Happy 4th, everyone!
Chapter 5- Joshua circumcises all the men who had not previously been cut. They celebrate the Passover. An angel (?) of the Lord comes to be the commander of the army.
Verse 2, “At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself and circumcise the sons of Israel again for the second time.”‘ I was freaking out a little when I read this. How in the world do you circumcise someone a second time? What’s left to remove? Turns out it’s not quite so crazy as that. Verse 7, “Then Joshua circumcised their sons…because they had not been circumcised on the way.” Oh, well that makes more sense. He’s doing a second mass circumcision of the people, since apparently the practice had fallen out of favor while they were wandering around the desert.
Also, the place where this circumcision happened was called “the hill of the foreskins.” What a descriptive name… It’s pretty amazing how much the bible talks about penises. Penii? Penes?
As for this commander of the army, he is described as “a Man” with a capital M…so…angel? Jesus? God hisownself? The world may never know.
Chapter 6- The story of knocking down the walls of Jericho. God tells the people to march around the city once a day for 6 days, then 7 times on the 7th day. Then the priests will blow horns, the people will shout, and the walls will fall down. And so it happens just like God said. They save Rahab and her family, but everyone else is killed. Joshua curses the city so that others will not come along and try to rebuild.
It’s seems that today is going to be a video-heavy post. This song immediately came to mind as I was reading this chapter:
Why do the soldiers of Jericho have French accents?
Rahab does get saved, and God seems cool with it. So much for the “kill everyone” command, I guess. It bothers me that every time the Bible mentions Rahab, it always includes the qualifier “the harlot.” I don’t know if I should be happy that a sexually active woman is remembered as a person of great faith who did good things for God’s people, or if I should be annoyed that the Bible can’t refer to her without throwing in a dig about what a slut she was. I’m leaning towards the second one.
Chapter 7- One of the men had kept some “accursed things” from Jericho, so God becomes angry with the Israelites. When they go to attack the city of Ai, they are defeated and 36 Israelites are killed. Joshua begs God to tell him why this bad thing has happened. God says Joshua must find the man who kept the accursed things and burn him and all his possessions.
So, one man breaks the rule about not keeping any of the stuff they found in Jericho, and so 36 other men die? Ah, divine justice! Going on a killing spree of innocent people when you’re mad at someone else, that’s God’s way! Turns out all this death was over “a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels.”
God commanded Joshua to burn the perpetrator with fire. But for good measure they “stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.” Them being the perp, his whole family, and his livestock. Somehow, I don’t find the massacre of the innocent family members to be very just justice either.
Chapter 8- They attacked Ai again. A small contingent of men went out to battle and faked defeat so that all the people of the city would chase after them. When the city is empty, a larger group who had been waiting in ambush entered the city and set it on fire. When the men of Ai had nowhere to retreat to, the Israelites slaughtered them all, and hung the king of Ai in a tree. Then they built an altar, offered sacrifies, and then listened to Joshua read the Book of Law to them.
This battle plan is a pretty clever one, I have to admit. Ai had defeated the Israelites previously, so faking another defeat would be a believable thing. The part that I don’t buy at all is in verse 17, “There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. So they left the city open and pursued Israel.” You really expect me to believe they didn’t leave a single man behind to guard their rear? Yeah right. That’s some seriously bad military strategy right there.