Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
JOSHUA, THE COMMANDER OF THE HEBREWS, MAKES WAR WITH THE CANAANITES
 WHEN Moses was taken away from among men, in the manner already described, and when the mourning for him was over, Joshua commanded the multitude to get themselves ready for an expedition, for they would soon cross over Jordan. He also sent spies to Jericho, to discover what forces they had, and what were their intentions. And calling to him the rulers of the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, who had been permitted to take up their habitation in the country of the Amorites, he put them in mind what they had promised Moses, and told them to prepare themselves to perform what they promised. So fifty thousand of them accompanied him, and he marched from Abila to Jordan.
Now when he had pitched his camp, the spies came to him immediately. And they were well acquainted with the whole state of the Canaanites, for they had been able to take a full view of the city of Jericho without disturbance, and saw which parts of the walls were strong, and which parts were insecure, and which of the gates were so weak that they might afford an entrance to their army. At first those that met them took no notice of them, supposing they were only strangers. But at night they retired to a certain inn that was near the wall, which was kept by a woman named Rahab. And here, having eaten their supper, they were considering how to get away, when information was given to the king that there were
 some persons come from the Hebrews’ camp to view the city as spies, and that they were in Rahab’s inn. So he sent some men to take them and bring them to him, that he might put them to torture and learn what their business was there. But Rahab hid the spies under a heap of flax which had been laid to dry on the top of her house, and said to the king’s messengers that certain unknown strangers had supped with her a little before sunset and had just gone away, but might easily be overtaken. So these messengers set off at once in pursuit along those roads which they thought the spies had taken, but could hear no tidings of them. When the tumult was over, Rahab brought the men down, and desired them, when their brethren should have obtained possession of the land of Canaan, to remember what danger she had undergone for their sakes. And she made them swear to preserve her and her family. The spies acknowledged that they owed her gratitude for what she had done, and swore to requite her kindness. They told her when she should perceive that the city was about to be taken, to put her goods and all her family, by way of security, in her inn, and hang out scarlet threads before her doors or windows, that the commander of the Hebrews might know her house and take care to do her no harm. Then they let themselves down by a rope from the wall, and escaped, and came and told their own people what they had done in their journey to the city. Joshua also told Eleazar the high-priest and the senate what the spies had sworn to Rahab, who confirmed what had been sworn.
Now while Joshua was debating how the army should cross the river, for there were no bridges, and they had no boats, God spoke to him, and promised that He would so dispose of the river that they could pass over it. So on the third day thereafter Joshua told the people to make themselves ready. And he made the priests go down to the river, first of all, with the ark upon their shoulders. Then went
 the Levites, bearing the tabernacle and the sacred vessels that were used in the sacrifices. After them the entire multitude followed according to their tribes, each tribe having their wives and children in the midst of them. As soon as the priests had entered the river, the water ceased to flow, and dry land appeared. And the priests stood still until the whole multitude had crossed. Then they passed over also, and as soon as they had come out of the river the water flowed as before.
So the Israelites pitched their camp at the distance of ten furlongs from Jericho. The heads of the tribes had been commanded by Joshua to take each a large stone from the bed of the river while they were crossing it, and Joshua now took these stones and built an altar. This altar was to remain as a memorial of the miracle that had been performed there. They celebrated the feast of the Passover here, and they reaped the corn that grew in the land, and parched and ate it. And on the morrow the manna, which for forty years had sustained them, ceased any longer to come. For now they were in the land of Canaan, where there was plenty of food for them. Then Joshua, whom the Lord had instructed what to do, called the priests to him, and told them that they should go all round the walls of the city, bearing the ark on their shoulders and blowing on their seven trumpets, with the senate following them. And when they had done this for six days, on the seventh Joshua gathered the armed men and all the people together, and told them that the city should now be taken, for God would make the walls fall down of their own accord. And he charged them to kill every one in the city, even the women and the children, and to destroy all the animals, and to take nothing for themselves. All the gold and silver in the city should be brought together to be consecrated to the Lord. But he reminded them to spare Rahab and her kindred and their possessions.
When he had said this and had set his army in order, he led it against the city. And they all went round the
 walls, following the priests with the ark, and when they had gone round it seven times, and had stood still a little, the walls fell down, though no instruments of war or other force had been applied to them by the Israelites.
So they rushed into Jericho, and slew all the men that were therein, while they were still affrighted at the surprising overthrow of the walls and were unable to defend themselves. And not only the men, but the women and the children were all slain, and the city was filled with dead bodies. Rahab and her family alone were saved, and when she was brought to Joshua he thanked her for what she had done, and he gave her lands to live on, and held her ever after in great esteem.
There was an immense quantity of gold and silver, and of brass also, that the Israelites took from out of the houses and heaped together, which spoils Joshua delivered to the priests to be laid up among their treasures. But a man named Achar, of the tribe of Judah, finding a royal garment woven entirely of gold, and a large piece of gold, thought it very hard that he must give away what it had cost him so much trouble to obtain, and he therefore dug a ditch in his own tent and concealed them there.
A few days after the capture of Jericho, Joshua sent three thousand armed men to take Ai, a city situated at a little distance off. But these men were defeated by the people of Ai and driven back, with a loss of thirty-six of their number. Then the Israelites were in great distress, for they feared that the Lord had forgotten His promises to them. And Joshua cried out to the Lord, and the Lord answered him, and said that this defeat had come upon the Israelites because there was sin among them; for one of their number had stolen things that were consecrated to Him, and they must search out and punish the offender.
This Joshua told the people; and calling for Eleazar the high-priest, and the men in authority, he cast lots tribe by tribe, and man by man, until at last the lot fell to Achar.
 He confessed the theft and produced what he had taken, whereupon he was immediately put to death and buried at night, as became a public malefactor.
When Joshua had thus purified the host, he led them against Ai. And at night he hid a number of his soldiers near the walls. The rest attacked the city, and when the inhabitants, who were made bold by their former victory, marched out against them, they pretended to flee. By that means he drew the army away from the city, and, having done so, he suddenly ordered his forces to turn round again and attack the enemy. At the same time he gave a signal which had been agreed upon, and the men who had been hidden rushed into the city, the gates of which were wide open, and slew all that they met with. Then Joshua pressed hard against those that had come against him, and forced them to a close fight, and defeated them, so that they ran away. And when they had been driven back to the city they were surprised and afraid, seeing that it was taken, and they scattered about the fields in a disorderly manner, and were noway able to defend themselves. So they were all slain. And the Israelites plundered the city, and brought away herds of cattle and a great deal of gold and silver, for this was a rich country. And Joshua allowed them to keep all these things for their own.