1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

Lesson 42,  Geography Study Concerning the Scriptures, Joshua's Central and Southern Campaign


Joshua’s Central Campaign


Following the victory at Jericho, the key city to central Palestine, a small Israelite army marched upon Ai (“the ruin”) northwest of Jericho, about one and one half miles from Bethel. 


The town of Ai was possibly a military outpost of the city of Bethel.


An initial defeat at Ai, occasioned by Achan’s sin, was turned into a victory after the sin was punished. 


By stratagem and ambush Ai was taken and the victorious march of Israel continued.


First, a large ambush force was secretly deployed between Bethel and Ai.


Joshua 8:3-7,   So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night. 4And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready: 5And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, 6(For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them. 7Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.


So in plain view of the occupants of Ai, Joshua led his main force up close to the town. 


They encamped overnight on the north side of Ai, with a ravine separating them from the town. 


Joshua 8:10,11,  And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai.


From the description of the topography given in scripture the route of Joshua can be identified as the Wadi Makkuk. 


A main branch of this Wadi flanks the north side of Ai, and from the summit of the town one has practically a bird’s eye view down the descent of Wadi Makkuk in the direction of Jericho.


In the morning, Joshua’s forces feigned retreat back down the wadi toward the Jordan valley, but not before a small ambush party was deployed to the north of Ai.   


Supposing the maneuver to have been a repeat of the earlier skirmish, the comander of Ai ordered his men to chase the Israelites back down the wadi.


But then at Joshua’s predetermined signal, both ambush forces unleashed their attack on Bethel and Ai, now unprotected, and finally forced their Canaanite opponents to fight on all fronts.


Joshua 8:12-22,  And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 13And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley. 14And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city. 15And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 16And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city. 17And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel. 18And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city. 19And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire. 20And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers. 21And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai. 22And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.


It was a great victory for Joshua, and one that firmly planted Israelites feet atop the central mountain. 


Some time thereafter, Joshua led his troops to Shechem, between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim.   


There the law was read and a copy of the Mosaic Law was inscribed on stone.


Joshua 8:32-35,  Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal, 31As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. 33And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them. 


Joshua’s Southern Campaign


The defeat of Jericho, Bethel and Ai, paved the way for significant inroads into the Judean highlands. 


Citizens of four Hivite towns in the vicinity of Gibeon realized their vulnerability and devised a scheme to deceive Joshua into making a treaty with them. 


The Gibeonites dressed themselves in rags and brought along stale bread, pretending that they had come from a great distance and thus tricked Joshua into making a protective treaty. 


By doing this they sought to avoid war with the Israelite invaders and protect their own land.


Although their deceit was soon discovered Joshua kept his word.


This event shows how important it was for even an invader to keep his word in spite of being deceived. 


The town of Gibeon, on a terraced hill about six miles north of Jerusalem, was the most important member of a Hivite tetrapolis  (te-tra-polis), union of four cities, Gibeon, Beeroth, Chephirah, and Kirjath-jearim


When the Ammorite kings in the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Eglon, Lachish, and Jarmuth discovered the treachery of the Hivites, (union with the invader) they determined to attack them immediately.


Outclassed, the Hivites summoned Joshua’s assistance, and he undertook a forced march with his troops through the night in order to arrive at Gibeon by dawn. 


The Amorites were thrown into a panic as the battle ensued, and they fled to the west by way of the ascent at Beth-horon. 


Passing Aijalon, the enemies made their way to Azekah and Makkedah, where Joshua’s armies completed its triumph. 


Whereupon the cities of Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir were assaulted and demolished.


Included in these events was Joshua’s prayer for the sun and the moon to stand still at Gibeon and the valley of Aijalon, so that he could be victorious in his battle against the Amorites.


Joshua 10:12,13,  Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.   And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.


The event at Gibeon was truly a miracle in that even the forces of nature seemed to be at the beck and call of one of God’s servants.


Compare this miracle to the miracle of Jesus Christ as he commanded the wind and the waves to be still. 


Jesus Christ commanded but Joshua asked, for Jesus Christ is God and Joshua is but a servant of God.