you do] you will overtake them.” But [in fact] she had brought the scouts up to the roof and had hidden them under the [i]stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof [to dry]. So the [king’s] men pursued them on the road to the Jordan as far as the [j]fords [east of Jericho]; as soon as the pursuers had gone out after them, the gate [of the city] was shut.

Now before the two men lay down [to sleep], Rahab came up to them on the roof, and she said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror and dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted [in despair] because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the [k]Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan [on the east], to Sihon and Og, whom you [l]utterly destroyed. 11 When we heard it, our hearts melted [in despair], and a [fighting] spirit no longer remained in any man because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.(B) 12 And now, please swear [an oath] to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s household (family), and give me a pledge of truth and faithfulness, 13 and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, along with everyone who belongs to them, and let us all live.” 14 So the men said to her, “Our lives for yours if you do not tell [anyone about] this business of ours; then when the Lord gives us the land we will show you kindness and faithfulness [and keep our agreement with you].”

The Promise to Rahab

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built [m]into the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Go [west] to the hill country, so that the pursuers [who have headed east] will not encounter you; hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you can go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We shall be blameless and free from this oath which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you tie this [n]cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and bring into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household [so that they will be safe]. 19 But if anyone goes out the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head [that is, his own responsibility], and we shall be blameless and free [from our oath]; however, if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell [anyone] this business of ours, we shall be blameless and free from the oath which you made us swear.” 21 She said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then Rahab sent them off, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

22 They left and went [on their way] to the hill country [west of Jericho], and stayed there [hidden in the caves] three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers had searched all along the road but had not found them. 23 Then the two men turned back and came down from the hill country and crossed over [the Jordan] and came to Joshua the son of Nun [at Shittim], and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “Certainly the Lord has given all the land into our hands; for all the inhabitants of the land have melted [in despair] because of us.”

Israel Crosses the Jordan

Joshua got up early in the morning; then he and all the children of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they spent the night there before they crossed [the river]. And it happened at the end of three days that the officers went throughout the camp, and they commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from where you are and follow it. However, there shall be a distance between you and it of about 2,000 cubits (3,000 ft.) by measurement. Do not come near it, [o]so that you may [be able to see the ark and] know the way you are to go, for you have not passed this way before.”

Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves [for His purpose], for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders (miracles) among you.” Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over [the river] ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went on ahead of the people.

The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to magnify and exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that just as I was with Moses, I will [also] be with you. You shall command the priests who carry the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here, and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will, without fail, drive out from before you the [p]Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you [leading the way] into the Jordan. 12 So now take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from each tribe. 13 When the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, [come to] rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing down from above will be cut off, and they will stand in one mass [of water].”

14 So when the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan with the priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and when those who were carrying the ark came up to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were submerged at the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all of its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters which were flowing down from above stopped and rose up in one mass a great distance away at [q]Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan. Those [waters] flowing downward toward the sea of the Arabah, the [r]Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed [the river] opposite Jericho.(C) 17 And while all [the people of] Israel crossed over on dry ground, the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan [riverbed], until all the nation had finished crossing over the Jordan.

Memorial Stones from Jordan

So it was when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take for yourselves the twelve men [chosen] from among the people, one man from each tribe, and command them, ‘Pick up for yourselves twelve stones [one each] from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm; carry them over with you and lay them down at the place where you will spend the night tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, “Cross over again to the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel, so that this may be a sign among you; when your children ask later, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall become a memorial for Israel forever.”

So the [twelve men chosen from the] sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel, just as the Lord had spoken to Joshua; and they carried them over with them to the place where they were spending the night and put them down there. Then Joshua set up [a second monument of] twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests who carried the ark were standing in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord had commanded Joshua to tell the people, in accordance with everything that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people hurried and crossed [the dry riverbed]; 11 and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed over in the presence of the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed for battle before the [other] sons of Israel, just as Moses had spoken to them; 13 about 40,000 [men] armed and equipped for war crossed for battle before the Lord to the desert plains of Jericho.

14 On that day the Lord magnified and exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so they feared him [with profound awe and reverence], just as they had feared Moses all the days of his life.

15 Now the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Order the priests carrying the ark of the Testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, saying, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 When the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord had come up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of their feet were raised up to the dry land, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and flowed over all its banks as before.

19 Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth [day] of the first month and encamped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. 21 He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know [without any doubt] and acknowledge that the hand of the Lord is mighty and extraordinarily powerful, so that you will fear the Lord your God [and obey and worship Him with profound awe and reverence] forever.”

Footnotes

  1. Joshua 1:2 The Hebrew verb “arise” is an instruction to get ready to fulfill a command, somewhat similar to the military command “attention.”
  2. Joshua 1:2 In general, sons (children) of Israel or Israel or Israelites refers to all the people (males and females) of the various tribes descended from the twelve sons (Gen 35:23-26) of Jacob (later renamed Israel by God). In verses concerning things such as warfare or circumcision sons of Israel or Israel or Israelites usually refers only to the males. A tribe of ancient people was identified by the name of its founding ancestor. Therefore, this same general rule applies when referring to individual tribal groups, e.g. sons of Reuben, Reuben, Reubenites and so throughout.
  3. Joshua 1:4 These Hittites are believed to be the descendants of Heth, a son of Canaan who was the youngest son of Ham. Canaan was cursed to a life of servitude by his grandfather Noah because of Ham’s act of disrespect for Noah. Gen 9:22-27.
  4. Joshua 1:8 God’s formula leading to Joshua’s success is clearly outlined in vv 5-9.
  5. Joshua 1:14 Lit little ones and so throughout.
  6. Joshua 1:16 I.e. the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
  7. Joshua 1:18 Lit mouth.
  8. Joshua 2:1 Jericho, an oasis near the Jordan River, is believed to be one of the world’s oldest inhabited sites. Its name is derived from the Hebrew word for “moon,” implying that it may have been a center of worship for various lunar gods.
  9. Joshua 2:6 Flax was used to make linen and the flat rooftop of a house was a convenient place to lay the stalks in the sun to dry.
  10. Joshua 2:7 I.e. narrow or shallow places where the river could be crossed by wading.
  11. Joshua 2:10 Lit Sea of Reeds.
  12. Joshua 2:10 The conquest of the land and the destruction of its inhabitants were acts of divine judgment decreed by God, and carried out through acts of obedience by Joshua and the sons of Israel.
  13. Joshua 2:15 Modern archaeology indicates that the house may have been built against the wall, so that the city wall also formed the back wall of the house. Otherwise, it may have been built partially or entirely in the wall. The Hebrew preposition (“into/in”) has too wide a range of meaning to be precise.
  14. Joshua 2:18 The scarlet cord in Rahab’s window may be considered analogous to the blood on the doorposts on the first Passover night in Egypt (Ex 12:13). God allowed her life to be saved and also changed. She became an ancestress, as did Ruth, of David and of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:1, 5, 6).
  15. Joshua 3:4 The implication is that coming too close to the ark would invite the divine punishment of death, and that the people can only follow the ark if they keep a safe distance.
  16. Joshua 3:10 The various tribal groups populating the land of Canaan were the descendants of Canaan, the youngest son of Ham, the son of Noah. Gen 10:15-19.
  17. Joshua 3:16 The city of Adam was located about sixteen miles up the river from Jericho.
  18. Joshua 3:16 I.e. Dead Sea.

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