Sunday, March 13, 2011

JOSHUA: Chapter 9

Chapter 9
Summary:The kings west of the Jordan River heard of Joshua's conquests (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites) and banded themselves together, forming an alliance to battle together against Joshua and the Israelites.

However, when the Gibeonites heard about the massacres at Jericho and Ai, they devised a plan to disguise themselves as ambassadors from a far away land, carrying old worn sacks upon their donkeys, weathered and repaired wine bottles, worn-out shoes upon their feet, tattered clothes, and they made sure that the food they carried with them was dry and moldy. They approached Joshua at his campsite in Gilgal, telling him that they were from a far away country, and asked Joshua to make a treaty with them.

The Israelites asked the Hivites how could they be sure that they didn't live close by and therefore why should they make a treaty with them. They answered to Joshua that they were his servants. Joshua asked them who they were and where they came from, to which they replied that they had come from a far away country to be servants to the Israelites, stating that they had heard of God's fame, and all that he did in Egypt, in addition to what he did to King Sihon and to King Og. They said, "Our leaders and the people of our country told us to stock up with provisions for our long journey to meet you, and tell you that we are your servants and would like to make peace with you. This bread we took with us was fresh from our houses on the day we began our journey, but it has now become dry and moldy; these bottles of wine which we filled were new, and now are beginning to crack; and our clothes and shoes have become worn after our long journey."

The Israelites inspected their provisions, but didn't consult God about them, so Joshua made peace with them, allowing them to live, and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to uphold their treaty.

Three days later, however, the Israelites discovered that the people they had just sworn an oath to instead lived amongst them. The Israelites on a journey, discovered on the third day the cities of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim. However, the Israelites didn't massacre them since the leaders of the congregation had sworn to uphold peace with them by in the name of the God of Israel.

The Israelites voiced their displeasure towards their leaders, but the leaders replied, "We have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel, therefore we may not touch them. We will let them live due to the oath we swore, however, let them fetch our lumber and draw water for the congregation."

Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said to them, "Why did you deceive us, telling us that you were from a far away land when instead you dwell among us? Therefore we shall curse you, and none of you shall be free from being our slaves, cutting our wood and drawing our water for the house of my God."

The Gibeonites answered Joshua, saying, "Your servants were told how the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you this land and to destroy its inhabitants from before you. We feared for our lives because of you, and we are now in your hands. Do whatever you see as good and right for you to do to us."

And so Joshua prevented the Israelites from slaughtering them, and instead made them permanent slaves, cutting wood and drawing water for the congregation, and for God's altar in the place where he would choose.
Thoughts:When you hear biblical apologists try and justify horrific genocides such as those we've covered in previous chapters (Jericho and Ai, in addition to the slaughter of the Midianites, in which Moses ordered the non-combatant women and children to be slaughtered - except for the virgin girls, which the soldiers could "keep for themselves") an oft repeated rationalization is that genocide is somehow a better fate than slavery. After discussing Numbers: Chapter 31 which details the slaughter of the Midianites, we heard this exact apologetic used to defend the chapter by (that I also gave a detailed rebuttal to):
"Complaining about Jehovah’s order to destroy innocent children is a vain gesture when one realizes that the children were spared an even worse fate of being reared as slaves under the domination of sin."
The flaw in this apologetic is that it makes assumptions on behalf of the people faced with either a violent death or a life of enslavement. While the apologist might attempt to explain away that it boils down to a matter of "historical context", explaining away that people in the days of Moses's and Joshua's lifetimes would rather opt for the dignity of death than the indignity of slavery, the Gibeonites from this chapter dispel the likelihood of that notion.

The Gibeonites in this chapter clearly demonstrate that they value their self preservation more than they do their freedom. It's arrogant to claim that slavery is a worse fate than death when you're not the one facing such options, and that in light of the "historical context" excuse, there are those who have clearly demonstrated that they're willing to face any punishment, including slavery, to preserve their lives:
9:23 "Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God."
9:24-25 "And they answered Joshua, and said...And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do."
It's interesting to point out the parallels between the stories of Rahab the harlot to the Gibeonites and how drastically they're intended to be perceived.
  • God expressly forbids the Israelites from making any covenant with nor are they show any mercy towards the inhabitants of the "promised land" - a commandment that the Israelites violate in both cases toward Rahab and toward the Gibeonites.
  • Both Rahab and the Gibeonites have heard of and believe the tales of God's covenant with Moses
  • Both Rahab and the Gibeonites were motivated by self preservation. Rahab begged for the lives of her family to be spared, while the Gibeonites resigned themselves to their entire tribe becoming enslaved.
  • Both Rahab and the Gibeonites used deception in order to procure their self preservation.
  • The sparing of both Rahab and the Gibeonites against God's commandments served to benefit the Israelites. The sparing of Rahab and her family was a "reward" for betraying her own people and covering the tracks of the two spies Joshua sent to her city, and the sparing of the Gibeonites provided the Israelites with slave labor.
Although the Gibeonites trick the Israelites into sparing their lives by swearing to uphold a treaty under false pretenses, the chapter briefly mentions but fails to address why, Joshua didn't consult God to see through the ruse. It also doesn't address any culpability on behalf of Joshua, or the Israelites as a whole, for their failure to do so.

Friday, March 11, 2011

JOSHUA: Chapter 8

Chapter 8
Summary:God said to Joshua, "Fear not, don't be dismayed. Take all of your soldiers and head up to Ai. You will see that I have given into your hand the king of Ai, along with his people, his city, and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king just as you had done to the city of Jericho and its king; take only the spoils and the livestock for yourselves, and prepare an ambush behind the city."

Joshua and his army prepared to attack the city of Ai, and he chose thirty thousand of his best men, and sent them out into the night. Joshua commanded them, "Wait behind the city, but don't go too far from the city, and be ready. I, and those with me, will approach the city and when the inhabitants come out against us, as they did before, we will flee from them. Then you shall rise up from your positions and seize the city - for the Lord your God will deliver it to your hand. When you have taken the city, you are to set the city on fire. You are to do as the Lord commands you, as per my orders."

Joshua sent them on their way, and they settled into their ambush, abiding between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai, while Joshua was camped with the rest of the people of Israel.

Joshua rose early the next morning, gathered his men, and along with the elders of the tribes of Israel, approached the city of Ai. They set up camp to the north side of Ai on the other side of a valley separating them from the city. Joshua had sent about five thousand to the west of the city between Bethel and Ai laying in ambush. With his main forces in position to the north, and his ambush party to the west, Joshua entered the valley that night.

When the king of Ai saw Joshua's army approaching, he hastily assembled his own army to meet them in battle that morning out in the plains, completely unaware of the ambush lying just behind the city. Joshua and his army feigned defeat and fled toward the wilderness while the people of Ai pursued after them. With not a man remaining in either Ai or Bethel, as they all went after the Israelites, the city was left wide open.

God then tells Joshua to point his spear toward the city of Ai, and the ambush party arose from their place on cue, entered the city, seized it, and set the city on fire. The people of Ai looked behind them and saw the smoke from their burning city ascending into the sky, suddenly realizing that they were trapped once the Israelites they were pursuing into the wilderness changed course back upon them. They were trapped between the Israelites they had been pursuing on one side, and those that burned their city on the other. The Israelites slew their enemies, allowing none to remain or escape, except for the king of Ai, whom they kept alive and brought before Joshua.

After the Israelites slew all of the inhabitants of Ai out in the plains and in the wilderness to where they were chased, they returned to the city and slew everyone that remained. In all, twelve thousand men and women were massacred, all the people of Ai. Joshua did not lower his spear pointed at the city until all the inhabitants of Ai had been utterly destroyed. Only the livestock and the spoils that God had ordered the Israelites to loot had been spared. The city was burnt to a heap that remained permanently desolated.

The king of Ai was hanged on a tree until the evening, and as soon as the sun set, Joshua ordered that his carcass was to be taken down and thrown down at the entrance of the city gates. Upon it they heaved a large pile of stones that remains to this day.

Joshua then built an altar in Mount Ebal (using uncut stones untouched by iron tools, as commanded by Moses) and sacrificed some "burnt offerings" and "peace offerings" upon it.

Joshua then wrote upon the stones in the presence of the Israelites a copy of the law of Moses. All of the Israelites, along with the tribe elders, officers, and judges flanked the ark of the covenant on both sides facing the Levite priests who carried it. Both the native Israelites and the foreigners amongst them stood before the ark, half of the people standing in front of Mount Gerizim, and the other half standing before Mount Ebal, as Moses had commanded.

Joshua read every word of the law, the blessings and the curses, not missing a word of what Moses had written, before the entire congregation of Israel, including the women, children, and foreigners among them.
Thoughts:After lethally punishing not only Achan, but his entire family along with his livestock, and setting the corpses along with all of Achan's belongings on fire, God is again willing to aid the Israelites in battle. Curiously, unlike the strict prohibitions of taking any items from the city of Jericho, God permits the looting of spoils and livestock from the city of Ai.

God devises a strategy for Joshua to ambush the city of Ai, by setting up a legion of soldiers camped behind the city. Joshua explains to his men that the plan will be to have his main troops attack the city and feign defeat, coaxing the soldiers of Ai to give chase and thereby leaving the city wide open for the ambush party to seize the city and set it on fire.

The first major difference in strategy to note from the Israelites' first failed attempt at conquering Ai in the previous chapter, is the vast differences in the number of troops being sent forth. In the last chapter Joshua is urged not to send many troops, because of the small population - which as we're told in this chapter, 12,000 people from the city of Ai were killed - and 3,000 troops were sent in the first attempt. In this chapter Joshua selects thirty thousand of his best men to attack the city - ten times the amount he originally sent - with 5,000 of them alone selected to ambush the city from behind. I think it's fair to speculate that increasing the number of soldiers ten-fold, to almost three times the entire population of the city they're attacking, probably had more to do with the Israelites success in this battle than whether or not one them stole a Babylonian coat.

After sending off 5,000 of his soldiers in the night to set up an ambush on the west side of the city, Joshua camps his troops off to the north of the city. In the morning he leads his troops on a fake attack, feigns defeat, and has them flee toward the wilderness. God then tells Joshua to point his spear toward the city, and as if on command, the ambush party invades the city of Ai and sets it on fire. The "fleeing" Israelites in the north changed course into and attack position, and the people of Ai looking back saw their city billowing with smoke now realized that they were trapped. The Israelites slew the inhabitants of Ai, sparing only the life of their king, whom they kept alive and brought before Joshua. The Israelites after slaughtering everyone out in the field, then returned to the city of Ai and slew everyone left alive there. Joshua did not lower his spear, pointed at the city, until all of the inhabitants had been massacred. With only the livestock and the spoils remaining, the city was burnt to a desolate heap.

Reserving a special death for the king of Ai, instead of slaying him at sword point, the Israelites hanged him from a tree, threw his carcass at the city gates, and heaved a pile of stones upon it.

While it is rather appalling to read about the annihilation of the cities of Jericho and Ai, fortunately archaelogical evidence suggests these aren't historically accurate events and that the most likely explanation is that the story serves as a myth invented to explain the ruins of ancient cities that the Israelites encountered that were destroyed over a thousand years prior to the biblical timeline.

Another interesting thing to note is that the Hebrew translation of "Ai" is "the ruin", which while makes sense in the context of the story presented in the book of Joshua, presents a problem with the claim that Moses authored the Pentateuch - the first five books of the bible. The city of Ai is referenced in both Genesis: Chapter 12, and in Genesis: Chapter 13. In what context would it make sense for Moses to have referred to the city of Ai by a name meaning "the ruin", considering that Joshua's invasion occurred after Moses's death? It would seem that either the name had to have been, at the very least, inserted after Moses's death (putting into question what other parts of the Pentateuch might have been altered after Moses's death); that the Pentateuch, whether in full or part was authored by someone else other than Moses; or that the city of Ai had been "ruins" prior to Moses's death, and that the story as presented in Joshua is inaccurate.

The chapter closes out with Joshua constructing an altar using uncut stones, followed by a bit of animal sacrificing upon the altar. He then writes Moses's laws upon the stones in the presence of the entire population of Israelites, with the people sectioned off in halves standing before either Mount Gerizim or Mount Ebal, as Moses commanded in Deuteronomy: Chapter 27. Joshua then reads every word of the law, and it his accuracy is noted in that not a single word was omitted.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

JOSHUA: Chapter 7

Chapter 7
Summary:The Israelites however disregarded the command against the cursed items, as Achan - son of Camri, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah - of the tribe of Judah, took some cursed objects, which resulted in God's anger toward the Israelites.

Joshua sent some men from there camp outside of Jericho to the city of Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel. He told the men to go up and view the country, and after they had done so they returned to Joshua and said to him, "Don't send the entire army, but instead about two or three thousand men to smite Ai. Let's not put the entire army to work, as there aren't many in Ai."

About three thousand men were sent, but retreated after the men of Ai smote thirty six soldiers. The men from Ai chased them from the city gates to Shebarim, and smote them as they descended. The hearts of the Israelites melted and became like water.

Joshua tore at his clothes and fell on his face before the ark of the covenant and stayed there until the evening. The elders of Israel also fell on their faces before the ark and put dust on their heads.

Joshua said, "Lord, why have you brought our people across the Jordan River, merely to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? Would you have been content for us to stay on the other side of the Jordan River? Lord, what shall I say when the people of Israel turn their backs before their enemies. For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of this, surround us and blot us out from this earth - what will you do for your great name?"

God replied to Joshua, "Get up! Why are you lying on the ground on your face? Israel has sinned and has violated my covenant - for they have taken cursed items, and have stolen, deceived, and put them amongst their own belongings. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but fled before them, because they were cursed - neither will I be with you anymore unless you destroy the accursed from among you.

"Get up, sanctify the people and tell them, 'Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, for the Lord God of Israel has said that there is a cursed thing in your midst, and you cannot stand before your enemies until you remove the cursed thing from among you. In the morning you shall be brought forward according to your tribes: the tribe that the Lord picks shall come forward according to their families; the family which the Lord picks shall come forward by their households; and the household which the Lord picks shall come forth man by man.

"'He that has taken the cursed object shall be burnt with fire, himself and everything he has, because he broke the covenant of the Lord and brought folly upon Israel.'

Joshua rose early in the morning and gathered the Israelites by tribe. After the tribe of Judah was selected, the family of the Zarhites were selected, the Zahrites were brought forth man by man until the household of Zabdi was selected, and the household of Zabdi was brought forth man by man until Achan (son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah) was selected.

Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give, I pray of you, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and confess to him. Tell me what you have done and don't hide it from me."

Achan replied, "Indeed I have sinned against the Lord, and I shall explain what I had done. When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a piece of gold worth fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. I hid them in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath it." Joshua sent messengers to investigate, and they found the items hidden in the ground of Achan's tent, with the silver underneath it, and brought them before Joshua, the people of Israel, and God.

Joshua, along with the rest of Israel, took Achan, the silver, the garment, the piece of gold, Achan's sons and daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and everything he owned and brought them out to the valley of Achor. Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The Lord will now trouble you today."

The Israelites stoned Achan, his family, and his livestock to death and set their remains on fire along with his belongings. They placed a great heap of stones over the charred remains, and God relented from his anger. The place was then named the Valley of Achor*.
Notes:1.) "Achor" is a Hebrew word for "trouble".
Thoughts:The chapter begins with the revelation that a man named Achan, decided not to heed God's command and warning from the previous chapter about not taking any of the "accursed" items, and that all the gold and silver was to be given to God. This of course made God angry with all of the Israelites, not just Achan.

Conveniently, the next city that the Israelites happened to have next on their list to massacre was a small one, so it was suggested to Joshua by the men he selected to scope out their intended target that he should only send two or three thousand soldiers. After thirty six soldiers were killed by the enemy soldiers of Ai, the Israelites turned tail and ran. Joshua tore at his clothes and fell on his face, and remained there on the ground in front of the ark of the covenant until evening. The elders of the tribes of Israel joined Joshua, also "falling on their faces" in front of the ark and additionally "poured dust on their heads". (Admittedly, I was a bit unfamiliar with the "pouring of dust on one's head" ritual practiced in Judaism to express grief, and I still fail to see much practical purpose behind such a bizarre ritual.)

Joshua then whines to God about the Israelites' loss, complaining that when the Canaanites hear about the defeat at Ai, that they in turn will attack and wipe out the Israelites. God replies to Joshua in an apparently condescending tone, telling him to get up, and explains that the reason the Israelites lost this battle is due to them taking cursed items from the spoils of Jericho and hiding them amongst their own belongings. He explains to Joshua that the Israelites therefore won't have God on their side anymore until and unless they destroy the accursed from amongst them.

Instead of informing Joshua who it is among them that must be destroyed, like an omniscient being should be wholly capable of doing, God tells Joshua to stage an elaborate production of assembling the entire population of Israel together and having God one by one pick out the tribe, the family, the household, and finally the guilty party, sifting them out man by man. Again, an omniscient being shouldn't need to orchestrate such an elaborate production, however, it's likely that the intent of this display was to intimidate and serve as a reminder as to what could happen to them if they don't keep in line.

God then tells Joshua that whomever has taken the cursed items must be set on fire - along with all of his possessions, which includes the members of his entire household.

The way "sins" and "curses" are treated by God in the bible are akin to the childhood game of "cooties", in which the child "infected with cooties" is stigmatized without any real discernible affliction or real symptoms while either simultaneously lacking any sort of "cure", or if there is a "cure", that it is just as ridiculous and rife with nonsense as is the "affliction". While one could make the rationalization that Achan committed an offense against God and perhaps deserves punishment, there simply is no rational justification for also punishing Achan's children and livestock, and setting every single item of his possessions on fire. In a modern context, it's baffling to me how we can recognize the unjust barbarism when a person in the Islamic world is stoned to death for a non-violent offense, yet simultaneously not see the same brutality in a biblical story like this that not only targets the offender, but the innocent lives of his children and livestock as well.

Our story continues with Joshua parading out the tribe of Judah, paring them down to the Zahrites, paring them down further to the Zabdi household, until Achan was finally brought out. Joshua then goads Achan to "give glory" to God by confessing, and demanding that Achan not try to hide what he has done. Achan confesses that he stole a Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a piece of gold worth fifty shekels, and also tells Joshua where he hid them in his tent. After Joshua's messengers search Achan's tent and find the items he took, Joshua has the Israelites take Achan, along with his sons and daughters, oxen, sheep, donkeys, his tent, and all of his possessions out to the valley of Achor.

Hauntingly, Joshua rhetorically asks Achan why he has he caused so much trouble for Israel, and retorts that now God will "trouble" Achan today. With those words, the Israelites stoned Achan, his children, and his livestock to death, set the remains on fire along with the rest of Achan's possessions, and placed a big heap of stones on top of the charred remains. The death and destruction of Achan and all that he owned, including the innocent lives of his children and his livestock, was sufficient to quell God's anger toward the Israelites.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

JOSHUA: Chapter 6

Chapter 6
Summary:Because of the Israelites, the gates to the city of Jericho were secured so that no one could get in or go out.

God said to Joshua, "I have delivered the city of Jericho, along with its king and his soldiers, into your hands." He then commands Joshua to lead a march of the his soldiers around the city for six days. On the seventh* day, God adds that seven* priests blowing ram's horn trumpets are to join the soldiers as they march around the city seven* times. God instructs that when Joshua hears a long blast from the trumpets, he is to command his entire army to give a loud shout, and subsequently the walls of the city will fall to allow Joshua's army to invade.

Joshua commanded the priests to pick up and carry the ark of the covenant with the seven priests carrying trumpets in front of the ark. He then ordered the army to begin marching around the city, and placed an armed guard to march ahead of the ark. The trumpets began to blare as an armed guard marched in front of the ark, and another guard followed behind the ark. Joshua however commanded the army to not shout or make any noise with their voices until the day comes when he will command them to issue a war cry. The army marched once around the city and camped for the night.

Joshua awoke early in the morning and the priests picked up the ark of the covenant, while the seven priests blew their seven trumpets, accompanied by the armed men leading and flanking their procession. For six straight days they repeated this procession, circling the city once, and returning to camp

On the seventh day, the Israelites again rose early, but this time they encircled the camp seven times instead of just once. During the seventh pass, when the priests blew their trumpets, Joshua told the people, "Shout, for the Lord has given you the city.

"The city shall be cursed," Joshua continued, "it and everything it contains shall be sacrificed to the Lord - only Rahab the harlot, and all those residing in her house, shall live, for she hid the messengers that we sent. You should be wise to avoid any of the accursed things in the city, lest you make yourselves accursed by taking any accursed thing and thereby bring upon a curse to the camp of Israel. But all the silver and gold, as well as items made of brass and iron, are to be consecrated to the Lord and shall be given to his treasury."

So the people shouted as the priests blew their trumpets and the city wall fell down flat allowing the Israelites to take the city. They utterly destroyed all that was in the city - man and woman, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, all by the edge of their swords.

Joshua had the two men who had spied out the city go to the Rahab's house and bring out the harlot and her family that they had promised to spare. The spies did as they were commanded and brought Rahab, her parents, her siblings, and all of her relatives to a spot outside the camp of Israel.

They then burnt the city to the ground along with everything in it, taking only the gold, silver, and objects made of brass and iron for God's treasury. Rahab and her family were spared and lived amongst the Israelites through their generations, their lives spared because Rahab hid the men sent to spy out the city of Jericho.

Joshua proclaimed to the people, "Cursed be the man before God who attempts to rebuild the city of Jericho. He shall pay the price of building its foundation with his firstborn, and pay the price of building its gates with his youngest son."

God was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout the country.
Notes:1.) Yet more occurrences of the mystical number seven.
Thoughts:The sixth chapter of the book of Joshua centers itself around the complete annihilation of the city of Jericho and its inhabitants. Recognizing the impending assault from the Israelites, the city secured its gates so that none could enter or exit the city.

God then gives Joshua his attack plan, revolving heavily around yet another several mystical occurrences of the number seven: Joshua's army is to march around the city for seven days; in the procession, seven priests carrying seven ram's horn trumpets are to join the soldiers, and on the seventh day are to blow their horns seven times. After which, and not a moment before, the entire army is to let out a loud battle cry, and the walls of Jericho will collapse. Obviously, while there isn't any practical reason for having such a heavy reliance upon the number seven (seven priests with seven trumpets, marching and blowing their horns for seven days, blowing them seven times on the seventh day) it's yet another example of the bible's borrowing from, and perhaps in some cases inspiring, numerological mysticism.

Joshua then sets his battle plan in motion, starting with the priests tasked with carrying the ark of the covenant with the seven trumpeted priests marching in front of them, and flanking both the head and rear of the procession with armed soldiers. Joshua then commanded his army not to make a war cry or any noise with their voices until the day comes that Joshua will command it. After marching around the city, the Israelites camped for the night.

The following morning they marched around the city again a single time, trumpets blaring, and repeated this ritual for six consecutive days. On the seventh day, they encircled the camp seven times, the trumpeters blew their horns seven times, before Joshua gave the order to his army to shout, stating that God had "given" them the city.

Before they let out their war cry and invade the city however, Joshua tells them to destroy every living being within the city walls - except for Rahab the prostitute from chapter 2 along with her family - and warns the soldiers not to take any items or property in the city because doing so would bring a curse upon Israel. However, Joshua adds that they are to take all of the gold, silver, and objects made of brass and iron, to be given to "God's treasury".

Once again we're presented with another example of the bible attempting to justify the genocide of non-combatants (women, infants, children, and the elderly), however this time the bible introduces a new spin to its tactic. Beginning with Abraham's questioning of God's ethics and morality concerning the possibility of innocent casualties in the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah, the bible justifies massacre, destruction, and genocide by presenting their targets in terms of absolutes. With God promising Abraham that he wouldn't destroy the city of Sodom if there were as few as 10 "righteous" people living there, we're to assume that the city was entirely "wicked" in strict absolute terms, and that the children and infants of the city who were incapable of distinguishing right from wrong were deserving of their violent and horrific deaths right along with the "wicked". The bible further reinforces this stance with the horrific extermination of the Midianites in Numbers: Chaper 31, in which after the Israelites slaughter the adult male Midianites, Moses chastises them for sparing the lives of the women and children that they took prisoner, and orders that they too be slaughtered - except for the young virgin girls, whom the soldiers can "keep for themselves".

In this new variant presented here in the book of Joshua it's important to analyze several key aspects about Rahab:Virtually every aspect of Rahab's character is viewed negatively by the Israelites, and quite often biblical apologists spin this off as if this demonstrates that even a "sinner" can earn God's grace. What they fail to address however, is that it may in fact simply be a justification to side-step their own rules in order to protect the non-Hebrew members of their society while maintaining their racial oppression against others in the camp.

For example, if we were to build a society upon a lineage of Caucasian descent and wanted a piece of land occupied by a society comprised of black people, the most simple and thorough means of conquering a society and preventing them from possible revenge in the future would be to order genocide against their entire race. If we establish a law binds us by duty to commit genocide against all black people, it would be viewed as a hypocritical law if there happened to already be some black people living amongst us that we made exception to. Perhaps we were reliant upon the skills or services that these black families provided to our society, and that slaughtering them would put us at some sort of disadvantage. This puts us in a dilemma where we either risk a possible retaliation by any survivors should we avoid commanding genocide against a particular race, or requires us to invent a justification to explain why there are black families living amongst us that are exempt from the law.

The story and depiction of Rahab presents her in a mostly unfavorable light (she's a Canaanite, a prostitute, a liar, a traitor, and being a woman, she's viewed as less than a man in the context of the times) which makes it easier to villainize the inhabitants of the city of Jericho by not making Rahab out to be a noble righteous hero (such as how Lot is intended to be viewed - despite offering his daughters up for ransom to a pack of rapists, and later on getting drunk and having sex with them). It provides a justification for why there may be a Canaanite living amongst the Israelites claiming that he's descended from Rahab and her family that were spared, without painting Canaanites in too sympathetic of a light.

The chapter continues with the priests blowing their trumpets and the soldiers shouting a war cry, causing the city wall to come down - which seems odd in light that Rahab's house is apparently built into the city wall (Joshua 2:15). The soldiers proceeded to massacre every living being - man, woman, infants, young and old, oxen, sheep, donkeys - all by sword point. Joshua sends the two spies that Rahab had helped in Joshua: Chapter 2 to go to Rahab's house (built into the city wall that just fell over) and to bring out Rahab and her family. Rahab and her parents, siblings, and relatives were brought to spot outside of the Israelite's camp while the soldiers burned the city of Jericho, along with everything in it - except for the gold, silver, and brass and iron object that they looted - to the ground. The bible states that Rahab and her family lived among the Israelites for generations.

Joshua proclaims a curse that anyone who attempts to rebuild Jericho will pay the price of their firstborn for building it's foundation, and will pay the price of his youngest son for building its gates. It's not clear if this curse applies only to the youngest son at the time of building or applies to all subsequent sons as well.

The chapter closes out by stating that Joshua's fame (or perhaps infamy) spread throughout the country.