1. When Moses was taken away from among men, in the manner already described, and when all the solemnities belonging to the mourning for him were finished, and the sorrow for him was over, Joshua commanded the multitude to get themselves ready for an expedition. He also sent spies to Jericho to discover what forces they had, and what were their intentions; but he put his camp in order, as intending soon to pass over Jordan at a proper season. And calling to him the rulers of the tribe of Reuben, and the governors of the tribe of Gad, and [the half tribe of] Manasseh, for half of this tribe had been permitted to have their habitation in the country of the Amorites, which was the seventh part of the land of Canaan, 1 he put them in mind what they had promised Moses; and he exhorted them that, for the sake of the care that Moses had taken of them who had never been weary of taking pains for them no, not when he was dying, and for the sake of the public welfare, they would prepare themselves, and readily perform what they had promised; so he took fifty thousand of them who followed him, and he marched from Abila to Jordan, sixty furlongs.
2. Now when he had pitched his camp, the spies came to him immediately, well acquainted with the whole state of the Canaanites; for at first, before they were at all discovered, they took a full view of the city of Jericho without disturbance, and saw which parts of the walls were strong, and which parts were otherwise, and indeed insecure, and which of the gates were so weak as might afford an entrance to their army. Now those that met them took no notice of them when they saw them, and supposed they were only strangers, who used to be very curious in observing everything in the city, and did not take them for enemies; but at even they retired to a certain inn that was near to the wall, whither they went to eat their supper; which supper when they had done, and were considering how to get away, information was given to the king as he was at supper, that there were some persons come from the Hebrews' camp to view the city as spies, and that they were in the inn kept by Rahab, and were very solicitous that they might not be discovered. So he sent immediately some to them, and commanded to catch them, and bring them to him, that he might examine them by torture, and learn what their business was there. As soon as Rahab understood that these messengers were coming, she hid the spies under stalks of flax, which were laid to dry on the top of her house; and said to the messengers that were sent by the king, that certain unknown strangers had supped with her a little before sun-setting, and were gone away, who might easily be taken, if they were any terror to the city, or likely to bring any danger to the king. So these messengers being thus deluded by the woman, 2 and suspecting no imposition, went their ways, without so much as searching the inn; but they immediately pursued them along those roads which they most probably supposed them to have gone, and those particularly which led to the river, but could hear no tidings of them; so they left off the pains of any further pursuit. But when the tumult was over, Rahab brought the men down, and desired them as soon as they should have obtained possession of the land of Canaan, when it would be in their power to make her amends for her preservation of them, to remember what danger she had undergone for their sakes; for that if she had been caught concealing them, she could not have escaped a terrible destruction, she and all her family with her, and so bid them go home; and desired them to swear to her to preserve her and her family when they should take the city, and destroy all its inhabitants, as they had decreed to do; for so far she said she had been assured by those Divine miracles of which she had been informed. So these spies acknowledged that they owed her thanks for what she had done already, and withal swore to requite her kindness, not only in words, but in deeds. But they gave her this advice, That when she should perceive that the city was about to be taken, she should put her goods, and all her family, by way of security, in her inn, and to hang out scarlet threads before her doors, [or windows,] that the commander of the Hebrews might know her house, and take care to do her no harm; for, said they, we will inform him of this matter, because of the concern thou hast had to preserve us: but if any one of thy family fall in the battle, do not thou blame us; and we beseech that God, by whom we have sworn, not then to be displeased with us, as though we had broken our oaths. So these men, when they had made this agreement, went away, letting themselves down by a rope from the wall, and escaped, and came and told their own people whatsoever they had done in their journey to this city. Joshua also told Eleazar the high priest, and the senate, what the spies had sworn to Rahab, who continued what had been sworn.
3. Now while Joshua, the commander, was in fear about their passing over Jordan, for the river ran with a strong current, and could not be passed over with bridges, for there never had been bridges laid over it hitherto; and while he suspected, that if he should attempt to make a bridge, that their enemies would not afford him thee to perfect it, and for ferry-boats they had none,-God promised so to dispose of the river, that they might pass over it, and that by taking away the main part of its waters. So Joshua, after two days, caused the army and the whole multitude to pass over in the manner following:—The priests went first of all, having the ark with them; then went the Levites bearing the tabernacle and the vessels which belonged to the sacrifices; after which the entire multitude followed, according to their tribes, having their children and their wives in the midst of them, as being afraid for them, lest they should be borne away by the stream. But as soon as the priests had entered the river first, it appeared fordable, the depth of the water being restrained and the sand appearing at the bottom, because the current was neither so strong nor so swift as to carry it away by its force; so they all passed over the river without fear, finding it to be in the very same state as God had foretold he would put it in; but the priests stood still in the midst of the river till the multitude should be passed over, and should get to the shore in safety; and when all were gone over, the priests came out also, and permitted the current to run freely as it used to do before. Accordingly the river, as soon as the Hebrews were come out of it, arose again presently, and came to its own proper magnitude as before.
4. So the Hebrews went on farther fifty furlongs, and pitched their camp at the distance of ten furlongs from Jericho; but Joshua built an altar of those stones which all the heads of the tribes, at the command of the prophets, had taken out of the deep, to be afterwards a memorial of the division of the stream of this river, and upon it offered sacrifice to God; and in that place celebrated the passover, and had great plenty of all the things which they wanted hitherto; for they reaped the corn of the Canaanites, which was now ripe, and took other things as prey; for then it was that their former food, which was manna, and of which they had eaten forty years, failed them.
5. Now while the Israelites did this, and the Canaanites did not attack them, but kept themselves quiet within their own walls, Joshua resolved to besiege them; so on the first day of the feast [of the passover], the priests carried the ark round about, with some part of the armed men to be a guard to it. These priests went forward, blowing with their seven trumpets; and exhorted the army to be of good courage, and went round about the city, with the senate following them; and when the priests had only blown with the trumpets, for they did nothing more at all, they returned to the camp. And when they had done this for six days, on the seventh Joshua gathered the armed men and all the people together, and told them these good tidings, That the city should now be taken, since God would on that day give it them, by the falling down of the walls, and this of their own accord, and without their labor. However, he charged them to kill every one they should take, and not to abstain from the slaughter of their enemies, either for weariness or for pity, and not to fall on the spoil, and be thereby diverted from pursuing their enemies as they ran away; but to destroy all the animals, and to take nothing for their own peculiar advantage. He commanded them also to bring together all the silver and gold, that it might be set apart as first-fruits unto God out of this glorious exploit, as having gotten them from the city they first took; only that they should save Rahab and her kindred alive, because of the oath which the spies had sworn to her.
6. When he had said this, and had set his army in order, he brought it against the city: so they went round the city again, the ark going before them, and the priests encouraging the people to be zealous in the work; and when they had gone round it seven times, and had stood still a little, the wall fell down, while no instruments of war, nor any other force, was applied to it by the Hebrews.
7. So they entered into Jericho, and slew all the men that were therein, while they were aftrighted at the surprising overthrow of the walls, and their courage was become useless, and they were not able to defend themselves; so they were slain, and their throats cut, some in the ways, and others as caught in their houses; nothing afforded them assistance, but they all perished, even to the women and the children; and the city was filled with dead bodies, and not one person escaped. They also burnt the whole city, and the country about it; but they saved alive Rahab, with her family, who had fled to her inn. And when she was brought to him, Joshua owned to her that they owed her thanks for her preservation of the spies: so he said he would not appear to be behind her in his benefaction to her; whereupon he gave her certain lands immediately, and had her in great esteem ever afterwards.
8. And if any part of the city escaped the fire, he overthrew it from the foundation; and he denounced a curse 3against its inhabitants, if any should desire to rebuild it; how, upon his laying the foundation of the walls, he should be deprived of his eldest son; and upon finishing it, he should lose his youngest son. But what happened hereupon we shall speak of hereafter.
9. Now there was an immense quantity of silver and gold, and besides those of brass also, that was heaped together out of the city when it was taken, no one transgressing the decree, nor purloining for their own peculiar advantage; which spoils Joshua delivered to the priests, to be laid up among their treasures. And thus did Jericho perish.
10. But there was one Achar, 4 the son [of Charmi, the son] of Zebedias, of the tribe of Judah, who finding a royal garment woven entirely of gold, and a piece of gold that weighed two hundred shekels; 5 and thinking it a very hard case, that what spoils he, by running some hazard, had found, he must give away, and offer it to God, who stood in no need of it, while he that wanted it must go without it,—made a deep ditch in his own tent, and laid them up therein, as supposing he should not only be concealed from his fellow soldiers, but from God himself also.
11. Now the place where Joshua pitched his camp was called Gilgal, which denotes liberty; 6 for since now they had passed over Jordan, they looked on themselves as freed from the miseries which they had undergone from the Egyptians, and in the wilderness.
12. Now, a few days after the calamity that befell Jericho, Joshua sent three thousand armed men to take Ai, a city situate above Jericho; but, upon the sight of the people of Ai, with them they were driven back, and lost thirty-six of their men. When this was told the Israelites, it made them very sad, and exceeding disconsolate, not so much because of the relation the men that were destroyed bare to them, though those that were destroyed were all good men, and deserved their esteem, as by the despair it occasioned; for while they believed that they were already, in effect, in possession of the land, and should bring back the army out of the battles without loss, as God had promised beforehand, they now saw unexpectedly their enemies bold with success; so they put sackcloth over their garments, and continued in tears and lamentation all the day, without the least inquiry after food, but laid what had happened greatly to heart.
13. When Joshua saw the army so much afflicted, and possessed with forebodings of evil as to their whole expedition, he used freedom with God, and said, "We are not come thus far out of any rashness of our own, as though we thought ourselves able to subdue this land with our own weapons, but at the instigation of Moses thy servant for this purpose, because thou hast promised us, by many signs, that thou wouldst give us this land for a possession, and that thou wouldst make our army always superior in war to our enemies, and accordingly some success has already attended upon us agreeably to thy promises; but because we have now unexpectedly been foiled, and have lost some men out of our army, we are grieved at it, as fearing what thou hast promised us, and what Moses foretold us, cannot be depended on by us; and our future expectation troubles us the more, because we have met with such a disaster in this our first attempt. But do thou, O Lord, free us from these suspicions, for thou art able to find a cure for these disorders, by giving us victory, which will both take away the grief we are in at present, and prevent our distrust as to what is to come."
14. These intercessions Joshua put up to God, as he lay prostrate on his face: whereupon God answered him, That he should rise up, and purify his host from the pollution that had got into it; that "things consecrated to me have been impudently stolen from me," and that "this has been the occasion why this defeat had happened to them;" and that when they should search out and punish the offender, he would ever take care they should have the victory over their enemies. This Joshua told the people; and calling for Eleazar the high priest, and the men in authority, he cast lots, tribe by tribe; and when the lot showed that this wicked action was done by one of the tribe of Judah, he then again proposed the lot to the several families thereto belonging; so the truth of this wicked action was found to belong to the family of Zachar; and when the inquiry was made man by man, they took Achar, who, upon God's reducing him to a terrible extremity, could not deny the fact: so he confessed the theft, and produced what he had taken in the midst of them, whereupon he was immediately put to death; and attained no more than to be buried in the night in a disgraceful manner, and such as was suitable to a condemned malefactor.
15. When Joshua had thus purified the host, he led them against Ai: and having by night laid an ambush round about the city, he attacked the enemies as soon as it was day; but as they advanced boldly against the Israelites, because of their former victory, he made them believe he retired, and by that means drew them a great way from the city, they still supposing that they were pursuing their enemies, and despised them, as though the case had been the same with that in the former battle; after which Joshua ordered his forces to turn about, and placed them against their front. He then made the signals agreed upon to those that lay in ambush, and so excited them to fight; so they ran suddenly into the city, the inhabitants being upon the walls, nay, others of them being in perplexity, and coming to see those that were without the gates. Accordingly, these men took the city, and slew all that they met with; but Joshua forced those that came against him to come to a close fight, and discomfited them, and made them run away; and when they were driven towards the city, and thought it had not been touched, as soon as they saw it was taken, and perceived it was burnt, with their wives and children, they wandered about in the fields in a scattered condition, and were no way able to defend themselves, because they had none to support them. Now when this calamity was come upon the men of Ai, there were a great number of children, and women, and servants, and an immense quantity of other furniture. The Hebrews also took herds of cattle, and a great deal of money, for this was a rich country. So when Joshua came to Gilgal, he divided all these spoils among the soldiers.
16. But the Gibeonites, who inhabited very near to Jerusalem, when they saw what miseries had happened to the inhabitants of Jericho; and to those of Ai, and suspected that the like sore calamity would come as far as themselves, they did not think fit to ask for mercy of Joshua; for they supposed they should find little mercy from him, who made war that he might entirely destroy the nation of the Canaanites; but they invited the people of Cephirah and Kiriathjearim, who were their neighbors, to join in league with them; and told them that neither could they themselves avoid the danger they were all in, if the Israelites should prevent them, and seize upon them: so when they had persuaded them, they resolved to endeavor to escape the forces of the Israelites. Accordingly, upon their agreement to what they proposed, they sent ambassadors to Joshua to make a league of friendship with him, and those such of the citizens as were best approved of, and most capable of doing what was most advantageous to the multitude. Now these ambassadors thought it dangerous to confess themselves to be Canaanites, but thought they might by this contrivance avoid the danger, namely, by saying that they bare no relation to the Canaanites at all, but dwelt at a very great distance from them: and they said further, that they came a long way, on account of the reputation he had gained for his virtue; and as a mark of the truth of what they said, they showed him the habit they were in, for that their clothes were new when they came out, but were greatly worn by the length of thee they had been on their journey; for indeed they took torn garments, on purpose that they might make him believe so. So they stood in the midst of the people, and said that they were sent by the people of Gibeon, and of the circumjacent cities, which were very remote from the land where they now were, to make such a league of friendship with them, and this on such conditions as were customary among their forefathers; for when they understood that, by the favor of God, and his gift to them, they were to have the possession of the land of Canaan bestowed upon them, they said that they were very glad to hear it, and desired to be admitted into the number of their citizens. Thus did these ambassadors speak; and showing them the marks of their long journey, they entreated the Hebrews to make a league of friendship with them. Accordingly Joshua, believing what they said, that they were not of the nation of the Canaanites, entered into friendship with them; and Eleazar the high priest, with the senate, sware to them that they would esteem them their friends and associates, and would attempt nothing that should be unfair against them, the multitude also assenting to the oaths that were made to them. So these men, having obtained what they desired, by deceiving the Israelites, went home: but when Joshua led his army to the country at the bottom of the mountains of this part of Canaan, he understood that the Gibeonites dwelt not far from Jerusalem, and that they were of the stock of the Canaanites; so he sent for their governors, and reproached them with the cheat they had put upon him; but they alleged, on their own behalf, that they had no other way to save themselves but that, and were therefore forced to have recourse to it. So he called for Eleazar the high priest, and for the senate, who thought it right to make them public servants, that they might not break the oath they had made to them; and they ordained them to be so. And this was the method by which these men found safety and security under the calamity that was ready to overtake them.
17. But the king of Jerusalem took it to heart that the Gibeonites had gone over to Joshua; so he called upon the kings of the neighboring nations to join together, and make war against them. Now when the Gibeonites saw these kings, which were four, besides the king of Jerusalem, and perceived that they had pitched their camp at a certain fountain not far from their city, and were getting ready for the siege of it, they called upon Joshua to assist them; for such was their case, as to expect to be destroyed by these Canaanites, but to suppose they should be saved by those that came for the destruction of the Canaanites, because of the league of friendship that was between them. Accordingly, Joshua made haste with his whole army to assist them, and marching day and night, in the morning he fell upon the enemies as they were going up to the siege; and when he had discomfited them, he followed them, and pursued them down the descent of the hills. The place is called Bethhoron; where he also understood that God assisted him, which he declared by thunder and thunderbolts, as also by the falling of hail larger than usual. Moreover, it happened that the day was lengthened 7 that the night might not come on too soon, and be an obstruction to the zeal of the Hebrews in pursuing their enemies; insomuch that Joshua took the kings, who were hidden in a certain cave at Makkedah, and put them to death. Now, that the day was lengthened at this thee, and was longer than ordinary, is expressed in the books laid up in the temple.