Moses has given the law and led them to the edge of the Promised Land

God handed the reins over to Joshua and told him to be strong and courageous and faithful

Rahab hid the spies and helped them get back to safety with the Israelites

The people crossed the Jordan with the Ark and set up their memorial stones

The guys all got circumcised

Now it’s time to take the land

Chapter 6 – Jericho

1 Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors.

Not Joshua’s idea. God’s idea, and God’s initiative too.

You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”

This strategy is completely counter-intuitive. Their approach will be dictated by God, not according to the wisdom of man.

So Joshua called together the priests and said, “Take up the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, and assign seven priests to walk in front of it, each carrying a ram’s horn.” Then he gave orders to the people: “March around the town, and the armed men will lead the way in front of the Ark of the Lord.”

After Joshua spoke to the people, the seven priests with the rams’ horns started marching in the presence of the Lord, blowing the horns as they marched. And the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant followed behind them. Some of the armed men marched in front of the priests with the horns and some behind the Ark, with the priests continually blowing the horns. 10 Do not shout; do not even talk,” Joshua commanded. “Not a single word from any of you until I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11 So the Ark of the Lord was carried around the town once that day, and then everyone returned to spend the night in the camp.

No taunting or even talking with each other. Each person had to struggle with obedience alone as they walked the long journey around the city each day (could have been a 2+ mile walk to go to and from their camp and also stay out of range of archers)

Q: What do you think they would have been thinking through this process?

  • In a lot of pain (circumcision)
  • Taunted by the people on the walls
  • Looking at the thick walls
  • Loneliness of not being able to get support from my fellow soldiers
  • Seeing Rahab’s red rope hanging from her window

Note: They had to take action without results this whole time…

15 On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. 16 The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! 17 Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.

18 “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. 19 Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”

Joshua reminds them this city is under God’s judgment. And there was to be no personal benefit from this military victory.

Even at this point, on their 13th time around the city, they couldn’t be sure the plan would work.

20 When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. 21 They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys.

This wouldn’t have been pleasant at all.

And God keeps his promise to Rahab. (there must have been one part of the wall still standing – the house of Rahab, with her red rope blowing in the wind like a flag of grace).

25 So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.

“to this day” – Little clues like this give us confidence that these accounts were faithfully recorded by Joshua in his day, later in life.

And Joshua places a curse on anyone who rebuilds Jericho (fulfilled in 1 Kings 16:34)

Q: What are some things that we can learn from the Battle of Jericho?

Chapter 7 – Ai

1 But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.

Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”

So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.

Q: What do you notice here about their approach to Ai? And how does it differ from their approach to Jericho?

  • Complacency born of success
  • Underestimating the danger
  • Over-confidence in themselves
Jericho Ai
Complete offering of themselves to God
Zealous obedience
All-out effort
Followed failure
Saw the danger
Complete obedience
Over-confidence in themselves
Minimum effort
Followed success
Saw little danger
Compromise of Achan


Q: How can we keep from getting complacent after victory?

Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening…

10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me…

16 Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the Lord… [they cast lots, and Achan is singled out]

20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them.

So they take Achan and kill him and his family. You see this at key transition points in the Bible – that God has a lower tolerance for sin. But of course, all sin should carry this punishment with it. It’s amazing that he spares anyone, considering that he said the wages of sin is death before humans ever rebelled against him.

In v. 26 it also says that they called this place the Valley of Achor, which means “trouble” Hosea 2:14-16 is cool on the Valley of Achor. Not sure if I’ll have time for this though.

14 “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble [Achor] into a gateway of hope…
16 When that day comes,” says the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’

Q: What are some things we can learn from the battle of Ai?

Chapter 8

1 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land.

Summarize the victory at Ai. False retreat followed by an ambush from behind.


30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. 31 He followed the commands that Moses the Lord’s servant had written in the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools.

Straight out of Exodus 20:25 – shows that Joshua had been reading his word!

33 Then all the Israelites—foreigners and native-born alike—along with the elders, officers, and judges, were divided into two groups. One group stood in front of Mount Gerizim, the other in front of Mount Ebal. Each group faced the other, and between them stood the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. This was all done according to the commands that Moses, the servant of the Lord, had previously given for blessing the people of Israel.

Straight out of Deut 27-28 – shows that Joshua had been reading his word!

34 Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction. 35 Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them.

Chapter 9 – The Gibeonites

1 Now all the kings west of the Jordan River heard about what had happened…

And those kings started forming alliances to fight against Joshua

But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins. They put on worn-out, patched sandals and ragged clothes. And the bread they took with them was dry and moldy. When they arrived at the camp of Israel at Gilgal, they told Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land to ask you to make a peace treaty with us.”

The Israelites replied to these Hivites, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.”

They replied, “We are your servants.”

“But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?”

They answered, “Your servants have come from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all he did in Egypt… 11 So our elders and all our people instructed us, ‘Take supplies for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and tell them, “We are your servants; please make a treaty with us.” ’

12 “This bread was hot from the ovens when we left our homes. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. 13 These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and split open. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.”

And see my cell phone? This is clearly a late-90’s dumb phone, but when we left it was brand new. See this Alanis Morissette CD? It was top of the charts when we left. Also, notice this VHS tape I checked out from Blockbuster right before we left. (aol email address; hammer pants; etc)

14 So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord. 15 Then Joshua made a peace treaty with them and guaranteed their safety, and the leaders of the community ratified their agreement with a binding oath.

16 Three days after making the treaty, they learned that these people actually lived nearby!

Q: What do you notice here about their approach to the Gibeonites? And how does it differ from their approach to Jericho?

Q: What are some practical ways to avoid autonomous decision making?

OR Q: What are some lessons we can learn from the story of the Gibeonites?

If time, read v. 26. Or just summarize.

26 So Joshua did not allow the people of Israel to kill them. 27 But that day he made the Gibeonites the woodcutters and water carriers for the community of Israel and for the altar of the Lord—wherever the Lord would choose to build it. And that is what they do to this day.

Later we Saul breaks this treaty and God calls on David to make things right again (2 Sam 21).

Chapter 10 – The Southern Campaign

Summarize the Southern Campaign

  • A coalition of Southern Armies, led by Adoni-Zedek of Jerusalem, attacks Gibeon
  • Gibeon calls for help, and Joshua marches through the night for a surprise attack
  • God throws the Southern Armies into panic, and then sends deadly hailstones on them as they flee.
  • As the Canaanites flee, Joshua prays for the sun to stand still so they have time to finish off their opponents before they escape

13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies. Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day. 14 There has never been a day like this one before or since…

The chapter ends with a long list of towns that Joshua conquered in the Southern half of Israel

Also see the reference to ancient source materials (the Book of Jashar)

Chapter 11 – The Northern Campaign

Summarize the Northern Campaign

  • A coalition of armies, led by King Jabin of Hazor, came out to fight Joshua
  • Joshua initiates a surprise counter-attack and defeats the multi-national force and he burns Hazor to the ground (one of three cities that get burned along with Jericho and Ai)
  • The chapter ends with a list of the cities Joshua defeated in the North

23 So Joshua took control of the entire land, just as the Lord had instructed Moses. He gave it to the people of Israel as their special possession, dividing the land among the tribes. So the land finally had rest from war.

Not that the fighting was done, but the initial campaign to carve out a beachhead in the middle of the country was completed, and it would be left to the individual tribes to take care of the details. Which we’re going to hear more about next week and in the book of Judges.


God singles out three key situations early on: One victory and two failures

  • Jericho – complete obedience and total victory
  • Ai – pride and complacency and greed, which met with initial failure. But God redeemed their poor choice and gave them victory in the end.
  • Gibeon – autonomous decision making, which met with mixed results. Cool to see how God worked in spite of their bad decision though.

So, on the one hand, God will allow them to make real, significant choices, and will withdraw his blessing if they are unfaithful to him

But on the other hand, through it all, God is still with them when they turn back to him, just like he promised.