Entering the Promised Land
AFTER the death of Moses, Joshua was to be
the leader of Israel, to conduct them to the Promised Land. He had been prime minister to
Moses during the greater part of the time the Israelites had wandered in the wilderness.
He had seen the wonderful works of God wrought by Moses, and well understood the
disposition of the people. He was one of the twelve spies who were sent out to search the
Promised Land, and one of the two who gave a faithful account of its richness and who
encouraged the people to go up in the strength of God to possess it. He was well qualified
for this important office. The Lord promised Joshua to be with him as He had been with
Moses, and to make Canaan fall as easy conquest to him, provided he would be faithful to
observe all His commandments. He was anxious as to how he should execute his commission in
leading the people to the land of Canaan, but this encouragement removed his fears.
Joshua commanded the children
of Israel to prepare for a three-day journey, and that all the men of war should go out to
battle. "And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us, we will do,
and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all
so will we hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as He was with
Moses. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto
thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of
a good courage."
The passage of the Israelites
over Jordan was to be miraculous. "And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify
yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. And Joshua spake unto the
priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And
they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. And the Lord said unto
Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may
know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee."
The priests were to go before
the people and bear the ark containing the law of God. And as their feet were dipped in
the brim of Jordan, the waters were cut off from above, and the priests passed on, bearing
the ark, which was a symbol of the Divine Presence; and the Hebrew host followed. When the
priests were halfway over Jordan, they were commanded to stand in the bed of the river
until all the host of Israel had passed over. Here the then existing generation of the
Israelites were convinced that the waters of Jordan were subject to the same power that
their fathers had seen displayed at the Red Sea forty years before. Many of these had
passed through the Red Sea when they were children. Now they pass over Jordan, men of war,
fully equipped for battle.
After all the host of Israel
had passed over Jordan,
Joshua commanded the priests to come up out of the river. As soon
as the priests, bearing the ark of the covenant, came up out of the river, and stood on
dry land, Jordan rolled on as before and overflowed all his banks. This wonderful miracle
performed for the Israelites greatly increased their faith. That this wonderful miracle
might never be forgotten, the Lord directed Joshua to command that men of note, one of
each tribe, take up stones from the bed of the river, the place where the priests' feet
stood while the Hebrew host was passing over, and bear them upon their shoulders, and
erect a monument in Gilgal, to keep in remembrance the fact that Israel passed over Jordan
on dry land. After the priests had come up from Jordan, God removed His mighty hand, and
the waters rushed like a mighty cataract down their own channel.
When all the kings of the
Amorites and the kings of the Canaanites heard that the Lord had stayed the waters of
Jordan before the children of Israel, their hearts melted with fear. The Israelites had
slain two of the kings of Moab, and their miraculous passage over the swollen and
impetuous Jordan filled them with the greatest terror. Joshua then circumcised all the
people which had been born in the wilderness. After this ceremony they kept the passover
in the plains of Jericho. "And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away
the reproach of Egypt from off you."
Heathen nations had
reproached the Lord and His people because the Hebrews had not possessed the land of
Canaan, which they expected to inherit soon after leaving Egypt. Their enemies had
triumphed because they had so long wandered in the wilderness, and they proudly lifted
themselves up against God, declaring that He was not able to lead them into the
Canaan. They had now passed over Jordan on dry land, and their enemies could no longer
The manna had continued up to
this time, but now as the Israelites were about to possess Canaan and eat of the fruit of
the land, they had no more need of it, and it ceased.
Captain of the Lord's Host
As Joshua withdrew from the
armies of Israel, to meditate and pray for God's special presence to attend him, he saw a
man of lofty stature, clad in warlike garments, with his sword drawn in his hand. Joshua
did not recognize him as one of the armies of Israel, and yet he had no appearance of
being an enemy. In his zeal he accosted him, and said, "Art thou for us, or for our
adversaries? And He said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And
Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, What saith my
Lord unto His servant? And the Captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe
from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so."
This was no common angel. It
was the Lord Jesus Christ, He who had conducted the Hebrews through the wilderness,
enshrouded in the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day. The place was
made sacred by His presence; therefore Joshua was commanded to put off his shoes.
The Lord then instructed
Joshua what course to pursue in order to take Jericho. All the men of war should be
commanded to compass the city once each day for six days, and on the seventh day they
should go around Jericho seven times.
Taking of Jericho
"And Joshua the son of
Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven
priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord. And he said unto
the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the
ark of the Lord. And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the
seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the Lord, and blew
with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant followed them.
"And the armed men went
before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rearward came after the ark, the
priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And Joshua had commanded the people,
saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word
proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. So the ark
of the Lord compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and
lodged in the camp."
The Hebrew host marched in
perfect order. First went a select body of armed men, clad in their warlike dress, not now
to exercise their skill in arms, but only to believe and obey the directions given them.
Next followed seven priests with trumpets. Then came the ark of God, glittering with gold,
a halo of glory hovering over it, borne by priests in their rich and peculiar dress
denoting their sacred office. The vast army of Israel followed in perfect order, each
tribe under its respective standard. Thus they compassed the city with the ark of God. No
sound was heard but the tread of that mighty host, and the
solemn voice of the trumpets,
echoed by the hills, and resounding through the city of Jericho.
With wonder and alarm the
watchmen of that doomed city mark every move, and report to those in authority. They
cannot tell what all this display means. Some ridicule the idea of that city's being taken
in this manner, while others are awed, as they behold the splendor of the ark and the
solemn and dignified appearance of the priests and the host of Israel following, with
Joshua at their head. They remember that the Red Sea, forty years before, parted before
them, and that a passage had just been prepared for them through the river Jordan. They
are too much terrified to sport. They are strict to keep the gates of the city closely
shut, and mighty warriors to guard each gate.
For six days the armies of
Israel performed their circuit around the city. On the seventh day they compassed Jericho
seven times. The people were commanded, as usual, to be silent. The voice of the trumpets
alone was to be heard. The people were to observe, and when the trumpeters should make a
longer blast than usual, then all were to shout with a loud voice, for God had given them
the city. "And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the
dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that
day they compassed the city seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the
priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath
given you the city." "So the people shouted when the priests blew with the
trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the
shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went
up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."
God intended to show the
Israelites that the conquest of Canaan was not to be ascribed to them. The Captain of the
Lord's host overcame Jericho. He and His angels were engaged in the conquest. Christ
commanded the armies of heaven to throw down the walls of Jericho and prepare an entrance
for Joshua and the armies of Israel. God, in this wonderful miracle, not only strengthened
the faith of His people in His power to subdue their enemies, but rebuked their former
Jericho had defied the armies
of Israel and the God of heaven. And as they beheld the host of Israel marching around
their city once each day, they were alarmed; but they looked at their strong defenses,
their firm and high walls, and felt sure that they could resist any attack. But when their
firm walls suddenly tottered and fell with a stunning crash, like peals of loudest
thunder, they were paralyzed with terror and could offer no resistance.
a Wise, Consecrated Leader
No stain rested upon the holy
character of Joshua. He was a wise leader. His life was wholly devoted to God. Before he
died he assembled the Hebrew host, and, following the example of Moses, he recapitulated
their travels in the wilderness and also the merciful dealings of God with them. He then
eloquently addressed them. He related to them that the king of Moab warred against them
and called Balaam to curse them; but God "would not hearken unto Balaam, therefore he
blessed you still." He then said to them, "And if it seem evil unto you to serve
the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods
which your fathers
served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose
land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
"And the people answered
and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods; for the Lord
our God, He it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the
house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all
the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed."
The people renewed their
covenant with Joshua. They said unto him, "The Lord our God will we serve, and His
voice will we obey." Joshua wrote the words of their covenant in the book containing
the laws and statutes given to Moses. Joshua was loved and respected by all Israel, and
his death was much lamented by them.
Copyright © 1974
The Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.
All Rights Reserved