Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Joshua: a Book Report

The following is from a work-in-progress called "The Bible: a Book Report" in which I read each book of the Bible, and then summarize it in my own words.  I will also include biblical artwork by famous artists.

Joshua is the sixth book of the Bible.

After Moses’ death, the Lord spoke to Joshua (Moses’ successor) and promised him that if Israel kept God’s commandments, He would help them conquer Canaan.

Joshua sent spies across the Jordan river, to check out the city of Jericho and see if it had any weaknesses.  The spies were sheltered by a prostitute named Rahab, who also helped them escape.  Consequently, the spies promised that when Israel destroyed Jericho, her family would be spared.  So the spies returned to Joshua and said, “Jericho is terrified of us.  We can totally take them out.”

So God parted the Jordan river, and the nation of Israel passed into Canaan, and built an altar with the laws written on it.  Joshua then circumcised the new generation of Israelites.  When their penises were healed, they prepared to invade Jericho.

On the eve of the invasion, an angel carrying a sword appeared to Joshua, saying that he commanded the armies of the Lord.

God gave Joshua very specific instructions on how to conquer Jericho.  They had to march around the city every day for seven days.  On the seventh day, the priests blew their trumpets and all the people shouted and the walls of the city came crashing down.  Then the Israeli warriors entered the city and “utterly destroyed everything in the city, both men and women, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.”  Total genocide.  Rahab and her family were spared, however.  After taking some gold and treasure, Israel burned the city to the ground.

"The Walls of Jericho Fallen Down" by Gustave Dore

God was very specific about the things which could be looted from destroyed cities.  A few Israelites took some things they were not allowed to take, so Israel lost its next battle.  When Joshua learned about these looters, he had them stoned and burned.  That satisfied God, and Israel could go on conquering.

The next city they conquered was called Ai.  Israel used a clever two-front ambush strategy (it was God’s idea) to defeat Ai, and killed everyone except the king of Ai, whom they brought alive to Joshua, who hanged him, and then built an altar to the Lord.

"Josuha Burns the Town of Ai" by Gustave Dore

A few cities of Canaan heard about Israel’s conquests, and thought of a clever way to avoid being destroyed.  They dressed as poor wandering beggars and told Joshua they were from far away, and asked for a peace treaty, which Joshua signed.  Joshua soon learned about their deception, and he made them all slaves, instead of killing them.

A coalition of five armies then attacked Israel, and Israel defeated them all.  God helped in this victory by raining down giant rocks from the sky on the five king’s armies.  God also allowed the sun to stand still in the sky, so the battle lasted a bit longer than normal.  After the five armies were defeated, the kings of the armies went and hid in a cave.  Joshua found them, dragged them out and commanded the leaders of Israel to put their feet on the necks of these kings.  Then Joshua hanged the five kings, and threw their bodies back in the cave.

"Destruction of the Army of the Amorites" by Gustave Dore

Under the command of Josuha, and with the Lord’s blessing, Israel went on to defeat 31 kings in Canaan, killing everyone and utterly destroying their cities, leaving no survivors.  It was genocide.  It was ethnic cleansing.  It was fucking brutal.

Then Joshua divided up the newly-conquered land among the twelve tribes of Israel.  He also established six “cities of refuge” which were special cities where those accused of manslaughter could flee to, and not be killed.  Though the Levites (priests) did not get an official territory, they did get 48 cities, scattered throughout Canaan.  There was a brief disagreement when a few tribes set up an altar apart from the main altar, but they worked it out.

The book ends with Joshua, as an old man, giving a speech to Israel, whose main theme is “Continue to obey God’s laws, and you will be able to remain in this promised land and prosper.  Disobey God’s laws, and other nations will invade and defeat you.”  Then Joshua died, at the ripe old age of 110.


Stay tuned for more action-packed adventures in Judges: a Book Report!

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