Israel Crosses Jordan

After the death of Moses, Joshua took command of the armies of Israel. The Lord encouraged him by many promises and wonderful miracles. As he had before instructed Moses, so he now instructed Joshua. He told him to give command to the people to cross the Jordan; and when the feet of the priests who bore the ark touched the waters of the river, the waters parted, as did the waters of the Red Sea forty years before, and let the people pass through on dry land. As a memorial of this great miracle, twelve stones were taken out of the bed of the river, and set up at Gilgal, and twelve other stones were set up in the bed of the river.

Soon after this, Joshua saw a man before him on the plains of Jericho, who styled himself Captain of the Lord's host. This man must have been Christ, for he allowed Joshua to worship him, and Christ is commander of the armies in Heaven.

The first city, which they attacked after crossing the Jordan was Jericho, a walled town about seven miles west of that river. The Lord told Joshua to march around the city every day for seven days. On the seventh day they made the circuit seven times, and when the priests blew a blast upon their horns, the walls of the city fell down flat.

The next place attacked by the Israelites was Ai, a small town to the northward of Jericho, From this they were repulsed, and driven back with considerable slaughter. Then Joshua was greatly distressed, and fell upon his face; for he knew that the Lord was not with them.

"And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 

Israel hath sinned." Upon inquiry it was found that Achan, although the Lord had strictly forbidden them to take any of the spoil to themselves, had taken, at the siege of Jericho, two hundred shekels of silver, a costly garment, and a wedge of gold; and had buried them in his tent. Then Achan was stoned; and he, and all that he had, were burned with fire in the valley of Achor, according to the commandment of the Lord. After this, the Lord gave them a plan by which Ai was easily taken.

Then the people journeyed to mounts Ebal and Gerizim. On Mount Ebal they built an altar, and wrote on it a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. Then half of the tribes stood on Mount Ebal, and the other half on Mount Gerizim, the priests, with the ark, standing in the valley between, while the blessings found in Deut. 28 were pronounced from Mount Gerizim, and the curses from Mount Ebal.

Then the people returned to Gilgal; and about this time the Gibeonites came to the camp, and wanted to make a covenant with Joshua, and the elders of Israel. They claimed to have come from a very far country, and as evidence of the fact, called attention to their worn clothing, which they said was new when they started, and to their moldy food, which they said was taken hot from the oven when they set out on their journey. Joshua thought the case so clear that he neglected to seek counsel from the Lord, and so went on, and made a covenant with these people. In a few days it was found that these men were from Gibeon, which is less than twenty miles from Gilgal. Notwithstanding the deception practiced by these men, Joshua and the elders of Israel would not break their oath; so the Gibeonites were allowed to live, but were made hewers of wood, and drawers of water, for all the congregation of Israel.