So, Joshua sent
three thousand soldiers to Ai. This time the soldiers did not
return with shouts of victory. Instead they came running with the
men of Ai right behind them. A few brave Israelites even lost
their lives in the battle.
the Israelites were at their defeat! Joshua was so troubled that
he tore his clothes and fell on his face before the ark. It was a
long time before he could find words to say. Finally, he prayed,
"O Lord God, why did this happen? Why did our men turn their
backs on their enemies? What will people say about our God when
they know we have been defeated?"
And God said,
"I cannot help the Israelites when there is sin in the camp.
I commanded that no one should take anything for himself from
Jericho, but one has disobeyed."
The next day
Joshua searched for the man who had done this. Joshua discovered
that Achan was the guilty man. Joshua told him, "My son,
confess your wrong to the Lord, and tell me what you have done. Do
not hide it from me."
"Yes, I have sinned against the Lord. In one of the houses of
Jericho I saw a beautiful robe and much silver and gold. I wanted
them so much that I took them. They are buried beneath my tent.
You will find the robe on top with the silver and gold under
messengers to Achan's tent. They dug and found the things Achan
had taken. At Joshua's command Achan and everything that belonged
to him were brought to a valley outside the camp. The Israelites
stoned and burned them.
Then the Lord
told Joshua, "Do not be afraid or dismayed. Go to Ai. The
city and the land will be yours. The cattle and the things you
find there will belong to you."
thirty thousand brave men and sent them to Ai at night. "Go a
little beyond the city," he told them, "and wait
In the morning
Joshua sent five thousand soldiers to the west side of the city.
Joshua and some of his men came out to fight the soldiers of Ai.
The Israelites pretended they were beaten and ran. After them came
the soldiers of Ai in hot pursuit. When they were far enough away
from the city, Joshua gave the signal. The soldiers who were
waiting behind the city entered it.
As the soldiers
of Ai ran after Joshua's men, they must have thought, "What
cowardly men these Israelites are!" But when they started
back to their city, they saw that Joshua had trapped them. More
soldiers were coming behind them, and their city was on fire. This
was another victory for the people who obeyed God.
victory, Joshua led the people farther north to Mt. Ebal. There
Joshua built an altar of stones, inscribing them with the Ten
Commandments and there, the people worshiped.
One day, while
camped at Gilgal, strange men came. Their clothes were in tatters,
and their shoes were full off holes. The donkeys carried old,
ragged sacks. The leather bottles from which the men drank were
old and worn. The little bit of bread that was left in their sacks
was dry and moldy.
asked to see Joshua and his officers. To them the strangers
explained, "We have come from a far country to make peace
As Joshua and his
officers listened, they thought, "Surely these men have come
a long way." They felt sorry for these poor people. Joshua
and his officers felt so sure that the strangers spoke the truth
that no one asked God what to do. Instead, Joshua promised to let
these men and their people live when the Israelites came to their
Three days later,
the Israelites moved on and came to the land of Gibeon. There thy
learned that the strange visitors had come from this nearby land.
They had taken dry, moldy bread and worn out clothes just to make
Joshua and his officers believe they had come from a far country.
All the officers
were angry and ashamed. They said, "We have promised them by
the Lord God of Israel that we would let them live. We cannot
break our promise." After some time the officers thought of a
plan, "We have to let these people live, but we will make
them our servants."
Joshua said to
the men of Gibeon, "Because you did not tell the truth, you
and your people will never again own houses and lands. You will be
our slaves. You will cut our wood and carry our water."
Gibeonites had to work hard, they were glad to be alive. They
thought it was better to be slaves than to be killed.
News came to the
king of Jerusalem that Joshua had taken Ai and destroyed Jericho.
Even the great royal city of Gibeon with her many warriors had
made peace with the Israelites.
Because the king
of Jerusalem was afraid, he sent word to neighboring kings,
"Come and help me war against the people of Gibeon because
the have made peace with the Israelites." So five kings
gathered their armies and marched across the hills and valleys to
Gibeon. They camped around the great city and made war against it.
The people of
Gibeon were terrified. They sent word to Joshua, "Remember,
we are your servants. Com quickly and save us. All the kings of
the Amorites are attacking us."
Joshua took his
army and his mighty warriors and went up to Gibeon. The Lord told
Joshua, "Do not be afraid, for I will be with you. Your
enemies will not win."
all night, the Israelites came upon the soldiers at Gibeon in a
surprise attack. The enemy turned and ran. As they ran, hail began
to fall. More men were killed in the hailstorm than in the battle.
News of this
battle soon reached other cities of Canaan, and everywhere the
people were afraid of the Israelites. Joshua took all that land,
the hills and the south country and the valley and the plain. He
defeated thirty-one kings and took the cities and country where
they had ruled. Then the Israelites rested from war in their camp