Joshua 7; Joshua 8; Joshua 9; Luke 1:21-38

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Joshua 7

1 The people of Israel proved to be disloyal about the things claimed by the LORD. Achan, son of Carmi, grandson of Zabdi, great-grandson of Zerah, and a member of the tribe of Judah, took something that had been claimed by the LORD. So the LORD became angry with the people of Israel.
2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai. Ai is near Beth Aven, east of Bethel. He said to them, "Go, look at that country." So the men went and looked at Ai.
3 They came back to Joshua and told him, "You don't need to send all the troops. Only about two or three thousand men are needed to destroy Ai. Don't tire the troops out by sending all of them. There are only a few troops in Ai."
4 So about three thousand men were sent. However, they fled from the men of Ai.
5 The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them, chasing them from the city gate to the slope of the stone quarries. Israel's troops lost heart and were scared stiff.
6 Joshua and the leaders of Israel tore their clothes in grief. They put dust on their heads and bowed down to the ground in front of the LORD's ark. They stayed there until evening.
7 Joshua said, "Almighty LORD, why did you bring these people across the Jordan River? Was it to hand us over to the Amorites so that they could destroy us? I wish we had been content to live on the other side of the Jordan!
8 Lord, what else can I say after Israel ran away from its enemy?
9 When the Canaanites and everyone who lives in the land hears about it, they will surround us and remove every memory of us from the earth. What will you do then so that your great name [will be remembered]?"
10 The LORD said to Joshua, "Get up! What are you doing bowing on the ground?
11 Israel has sinned. They have ignored the requirements that I have placed on them. They have taken what I claimed for myself and put it among their own goods. They have not only stolen, but they have also lied.
12 "The people of Israel will not be able to defend themselves against their enemies. They will run away from their enemies because the people of Israel are now claimed for destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy what I have claimed for myself.
13 "Get up! Tell the people, 'Get ready for tomorrow by performing the ceremonies to make yourselves holy. This is what the LORD God of Israel says: You have what I claimed for myself, Israel. You will not be able to defend yourselves against your enemies until you get rid of what I have claimed.
14 In the morning come forward by tribes [to the tent of meeting]. The tribe the LORD selects will come forward by families. Then the family the LORD selects will come forward by households, and the household the LORD selects will come forward man by man.
15 The man who is selected, along with everything he has, must be burned because he has [stolen] what the LORD has claimed. He has ignored the LORD's requirements and done a godless thing in Israel.'"
16 Joshua got up early in the morning. He had Israel come forward by tribes. The tribe of Judah was selected.
17 Then he had the families of Judah come forward, and the family of Zerah was selected. Then he had the family of Zerah come forward man by man, and Zabdi was selected.
18 Then he had Zabdi's household come forward man by man, and Achan was selected. Achan from the tribe of Judah was the son of Carmi, grandson of Zabdi, and great-grandson of Zerah.
19 Joshua said to Achan, "Son, give honor and praise to the LORD God of Israel! Tell me what you have done. Don't hide anything from me."
20 Then Achan answered Joshua, "It's true. I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel. This is what I did:
21 I saw a fine robe from Babylonia, five pounds of silver, and a bar of gold weighing about one pound among the loot. I wanted them, so I took them. You will find them buried inside my tent with the silver beneath them."
22 Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent. The loot was buried inside with the silver beneath it.
23 They took the loot from the tent and brought it to Joshua and all the people of Israel. Then they laid it out in the presence of the LORD.
24 Joshua and all Israel took Achan (son of Zerah), the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons and daughters, his cattle, his donkeys, his sheep, and his tent--everything he had--and brought them to the valley of Achor [Disaster].
25 Then Joshua said, "Why did you bring this disaster on us? The LORD will bring disaster on you today!" And all Israel stoned Achan and his family to death. Then they burned the bodies and piled stones over them.
26 They made such a large pile of stones over Achan that it is still there today. Then the LORD withdrew his burning anger. For this reason that place is still called the valley of Achor today.

Joshua 8

1 The LORD said to Joshua, "Don't be terrified or afraid. Take all the troops with you, and march against Ai. I am about to hand the king of Ai, his people, city, and land over to you.
2 You will do the same thing to Ai and its king that you did to Jericho and its king. However, you may take its loot and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city."
3 So Joshua and all the soldiers started to march against Ai. Joshua picked 30,000 of his best soldiers and sent them out at night
4 with these orders: "Set an ambush behind the city. Don't go very far away from the city. Everyone must be ready.
5 I'll approach the city with the rest of the troops. When they come out to attack us as they did the first time, we will run away from them.
6 They'll come out after us, and we will lure them away from the city. They'll say, 'They're running away from us just like the first time.' As we run away from them,
7 you come out of hiding and capture the city. The LORD your God will hand it over to you.
8 When you have captured the city, set it on fire. Do what the LORD says. These are your orders."
9 So Joshua sent them out, and they hid. They took their position west of Ai, between Bethel and Ai. Joshua spent the night with the troops.
10 Joshua got up early in the morning and assembled the troops. Then he and the leaders of Israel led the army to Ai.
11 All the troops with him marched until they were near the city. They camped north of Ai with the ravine between them and Ai.
12 Joshua had taken about five thousand men and had them hide between Bethel and Ai, west of the city.
13 All the troops were positioned. The main camp was north of the city, and the other troops were hiding west of the city. That night Joshua went down into the middle of the valley.
14 When the king of Ai saw the main camp, he and all his troops got up early in the morning. They rushed out toward the plains to meet Israel for battle, just where [Joshua] expected. However, the king didn't know there were troops behind the city waiting to attack him.
15 Joshua and all Israel pretended to be defeated. They ran away toward the desert.
16 All the troops in the city were called out to chase them. As they chased Joshua, they were lured away from the city.
17 Not one man was left in Ai or Bethel; they all went after Israel. So the city was left unprotected as they chased Israel.
18 Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Hold out the spear in your hand toward the city, because I am handing Ai over to you." So Joshua held out his spear.
19 The men who were hiding got up as soon as he stretched out his hand. They entered the city, captured it, and quickly set it on fire.
20 When the men of Ai looked back, they could see the city going up in smoke. They had no place to go, since the Israelites, who had been running toward the desert, had now turned back on them.
21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men who had been hiding had captured the city and that it was going up in smoke, they turned and attacked the men of Ai.
22 The men who had captured the city also came out and attacked them. The men of Ai were caught between the battle lines of Israel. So Israel attacked them on both sides. None of them survived or escaped.
23 But they captured the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.
24 Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the fields and in the desert where they had been pursued. They put them all to death; not one person survived. Then the Israelites went back to Ai and killed everyone left there.
25 Twelve thousand men and women from Ai died that day.
26 Joshua did not lower his hand holding the spear until he had completely destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
27 Israel took the loot and the livestock of that city for themselves, as the LORD had commanded Joshua.
28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a deserted mound of ruins. It is still in ruins today.
29 Joshua hung the king of Ai's [dead body] on a pole and left him there until evening. When the sun went down, Joshua gave the order to take his body down. They threw it in the entrance of the city and made a large pile of stones over it. That pile is still there today.
30 At that time Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal to the LORD God of Israel.
31 He built an altar with uncut stones on which no iron chisels had been used. This was as the LORD's servant Moses had commanded the people of Israel in the Book of Moses' Teachings. They made burnt offerings to the LORD and sacrificed fellowship offerings on the altar.
32 There in front of the people of Israel he wrote on stone slabs a copy of the Teachings which Moses had written down.
33 All the people of Israel, whether foreigners or native Israelites, the leaders, officers, and judges were standing on opposite sides of the ark. They faced the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the LORD's promise. Half of the people were in front of Mount Gerizim and the other half in front of Mount Ebal. Right from the beginning, the LORD's servant Moses had commanded the priests to bless the people of Israel this way.
34 Afterwards, Joshua read all the Teachings--the blessings and curses--as they had all been written down by Moses.
35 Joshua read [Moses' Teachings] in front of the whole assembly of Israel, including women, children, and foreigners living among them. He did not leave out one word from everything Moses had commanded.

Joshua 9

1 When all the kings west of the Jordan River heard about these events,
2 they joined together to fight Joshua and Israel. (They were the kings in the mountains, the foothills, and along the whole Mediterranean coast as far as Lebanon, the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.)
3 When the people living in Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai,
4 they devised a scheme. They posed as messengers. They took worn-out sacks on their donkeys. Their wineskins were old, split, and patched.
5 Their sandals were worn-out and repaired, and their clothes were tattered. All their bread was dried out and crumbling.
6 They came to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal. They told Joshua and the men of Israel, "We have come from a distant country. Make a treaty with us right now."
7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, "What if you're living in this area? We wouldn't be able to make a treaty with you."
8 They responded to Joshua, "We're at your mercy." Joshua asked them, "Who are you, and where did you come from?"
9 They answered him, "We came from a country very far away because the LORD your God has become famous. We heard stories about him and everything he did in Egypt.
10 We also heard everything he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan in Ashtaroth.
11 Our leaders and everyone who lives in our country told us, 'Take what you need for the trip, and go meet them. Tell them, "We're at your mercy. Make a treaty with us right now."'
12 Our bread was warm when we left home to meet with you. Look at it now! It's dry and crumbling.
13 These were new wineskins when we filled them. Look at them now! See how they are splitting! Our clothes and sandals are also worn-out because we have come such a long way."
14 The men believed the evidence they were shown, but they did not ask the LORD about it.
15 So Joshua made peace with them by making a treaty which allowed them to live. The leaders of the congregation swore to it with an oath.
16 But three days after the treaty was made, the Israelites heard that these people were their neighbors and lived with them.
17 The Israelites broke camp. They came to the cities of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim two days later.
18 The Israelites didn't destroy these other people, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn an oath about them to the LORD God of Israel. The whole congregation complained about the leaders.
19 But all the leaders said to them, "We have sworn an oath about them to the LORD God of Israel, so we cannot touch them now.
20 We must let them live to avoid [the LORD's] anger because of the oath we swore."
21 The leaders said that they should be allowed to live. So they became woodcutters and water carriers for the whole congregation, as the leaders had said.
22 Joshua sent for the people of Gibeon and asked, "Why did you deceive us by saying, 'We live very far away from you,' when you live here with us?
23 You are under a curse now. You will always be servants. You will be woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God."
24 They answered Joshua, "We were told that the LORD your God commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and destroy all who live there. We deceived you because we feared for our lives.
25 Now we're at your mercy. Do to us what you think is good and right."
26 So Joshua rescued them and did not let the people of Israel kill them.
27 But that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation. They served the LORD's altar, wherever he chose to put it. They still serve today.

Luke 1:21-38

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah. They were amazed that he was staying in the temple so long.
22 When he did come out, he was unable to speak to them. So they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. He motioned to them but remained unable to talk.
23 When the days of his service were over, he went home.
24 Later, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and didn't go out in public for five months. She said,
25 "The Lord has done this for me now. He has removed my public disgrace."
26 Six months after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee.
27 The angel went to a virgin promised in marriage to a descendant of David named Joseph. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 When the angel entered her home, he greeted her and said, "You are favored by the Lord! The Lord is with you."
29 She was startled by what the angel said and tried to figure out what this greeting meant.
30 The angel told her, "Don't be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God.
31 You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, and name him Jesus.
32 He will be a great man and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
33 Your son will be king of Jacob's people forever, and his kingdom will never end."
34 Mary asked the angel, "How can this be? I've never had sexual intercourse."
35 The angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy child developing inside you will be called the Son of God.
36 "Elizabeth, your relative, is six months pregnant with a son in her old age. People said she couldn't have a child.
37 But nothing is impossible for God."
38 Mary answered, "I am the Lord's servant. Let everything you've said happen to me." Then the angel left her.