Contemporary English Version
Joshua Becomes the Leader of Israel
1 Moses, the Lord’s servant, was dead. So the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had been the assistant of Moses. The Lord said:
2 My servant Moses is dead. Now you must lead Israel across the Jordan River into the land I’m giving to all of you. 3 Wherever you go, I’ll give you that land, as I promised Moses. 4 It will reach from the Southern Desert to the Lebanon Mountains in the north, and to the northeast as far as the great Euphrates River. It will include the land of the Hittites,[a] and the land from here at the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea on the west. 5 Joshua, I will always be with you and help you as I helped Moses, and no one will ever be able to defeat you.
6-8 Long ago I promised the ancestors of Israel that I would give this land to their descendants. So be strong and brave! Be careful to do everything my servant Moses taught you. Never stop reading The Book of the Law[b] he gave you. Day and night you must think about what it says. If you obey it completely, you and Israel will be able to take this land.
9 I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.
The Eastern Tribes Promise To Help
10 Joshua ordered the tribal leaders 11 to go through the camp and tell everyone:
In a few days we will cross the Jordan River to take the land that the Lord our God is giving us. So fix as much food as you’ll need for the march into the land.
12 Joshua told the men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh:[c]
13-14 The Lord’s servant Moses said that the Lord our God has given you land here on the east side of the Jordan River, where you could live in peace. Your wives and children and your animals can stay here in the land Moses gave you. But all of you that can serve in our army must pick up your weapons and lead the men of the other tribes across the Jordan River. They are your relatives, so you must help them 15 conquer the land that the Lord is giving them. The Lord will give peace to them as he has given peace to you, and then you can come back and settle here in the land that Moses promised you.
16 The men answered:
We’ll cross the Jordan River and help our relatives. We’ll fight anywhere you send us. 17-18 If the Lord our God will help you as he helped Moses, and if you are strong and brave, we will obey you as we obeyed Moses. We’ll even put to death anyone who rebels against you or refuses to obey you.
Rahab Helps the Israelite Spies
2 Joshua chose two men as spies and sent them from their camp at Acacia with these instructions: “Go across the river and find out as much as you can about the whole region, especially about the town of Jericho.”
The two spies left the Israelite camp at Acacia and went to Jericho, where they decided to spend the night at the house of a prostitute[d] named Rahab.
2 But someone found out about them and told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelite men came here tonight, and they are spies.” 3-7 So the king sent soldiers to Rahab’s house to arrest the spies.
Meanwhile, Rahab had taken the men up to the flat roof of her house and had hidden them under some piles of flax plants[e] that she had put there to dry.
The soldiers came to her door and demanded, “Let us have the men who are staying at your house. They are spies.”
She answered, “Some men did come to my house, but I didn’t know where they had come from. They left about sunset, just before it was time to close the town gate.[f] I don’t know where they were going, but if you hurry, maybe you can catch them.”
The guards at the town gate let the soldiers leave Jericho, but they closed the gate again as soon as the soldiers went through. Then the soldiers headed toward the Jordan River to look for the spies at the place where people cross the river.
8 Rahab went back up to her roof. The spies were still awake, so she told them:
9 I know that the Lord has given Israel this land. Everyone shakes with fear because of you. 10 We heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea[g] so you could leave Egypt. And we heard how you destroyed Sihon and Og, those two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River. 11 We know that the Lord your God rules heaven and earth, and we’ve lost our courage and our will to fight.
12 Please promise me in the Lord’s name that you will be as kind to my family as I have been to you. Do something to show 13 that you won’t let your people kill my father and mother and my brothers and sisters and their families.
14 “Rahab,” the spies answered, “if you keep quiet about what we’re doing, we promise to be kind to you when the Lord gives us this land. We pray that the Lord will kill us if we don’t keep our promise!”[h]
15 Rahab’s house was built into the town wall,[i] and one of the windows in her house faced outside the wall. She gave the spies a rope, showed them the window, and said, “Use this rope to let yourselves down to the ground outside the wall. 16 Then hide in the hills. The men who are looking for you won’t be able to find you there. They’ll give up and come back after a few days, and you can be on your way.”
17-20 The spies said:
You made us promise to let you and your family live. We will keep our promise, but you can’t tell anyone why we were here. You must tie this red rope on your window when we attack, and your father and mother, your brothers, and everyone else in your family must be here with you. We’ll take the blame if anyone who stays in this house gets hurt. But anyone who leaves your house will be killed, and it won’t be our fault.
21 “I’ll do exactly what you said,” Rahab promised. Then she sent them on their way and tied the red rope to the window.
22 The spies hid in the hills for three days while the king’s soldiers looked for them along the roads. As soon as the soldiers gave up and returned to Jericho, 23 the two spies went down into the Jordan valley and crossed the river. They reported to Joshua and told him everything that had happened. 24 “We’re sure the Lord has given us the whole country,” they said. “The people there shake with fear every time they think of us.”
Israel Crosses the Jordan River
3 Early the next morning, Joshua and the Israelites packed up and left Acacia. They went to the Jordan River and camped there that night. 2 Two days later[j] their leaders went through the camp, 3-4 shouting, “When you see some of the priests[k] carrying the sacred chest, you’ll know it is time to cross to the other side. You’ve never been there before, and you won’t know the way, unless you follow the chest. But don’t get too close! Stay about half a mile back.”
5 Joshua told the people, “Make yourselves acceptable[l] to worship the Lord, because he is going to do some amazing things for us.”
6 Then Joshua turned to the priests and said, “Take the chest and cross the Jordan River ahead of us.” So the priests picked up the chest by its carrying poles and went on ahead.
7 The Lord told Joshua, “Beginning today I will show the people that you are their leader, and they will know that I am helping you as I helped Moses. 8 Now, tell the priests who are carrying the chest to go a little way into the river and stand there.”
9 Joshua spoke to the people:
Come here and listen to what the Lord our God said he will do! 10 The Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites control the land on the other side of the river. But the living God will be with you and will force them out of the land when you attack. And now, God is going to prove that he’s powerful enough to force them out. 11-13 Just watch the sacred chest that belongs to the Lord, the ruler of the whole earth. As soon as the priests carrying the chest step into the Jordan, the water will stop flowing and pile up as if someone had built a dam across the river.
The Lord has also said that each of the twelve tribes should choose one man to represent it.
14 The Israelites packed up and left camp. The priests carrying the chest walked in front, 15 until they came to the Jordan River. The water in the river had risen over its banks, as it often does in springtime.[m] But as soon as the feet of the priests touched the water, 16-17 the river stopped flowing, and the water started piling up at the town of Adam near Zarethan. No water flowed toward the Dead Sea, and the priests stood in the middle of the dry riverbed near Jericho while everyone else crossed over.
The People Set Up a Monument
4 After Israel had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua:
2-3 Tell[n] one man from each of the twelve tribes to pick up a large rock from where the priests are standing. Then have the men set up those rocks as a monument at the place where you camp tonight.
4 Joshua chose twelve men; he called them together, 5 and told them:
Go to the middle of the riverbed where the sacred chest is, and pick up a large rock. Carry it on your shoulder to our camp. There are twelve of you, so there will be one rock for each tribe. 6-7 Someday your children will ask, “Why are these rocks here?” Then you can tell them how the water stopped flowing when the chest was being carried across the river. These rocks will always remind our people of what happened here today.
8 The men followed the instructions that the Lord had given Joshua. They picked up twelve rocks, one for each tribe, and carried them to the camp, where they put them down.
9 Joshua had some other men set up a monument next to the place where the priests were standing. This monument was also made of twelve large rocks, and it is still there in the middle of the river.
The People of Israel Set Up Camp at Gilgal
10-13 The army got ready for battle and crossed the Jordan. They marched quickly past the sacred chest[o] and into the desert near Jericho. Forty thousand soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh[p] led the way, as Moses had ordered.[q]
The priests stayed right where they were until the army had followed the orders that the Lord had given Moses and Joshua. Then the army watched as the priests carried the chest the rest of the way across.
14-18 “Joshua,” the Lord said, “have the priests come up from the Jordan and bring the chest with them.” So Joshua went over to the priests and told them what the Lord had said. And as soon as the priests carried the chest past the highest place that the floodwaters of the Jordan had reached, the river flooded its banks again.
That’s how the Lord showed the Israelites that Joshua was their leader.[r] For the rest of Joshua’s life, they respected him as they had respected Moses.
19 It was the tenth day of the first month[s] of the year when Israel crossed the Jordan River. They set up camp at Gilgal, which was east of the land controlled by Jericho. 20 The men who had carried the twelve rocks from the Jordan brought them to Joshua, and they made them into a monument. 21 Then Joshua told the people:
Years from now your children will ask you why these rocks are here. 22-23 Tell them, “The Lord our God dried up the Jordan River so we could walk across. He did the same thing here for us that he did for our people at the Red Sea,[t] 24 because he wants everyone on earth to know how powerful he is. And he wants us to worship only him.”
- 1.4 the land. . . Hittites: This refers to the northern part of Syria, which had been the southernmost part of the Hittite Empire.
- 1.6-8 the Law: Or “Teachings.”
- 1.12 East Manasseh: The half of Manasseh that settled east of the Jordan River.
- 2.1 prostitute: Rahab was possibly an innkeeper.
- 2.3-7 flax plants: The stalks of flax plants were harvested, soaked in water, and dried, then their fibers were separated and spun into thread, which was woven into linen cloth.
- 2.3-7 gate: Many towns and cities had walls with heavy gates that were closed at night for protection.
- 2.10 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph “Sea of Reeds,” one of the marshes or fresh water lakes near the eastern part of the Nile Delta. This identification is based on Exodus 13.17—14.9, which lists the towns on the route of the Israelites before crossing the sea. In the Greek translation of the Scriptures made about 200 B.C., the “Sea of Reeds” was named “Red Sea.”
- 2.14 We pray. . . promise: Or “If you save our lives, we will save yours!”
- 2.15 wall: In ancient times, cities and larger towns had high walls around them to protect them against attack. Sometimes houses were built against the wall so that the city wall formed one wall of the house. This added strength to the city wall.
- 3.2 Two days later: The Hebrew text has “At the end of three days,” two days after they had set up camp.
- 3.3,4 the priests: The Hebrew text has “the priests, the Levites” ; priests belonged to the tribe of Levi.
- 3.5 Make yourselves acceptable: People had to do certain things to make themselves acceptable to worship the Lord (see Leviticus 7.20,21; 15.2,33; 22.4-8; Deuteronomy 23.10,11).
- 3.15 springtime: Or “harvest time” ; the grain harvest was in late spring.
- 4.1-3 Joshua. . . Tell: Or “Joshua, you and the other leaders must tell.”
- 4.10-13 the sacred chest: The Hebrew text has “the Lord.” The army was marching past the sacred chest, which was a symbol of God’s throne on earth (see 1 Samuel 4.4 and Exodus 25.10-22; 37.1-9).
- 4.10-13 Forty thousand soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh: Or “There were forty thousand soldiers altogether, and those from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh.”
- 4.10-13 Moses. . . ordered: See Numbers 32.16-32; Joshua 1.12-16.
- 4.14-18 leader: See 3.7.
- 4.19 first month: Abib (also called Nisan), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April.
- 4.22,23 Red Sea: See the note at 2.10.