The Ark of the Covenant
“And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” (Exodus 25:10‑22)
Crossing the Jordan River
The Book of Joshua begins with the account of Israel entering the Promised Land. Joshua means “Jehovah saves” or “Jehovah, the Saviour.” In Greek the name means “Jesus.” Referring to Joshua in the New Testament, the writers call him Jesus (see Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8). It is perhaps not without significance that Joshua (i.e., Jesus) led Israel from the wilderness over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, bringing them into possession of their inheritance there. In this Joshua was a type of the Coming One, Jesus Christ, who is yet to lead His 0eople into a land of promise when, at the close of the age, we pass into the new order of the ages.
“At that time the Lord said to Moses, Behold thy days are approaching to an end, take now Joshua the son of Nun thy servant and place him in the tabernacle, and I will command him, and Moses did so. And the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the entrance of the tabernacle. And the Lord commanded Joshua the son of Nun and said unto him, Be strong and courageous, for thou shalt bring the children of Israel to the land which I swore to give them, and I will be with thee. And Moses said to Joshua, Be strong and courageous, for thou wilt make the children of Israel inherit the land, and the Lord will be with thee, he will not leave thee nor forsake thee, be not afraid nor disheartened.” (Jasher 87:1-4)
Following the death of Moses the Lord spoke to Joshua:
“Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, event to the children of Israel.” (Joshua 1:2)
The Lord informed Joshua that every foot of ground on which Israel would tread would be assigned to them according to the promise to Moses. Their frontiers would stretch from the desert to Lebanon and from the River Eupharates throughout all the land where the Hittites were living to the great or Mediterranean Sea. Not a man, so the Lord told Joshua, would be able to hold his own against him all the days of his life. The Lord promised Joshua:
“As I was with Moses, so I wil lbe with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Joshua 1:5)
Importance of the Law
“And Moses called to all the children of Israel and said to them, You have seen all the good which the Lord your God has done for you in the wilderness. Now therefore observe all the words of this law, and walk in the way of the Lord your God, turn not from the way which the Lord has commanded you, either to the right or to the left. And Moses taught the children of Israel statutes and judgments and laws to do in the land as the Lord had commanded him. And he taught them the way of the Lord and his laws; behold they are written upon the book of the law of God which he gave to the children of Israel by the hand of Moses. And Moses finished commanding the children of Israel, and the Lord said to him, saying, Go up to the Mount Abarim and die there, and be gathered unto thy people as Aaron thy brother was gathered. And Moses went up as the Lord had commanded him, and he died there in the land of Moab by the order of the Lord, in the fortieth year from the Israelites going forth from the land of Egypt. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days, and the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were completed.” (Jasher 87:5-11)
Joshua was admonished to be strong and brave for his was the difficult task of taking the people into the land. He was to remember to observe the law in its entirety just as Moses had commanded him. Above all, he was not to turn from it to the right hand or to the left so that he might have success wherever he went:
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditte therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
The final admonition ot Joshua was:
“Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)
Joshua ordered the officers to go through the camp and command the people to prepare food, for in three days they were to cross the Jordan River. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had priviously petitioned Moses to permit them to settle on the east side of the river for they saw that the land was good there. Joshua, however,issued a command for all the fighting men of those tribes to go over the Jordan with the rest of the tribes to assist in conquering the land. Then they would be free to return and settle in the territory they preferred.
Rahab, the Innkeeper
“And Joshua sent two men to spy out the land of Jericho, and the men went and spied out Jericho. And at the end of seven days they came to Joshua in the camp and said to him, The Lord has delivered the whole land into our hand, and the inhabitants thereof are melted with fear because of us. ” (Jasher 88:7-8)
Spies had been sent to Jericho and the King of Jericho, hearing that they had come into his city, commanded the woman Rahab, in whose house they were lodged, to bring them out. Rahab is called a harlot in the King James. Translation but, according to Ferrar Fenton, she was “an innkeeper.” She he the two men on the roof of her house, evidently covering them with stalks of flax. She then misdirected the King’s men, stating that some men had comt to her but they had left when the gates were shut t dark. She told them tht if they hurried the men might be overtaken before they reached the Jordan.
As the King’s men rode after them on the way to the Jordan, Rahab went to the roof and talked with the spies. She told them that terror had seized the people of the land for they had heard about all that the Lord had done for Israel; how He had delivered them from egypt and their passage of the Red Sea. They had heard about what they did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, utterly destroyng them.
Because she had hidden the men, she asked a favor that she and her household might be spared when the armies came to take the city. The two spies promised that if she would hang a scarlet cord; which she subsequently used to lower them to the ground, from a window of yer house, for her house was on the wall, she and those in her house would be spared. But they warned her that all persons must be in the house or the spies would nto be bound by their oath. Dismissing the spies, Rahab tied the scarlet cord in the window. The spies returned to Joshua, being care ful to wait until the King’s men who wer searchig for them had returned to the city.
The Spies’ Report
The spies related their experiences to Joshua:
“Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us. ” (Joshua 2:24)
The time had come for Israel to pass over the Jordan River and therefore all the people moved to its banks. Instructiojns were given by the officers that the people were to follow the Ark of the Covenant as the Levitical Priests carried it before them. However, they were to keep two thousand cubits behind the Ark (using the sacred cubit of 25 inches, this would be a little over 4,000 feet) and they were warned not to approahc any closer in followin gthe Ark of the Covenant as it advanced before them.
Joshua then commanded the peopel to sanctify themselves and he instructed the Priests to take up the Ark of the Covenant and precede the people as they moved toward the Jordan. The Lord informed Joshua that he would do great things in the sight of the people from which they would learn that He was with Joshua just as He ahd been with Moses.
The next command issued to the people was to gather around Joshua so that they might hear the words of the Lord. Joshua informed them that the living God was with them and that He would drive out the inhabitants of the land before them. The Ark of the Covenant was to pass on into the Jordan before them. Joshua commanded that a man be selected from each of the thirteen tribes, who were to stand by for further directions. Then Joshua announced the miracle God was to perform in their behalf:
“It shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord of all the earh, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above.” (Joshua 3:13)
Ferrar Fenton translates the last clause of this vers:
“The waters will cease coming down from above.”
Passage of the Jordan
The waters of the Jordan overflowed its banks at the harvest seasons and very likely, as the soles of the feet of the Priests bearing the Ark touched the water, a landslide in a gorge north of the place where Israel was about to cross blocked the waters above and the river became dry for their passage across. It was a miracle of timinng so thaat all Israel might safely pass over to the other side of the Jordan. This miraculous crossing of the rivers added to the terror of the inhabitants of the land:
“And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had fried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.” (Joshua 5:1)
Memorials Set Up
At Joshua’s command twelve stones were taken out of the Jordan from the spot where the Priests stood. Joshua also set up a memorial of twelve stones in the Jordan River at the place where the Priests paused with the Ark of the Covenant while the people marched across. As soon as the passage of the river wasccompleted, the Priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant came up out of the bed of the Jordan and the waters of the river returned to their previous state, flooding over th ebanks as they had before the crossing:
“And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.” (Joshua 4:19)
There Joshua erected the second memorial of twelve stones which had been taken from the river to commemorate the drying of the Jordan River so that Israel could cross safely as they had safely passed over the Red Sea:
“That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.” (Joshua 4:24)
Renewal of Circumcision
Following the crossing of the River Jordan all the men of Israel were circumcised. The Record stats that those who had come out of Egypt were circumcised but all who were born in the wilderness after they had left Egypt were not circumcised, for Israel ceased to practice circumcision while they were journeying from Egypt to the Promised Land. The whole nation remained in cap at that place for a period of time. It is foolish to say that modern Israel today cannot be the descendants of Abraham because they have ceased to practice circumcision as it would be to have accused those who were born during the wilderness wanderings of not being Israelites because they also had failed to practice the requirements of the rite of circumcision.
Circumcision, as it was practiced the, was only a type to be superseded by Christian circumcision, to which Moses referred. (Deuteronomy 30:6) Spirit-filled man and women in modern Israel practice Christian circumcision today. It is worth of our notice that Joshua (whose name means Jesus) circumcised the people as they enterd the Promised Land. Our Savior, Christ, brings circumcision of heart to all those who accept Him and are to enter with Him into the restored and glorified Kingdom:
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.” (Joshua 5:9)
Reproach Rolled Away
Israel, encamped at Gilgal, kept the passover on the evening of the 14th day of the month. On the day after the passover the people ate some of the produce of the land, unleven cakes and roasted grain:
“And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” (Joshua 5:12)
A Growing Kingdom
A new era had begun. During the wilderness wanderings the people were schooled in the law under the tutelage of their great leader, Moses. They were also well taken care of and fed by the Lord during their sojourn in the wilderness and were not burdened with the responsibility which confronted them as they prepared to advance into the land. Henceforth they must labor and plan their own work in order to provide for their daily needs.
Under Joshua a period of conquest began and the Kingdom of God was launched upon its mission to subdue evil aggressors and destroy wicked nations. That Kingdom was destined to grow in greatness and expand its borders until it would overspread the earth. Then, under the ocming King, great David’s greater Son, univeral peace will be established, for the government will rest upon His shoulders. (Isaiah 9:6-) The day is coming when all nations will be compelld to respect its laws.
The Prophet Isaiah informs us that ‘of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,” and down through the ages the people of the Kingdom, led by Joshua into the Promised Land, have been increasing their numbers as promised. As we study the history of the Israel Kingdom, therefore, and not its smallbeginnings, let us not forget that it is the nucleus of the Kingdom of God upon eart and in the providence of God its ultimate end is to include the whole earth in its benevolent domain.
Yet only Israelites will be allowed into that great city of Almighty God:
“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Revelation 22:15)
Jericho and AI
The city of Jericho had shut its gates and was closed to prevent anyone from entering or leaving it. The King of Jericho took this extraordinary precaution in his endeavor to prevent his city from falling into the hand of the Israelites. Joshua, evidently out surveying the surrounding vicinity of the city with the idea of laying his plans for its capture, looked up and saw a Man standing before him, holding a drawn sword in His hand:
“And Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?? (Joshua 5:13)
The Man replied:
“Nay; but as captain (Prince) of the host of the Lord am I now come.” (Joshua 5:14)
Joshua bowed in reverence and worshiped Him, for he recognized that He was Divine and of the God -head. He asked, “What saith my Lord unto his servant?” Before telling Joshua His message, the command was given that Joshua remove his shoes from his feet for the ground on which he stood was holy. Having complied with this request, the Lord then informed him that He wuld give Jericho into his hands with its King and all its fighting men. Evidently Joshua had been giving a great deal of thought to how the city could be taken. Therefore, as he stood before Jericho, looking over the situation, the Lord appeared to him to give him the needed instructios for its capture. Joshua was given direction sin detail concerning the unusual method he was to use in his attack upon the city.
For six days all the armed men of Israel were to march around the city of Jericho; just once each day for the six days. Seven Priests were to carry seven rams’ horns as trumpets before the Ark of the Lord, which was to accompany them in t heir daily marches around the doomed city. On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times, after which the Priests were to blow on their trumpets:
“And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.” (Joshua 6:5)
Walls of the City Fall
Joshua carried out his instructions and on the seventh day, after marchihg around the city seven times, the Priests blew a loud blast on their trumpets. At that precise moment Joshua told the people to shout, for the Lord had given the city to them. The walls of the city fell and the armies of Israel made their assault, utterly destroying all who were in the city except Rahab, her father,mother and brethren who were in her house with her. The city itself was completely destroyed by fire but the silver and gold, with all the vessels of brass and iron,were put into the treasury of the House of the Lor:
“And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the Land, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation there of his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gattes of it.” (Joshua 6:26)
The Curse Fulfilled
In 1 Kings 16:33-34 we are iformed that durin gthe days when Ahab ruled in Israel Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho. The Record states that when he laid the foundation his eldest son died and, when completing the city and hanging its gates, his youngest son passed away.This was according to the word of the Lord as spoken through Joshua. This fulfillment of Joshua’s prediction came some 500 years after he had uttered the curse upon anyone who would attempt to rebuild the city.
As the result of this major victory, Joshua’s fame spread throughout the land, for all the Canaanites relaized that Joshua’s God was with him and fought in his behalf’.
Sin in the Camp
Joshua had warned the people before Jericho was captured that under no consideration were they to take any of “the accursed thing” in the city when they assaulted the city lest the camp of Israel be troubled:
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zera, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel.” (Joshua 7:1)
Joshua next sent men from Jericho tto Ai, a city near Bethel, ordering them to go and spy out the territory. The men returned and reported that the inhabitants of Ai were few and that it was not necessary to send all Israel against them. They said that two or three thousand fighting men would be sufficietn to take the city. But when the campaign was launched, the men of Ai routed the attackig Israelites, killing about 36 men and driving them from their gates, pursuing them to Shebarim and defeating them at Morad.
The hearts of the people melted with fear when the news came to them and Joshua rent his clothes and prostrated himself before the Ark of the Lord, remining there until eventide. He and the elders of Israel went into deep mourning and aprinkled dust on their heads. Then Joshua prayed:
“Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of Jordan! O lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round (surround us), and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?” (Joshua 7:7-9)
Joshua could not understand why Israel should have turned their backs upon an enemy, yet he should have recognized in this defeat that something was materially wrong within Israel in their relatioship to God. The fact tthat they could not stand before their enemies was clear evidence of a violation of the covenant, for such a defeat was the curse that was to come upon them for refusing to keep the law.
The Lord answered Joahua by first telling him to get up, asking hi why he was laying on his face before Him. The He said:
“Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among heir own stuff.” (Joshua 7:11)
Moffatt translated this:
“Israel has sinned; they have broken my compact which I commanded them to keep, they have taken some of the doomed spoil, stolen it, acted deceigfully , and hiddne in among their own goods.”
The Lord informed Joshua that because of this Israel was not able to stand before their enemies, for they wer themselves accursed. Then He said:
“Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the acursed from among you.” (Joshua 7:12)