Add parallel Print Page Options

The Amorite kings west of the Jordan River and the Canaanite kings along the Mediterranean Sea lost their courage and their will to fight, when they heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan River to let Israel go across.

Israel Gets Ready To Celebrate Passover

While Israel was camped at Gilgal, the Lord said, “Joshua, make some flint knives[a] and circumcise the rest of the Israelite men and boys.”[b]

Joshua made the knives, then circumcised those men and boys at Haaraloth Hill.[c] 4-7 This had to be done, because none of Israel’s baby boys had been circumcised during the forty years that Israel had wandered through the desert after leaving Egypt.

And why had they wandered for forty years? It was because right after they left Egypt, the men in the army had disobeyed the Lord. And the Lord had said, “None of you men will ever live to see the land that I promised Israel. It is a land rich with milk and honey, and someday your children will live there, but not before you die here in the desert.”

Everyone who had been circumcised needed time to heal, and they stayed in camp.

The Lord told Joshua, “It was a disgrace for my people to be slaves in Egypt, but now I have taken away that disgrace.” So the Israelites named the place Gilgal,[d] and it still has that name.

10 Israel continued to camp at Gilgal in the desert near Jericho, and on the fourteenth day of the same month,[e] they celebrated Passover.

11-12 The next day, God stopped sending the Israelites manna[f] to eat each morning, and they started eating food grown in the land of Canaan. They ate roasted grain[g] and thin bread[h] made of the barley they had gathered from nearby fields.

Israel Captures Jericho

13 One day, Joshua was near Jericho when he saw a man standing some distance in front of him. The man was holding a sword, so Joshua walked up to him and asked, “Are you on our side or on our enemies' side?”

14 “Neither,” he answered. “I am here because I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”

Joshua fell to his knees and bowed down to the ground. “I am your servant,” he said. “Tell me what to do.”

15 “Take off your sandals,” the commander answered. “This is a holy place.”

So Joshua took off his sandals.

Meanwhile, the people of Jericho had been locking the gates in their town wall because they were afraid of the Israelites. No one could go out or come in.

2-3 The Lord said to Joshua:

With my help, you and your army will defeat the king of Jericho and his army, and you will capture the town. Here is how to do it: March slowly around Jericho once a day for six days. Take along the sacred chest and have seven priests walk in front of it, carrying trumpets.[i]

But on the seventh day, march slowly around the town seven times while the priests blow their trumpets. Then the priests will blast on their trumpets, and everyone else will shout. The wall will fall down, and your soldiers can go straight in from every side.

Joshua called the priests together and said, “Take the chest and have seven priests carry trumpets and march ahead of it.”

7-10 Next, he gave the army their orders: “March slowly around Jericho. A few of you will go ahead of the chest to guard it, but most of you will follow it. Don’t shout the battle cry or yell or even talk until the day I tell you to. Then let out a shout!”

As soon as Joshua finished giving the orders, the army started marching. One group of soldiers led the way, with seven priests marching behind them and blowing trumpets. Then came the priests carrying the chest, followed by the rest of the soldiers. 11 They obeyed Joshua’s orders and carried the chest once around the town before returning to camp for the night.

12-14 Early the next morning, Joshua and everyone else started marching around Jericho in the same order as the day before. One group of soldiers was in front, followed by the seven priests with trumpets and the priests who carried the chest. The rest of the army came next. The seven priests blew their trumpets while everyone marched slowly around Jericho and back to camp. They did this once a day for six days.

15 On the seventh day, the army got up at daybreak. They marched slowly around Jericho the same as they had done for the past six days, except on this day they went around seven times. 16 Then the priests blew the trumpets, and Joshua yelled:

Get ready to shout! The Lord will let you capture this town. 17 But you must destroy it and everything in it, to show that it now belongs to the Lord.[j] The woman Rahab helped the spies we sent,[k] so protect her and the others who are inside her house. But kill everyone else in the town. 18-19 The silver and gold and everything made of bronze and iron belong to the Lord and must be put in his treasury. Be careful to follow these instructions, because if you see something you want and take it, the Lord will destroy Israel. And it will be all your fault.[l]

20 The priests blew their trumpets again, and the soldiers shouted as loud as they could. The walls of Jericho fell flat. Then the soldiers rushed up the hill, went straight into the town, and captured it. 21-25 They killed everyone, men and women, young and old, everyone except Rahab and the others in her house. They even killed every cow, sheep, and donkey.

Joshua said to the two men who had been spies, “Rahab kept you safe when I sent you to Jericho. We promised to protect her and her family, and we will keep that promise. Now go into her house and bring them out.”

The two men went into Rahab’s house and brought her out, along with her father and mother, her brothers, and her other relatives. Rahab and her family had to stay in a place just outside the Israelite army camp.[m] But later they were allowed to live among the Israelites, and her descendants still do.

The Israelites took the silver and gold and the things made of bronze and iron and put them with the rest of the treasure that was kept at the Lord’s house.[n] Finally, they set fire to Jericho and everything in it.

26 After Jericho was destroyed, Joshua warned the people, “Someday a man will rebuild Jericho, but the Lord will put a curse on him, and the man’s oldest son will die when he starts to build the town wall. And by the time he finishes the wall and puts gates in it, all his children will be dead.”[o]

27 The Lord helped Joshua in everything he did, and Joshua was famous everywhere in Canaan.

Achan Is Punished for Stealing from the Lord

The Lord had said that everything in Jericho belonged to him.[p] But Achan[q] from the Judah tribe took some of the things from Jericho for himself. And so the Lord was angry with the Israelites, because one of them had disobeyed him.[r]

While Israel was still camped near Jericho, Joshua sent some spies with these instructions: “Go to the town of Ai[s] and find out whatever you can about the region around the town.”

The spies left and went to Ai, which is east of Bethel and near Beth-Aven. They went back to Joshua and reported, “You don’t need to send the whole army to attack Ai—two or three thousand troops will be enough. Why bother the whole army for a town that small?”

4-5 Joshua sent about three thousand soldiers to attack Ai. But the men of Ai fought back and chased the Israelite soldiers away from the town gate and down the hill to the stone quarries.[t] Thirty-six Israelite soldiers were killed, and the Israelite army felt discouraged.

Joshua and the leaders of Israel tore their clothes and put dirt on their heads to show their sorrow. They lay facedown on the ground in front of the sacred chest until sunset. Then Joshua said:

Our Lord, did you bring us across the Jordan River just so the Amorites could destroy us? This wouldn’t have happened if we had agreed to stay on the other side of the Jordan. I don’t even know what to say to you, since Israel’s army has turned and run from the enemy. Everyone will think you weren’t strong enough to protect your people. Now the Canaanites and everyone else who lives in the land will surround us and wipe us out.

10 The Lord answered:

Stop lying there on the ground! Get up! 11 I said everything in Jericho belonged to me and had to be destroyed. But the Israelites have kept some of the things for themselves. They stole from me and hid what they took. Then they lied about it. 12 What they stole was supposed to be destroyed, and now Israel itself must be destroyed. I cannot help you anymore until you do exactly what I have said. That’s why Israel turns and runs from its enemies instead of standing up to them.

13 Tell the people of Israel, “Tomorrow you will meet with the Lord your God, so make yourselves acceptable to worship him. The Lord says that you have taken things that should have been destroyed. You won’t be able to stand up to your enemies until you get rid of those things.

14 “Tomorrow morning everyone must gather near the place of worship. You will come forward tribe by tribe, and the Lord will show which tribe is guilty. Next, the clans in that tribe must come forward, and the Lord will show which clan is guilty. The families in that clan must come, and the Lord will point out the guilty family. Finally, the men in that family must come, 15 and the Lord will show who stole what should have been destroyed. That man must be put to death, his body burned, and his possessions thrown into the fire. He has done a terrible thing by breaking the sacred agreement that the Lord made with Israel.”

16 Joshua got up early the next morning and brought each tribe to the place of worship, where the Lord showed that the Judah tribe was guilty. 17 Then Joshua brought the clans of Judah to the Lord, and the Lord showed that the Zerah clan was guilty. One by one he brought the leader of each family in the Zerah clan to the Lord, and the Lord showed that Zabdi’s family was guilty. 18 Finally, Joshua brought each man in Zabdi’s family to the Lord, and the Lord showed that Achan was the guilty one.

19 “Achan,” Joshua said, “the Lord God of Israel has decided that you are guilty. Is this true? Tell me what you did, and don’t try to hide anything.”

20 “It’s true,” Achan answered. “I sinned and disobeyed the Lord God of Israel. 21-22 While we were in Jericho, I saw a beautiful Babylonian robe, two hundred pieces of silver, and a gold bar that weighed the same as fifty pieces of gold. I wanted them for myself, so I took them. I dug a hole under my tent and hid the silver, the gold, and the robe.”

Joshua had some people run to Achan’s tent, where they found the silver, the gold, and the robe. 23 They brought them back and put them in front of the sacred chest, so Joshua and the rest of the Israelites could see them. 24 Then everyone took Achan and the things he had stolen to Trouble Valley.[u] They also took along his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys, and sheep, his tent, and everything else that belonged to him.

25 Joshua said, “Achan, you caused us a lot of trouble. Now the Lord is paying you back with the same kind of trouble.”

The people of Israel then stoned to death Achan and his family. They made a fire and burned the bodies, together with what Achan had stolen, and all his possessions. 26 They covered the remains with a big pile of rocks, which is still there. Then the Lord stopped being angry with Israel.

That’s how the place came to be called Trouble Valley.

Israel Destroys the Town of Ai

1-2 The Lord told Joshua:

Don’t be afraid, and don’t be discouraged by what happened at the town of Ai. Take the army and attack again. But first, have part of the army set up an ambush on the other side of the town. I will help you defeat the king of Ai and his army, and you will capture the town and the land around it. Destroy Ai and kill its king as you did at Jericho. But you may keep the livestock and everything else you want.

3-4 Joshua quickly got the army ready to attack Ai. He chose thirty thousand of his best soldiers and gave them these orders:

Tonight, while it is dark, march to Ai and take up a position behind the town. Get as close to the town as you can without being seen, but be ready to attack.

5-6 The rest of the army will come with me and attack near the gate. When the people of Ai come out to fight, we’ll run away and let them chase us. They will think we are running from them just like the first time. But when we’ve let them chase us far enough away, you come out of hiding. The Lord our God will help you capture the town. Then set it on fire, as the Lord has told us to do. Those are your orders, now go!

The thirty thousand soldiers went to a place on the west side of Ai, between Ai and Bethel, where they could hide and wait to attack.

That night, Joshua stayed in camp with the rest of the army. 10 Early the next morning he got his troops ready to move out, and he and the other leaders of Israel led them to Ai. 11 They set up camp in full view of the town, across the valley to the north. 12 Joshua had already sent five thousand soldiers to the west side of the town to hide and wait to attack. 13 Now all his troops were in place. Part of the army was in the camp to the north of Ai, and the others were hiding to the west, ready to make a surprise attack. That night, Joshua went into the valley.[v]

14-15 The king of Ai saw Joshua’s army, so the king and his troops hurried out early the next morning to fight them. Joshua and his army pretended to be beaten, and they let the men of Ai chase them toward the desert. The king and his army were facing the Jordan valley as Joshua had planned.

The king did not realize that some Israelite soldiers were hiding behind the town. 16-17 So he called out every man in Ai to go after Joshua’s troops. They all rushed out to chase the Israelite army, and they left the town gates wide open. Not one man was left in Ai or in Bethel.[w]

Joshua let the men of Ai chase him and his army farther and farther away from Ai. 18 Finally, the Lord told Joshua, “Point your sword[x] at the town of Ai, because now I am going to help you defeat it!”

As soon as Joshua pointed his sword at the town, 19 the soldiers who had been hiding got up and ran into the town. They captured it and set it on fire.

20-21 When Joshua and his troops saw smoke rising from the town, they knew that the other part of their army had captured it. So they turned and attacked.

The men of Ai looked back and saw smoke rising from their town. But they could not escape, because the soldiers they had been chasing had suddenly turned and started fighting. 22-24 Meanwhile, the other Israelite soldiers had come from the town and attacked the men of Ai from the rear. The Israelites captured the king of Ai and brought him to Joshua. They also chased the rest of the men of Ai into the desert and killed them.[y]

The Israelite army went back to Ai and killed everyone there. 25-26 Joshua kept his sword pointed at the town of Ai until every last one of Ai’s twelve thousand people was dead. 27 But the Israelites took the animals and the other possessions of the people of Ai, because this was what the Lord had told Joshua to do.

28-29 Joshua made sure every building in Ai was burned to the ground. He told his men to kill the king of Ai and hang his body on a tree. Then at sunset he told the Israelites to take down the body,[z] throw it in the gateway of the town, and cover it with a big pile of rocks. Those rocks are still there, and the town itself has never been rebuilt.

Joshua Reads the Blessings and Curses

30-32 One day, Joshua led the people of Israel to Mount Ebal, where he told some of his men, “Build an altar for offering sacrifices to the Lord. And use stones that have never been cut with iron tools,[aa] because that is what Moses taught in The Book of the Law.”[ab]

Joshua offered sacrifices to please the Lord[ac] and to ask his blessing.[ad] Then with the Israelites still watching, he copied parts of The Book of the Law[ae] of Moses onto stones.

33-35 Moses had said that everyone in Israel was to go to the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, where they were to be blessed. So everyone went there, including the foreigners, the leaders, officials, and judges. Half of the people stood on one side of the valley, and half on the other side, with the priests from the Levi tribe standing in the middle with the sacred chest. Then in a loud voice, Joshua read the blessings and curses from The Book of the Law[af] of Moses.

Footnotes

  1. 5.2 flint knives: Flint is a stone that can be chipped until it forms a very sharp edge.
  2. 5.2 circumcise. . . men and boys: They could not celebrate Passover unless they were circumcised (see Exodus 12.43-49).
  3. 5.3 Haaraloth Hill: Or “Foreskin Hill.”
  4. 5.9 Gilgal: In Hebrew “Gilgal” sounds like “take away.”
  5. 5.10 the same month: See the note at 4.19.
  6. 5.11,12 manna: The special food that God provided for the Israelites while they were in the desert for forty years. It was about the size of a small seed, and it appeared on the ground during the night, except on the Sabbath. It was gathered early in the morning, ground up, and then baked or boiled (see Exodus 16.13-35; Numbers 11.4-9).
  7. 5.11,12 roasted grain: Roasted grain was made by cooking the grain in a dry pan or on a flat rock, or by holding a bunch of grain stalks over a fire.
  8. 5.11,12 thin bread: Bread made without yeast. Israelites were not supposed to eat bread made with yeast for the week following Passover. That week is called the Festival of Thin Bread (see Exodus 12.14-20; 13.3-7).
  9. 6.4 trumpets: These were hollowed-out ram’s horns.
  10. 6.17 destroy. . . now belongs to the Lord: Destroying a city and everything in it, including its people and animals, showed that it belonged to the Lord and could no longer be used by humans.
  11. 6.17 sent: See 2.1,21.
  12. 6.18,19 Be careful. . . fault: One ancient translation; Hebrew “Don’t keep any of it for yourself. If you do, the Lord will destroy both you and Israel.”
  13. 6.21-25 camp: Rahab and her family were Canaanites and were considered unclean. If they stayed in the Israelite army camp, the Lord would not help the Israelite army in battle (see Deuteronomy 23.9-14). However, Rahab and her family later became part of Israel.
  14. 6.21-25 the Lord’s house: A name for the place of worship, which at that time was the sacred tent.
  15. 6.26 by the time. . . dead: Or “when he puts gates into the town wall, his youngest son will die.”
  16. 7.1 belonged to him: See the note at 6.17.
  17. 7.1 Achan: The Hebrew text has “Achan, son of Carmi, grandson of Abdi, and great-grandson of Zerah.”
  18. 7.1 the Lord was angry. . . disobeyed him: Even though only one person had disobeyed, it meant that the Lord’s instructions to the people of Israel had not been followed, and the whole nation was held responsible.
  19. 7.2 of Ai: Or “called The Ruins.”
  20. 7.4,5 stone quarries: Or “Shebarim.”
  21. 7.24 Trouble Valley: Or “Achor Valley.”
  22. 8.13 valley: This may refer either to the Jordan River valley or to the valley between the Israelite camp and Ai.
  23. 8.16,17 Ai or in Bethel: Hebrew; one ancient translation “Ai.”
  24. 8.18 sword: Or “spear.”
  25. 8.22-24 Joshua. They also chased. . . them: Or “Joshua. The men of Ai had chased the Israelites into the desert, but the Israelites killed them there.”
  26. 8.28,29 take down the body: See Deuteronomy 21.22,23.
  27. 8.30-32 use stones. . . iron tools: See Exodus 20.25.
  28. 8.30-32 taught. . . Law: Or “commanded. . . Teachings.”
  29. 8.30-32 sacrifices to please the Lord: These sacrifices have been traditionally called “whole burnt offerings” because the whole animal was burned on the altar. A main purpose of such sacrifices was to please the Lord with the smell of the sacrifice, and so in the CEV they are often called “sacrifices to please the Lord.”
  30. 8.30-32 to ask his blessing: These sacrifices have traditionally been called “peace offerings,” or “offerings of well-being.” A main purpose was to ask for the Lord’s blessing, and so in the CEV they are often called “sacrifices to ask the Lord’s blessing.”
  31. 8.30-32,33-35 Law: Or “Teachings.”
  32. 8.33-35 the blessings. . . Moses: Or “all of The Book of the Law of Moses, including the blessings and the curses.”