Israel Is Circumcised
5 Now it happened when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted [in despair], and there was no [fighting] spirit in them any longer because of the Israelites [and what God had done for them].
2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise the [new generation of the] sons of Israel as [was done] before.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at [a]Gibeath-haaraloth. 4 This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness along the way after they left Egypt. 5 All the males who came out were circumcised, but all the males who were born in the wilderness on the way as they left Egypt had not been circumcised. 6 For the Israelites walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, died because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord; to them the Lord had sworn [an oath] that He would not let them see the land which He had promised to their fathers to give us, a land [of abundance] [b]flowing with milk and honey. 7 So it was their uncircumcised sons whom He raised up in their place, whom Joshua circumcised, because circumcision had not been performed on the way.
8 Then, when they had finished circumcising all [the males of] the nation, they stayed in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach (derision, ridicule) of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal (rolling) to this day.
10 While the Israelites camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened bread, and roasted grain.(A) 12 And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the Israelites no longer had manna, but they ate some of the produce of the land of Canaan during that year.
13 Now when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up, and behold, [c]a man was standing opposite him with his drawn sword in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” 14 He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the Lord.” Then Joshua fell with his face toward the earth and bowed down, and said to him, “What does my lord have to say to his servant?” 15 The captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy (set apart to the Lord).” And Joshua did so.(B)
The Conquest of Jericho
6 Now Jericho [a fortified city with high walls] was tightly closed because [of the people’s fear] of the sons of Israel; no one went out or came in. 2 The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the mighty warriors. 3 Now you shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do this [once each day] for six days. 4 Also, seven priests shall carry seven trumpets [made] of rams’ horns ahead of the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall cry out with a great shout (battle cry); and the wall of the city will fall down in its place, and the people shall go up, each man [going] straight ahead [climbing over the rubble].”
6 So Joshua the son of Nun called for the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and have seven priests carry seven trumpets made of rams’ horns ahead of the ark of the Lord.” 7 He said to the people, “Go forward! March around the city, and let the armed men go ahead of the ark of the Lord.” 8 And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets made of rams’ horns went on before the Lord and blew the trumpets; then the ark of the covenant of the Lord went behind them. 9 The armed men went in front of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued to blow the trumpets. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout [the battle cry] nor let your voice be heard nor let a word come out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout!” 11 So Joshua had the ark of the Lord taken around the city [on the first day], circling it once; then they came back into the camp and spent the night in the camp.
12 Then Joshua got up early in the morning [on the second day], and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets made of rams’ horns ahead of the ark of the Lord went on continually, blowing the trumpets; and the armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while the priests continued to blow the trumpets. 14 On the second day they marched around the city once, and returned to the camp; they did this for six days.
15 Then on the seventh day they got up early at daybreak and marched around the city in the same way seven times; only on that day they marched around the city [d]seven times. 16 And the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. 17 The city and everything that is in it shall be under the ban [that is, designated to be destroyed as a form of tribute] to the Lord; only Rahab the prostitute and all [the people] who are with her in her house shall [be allowed to] live, because she hid and protected the messengers (scouts) whom we sent. 18 But as for you, keep yourselves [away] from the things under the ban [which are to be destroyed], so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban [for personal gain], and put the camp of Israel under the ban (doomed to destruction), and bring disaster upon it. 19 All the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy (consecrated) to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted [the battle cry], and the priests blew the trumpets. When the people heard the sound of the trumpet, they raised a great shout and the wall [of Jericho] fell down, so that the sons of Israel went up into the city, every man straight ahead [climbing over the rubble], and they overthrew the city. 21 Then they utterly destroyed everything that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.
22 But Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring the woman and all that she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” 23 So the young men, the spies, went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and everything that she had; they also brought out all her relatives and allowed them to stay outside the camp of Israel [at Gilgal during the time required for ceremonial cleansing].(C) 24 Then they completely burned the city and everything that was in it. They put only the silver and the gold, and the articles of bronze and of iron, into the treasury of the house (tabernacle) of the Lord. 25 So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her father’s household and everything that she had; and she has lived among Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers (scouts) whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
26 Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.”(D) 27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
Israel Is Defeated at Ai
7 But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully and violated their obligation in regard to the things [off limits] under the ban [those things belonging to the Lord], for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban [for personal gain]. Therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the Israelites.
2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 Then they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not make all the people go up [to fight]; have only about two thousand or three thousand men go up and attack Ai; do not make the entire army go up there, for they [of Ai] are few.” 4 So about three thousand men from the sons of Israel went up there, but they fled [in retreat] from the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of Israel’s men, and chased them from the gate as far as [the bluffs of] Shebarim and struck them down as they descended [the steep pass], so the hearts of the people melted [in despair and began to doubt God’s promise] and became like water (disheartened).
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and [with great sorrow] they put dust on their heads. 7 Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord [e]God, why have You brought this people across the Jordan at all, only to hand us over to the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been willing to live beyond the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what can I say now that [the army of] Israel has turned back [in retreat and fled] before their enemies? 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear about it, and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will You do for Your great name [to keep it from dishonor]?”
10 So the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them [to keep]. They have even taken some of the things under the ban, and they have both stolen and [f]denied [the theft]. Moreover, they have also put the stolen objects among their own things. 12 That is why the [g]soldiers of Israel could not stand [and defend themselves] before their enemies; they turned their backs [and ran] before them, because they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from among you. 13 Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: “There are things under the ban among you, O Israel. You cannot stand [victorious] before your enemies until you remove the things under the ban from among you.” 14 In the morning you shall come forward by your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the Lord chooses by lot shall come forward by families, and the family which the Lord chooses shall come forward by [separate] households, and the household which the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 It shall be that the one who is chosen with the things under the ban shall be [killed and his body] burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he has done a [h]disgraceful and disobedient thing in Israel.’”(E)
The Sin of Achan
16 So Joshua got up early in the morning and had Israel come forward by tribes, and the tribe of Judah was chosen [by lot]. 17 He had the families of Judah come forward, and the family of the Zerahites was chosen; and he had the family of the Zerahites come forward man by man, and Zabdi was chosen. 18 He brought his household forward man by man; and Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him [in recognition of His righteous judgments]; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” 20 So Achan answered Joshua and said, “In truth, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I have done: 21 when I saw among the spoils [in Jericho] a [i]beautiful robe from Shinar (southern Babylon) and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I wanted them and took them. Behold, they are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and they saw the stolen objects hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them from the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the sons of Israel, and [j]spread them out before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the [royal] robe, the bar of gold, [k]his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and everything that he had; and they brought them up to the Valley of Achor (Disaster). 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought disaster on us? The Lord will bring you disaster this day.” Then all Israel stoned them [to death] with stones; afterward they burned their bodies in the fire. 26 Then they piled up over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor (Disaster) to this day.
The Conquest of Ai
8 Now the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed (intimidated). Take all the men of war with you and set out, go up to Ai; see, I have given the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land into your hand. 2 You shall do [the same] to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king; [except that] you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set up an ambush for the city behind it [on the west side].”
3 So Joshua set out with all the people of war to go up against Ai; then Joshua chose thirty thousand valiant men, and sent them out at night. 4 He commanded them, saying, “Listen closely, you are going to lie in wait and ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far away from the city, but all of you be ready. 5 Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us [for battle] as [they did] the first time, we will run away from them. 6 They will come out after us until we have lured them away from the city, because they will say, ‘They are running from us as [they did] before.’ So we will run from them. 7 Then you will emerge from the ambush and take possession of the city, for the Lord your God will hand it over to you. 8 When you have taken the city, you shall set it on fire; you shall do [exactly] as the Lord commanded. See, I have commanded you.” 9 So Joshua sent them off, and they went to the place for the ambush and stayed [hidden] between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua spent that night among the people [in Gilgal].
10 Now Joshua got up early in the morning and assembled the people, and went up with the elders of Israel before the people to Ai. 11 Then all the fighting men who were with him went up and advanced and arrived in front of the city, and camped on the north side of Ai. Now there was a ravine between them and Ai. 12 And Joshua took about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 13 So they stationed the people, all the army—the main encampment that was north of the city, and their rear guard on the west side of the city—and Joshua spent that night in the valley. 14 Now when the king [and the people] of Ai saw it, the men of the city hurried and got up early and went out to meet Israel in battle, the king and all his people at the appointed [time and] place before the desert plain (the Arabah). But he did not know that there was an ambush against him [waiting] behind the city [on the west side]. 15 So Joshua and all Israel pretended to be defeated by them, and ran toward the wilderness. 16 Then all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were lured away from the city. 17 Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel; so they left the city open and unguarded and they pursued Israel.
18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Reach out with the spear that is in your hand [and point it] toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua reached out with the spear in his hand [and pointed it] toward the city. 19 The [men in] ambush emerged quickly from their [hiding] place, and when Joshua stretched out his hand they ran and entered the city and captured it, and quickly set the city on fire. 20 When the men of Ai turned back and looked, behold, the smoke of the city was ascending toward the sky, [l]and they had no opportunity to run this way or that way. Then the people who had been running to the wilderness turned back toward the pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the [men in] ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city was ascending, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 Then the others came out of the city to confront the men of Ai [as they returned], so that they were trapped in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side; then Israel struck them until none of them survived or escaped. 23 But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.
24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the field in the wilderness where they pursued them, and they had all fallen by the edge of the sword until they were destroyed, then all Israel returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25 And all who fell that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand, all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not withdraw his hand with which he stretched out the spear until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27 Israel took only the livestock and the spoil of that city as plunder for themselves, according to the word of the Lord which He had commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a [m]rubbish heap forever, a desolation until this day. 29 He [n]hanged [the body of] the king of Ai on a tree [leaving it there] until evening; at sunset Joshua gave a command and they took the body down from the tree and dumped it at the entrance of the city gate, and piled a great heap of stones over it that stands to this day.
30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, 31 just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no one has wielded an iron tool; and they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And there, in the presence of the sons of Israel, Joshua wrote on the stones a copy of the Law of Moses which Moses had written. 33 All Israel, the stranger as well as the native born [among them], with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on either side of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded at first to bless the people of Israel. 34 Then afterward Joshua read all the words of the law, the blessing and curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and the children and the foreigners who were living among them.
- Joshua 5:3 Hebrew for “the hill of the foreskins,” named for the event.
- Joshua 5:6 This phrase referred to the abundant fertility of the land of Canaan. Milk (typically that of goats and sheep) was associated with abundance; “honey” referred mainly to syrups made from dates or grapes and was the epitome of sweetness. Bees’ honey was very rare and was considered the choicest of foods.
- Joshua 5:13 Whether the divine messenger was an angel or the pre-incarnate Christ is not clear from the Hebrew text; however, the message of godly assistance and pending victory was made clear to Joshua by the encounter.
- Joshua 6:15 In ancient times any walled town was called a “city” and its ruler was called “a king,” but the fact that Joshua’s army could march around Jericho seven times in one day shows that it was a very small place. Though the walls were formidable, the area they enclosed only measured seven acres. The whole circumference of the city was about 650 yards. Jebusite Jerusalem, which David captured, was about the same size. Schliemann, the German archeologist, experienced a similar surprise in 1873 when he excavated the city of Troy, which Homer tells us withstood the Grecian warriors for quite some time. It would almost seem that these ancient cities were more like places of refuge for the area’s population when an enemy approached. During peaceful times a large proportion of the inhabitants would live outside the city’s walls, because they were shepherds and farmers. Generally, only the craftsmen and administrators lived within the walls.
- Joshua 7:7 Heb YHWH, usually rendered Lord.
- Joshua 7:11 Or kept secret.
- Joshua 7:12 Lit sons.
- Joshua 7:15 Achan, the guilty party (v 18), had not only violated the divine ban with full knowledge of what he was doing, but had attempted to escape prosecution by concealing the evidence. This was a despicable affront to God, calling for severest of punishments.
- Joshua 7:21 I.e. a valuable, elaborately woven and decorated royal robe, perhaps even bejeweled.
- Joshua 7:23 Lit emptied.
- Joshua 7:24 The family was punished along with him as his co-conspirators.
- Joshua 8:20 Lit it was not in their hands.
- Joshua 8:28 Heb tel.
- Joshua 8:29 This was not an execution by hanging; the king was killed beforehand, probably with a sword, then his body was hung up (or impaled) to further shame him in the minds of others.