God had always promised the Israelites that one day he would rescue them from their slavery in Egypt and give them a new land in which to live.At last the time came,and Moses led his people out of Egypt.But life was still hard for the Israelites.They wandered for forty years in the desert before drawing near to their new home.Sadly,Moses,who was a very old man by then,died before he could enter the Promised Land.God chose Joshua to be the Israelites' new leader.
‘You shall have all of this land,which is called Canaan,’God told Joshua.‘I shall be with you,just as I was with Moses,so there is no need to be afraid as long as you obey my laws.’
Joshua was grateful for God's help.He knew that the Israelites would have to fight many battles before they could live happily in their new homeland.
The first problem was the city of Jericho,which lay just inside Canaan's border.This was one of the strongest cities in the world.It had high walls and strong gates.Joshua decided to send two spies into the city to see if there was an easy way for the Israelites to capture it.
The spies crept silently into the city.But the King of Jericho soon heard about the two strangers and gave orders for their arrest.
Luckily the two spies met a woman called Rahab,who was friendly to the Israelites.She took the two men into her house,which was built into the city wall,hurried them up to the flat roof and hid them under a pile of flax.
She was just in time.The two strangers had been spotted creeping into Rahab's house,and a few minutes later the King's soldiers knocked on her door.Rahab went downstairs and told the guards that the men had already left the city.The soldiers believed her,and hurried away.Rahab returned to the roof.
‘Why are you helping us?’asked the spies,as they crawled out from their hiding place.
‘I know God wants you to have this land,’explained Rahab,‘and I believe he will give you victory.Just promise that,when you capture Jericho,my family and I will be kept safe.’
The spies promised.
When it was dark,Rahab lowered a rope from her window.Before he climbed down,one of the spies gave Rahab a red cord.
‘Put this in your window,’he said.‘When our soldiers see it, they will know they must protect this house.’
When the spies arrived back at the Israelite camp,they told Joshua everything they had seen.
‘We will attack the city,’Joshua announced.‘But first we must cross the river Jordan.’
The river Jordan was very wide,and the Israelites had no boats.But Joshua obeyed God's instructions.He told the priests who carried the gold box called the Ark,which held God's laws,to step into the water first.
As they did so,the river stopped flowing,leaving a dry path across to the other bank.The priests waited on the path while the rest of the Israelites crossed.Then the priests stepped ashore,too,and the river began to flow once more.
‘We have reached the Promised Land at last!’cried the Israelites.And they thanked God for bringing them safely to the end of their long journey.
‘Pick twelve large stones from the river and put them in a pile,’Joshua ordered.‘The stones will represent the twelve tribes of Israel and they will remind us of how God brought us into this new land.’
The Israelites then began to move towards the city of Jericho.They looked at the high walls and the strong gates,but they did not attack the city straightaway because God had given Joshua some very strange instructions.
Joshua called the puzzled Israelites around him to tell them God's plan.
‘God has promised us that we will capture the city,’he announced.‘But it will take seven days.You must all do exactly as I tell you.Every day for six days we will all walk once around the city walls.Seven priests will lead us, blowing their trumpets.Behind them will come the other priests,carrying the Ark.The rest of us will follow,in silence.’
So each day for six days the Israelites marched once around the city,just as God had ordered.The people of Jericho stood on the high walls,watching in amazement.
The only sounds they could hear were the loud trumpet blasts blown by the Israelite priests and the‘tramp,tramp’made by thousands of marching feet.
On the seventh day the Israelites walked around the walls of Jericho seven times.Then they stopped and faced the city.Suddenly the trumpets blew loudly,and all the Israelites began to shout.The noise was deafening.
When the echoes died away,everyone could hear a faint rumbling sound which grew louder and louder.The Israelites watched in amazement as the
mighty walls of the great city of Jericho began to shake,and huge cracks appeared between the stones.
Then,with an earth-shaking,roaring crash,the walls of Jericho crumbled and fell to the ground.
‘Now’, shouted Joshua,before the dust had settled.‘Attack!’
The Israelites rushed forward,cheering.They scrambled over the broken walls and,within a very short time,captured the city.Some of the Israelite soldiers rushed off to find Rahab.
Rahab had remembered to tie the red cord to her window,and the Israelite soldiers soon spotted it amongst the ruins.They pulled Rahab and her family safe and sound from the rubble.
‘Rahab is safe because she trusted in God,’said Joshua.
‘And we captured Jericho because we trusted in God as well.God will help us all to live happily in the Promised Land if we trust and believe in him.’
Everyone cheered.Although there would be more battles to fight,the Israelites knew that God would always be with them.