Today’s reading begins with the LORD’s response to Joshua after Achan – and the sin of Israel – have been purged: “Do not fear and do not be dismayed…See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai…”
We’ll be looking at three distinct episodes today, all related to both conquest and covenant. First, Israel heads out again to take Ai, in coordination with the LORD’s blessing and His instructions. Next, Israel completes the dedication ceremony on Mount Ebal and Mount Gerezim that was outlined in Deuteronomy 27. (A note: When reading about the size of the armies, I want to remind you of the range of meanings for the word elef, which I covered on Day 43, at the beginning of Numbers. For example, we could be looking at 30,000 soldiers, or 30 divisions.)
Finally, chapter 9 opens an episode with the people of Gibeon. The town’s leaders, looking for any way to save their town and their own skins, concoct a ruse with which they hope to deceive the Israelites. The chapter pivots on one small observation of Israel’s leaders: “…but [they] did not ask counsel from the LORD,” that foreshadows how it will turn out.
The author is highlighting a lack of focus throughout this book. There are moments when the LORD’s counsel is sought, such as before Jericho, and others when it is not. You probably noticed that at the beginning of chapter 7, the author knows that Israel had “broken faith” with the LORD, but Israel did not. Here with Gibeon, the author is quite clear that a deception is unfolding, and makes it clear, again, why Israel did not. A simple consultation with the LORD, it’s hinted, would have saved them a lot of trouble. It seems every success is followed by misplaced self-reliance.
The author also allows the Gibeonites to speak for themselves regarding their deception: “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the LORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives…” Their reasoning shows confidence in Yahweh, and elicits sympathy, and Joshua’s “How could you?” question seems stupid: So what else were they going to do? Try to keep your focus on Israel, not Gibeon, during this presentation.
Our verse for this week is Galatians 3:29: And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Joshua chapters 8 and 9. Now let’s read it!
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.