Joshua, chapter 9: Trickery and Deception

V.1-2 – Following the success of Israel against Jericho (fortified city of the border) and Ai (small, local city), the remaining city-states of Canaan begin to form an anti-Israel coalition. Rather than be picked off one by one, they plan to attack Israel on-masse (as we will see in a later chapter).

V.3-13 – The people of Gibeon (a larger neighboring city) create an elaborate illusion, giving the impression that they have come from a distant land (a plausible lie) and wish to form an alliance with Israel (the truth). This may seem unusual, especially given the details revealed about Gibeon in the next chapter (big city, strong army, etc.), but given the Israelites’ victories on the eastern (and now western) sides of the Jordan River, it is clear to the city-states of Canaan that open opposition to Israel is fast becoming a death sentence.

V.14-18 – Israel makes a fateful decision: they choose to accept the alliance WITHOUT CONSULTING THE LORD. Their choice to rush into a hasty alliance shows 2 things: 1) they were eager for allies in the battle against the Canaanites, and 2) they forgot that GOD was the One granting them victory in battles ahead; as Abraham’s “solution” in Ishmael caused problems for his family in the years and generations that followed, so will it be with Israel’s hasty covenant with the Gibeonites. Even when the deception is revealed, Israel is bound by the vows they have made, and no attack (of retaliation or otherwise) can be made against Gibeon, and the people’s view of their leadership begins to sour (a similar trait passed on from the older generation in the wilderness).

V.19-27 – With the Gibeonites having fulfilled their deception (and tied themselves to Israel), the leadership of Israel now decides what to do. Joshua and the rulers (established under Moses after Jethro’s advice) declare that, while they will uphold the agreement to not attack Gibeon, the people of Gibeon will now serve Israel as menial labor – woodcutters and water-carriers, servicing both the Tabernacle altar and the population of Israel in general.

Some might consider their treatment poetic justice, but keep in mind what is happening behind the scenes. For the first time in their history, the Israelites become the oppressors; after being slaves to the Egyptians, they are now making slaves of their Canaanite neighbors. More than that, this will mark the beginning of a stumbling block for Israel; their Canaanite neighbors will serve as both a reminder (of Israel’s failure to consult the LORD) and a temptation (culture of idolatry, as with the previous generation in Numbers). From here through the book of Judges, the moral decay of Israel will spiral until they become worse than their pagan neighbors.

Joshua, chapter 8: victory at Ai!

V.1-2 – GOD instructs Joshua to do battle with Ai once more; this time, however, the situation will be different: 1) rather than a token force (like last time in chapter 7), all of Israel’s soldiers will be brought to bear; 2) the Israelites are permitted to take spoil for themselves from their conquest (only property, no people); 3) GOD is with them in this battle, and has assured Joshua of victory; and 4) GOD has instructed Joshua on what strategy to use.

V.3-8 – Following GOD’s instructions, Joshua sets aside a group of soldiers (30,000) to wait in ambush behind Ai’s location; Israel is going to use a feint with their main force to draw Ai’s army away from the city. Once that is done, the ambush force will attack the city, descend the hill, and attack the army of Ai from the rear while Israel’s main force turns back and engages them from the front.

V.9-13 – The ambush is set up during the night, and Joshua sends out a third force (5,000) to prevent the neighboring city-state from sending forces to assist Ai. The next day, Joshua leads the main force in the feint maneuver: 1) They make camp in the valley below the city, where they can be easily seen, and will appear to be an attractive lure for Ai, 2) the two ambush forces settle into position, undetected, 3) at daybreak, the battle is set to begin.

V.14-20 – The soldiers of Ai are drawn into the trap; they are so convinced of victory that no one stays behind to defend Ai. As they come rushing out, Joshua and the main attack force pull back (feigned retreat) to put some distance between the soldiers and their now-defenseless city. When Joshua gives the signal (waving his spear, possibly with a flag or another way to distinguish himself in the midst of battle), Israel’s main army turns around to attack Ai, and the larger ambush force charges into the city, putting it to the torch.

V.21-29 – With the ambush complete, Israel’s forces turn and complete annihilate Ai’s population (12,000 total); the livestock and wealth of the city (from hereon forward) is divided among the Israelites. As a note of interest, the Israelites have (not yet) taken no captives (Rahab and her family do not count as such, since they were integrated as members of the nation). There are two commands of GOD regarding this matter: 1) to Israel (found in the Pentateuch) and 2) to Joshua personally (the beginning of chapter 8). When captives are taken, Israel is to treat them gently and with respect. Israel has been the oppressed; they should NOT become the new oppressor.

V. 30-35 – Following Moses’ precedent, Joshua leads the people in worship after the battle is finished; GOD is the crucial part of Israel’s victories, and Joshua (having learned this lesson in the wilderness) is keen on making sure the next generation remembers it well. Additionally, Joshua copies the Mosaic Law onto the stones of the altar he has built; it is both an instructional tool and a reminder that the Law is Israel’s covenant pact with GOD, applying to every member of the nation.

Joshua, chapter 7: Achan and the aching he Caused

V.1 – Despite explicit instructions from GOD (through Joshua), one member of Israel (Achan) steals some of the riches that should have been given as tribute to GOD. This is noted in v.24 of the previous chapter; all plunder from the conquest of Jericho (precious metals) was considered to be a “first-fruits” offering to GOD. Israel was free to partake of all future conquests, but Achan decided that his own desires were more important than GOD.

The details of this petty theft will be revealed later, but the effect of his action(s) is immediately apparent. Elsewhere in Scripture, we see sin compared to yeast: “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” If one Israelite is guilty of sin, the entire nation is tainted; Achan doesn’t yet realize it, but he has jeopardized/ruined Israel’s (immediate) future by disobeying GOD’s command.

V.2-5 – Compared with Jericho, Ai was just a small suburb; Joshua sent only a token force to fight because he (and Israel) didn’t expect the fight to be any great difficulty. However, Israel’s force of 3,000 is routed by the men of Ai, and they kill 36 Israelites as they flee. This is, after a fashion, a repeat of a past mistake: in Numbers 14, the older generation (who were sentenced to die in the wilderness) tried to go into battle against the Canaanites without GOD’s help, and they too suffered a humiliating defeat. In light of this present loss, the Israelites under Joshua lose their confidence and will to fight.

V.6-13 – Joshua grieves Israel’s loss at Ai, wondering how it happened. He knows that, if the Canaanites rally themselves now, Israel will surely be on the brink of destruction. For a moment, he even contemplates what life would have been like if Israel had never entered the Promised Land!

Thankfully, GOD addresses Joshua’s question, bringing to his attention the unfaithfulness in Israel’s midst. If Israel is not faithful in following Him, then He will not be with them anymore. The people of Israel now has a choice to make: 1) allow the corruption to remain (and face certain doom from their enemies), or 2) end the moral corruption by finding (and punishing) the one who caused it.

V.14-21 – Following the revelation and instruction, Joshua summons Israel by tribe, clan, family, and household. The most likely method (although not explicitly stated) would have been by casting lots; this could take many forms (tablets, cast stones or stones, etc.), and is seen many times throughout the Old Testament. It was believed that the outcome (differentiating guilt and innocence) was guided by the hand of GOD, and until the coming of the Holy Spirit was one of the most accurate means of making an official decision. Eventually, Achan is singled out, and he confesses his crime before Joshua, even pointing out where the stolen goods are kept.

V.22-26 – Joshua’s “messengers” (chosen representatives) search Achan’s tent, and the pilfered plunder is found exactly where he said they would be. With the evidence in hand, Israel delivers punishment as commanded by GOD (and was traditional for the time/culture): Achan, his family, and all they possess, are marched outside the camp to the Valley of Achor (“trouble”). There, they are stoned to death, and everything that remains (possession included) are burned with fire as GOD told Joshua to do. This includes the valuable plunder that Achan stole; having been tainted by Achan’s sin, they are no longer acceptable to be given to GOD.

Some may argue that it was unfair to execute Achan’s family because of his misdeed, but let us recall a couple of things: 1) Achan hid them in/under his tent, so they would have been aware of what he had done, and 2) having seen/known what Achan had done and saying nothing, they were guilty of the sin of omission; they were willing to tolerate wrongdoing in their midst than confess and be made right with GOD.

Having finished the stoning, they raise a pile of memorial stones over the remains of Achan and his household, naming the valley so that future generations would remember the trouble that happens when Israel disobeys GOD. With the matter now closed, GOD is no longer angry with Israel, and the nation can now move forward with Him.

Joshua, chapter 6: taking Jericho


The promise of victory is given before the battle is begun; instructions/strategy are laid out for Joshua, and he will pass it on the people of Israel.


The instructions are an expression of Israel’s faith that GOD is in their midst and will provide victory. Just as with the wilderness wanderings, the coming of victory will happen His way, which is rarely (if ever) according to conventional human thinking. For instance, usually an attacking army would make some sort of war cry to intimidate the enemy. This time, however, the only sound(s) made until the seventh day will be the blowing of the priests’ horns and the tramping of feet in the army.


For the first six days, Israel undertakes what must have looked like (to the inhabitants of Jericho) a ridiculous endeavor – marching around the city with the entire camp of Israel – bot strong and weak – around him and the Ark. The action, however, is FAR from empty; 6 is the number of fallen humanity, falling short of GOD’s perfection. This translates to Israel’s inability to achieve victory without the LORD.


On the seventh day, Israel makes the expected circuit, but this time there are seven laps instead of the (perhaps expected) one. 7 is the number of completion, and added to the previous 6 days of marching makes a total of 13 – the number of tribes in Israel (Joseph’s two and the other 11 sons). At the end of the march, Israel is given the signal to SHOUT (drawn from the Hebrew “shabach,” one of seven Hebrew words for praise). At the sound of praise, GOD knocks down the otherwise impassible fortifications, also creating a ramp for Israel to enter the city with ease.


The only section of wall that does NOT fall down is the portion that held Rahab’s house. Having been faithful to the pact made with the spies in chapter 2, she has gathered her whole family with her, trusting in Israel’s promise to spare them all. Indeed, Rahab and her clan will be the only survivors of Jericho, becoming part of Israel – and Rahab in particular will be the second of four women mentioned in the ancestry of Jesus (Matthew 1)!

Joshua, chapter 5: preparations, getting right with GOD

News traveled slower during this time, but Israel’s reputation has far preceded them. In chapter 2, Rahab tells of how the account of the Exodus and the battles east of the Jordan have already spread far and wide, and now the inhabitants of Canaan find that the LORD has miraculously opened the was for Israel to enter the land. Their existence now inspires one feeling – FEAR.

Before the conquest of Canaan can begin, there is an issue that needs to be resolved. The wilderness generation was never circumcised (a sign of the covenant that the LORD established with Abraham) – it is a bit of a mystery why the older generation did not circumcise their children. A few possibilities are:
1) the need for mobility (circumcision would slow them down – healing takes time), or
2) a sense of rebellion after being denied the Promised Land (following the events at Kadesh Barnea – Numbers 13 & 14), or
3) a despairing belief that their children, having to live with their parents’ punishment, would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land either (not trusting in GOD’s word in Numbers 14:31).

Whatever the reason, the new generation are now part of the covenant, and GOD will honor His promises to them.

Having arrived in the spring, Israel keeps the Passover celebration, for the first time in Canaan (and in celebration of the end of their long journey). Also for the first time, the people eat of Canaan’s rich produce (samples of which were brought by the twelve spies in Numbers 13) and the bread from Heaven ceases to fall.

For forty years, GOD provided the manna for Israel on the journey through the wilderness; now that they have entered Canaan, they no longer have any need for it.

As he scouts out the immediate area (and the first military target), Joshua comes across an armed Man; seeking to weigh things out, Joshua asks which side He is on. The Man replies that, as commander of the LORD’s armies, He is on God’s side. Joshua immediately bows in worship, and the Man does not rebuke Joshua for doing so; this means that the Man is no mere angel – not even an archangel like Michael – but rather the preincarnate Christ, GOD in person.

For Joshua, this experience serves a dual purpose:
1) this is Joshua’s “burning bush” experience; as GOD spoke to and called Moses at the bush, He now calls Joshua at the outskirts of Jericho. He even repeats the command to remove his sandals, because any meeting place with GOD is holy ground.
2) It is a reminder to Joshua that the proper question for his (and Israel’s) success in conquering Canaan is “are you on GOD’s side?” It will be His hand of power that determines whether or not Israel will receive and hold the land.

Joshua, chapter 4: entrance and evidence

Each of the twelve men (representing each tribe in Israel) is commanded to take up a stone (large enough to be carried on the shoulder, held with both hands) from the riverbed of the Jordan River. These men (and the stones they will set up) will be a testimony to God’s divine intervention on Israel’s behalf in opening the way to the Promised Land. A similar dynamic is seen in Genesis, when Jacob commemorates his vision of the stairway to Heaven he observed in a dream at Beth-El, as well as in 1st Samuel (where we first see the name “Ebenezer” mentioned); Samuel sets up a marker to show how far Yahweh helped Israel to push back the Philistines.

After 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites are eager to enter the Promised Land; they hurry across, keeping a respectful distance from the Ark. As promised, the men of war from the 2 1/2 tribes who will remain on the east bank cross over with the rest, trusting that Yahweh will keep their families safe from harm while they are gone. With the full force of Israel committed to the task ahead, the priests with the Ark come up from the riverbed, and the waters of the Jordan are released.

Yahweh has brought Israel to a different place than the previous generation; Kadesh Barnea, the southern entrance to Canaan, was the dwelling of the “sons of Anak” – giants like Goliath who defeated Israel during Moses’ time. Instead of leading them back there, Yahweh will lead Israel through Gilgal, in the eastern portion of Canaan. Gilgal (about 5 miles from the Jordan River) will continue to serve as Israel’s primary camp throughout Joshua’s leadership, and it is where the “ebenezer” stones from the river crossing will be set up. They will serve as evidence to the new generations of the veracity of the Exodus, wilderness wanderings, and entrance into Canaan, as well as Yahweh’s direct role in them all.

Joshua, chapter 3: river crossing into Canaan

In Christian teaching, the crossing into Canaan is a symbol of entering the victorious Christian life.

This is a generation that has grown up in the wilderness and seen the miracles God has done there; few still live who remember witnessing the Red Sea crossing. After 40 years of wandering, the nation is finally ready to cross over into Canaan, and they are about to see God move as they have never seen before.

Take note that the Ark (Yahweh’s mobile throne) is what leads the way into the Promised Land. The same is true of the victorious Christian life – we cannot claim it on our own, God must be the one leading the way. The distance Joshua commands Israel to keep is both a measure of how wide the opening in the river will be for the crossing Israelites and a symbol of respect for God’s holy presence.

Yahweh reiterates that Joshua’s relationship with God will be pivotal for the nation; as Moses was His go-between with Israel in the wilderness, so will Joshua be in the conquest of the Promised Land.

So it is that Joshua serves not only as military commander, but intermediary leader for Israel; God will always be Israel’s true ruler, even through the time of the kings, but Joshua will be a leadership model for the people of the nation.

Final instructions are given, and a sign is foretold; God (symbolized by the Ark) will continue to lead the people, and the selected twelve men will have a special task in building an “ebenezer” mound in the next chapter. Like the traditional feasts, this will remain an important reminder for Israel in the future of God’s work in the past.

For those raised in the wilderness, this event is symbolically reminiscent of the Red Sea crossing; like its counterpart 40 years earlier, it reveals to the people God’s power over nature and His victory over any obstacle that stands in the way over those who follow Him.

Narnia tie-in: Jadis’ origins

Jadis, better known to Narnia fans as “the White Witch,” is a very enigmatic figure. We learn early on the series that, for all her physical appearance, she is NOT human. But just exactly where/whom DOES she descend from? The Beavers (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) help to fill in these details.

Mother’s side
Mr. Beaver: “She comes of your father Adam’s – (bowing to Peter) – your father Adam’s first wife, her they called Lilith. And she was one of the Jinn.”

According to Jewish mysticism, Lilith was a woman made from the same dirt/dust that Adam was. It is claimed that Lilith refused to accept a position as Adam’s “inferior” and left Eden, starting her own race after joining with a (fallen?) angel named Samael. Furthermore, she was described as being sexually promiscuous – which is all theologically inaccurate according to Biblical record. However, the accounts referring to her give reference to another race that was reported to have a mingling of physical and spiritual origins.

Father’s side
Mr. Beaver: “And on the other she comes of the giants.”

The “giants” I think of when I read this are those like Goliath, the “sons of Anak.” They are seen before and after the Flood, and there has been some debate about where they came from. Genesis 6 reference a union between the “sons of God” and “daughters of men;” one theory postulates this to be an intermingling of the descendants of Seth (Adam & Eve’s 3rd recorded son) and Cain (Adam & Eve’s 1st recorded son). The more interesting theory, I think, points to a mingling of fallen angels (“Nephilim”) and humans (somewhat similar to the mythology surrounding Lilith). According to Jewish scholars, this would be an extension of the Fall and the chaos it wrought on creation – humans and angels were separate creations, and it was never in God’s design for them to intermingle. The giants/”mighty men who were of old” are enemies of Israel, and and face them time and again throughout history from the lifetime of Moses (during the Exodus) to the reign of David (time of the first 3 kings).

As Mr. Beaver puts it, “No, no, there isn’t a drop of real human blood in the Witch.” Humanity is defined as people descended directly from Adam and Eve, and Jadis has absolutely no part of their bloodline.

Disney Villains & the Inferiority Complex

Whether it’s intentional or just a writing fad, Disney villains seem to consistently display a common personality trait: the inferiority complex. As previously discussed in my Hitler/Stalin post, those with this trait try to become the “best” by eliminating everyone who is deemed “better,” whether that means more skilled, better looking, of higher intelligence, etc. Here are a few examples:

Evil Queen (Snow White)

Obsessed with maintaining herself as the world’s most beautiful woman, she uses her position as queen as well as knowledge of forbidden arts to eliminate any woman who threatens to surpass or rival her. Employing her huntsman, a magic mirror, or even a poisoned apple, she will use any means deemed necessary to ensure that she alone is “fairest one of all.”

Jafar (Aladdin)

Whether in political position or magical power, Jafar is NEVER content to settle for “second-best.” His quest for the Cave of Wonders is not for wealth, but rather the lamp of the Genie, whose abilities Jafar wishes to use in his quest to become supreme ruler of Agrabah. Relentlessly, he strives to eliminate rivals like the Sultan, “Prince Ali,” and even the Genie himself – which proves to be his greatest achievement and downfall.

Prince John (Robin Hood)

Desiring the power and wealth of sovereign ruler, Prince John contrives a plot to get his brother King Richard as far from England as possible, claiming his brother’s position in his absence – even wearing Richard’s robes and crown, despite the fact that they are a poor fit. It’s not for nothing that Robin Hood and company refer to John as “the phony king of England.”

Scar (The Lion King)

An atypical lion, Scar works by stealth and cunning because he lacks the powerful physique commonly associated with his species. He hates both Mufasa and Simba because the kingship (which he desires) is their assumed birthright, while he has to labor to achieve it. Like Prince John, Scar hates even the mentioning of his departed brother Mufasa, as the thought of anything besides his own reality seems a threat to him and his continued reign as tyrannical usurper over the Pride Lands.

Syndrome (The Incredibles)

Born as Buddy Pine, he once aspired to be “Incredi-Boy,” sidekick to Mr. Incredible. Although a genius inventor, he feels overshadowed by “Supers” whose natural-born gifts he cannot equal. He therefore makes it his mission to not only eliminate the Supers but also reshape the very concept of “super” by making his technological gadgets available to the whole world, thus leaving “super” as a meaningless, hollow status.

Joshua, chapter 2: Scouting Ahead, Promise Made

v.1: As Moses did before him, Joshua sends spies into Canaan to scout it out; after forty years, the situation may be different than it was when Joshua and Caleb (the only two survivors of the previous generation) first scouted it out. Joshua recommends Jericho specifically because (given the point where they will cross into Canaan) it acts as a gateway/barrier to the Promised Land, being a well-fortified city. In scouting out the land, they use the home of a local woman named Rahab as a cover, as it might not have be considered unusual or suspicious for them to lodge there (her house doubled as an inn and brothel).

v.2-7: The king of Jericho (Rahab’s city-state) gets wind that Israel’s spies are there, and he sends his troops to capture them. She hides the two men under flax plants on the roof (as another business, she may have woven cloth or at least supplied material for making it) and sends Jericho’s soldiers on a wild goose chase.

v.8-14: Rahab reveals that Israel’s reputation precedes them; their miraculous deliverance from Egypt (one of the mightiest empires of the day) and conquest of two kingdoms of the Amorites (cousins to the Ammonites, descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot) east of the Jordan has already inspired fear in the peoples of Canaan. Because Rahab has helped Israel, she requests that Israel be gracious in return. When Jericho is conquered, Rahab’s family will be spared.

v.15-22: Here, we learn of special details. The walls of Jericho were so thick that Rahab’s house was built into a portion of it. Rahab helps the spies escape by letting them down to the ground with a rope; as a measure of accountability, they ask that she tie the rope in the window (it will be a sign to Jericho and Israel together, saying “this is the woman who was a friend to Israel”) from then until Jericho is taken.

v.23-24: The spies report back to Joshua, and he is encouraged. God is already preparing the way for Israel (lacking equal weapons and military training) to do battle with their Canaanite foes and take possession of the land.

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