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I. Introduction

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

purpose, usually for complete destruction. In fact, God had so designated every city in Canaan, as it is recorded in Deuteronomy 20:10-18:

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

to the Lord and must go into his treasury." ( JOSHUA 6:16b-19 [ NIV ] )

3. "Why should Israel's foes in Canaan suffer this bloody dedication to Israel's

God? The clue may lie in one of the brief commands in Exodus 22: 'whoever

sacrifices to a god other than Jahweh will be made herem' (v.20). The link

between herem and 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?


A. Joshua 7:1-9

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

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