Story Four

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
HOW JOSHUA CONQUERED THE LAND OF CANAAN
THE news of all that Jŏsh́ u-ȧ and the men of Ĭś̝ ra-el had done at Ā́ ī how they had destroyed those cities and slain their people, went through all the land. Everywhere the tribes of Cā́ năan prepared to fight these strangers who had so suddenly and so boldly entered their country.
Near the middle of the mountain region, between Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, and Shḗ chem, were four cities of a race called either the Hī́ vītes, or the Ḡĭb́ e-on-ītes, from their chief city, Ḡĭb́ e-on. These people felt that they could not resist the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes; so they undertook to make peace with them. Their cities were less than a day's journey from the camp at Ḡĭĺ găl, and quite near to Ā́ ī; but they came to Jŏsh́ u-ȧ at the camp, looking as if they had made a long journey.
They were wearing old and ragged garment, and shoes worn out; and they brought dry and moldy bread, and old bags of food, and wine-skins torn and mended. They met Jŏsh́ u-ȧ and the elders of Iś̝ ra-el in the camp, and said to them:
"We live in a country far away; but we have heard of the great things that you have done; the journey you have made, and the cities you have taken on the other side of the river Jordan; and now we have come to offer you our friendship and to make peace with you." And Jŏsh́u-ȧ said to them, "Who are you? And from what land do you come?”
"We have come," they said, "from a country far away. See this bread. We took it hot from the oven, and now it is moldy. These wine-skins were new when we filled them, and you see they are old. Look at our garments and our shoes, all worn out and patched.”
Jŏsh́ u-ȧ and the elders did not ask the Lord what to do, but made an agreement with these men to have peace with them, not to destroy their cities, and to spare the lives of their people. And a very few days after making peace with them they found that the four cities where they lived were very near.
At first the Ĭś̝ ra-el-īte rulers were very angry, and were inclined to break their agreement, but afterward they said:
"We will keep our promise to these people, though they have deceived us. We will let them live, but they shall be made our servants, and shall do the hard work for the camp and for the Tabernacle.”
Even this was better than to be killed, and to have their cities destroyed; and the Gĭb́ e-on-īte people were glad to save their lives. So from that time the people of the four Gĭb́ e-on-īte cities carried burdens, and drew water, and cut wood, and served the camp of Ĭś ra-el.
The largest city near to the camp at Weal was Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, among the mountains, where its king, Mĕl-chĭź e-dĕk, in the days of Ā́ bră-hăm, five hundred years before, had been a priest of the Lord, and had blessed Ā́ bră-hăm. But now, in the days of Jŏsh́ u-ȧ, the people of that city worshipped idols and were very wicked.
When the king of Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm heard that the Ḡĭb́ e-on-ītes, who lived near him, had made peace with Ĭś̝ ra-el, he sent to the kings of Hḗ bron and Lā́ chish and several other cities, and said to them:
"Come, let us unite our armies into one great army and fight the Ḡĭb́ e-on-ītes and destroy them; for they have made peace with our enemies, the people of Ĭś̝ ra-el.”
As soon as the people of Ḡĭb́ e-on heard this they sent to Jŏsh́ u-ȧ, saying:
"Come quickly and help us; for we are your servants; and the king of Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm is coming with a great army to kill us all, and destroy our cities. The whole country is in arms against us; come at once, before it is too late!”
Jŏsh́ u-ȧ, was a very prompt man, swift in all his acts. At once he called out his army, and marched all night up the mountains. He came suddenly upon the five kings and their army at a place called Bĕth=hṓ rŏn. There a great battle was fought, Jŏsh́ u-ȧ leading his men against the Cā́ năan-ĭtes. He did not give his enemies time to form in line, but fell upon them so suddenly that they were driven into confusion, and fled before the men of Ĭś̝ ra-el.
And the Lord helped his people by a storm which drove great hailstones down on the Cā́ năan-ītes; so that more were killed by the hailstones than by the sword. It is written in an old song that on that day Jŏsh́ u-ȧ said before all his men:
"Sun, stand thou still over Ḡĭb́ e˗on,
And thou, moon, in the valley of Āj́ a-lŏn,
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,
Until the people had taken vengeance upon their enemies.”
If ever in all the history of the world there was a battle when the sun might well stand still, and the day be made longer, to make the victory complete, it was that day more than any other. For on that day the land was won by the people of the Lord. If Ĭś̝ ra-el had been defeated and destroyed, instead of Cā́ năan, then the Bible would never have been written, the worship of the true God would have been blotted out, and the whole world would have worshipped idols. The battle that day was for the salvation of the world as well as of Ĭś̝ ra-el. So this was the greatest battle in its results that the world has ever seen. There have been many battles where more men fought, and more soldiers were slain, than at the battle of Bĕth=hṓ rŏn. But no battle in all the world had such an effect in the years and the ages after, as this battle.
After the victory Jŏsh‘u-ȧ, followed his enemies as they fled, and killed many of them, until their armies were broken up and destroyed. The five kings who had led against Jŏsh’u-ȧ were found hidden in a cave, were brought out and were slain, so that they might no more trouble the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes. By this one victory all the part of the land of Gā́ năan on the south was won, though there were a few small fights afterward.
Then Jŏsh́ u-ȧ turned to the north, and led his army by a swift march against the kings who had united there to fight the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes. As suddenly as before he had fallen on the five kings at Bĕth=hṓ rŏn, he fell upon these kings and their army, near the little lake in the far north of Cā́ năan, called "the waters of Mḗ rom." There another great victory was won; and after this it was easy to conquer the land. Everywhere the tribes of Cā́ năan were made to submit to the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes, until all the mountain country was under Jŏsh́ u-ȧ's rule.
In the conquest of Cā́ năan, there were six great marches and six battles; three in the lands on the east of the Jordan, while Mṓ s̝es̝ was still living, the victories over the Ăḿ ôr-ītes, the Mĭd́ ĭan-ītes, and the people of Bā́ shăn, on the northeast, and there on the west of Jôŕ dan, the victories at Jĕŕ ĭ-chō, at Bĕth=hṓ rŏn, and Lake Merom, under Jŏsh́ u-ȧ.
But even after these marching’s and victories, it was a long time before all the land was taken by the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes.