Mixed Messages (Joshua 6-7)

So many mixed messages (story of my life, right ladies?). I honestly don’t know how anyone drawing on the Old Testament for moral guidance is able to come up with cogent rules for conduct.

In Joshua 6, the Israelites take over the city of Jericho, their long-awaited promised land. They go about it ceremoniously, parading around with seven trumpets and seven sets of rams’ horns and seven priests. It’s sort of like that little dance that football players do after a touch-down (note: this is the extent of my knowledge of football). Then they kill everyone in Jericho that’s not them, including harmless old people, little babies and sadly, edible animals. Shame.

The one person the Israelites let live is Rahab, the harlot who housed the spies who where checking out the land. This contradicts a familiar narrative: sluts die first, no? If I may be so bold as to extract a lesson from the Old Testament, it’s that sluts aren’t so bad and maybe – just maybe – they are the ones who shall inherit the earth.

Sometime during this process of razing Jericho, a certain corrupt portion of the Israelites swipe a few valuables and hide them. God gets really mad and the next time the Israelites come face to face with one of their enemies (this time the Amorites,) they lose the battle. Hilariously, only thirty-six out of the three thousand who went to battle die, which really isn’t that bad at all, given that God’s chosen people are responsible for a death tally that’s got to be in the hundreds of thousands by now (but who’s counting?). Joshua, for one, doesn’t cope well at all: “Then Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust upon their heads” (Jos 7:8). I’ve tried a lot of things in times of stress – eating to the point of sickness being a personal favourite – but I’ve never found tearing my clothes off my body and throwing dust on my head to be helpful.

Anyways, the culprits are found and they’re promptly stoned. And then they’re burned. And then they’re stoned again. Literally. This makes God happy again.

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Published in: on April 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. So wittily executed. This entry, not the residents of Jericho. Really enjoyed this perspective!


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