The Story of Joshua, Continued
If you missed my first blog, I'm telling Bible Stories, fairy tale style. The premise is simple. I use fairy tale language and assume that everything is true. Yes, I know the objections Christians will make. I know that there are differences in translations and that words sometimes have different meanings than they do today. Before you criticize my interpretation, ask yourself this question: Have you read the entire Bible for yourself? Did you cross reference with Hebrew and Greek to check the meanings of questionable words? Think twice about criticizing my scholarship if you answer "no" to either question. Looking foolish is your right, but I don't recommend it. These stories are an excercise, designed to provoke thought. Here's a thought to start with. If you were not a greek or hebrew scholar, and you read the Bible literally, wouldn't you expect a loving God to mention in his text that a lot of the passages didn't mean what you thought they meant because they were not translated well?
Anyway, without further ado, here's a story from before the battle where God told us where heaven is.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Joshua. Joshua was the leader of the Israelites, who God loved better than everyone else. One day, an Israelite man named Achan did something bad that made God very angry. What he did was this. After the Israelites had killed some people in Babylonia, they took all of their clothes and money. God had told them that he wanted them to smash and burn some of the things they had taken, because that was how God liked for them to give him things. He didn't make them smash or burn money, though. He let them give that to the people in charge of the Israelites, because that was the way he wanted to be given money. Anyway, God knew that Achan had not given as much money to the rulers as he was supposed to.
God got very angry with the Israelites, and began to think of ways to punish them. A little later, Joshua decided he wanted to go kill the people who lived at a town called Ai, so he sent spies to see how many soldiers Ai had. The spies came back and said they didn't have very many soldiers, so Joshua sent three thousand soldiers to try to kill the people at Ai and take their town from them. As it turned out, the Ai soldiers were tougher than they thought, and they chased the Israelites down the hill and killed a lot of them.
When the Israelites found out that their soldiers had died trying to kill the people from Ai, they were very sad. Joshua tore his clothes and laid on the floor all evening. Joshua talked to God, and asked him why he had allowed Israel's soldiers to get killed, since he said he loved Israel more than everybody else.
God answered Joshua. He said, "I'm very mad at the Israelites because they didn't smash the things they were supposed to smash, and they didn't kill the animals they were supposed to kill. I'm not going to let you kill the people from Ai until you smash all the things and kill all the animals you're supposed to smash and kill, and especially, you need to take the money you were supposed to take."
So the next day, Joshua got in front of the Israelites and told them, "Everybody from every tribe has to come to me, family by family. (God knew who had not smashed what they were supposed to smash, and who had not given Joshua money, but he wanted everybody to come stand in front of Joshua anyway.) So every family came forward, and there were a lot of them. Near the end, Achan came up to the front, and Joshua told him, "Tell me what you did."
Achan said, "I kept a robe, and five pounds of silver, and one and a half pounds of gold." Now that is a lot of money that God wanted Achan to give to Joshua and the leaders of the Israelites. So Joshua took everything that Achan owned, and all his daughters, and all his sons, and cattle, and sheep, and gold and silver, and tents, and kept them for himself. He probably made all the sons join the army, and made all the daughters become slaves. That made God happy, but he was still mad at Achan, so they threw rocks at him until he died. After he died, they piled rocks on him. The Bible says the rocks are still there today. God hid them very cleverly, because we still haven't found them today. The Bible also says the valley is still called the Valley of Achor, which was also a very clever thing for God to do, since we still can't find the people who call it that. God did these things to prove how clever he is.
After that, Joshua sent thirty thousand soldiers to kill all the people at Ai. The killing worked a lot better when he sent thirty thousand soldiers. Joshua tricked the people of Ai. He sent just a few soldiers up to attack again, but when the Ai soldiers fought back, the Israelites ran away. When the Ai soldiers chased them, all the women and children were left in the city by themselves. The thirty thousand soldiers had been hiding. When there was nobody to fight back, the thirty thousand soldiers went into the city and killed all the women and children and burned the town. Then they finished killing all the soldiers. They killed twelve thousand people that day, and God liked it. .