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than a frail and weak instrument in the hand of God, announcing His will and executing His decrees, without personal ambition, without seeking honour for himself. And what grand proportions did his figure attain at the wonderful times of the exodus! His courage, his prudence, his military skill were equal even to so great and extraordinary an emergency. Combining shrewdness and valour, he defied the watchfulness of the Egyptians, and enhanced the confidence of the Hebrews, whose great model and trusty guide he thenceforth became. When the pursuing enemies, with their swift horses and proud chariots, had found their graves in the Red Sea, the military leader proved a sublime poet; pious gratitude inspired him with a hymn of praise of singular force and beauty. And when during the forty weary years of wandering in the desert, the people, rebellious and discontented, overwhelmed him with taunting and upbraiding words, when they basely longed to return to the ignominy of Egyptian serfdom, when sickness and death wasted their numbers, when they were slain by the enemy's sword, by terrible plagues, and heaven-sent fire, he never faltered, remaining true to his mission, obedient to his God; distrustful of himself, he prayed for the people, interceded for them, forgave their recklessness and their jealousy, taught, led, and judged them, strengthened their hope, and loved them with a never-failing love. When they desponded, he raised their courage; when they revolted, he brought them back to God. He in whose soul burnt the fire of a consuming passion, who in a moment of wrath could dash to pieces the tablets received from God, when the degrading sight of the people's idolatry filled him with horror and agony, was yet the meekest of all men who ever lived on earth.
IV. THE TIME OF JOSHUA.
63. CAPTURE AND DESTRUCTION OF JERICHO.
JOSHUA, the friend and devoted assistant of Moses, had been prepared for his important and difficult mission by receiving the Divine spirit that had worked so manifestly in his great master. He was essentially a bold and martial man, eager for conquest, courageous in the battlefield, and scrupulous in faith and pious obedience. His strong arm never wearied, his energy and promptitude never failed. His very name, Jeho-shuah, God is my help,' might have been his war-cry when he burst with irresistible vehemence on his heathen enemies. Upon him devolved the difficult task of wresting the land of Palestine from its ancient possessors, and of portioning it out among the chosen people. Cities had to be captured or razed to the ground, and populations to be exterminated, before the Israelites could occupy the narrow strip of land between the river of Egypt and the range of the Lebanon, including the rugged hills of Judah and the blooming plains of Samaria ; though the ambition and bravery of later chiefs and leaders extended their dominions considerably eastward towards the regions of the Euphrates.
When the thirty days of mourning for Moses had expired, Joshua sent two spies from the camp at Shittim westward over the Jordan, in order to explore the adjacent country, and especially the neighbourhood round Jericho and this important town itself. The men went, and came to the house of Rahab, which bordered on the wall of the city. When the news reached the king of Jericho, who had doubtlessly watched the movements of the invading hosts with great anxiety, he at once sent to the woman, and bid her give up the two strangers. But Rahab, whether foreseeing the great triumphs of the Hebrews, or fearing their God, was determined to save the lives of her guests by stratagem. She hid them on the broad roof of her house, amongst the stalks of flax which she had there piled up; and when the king's messengers came, she told them that the men had left her at dusk, and had departed from the city, she did not know whither. • Pursue after them quickly,' she urged eagerly, for you shall surely overtake them.' Away sped the messengers
to the fords towards the Jordan. Then Rahab went up to the men to the roof of the house, and entreated them thus: 'I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that your terror has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land tremble before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts melted, nor did there remain any courage in any man on account of you : for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath. Now, therefore, I pray you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you will also show kindness to my father's house, and give me a true token ; and
that you will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brothers, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.'—The men pledged themselves faithfully to remember her and her household. Then Rahab let them down by a cord from the window, over the wall of the city, and bade them hide in the mountains for three days, in order to elude their pursuers. The men, before leaving her, desired her to tie a scarlet thread in her window, so that the conquerors should know and respect her house, into which she was to assemble her whole family, lest any member of it should unwittingly be injured. Rahab promised to do so, and the men cautiously departed. When they returned to Joshua, it was with the joyful and confident intelligence, Truly, the Lord has delivered into our hands all the land, for all the inhabitants of the land tremble before us.'
The time for marching forth had now arrived; the camp was broken
up; and the Ark of the Covenant was borne aloft by the priests, and preceded the congregation at a considerable distance, guiding and encouraging them. Joshua proclaimed on that day: ‘Sanctify yourselves, for to-morrow the Lord will do wonders among you. They were to pass over the waters of the Jordan as miraculously as their fathers had passed through the waves of the Red Sea. It was harvest time, and the river was swollen, overflowing its banks everywhere. The priests advanced with their sacred burden, and as the soles of their feet touched the bed of the river, suddenly the waters which came down from above stood and rose up like a wall ... and those that came down towards the plain, the Salt Sea, failed and were cut off. Thus the river-bed was dry, and the priests stood in the midst of the Jordan, whilst the whole nation passed over. Now the Lord commanded Joshua to call one man from each of the twelve tribes, and to bid each man put a stone in the midst of the Jordan,
on the spot where the feet of the priests had rested, as an eternal memorial of the wonders they had just witnessed. When the twelve stones were placed, and the people had passed over, Joshua commanded the priests to follow the rest from out of the river-bed. As their feet reached the bank, the waters rushed back, overflowing the sides as they had done before. The people gazed with reverential awe upon Joshua, and they feared him as they had feared Moses.
The Israelite host encamped at Gilgal, about two miles south-east of Jericho, in full view of the stately city of the plain, in the shade of a great forest, near broad fields of golden corn, with the refreshing sound of numerous rivulets gladdening their ears. 40,000 warriors were to win that country of which Jericho was the key. Unlike their fathers, who had toiled and trembled so long in Egyptian bondage, they were men born in the desert, inured to hardships, anxious to battle with the foe, and steadily obedient to their leader. This band of Hebrew soldiers, ever ready for the march or the attack, has through successive ages been the model of all sternly resolute men, desperately resolved to cling to their faith, pitiless to their foes, unflinching in their determination.
At Gilgal, the right of circumcision was enforced, which under the leadership of Moses had been neglected since the departure from Egypt; and the feast of Passover was celebrated, the people baking their unleavened cakes of the ripe corn of the country which they were soon to call their own. From that day the heavenly bread,' the manna, ceased to be their ordinary food.
Joshua was wandering without the camp of Gilgal, gazing perchance at the walled city of Jericho, when a vision appeared to him. It was a warrior with a drawn sword. Joshua asked, it may be with secret misgiving, • Art thou for us or for our adversaries ?' But the vision