Joshua and the Battle of Jericho
The day started like most other days. Joshua woke up on the matt that he shared with his wife. He looked at her sleeping peacefully, without a care in the world. God had taken care of them and helped them meet their daily needs since the exodus from Israel more than 40 years ago. God had provided them with water that flowed forth wherever they camped, even while in the desert.
God had sent them mana every day to eat. Joshua saw his wife stirring and knew she would be awake soon to gather the mana from the ground. The white frostlike powder was like flour. It could be mixed with water and an occasional egg to make bread. It could boiled in a pot, like porridge and fixed in a number of other ways. The mana had to be used the same day it was gathered except on the sixth day of the week, when enough mana could be gathered to make meals for the seventh day when they rested.
Joshua saw his wife's eyes returning his look. He squeezed her hand and helped her up. She rolled up the bed roll and picked up her favorite clay jar to get water so Joshua could wash and be fresh when he appeared before Moses. Today was to be a special day, though Joshua did not know why Moses had called him and the other leaders together. He as he put on his best robe, he recalled a similar day 40 years ago.
Joshua was one of 12 young men from among the tribes of Israel that were asked by Moses to be the first to enter the land God had promised to them, the "Land Overflowing with Milk and Honey."
They were to spy on the people of the land and to report back about the land, its ability to feed the people of Israel, its defenses and more.
It had been exciting, as Joshua had traveled with his best friend, Caleb. The men had split off into pairs to explore the land as thoroughly as possible. He and Caleb had seen grapes larger than any they had seen in Egypt. The heads of golden grain grew taller and held more grain than anything in Egypt. The cattle were fat and the herds of goats and sheep showed that the land was rich.
As he remembered, Joshua wondered it he would get to enter the land this time. Forty years ago, only he and Caleb gave positive reports about this wonderful land o had promised to give them. The other ten men spent their part of the report giving fearful warnings about the tall tribes of giant warriors who lived on the land. The men were afraid to wage war on the and take possession of the promised land. Joshua's skin turned hot, despite the cooler air of the morning when he remembered how furious Moses had been.
To get that close to the Promised Land and not have enough faith in God to enter was a terrible thing. God told Moses the people were to go back into the wilderness until all the adult population who had lacked faith had passed away. Their children would be given the opportunity to claim the gift that had been meant for their parents. Joshua and Caleb were the only two men still alive from that time other than Moses. The adults with them now were the grown children who had spent the last 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
Joshua chose to fast and not eat before going to the Tabernacle, God's holy temple, where the Sacred Ark of the Covenant was stored. The meeting was held just inside the outer walls of the tabernacle. There Moses and the men he had called were free from the curious eyes and ears of the people of Israel.
Moses could talk there without interruption. The eyes of each man darted back and forth at the eyes of every man there, trying to see if anyone other than Moses knew why they were summoned. They all hoped they would be given an opportunity to pass the test of faith their parents had failed.
"God has spoken to me," Moses finally said in a tired voice. "He has told me that my work on earth is finished."
Heads shook back and forth in disbelief. They had known no other leader than Moses in all their days upon this earth. Who would lead them? Who would talk to God on their behalf?
As if in answer to the questioned they dared not ask, Moses turned to Joshua and said in front of the others, "Joshua, You have been chosen by God to take my place and lead our people into the land of Canaan. God will tell you what needs to be done." With this, Moses turned and left the Tabernacle.
He walked through the large crowd of people who had gathered at the gate of the Tabernacle. Moses bade farewell to each person that he met as he made his way out of camp and slowly up the side of the mountain that overlooked the lad they were to soon enter.
The leaders and the People stood in silence as Moses left them to climb to the top of the Mountain. Moses had followed the will of God for so many years. But even Moses was not perfect. He had been too quick to anger and many years ago and threw a temper fit in front of God and the people of Israel. God told Moses long ago that he could look at the land but would not be allowed to enter it. Moses died on the top of the mountain after looking at it. His work was done. It was now Joshua's time.
For thirty days, the people of Israel mourned the loss of their leader, and then they looked to Joshua for guidance. He called a meeting like the one he had been called to the first time the people stood at the banks of the River Jordan.
Three days from now, we will cross the Jordan River and capture the city of Jericho. But first, we need to know all we can learn about the city. Joshua sent two spies across the river in a reed boat. From a distance, they saw the huge walls that protected the city.
They entered the walls when the gates opened for business at morning light. They sneaked in with the 100's of people who brought their goods to sell in the city. The gates were locked tight at night and only opened in the day for those who had business in the city. There was an outer wall that was 30 feet high. The wall was six feet thick in most places. Parts of the walls were thicker and had houses and shops built into them. There was a second inner wall that was 12 feet thick. Well-armed soldiers fortified the walls.
As evening came, the two came to the house of a woman, named Rahab and asked for a room for the night in order to avoid staying at the public inn. They must have looked suspicious - wandering around with empty arms and no products to sell and asking questions about the city of everyone they met. For it wasn't long before soldiers came to find them. "We are looking for two spies," the soldiers told Rahab. Not knowing why she did it, Rahab told the soldiers the men they sought had left for the gates of the city before they closed for the evening.
Then, she had the two men she had hidden climb a ladder to the roof of her house where they hid among bundles of grain that were laid in the sunshine to dry. The next day, they exited from the city by lowering themselves down by a rope from Rahab's window that overlooked the outer wall of the city. We will be back to destroy this city, they told her. When we come, hang this red rope out your window so the army will know to spare you and your family.
The spies re-crossed the river and reported to Joshua all they had seen and heard. They told him that the people of Jericho knew they were coming - but that the people had heard of the Israelites, but were afraid of them.
Joshua felt like Moses must have. The people stood at the edge of the rapidly flowing Jordan River. It was one thing for two strong warriors to paddle across, but an army on foot along with their families and children and herds of cattle, sheep and goats. Surely, they couldn't swim or float across.
All eyes were on Joshua. This was the same Joshua who was present when Moses had parted the waters of the Red Sea. Joshua told his people to carry the Ark of the Lord into the river. The priests who carried the Ark when it was moved obeyed Joshua and stepped into the moving water. As their feet entered the river, the water stopped flowing. Joshua told the priests to stand still, holding the Ark before the people as they crossed the river.
It was like a giant hand held back the waters while every man, woman and child and every animal crossed the river. Joshua commanded the priests to bring the Ark the rest of the way across. As they stepped onto the shore, the waters began to flow once more. Thewater rushed forth and flowed around the stones marking the place where the Israelites crossed.
The people set up camp and celebrated their first Passover in the new land. The people feasted in fruits and grains they found. Because they now had food of their own, God quit sending the mana to the people.
As the people celebrated, Joshua saw a man dressed in white, carrying a sword. There was a glow about the man, "Are you a friend or an enemy?" asked Joshua.
The stranger said, "I am the captain of the Lord's army." He had Joshua remove his shoes, telling him he stood on Holy Ground. Then he told him what he had to do to conquer the city of Jericho.
What a spectacle it must have been for the people of Jericho. Soldiers stood atop the walls of the city, waiting for an invading army of soldiers to attack. Instead of an army, they saw a parade. Joshua told the priests, "I want the Ark of the Lord carried around the walls of Jericho. Seven priests with seven trumpets will march ahead of the Ark. The people will all march in silence behind."
Close enough to be clearly seen, but too far for an arrow from the best marksman to reach them, the Israelites marched around the city. The priests blew on the trumpets made of rams' horns, but the people marched in TOTAL SILENCE.
When no attack came, some of the soldiers inside the walls laughed in relief. Others shook in fear at the strange behavior that they could not understand.
Six days in a row, the Israelites marched around the city. The horns blew. But the marchers remained silent.
Then came the seventh day! The captain of the guard at Jericho had not even gone to the top of the wall. He had left orders to be notified if anything strange happened. And something did happen. Instead of walking around once and leaving, the Israelites marched around the city again. Every soldier was called to man the walls. They watched nervously as the Israelites marched around the city six times - horns blowing - but no talking or shouting.
The Israelites shook with joy when as they walked around the city for the seventh time.the seventh time. They had been told that God would give the city this very day. When the priests began to sound the trumpets after the Seventh time around the city, Joshua commanded the people to shout - and Shout they did.
The sound went up, and the Lord amplified it. It must have been a fearful sound to the people inside of Jericho. When the loud shout went out from the people, the thirty-foot walls collapsed. The walls came tumbling down!
The Israelites burned the houses and destroyed all who were in the city except for Rahab and her family. For helping God's people, they were spared. God had good things planned for her family. But that's another story for another day.
Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to Mike@mikelockett.com in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs. More stories and information about storytelling can be found at www.mikelockett.com