A. By the time of the events recorded in this morning's text passage, the once mighty
fortress-city of Jericho had been utterly defeated by the invading Israelites, reduced
to a smoldering heap of debris. All of Jericho -- all the buildings, all the streets, all
the furniture, all the valuables, all the people, all the domesticated animals -- had
been declared by Jehovah as "herem" -- irrevocably consecrated to Him for His
1. But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as
an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you
shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite
and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your
God has commanded you, lest they teach you to do according to all their
abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against
the Lord your God.
Joshua, the obedient servant of the Lord, remembered those words given by
Jehovah to Moses when he issued his terrible command as the walls of Jericho
had begun to collapse:
2. "Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! The city and all that is
in it are to be devoted ( "herem" ) to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute
and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the
spies we sent. But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will
not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise
you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble
on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred
3. "Why should Israel's foes in Canaan suffer this bloody dedication to Israel's
sacrifices to a god other than Jahweh will be made herem' (v.20). The link
between herem and sacrifice....is perfectly encapsulated in this brief Exodus
injunction: the offerer will be offered; the dedicator will be dedicated; the
sacrificer will be sacrified."
( A. Graeme Auld: Joshua, Judges and Ruth )
B. Having seen God's mighty hand move through their explicit obedience, the
Israelites were brimming with confidence. Next on their strategic agenda: the
area 15 miles west of Jericho known as Ai ("The Ruins"). Joshua's mighty men of
valour were ready to continue the conquest by moving immediately against the
inhabitants of this obscure and insignificant outpost. The hardest test, after all,
was behind them -- or was it?
1. Were the first verse of this passage omitted, the seventh chapter of Joshua
would be a melodrama worthy of a three night TV miniseries! But, as it is,
v.1 "gives away" the essential details behind Israel's first -- and only -- defeat
in the Canaanite campaign.
a. The culprit: A __ __ __ __, from the tribe of J __ __ __ __.
b. His crime: he committed a "t __ __ __ __ __ __ __ regarding the