THE COVENANT TO MOSES’ DISCIPLE, JOSHUA: XVI
Moses’ most loyal disciple was Joshua (also Hoshea). He was a descendant of Ephraim, the tribe of Joseph. Joshua was charged with the completion of Israel’s conquest and the settlement in Canaan. Joshua put the Covenant into action, in war and also in peace. Joshua obeyed Moses to the letter.
And Joshua the son of Nun was full of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands upon him; for Moses had laid his hands upon him; so the people of Israel obeyed him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great and terrible deed which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel (Deuteronomy 34:9-12).
MOSES PASSED THE STAFF TO JOSHUA
So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I am no longer able to go out and come in. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ The LORD your God himself will go over before you; he will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them; and Joshua will go over at your head, as the LORD has spoken. And the LORD will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. And the LORD will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandment which I have commanded you.”
Then Moses summoned Joshua, and said to hem in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the LORD who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:1-8).
GOD SPOKE TO JOSHUA AS IF HE WERE MOSES
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land which I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea to ward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and of good courage; for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:1-9).
COMMANDED TO CROSS THE JORDAN RIVER
Joshua sent two spies into Canaan, particularly to Jericho, where Rahab and her family sheltered and saved the Hebrews. The spies discovered fear of the Hebrews everywhere and their report was that God had already handed these inhabitants over to the Israelites. All they had to do was follow Joshua’s instruction, which directly came from Yahweh. The Ark of the Covenant, carried by Levite priests, led the way:
Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim, with all the people of Israel; and they came to the Jordan, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and 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 your place and follow it, that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, a distance for about two thousand cubits; do not come near it.” And Joshua said to the people, Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass on before the people.” And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.
And the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And you shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘when you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD you God.” And Joshua said, “Hereby you shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is to pass over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. And when the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be stopped from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”
So, when the people set out from their tents, to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (the Jordan overflows all its bank throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap far off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the sea of Arabah, the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho. And while all Israel were passing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan (Joshua 3:1-17).
JOSHUA SET UP A MEMORIAL OF STONES IN THE JORDAN RIVER
When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from each tribe a man, and command them, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood, and carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you, when your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial for ever.”
And the men 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 people of Israel, as the LORD told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. For the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan, until everything was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.
The people passed over in haste; and when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the LORD and the priests passed over before the people. The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had bidden them; about forty thousand ready armed for war passed over before the LORD for battle, to the plains of Jericho. On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him, as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.
And the LORD said to Joshua, “Command the priests who bear the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all it bank, as before.
The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your god did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty; that you may fear the LORD your God for ever” (Joshua 4:1-24).
JOSHUA RECONSECRATED THE PEOPLE IN THE COVENANT AT GILGAL
At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the people of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the people of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people that were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt, had not been circumcised. For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the nation, the men of war that came forth out of Egypt, perished, because they did not hearken to the voice of the LORD; to them the LORD swore that he would not let them see the lad which the LORD had sworn to their father to give us, a land flowing with wild and honey. So it was their children, whom he raised up in their stead, that Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised; because they had not been circumcised on the way.
When the circumcising of all the nation was done, they remained in their places in the camp till they were healed. And the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
While the people of Israel were encamped in Gilgal they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho. And on the morrow after the passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased on the morrow, when they ate the produce of the land; and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year (Joshua 5:2-12).
THE STRANGE MYSTERIOUS COMMANDER OF JOSHUA’S ARMY
Before the sudden appearance of the mysterious commander of the Lord’s army, Israel was hesitant and uncertain. The mysterious commander of the Lord’s army instilled confidence and certainty into the Israelites and they became fearless and even savage. They were the first to use noise as a weapon of war:
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood before him with his sword in his hand; and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but as a commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and said to him, “What does my lord bid his servant?” And the commander of the LORD’S army said to Joshua, Put off you shoes from you feet; for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so (Joshua 5:13-15).
Now Jericho was shut up from within and from without because of the people of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given into your hand Jericho, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; and on the seventh day you shall march the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up every man straight before him.” So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” And he said to the people, “Go forward; march around the city, and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the LORD.”
And as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams; horns before the LORD went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the LORD following them. And the armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. But Joshua commanded the people, “you shall not shout or let our voice be heard, neither shall any word go out of our mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then you shall shout.” So he caused the ark of the LORD to compass the city, going about it once; and they came into the camp, and spent the night in the camp.
Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD passed on, blowing the trumpets continually; and the armed men went before them, and the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six day.
On the seventh day they rose early at the dawn of the day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times: it was only on that day that they around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout; for the LORD has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers that we sent. But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction, and bring trouble upon it.
But all silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. Then they utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, asses, with the edge of the sword.
And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out from it the woman, and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” So the young men who had been spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her; and they brought all her kindred, and set them outside the came of Israel. And they burned the city with fire, and all within it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. But Rahab the harlot, and her father’s household, and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive; and she dwelt in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
Joshua laid an oath upon them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD be the man that rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.
At the cost of his first-born shall he lay its foundation, And at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.”
So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was in all the land (Joshua 6:1-27).