In the last book, Deuteronomy, Moses finally passes on and passes the torch to Joshua. So this is where Joshua takes over command and leads the people of Israel.
We begin with God commanding Joshua to get ready to not only lead, but to “be strong and courageous” and to keep the law. Joshua then goes down to the camp tells the people to be ready to leave in three days to take the land they are supposed to have. The story is about to really begin again and the people are taking on a more active role within it. But it was the end that gave me pause. When Joshua commands them, this is the response:
All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.
What’s interesting about this to me is that this group has been notoriously bad about following Moses to the point where Moses asked for death at least once. Then again, the people who rebelled at each turn were killed off in one way or another, so maybe those who remain are the faithful ones. I guess we’ll see.
In this chapter is where we find the infamous story of Rahab. This is a woman who is described only as a prostitute but saves the two spies and makes a deal with them. She believes in what she heard about them and their God from other places and asks that her family be spared. They agree to it right away and promise that any deaths in her father’s household will be on their heads.
Most of the story I’ve heard before, but I hadn’t considered the faith it took. Not hers, Rahab’s faith is always what’s pointed out by this story, but the spies. Up to this point, the Israelites haven’t often had this much faith in anything Moses wasn’t actively yelling about. There was often grumbling and doubt.
These men had no idea what God’s plan had been for how they were going to Jericho and they knew they had been instructed to kill every single person in the lands they were going to be inhabiting. Nonetheless, they took it upon themselves to make this promise. Did they do it knowing that God would hold up this promise because she had saved their lives? Or were they just willing to pay the sacrifice for being responsible for these deaths? Either way, they just made the promise.
And they made the stipulation about the scarlet cord around the window, can’t forget to mention that. Just like in Egypt, there had to be marker for the house that was to be spared.
I have never heard this story before. God also parts the Jordan for them to cross over. I guess it’s not as harrowing a tale because they aren’t running from anyone and it’s not as specific a “parting” as much as a damming up of the Jordan, but still. The waters flow in a certain way normally and then they didn’t. Not only did the water not actively flow but it was “cut off from flowing” and “shall stand in one heap” while the people of Israel “stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan”.
I don’t know about you, but I never knew there was a repeat of that feat.
Here they set up a monument of stones from the bottom of the Jordan river that they were instructed to bring out and put up so that they remember that this was where they crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
God orders all the men be circumcised again. When I first read this, my initial thought was “What would they have left to do this with?” but alas, there was more to it. All the men who had been circumcised in the beginning of the journey had passed and there were no more circumcised males. I thought this was strange because I thought they were supposed to have been doing this all along. But I guess they just didn’t… not sure. Either way, it’s done again.
They also have another Passover in this chapter. This Passover marks the end of the manna because they “ate of the produce of the land”. I guess that means there was no more need for it.
The last paragraph of this chapter has Joshua meeting a man who “was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand.” It’s interesting that Joshua’s first instinct was just to ask which side the man was on. He is then informed that the man is the “commander of the army of the Lord.”
So there are my feelings and impressions on chapters 1-5 of Joshua. Have you read it? What do you think?