Sunday, May 22, 2011

Joshua 1-6: Destruction of Jericho

So Moses is dead, and Joshua is the new leader. The 1st chapter is pretty much a waste of space; God reminds Joshua to obey all the rules, and Joshua reminds the tribes who want to live on this side of the Jordan that they have to come help with the fighting. Yawn.

Joshua tells everyone to prepare to leave in 3 days, and in the meantime he sends 2 spies into Jericho. They stay at a prostitute's house for some reason. Her name is Rahab.

They must be really shitty spies, because they are discovered after only 2 sentences. The king comes to Rahab's house looking for them, but she sends him off looking somewhere else. They were hidden on the roof the whole time! Clever.

She tells them she knows what they are up to, and she asks that they spare her and her family when they take over. They agree, but only if she ties a red cord on her window.

God is going to be pissed when he finds out about this. He has been very clear from the start; fucking kill everybody.

Then they get away and get back to Joshua, who for some reason isn't upset at the idea of sparing some people, in direct violation of God's commands. Hmm.

The next day they set out. Joshua tells everyone to follow the Ark of the Covenant, but not to get too close to it. Why not?

When they get to the Jordan, God decides to do a magic trick to show them, once again, that the "living God is among you." Does God ever tire of glorifying himself? I guess not. Anyway, the trick is that when the Ark of the Covenant gets into the River, it effectively acts as a dam; the river stops flowing. So the guys carrying the Ark stand there while everyone crosses the dry riverbed. Ooo, magic.

God tells them to make a little monument for the occasion... 12 guys, 1 from each tribe, take a stone each from the dry riverbed and put it in their camp that evening. Right then.

So they crossed the river and are camped outside of Jericho.

There are 40,000 Israelites armed for battle. This number seems pretty small to me. There were 601,730 at the last census (numbers 26), and that only counts men older than 20, and doesn't even include Levites, who as priests might not be fighting. Some of those might be too old to fight. But still, 40,000 isn't even 10% of their total fighting force. Why?

Apparently that little trick with the river freaked out the natives... "their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites." So really, if they aren't even going to put up a fight, this isn't even going to be a battle; it will be a massacre. Apparently God is OK with that.

This next bit is just freaking weird. God says, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” AGAIN? What does that even mean? What are they cutting off now??

Oh I see. This whole generation of Israelites have never been circumcised in their 40 years of God making them wander around. Why not? And why are they bothering now, after all this time? And why hasn't God killed them or whatever for this transgression? And why did that previous bit say "circumcise them again," implying that it was already done?

Whatever. They stay there until they are all healed. They could have done this in the safety of their camp across the river, but no, they do it now, right outside of Jericho. That makes no sense.

Also, while camped near Jericho, they celebrate the passover. Again, why are they doing all this stuff here that could have been done in relative safety on the other side of the river?

Weird. Joshua finds some guy with a sword. He asks him who's side he's on. The guy says he is "commander of the army of the LORD." I thought Joshua was leader of the army, but I guess not. Joshua is convinced anyway... he bows before this guy, and asks what message God has for him. Apparently that message is "take off your sandals!" If you'll remember, this is also the first thing the burning bush said to Moses, so God must really advocate going barefoot. Who the fuck is this guy? I guess we'll never know.

Chapter 6 is all about the fall of Jericho, and I think most everyone knows how it goes. In fact I remember singing a song about it in school choir. Anyway, God has them all march around the city once a day, for 6 days, and on the 7th day, they marched around the city 7 times, then when 7 priests blew their 7 trumpets, everyone shouted and the wall of Jericho fell down. 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7!! Holy crap, 7.

Anyway, that's where the song ended, but that's not where the story ends. When the walls fall down, the Israelites run inside and kill everything, except Rahab and her family. They collect them, and apparently they became Israelites forever after. Aww. They also collected all the gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and put it in "treasury of the LORD’s house," whatever that is. What does God need money for anyway?

Then they burned everything else to the ground. Joshua puts a curse on the place, and on anyone who might try to rebuild it.

I really want to know why it's OK that they spared Rahab's family. God has been so clear on this point, that they must kill everything, even the animals. Spare nothing, or God will be fucking pissed; that has been the message. And what's the first thing they do? Spare someone. And God doesn't care. What?

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