- Josh. 6:1-8:35
The city of Jericho was completely enclosed and its citizens were very afraid of the Israelites. GOD instructed Joshua to position the army in the front, followed by seven priests carrying trumpets of rams' horns, followed by the priests that carried the ark of the covenant, followed by a read guard of soldiers. For six days the Israelites marched around Jericho's walls in silence while the seven priests blew on the rams' horns. Then, on the seventh day, they marched seven times around the city and when the priests blew the trumpets, the people shouted, and GOD caused the walls of the city to fall down.
GOD instructed that all of the people of Jericho were to be killed and that all of the treasure of the city was to be devoted to Him and placed in His treasury. Everyone obeyed this command...except one man—Achan. Achan saw some beautiful treasure and he coveted them, so he took them and buried them in his tent, thinking he could get away with it. No one knew...except GOD.
Afterward, Joshua sent a small force of two or three thousand men to take the nearby city of Ai, because it was so small and weak that they figured the entire army was not necessary for victory. But something unexpected happened. GOD was angry because of Achan's sin so He was not with the Israelite soldiers and the people of Ai defended themselves against Israel, killing 36 men and causing the rest to flee.
Joshua was greatly distraught, fell on his face before the ark of the covenant and asked GOD why this happened. GOD said:
Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
(Josh. 7:10-12 NKJV)
So the next day GOD had all the tribes stand before Joshua and He selected family-by-family, from the tribe of Judah, descendent-after-descendent until the family of Achan was identified as the guilty party. Achan confessed to his sin and he and all his family and possessions were stoned in a place called the Valley of Trouble.
Once the sin was purged from Israel, GOD told Joshua to once again pursue the city of Ai. This time Joshua employed some military strategy, setting an ambush against Ai. He told a small force of soldiers to go behind the city and wait for Joshua's signal. Then Joshua took the full army, approached Ai and then faked as though they were fleeing before them for a second time. When the city was empty, Joshua signaled for the ambush and they entered the vacant city and set it on fire. Joshua’s force then turned and pursued the men of Ai, killing all of them. The Israelites were allowed to keep the plunder of the city.
GOD made Joshua famous throughout all the land and everyone feared him.