Moshe Rabbeinu’s passing just before the Bnei Yisroel were about to enter the Holy Land must have come as a terrible blow and shock to everyone. Now, Moshe would be missed more than ever before. They had suffered the great loss of his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam all in the very same year. How could anyone ever replace their rebbi Moshe – a human angle that had been able to enter into Heaven itself? He had been like a father to them for the past forty years. He, and his beloved brother Aaron, and sister Miriam, had preformed countless miracles for them both in Mitzrayim and throughout their travels in the Midbor. They had just witnessed as Moshe, single-handedly, had killed the large giant Og the King of Bashan with one mighty blow of the sword and the other giants he had killed.. And now when they needed him most, he was gone. They felt completely abandoned, lost, all alone.
Who was this Yehoshuah bin Nun who Moshe had appointed to replace him? Many may have felt that he was an unproven leader who lacked the great experience and great leadership qualities of their master Moshe. Could they rely on him to lead them in battle against the mighty kings that ruled the land? Could he, too, perform miracles as did his great master Moshe? The fear of the unknown can be very great. Many must certainly have had their doubts. Even Yehoshua himself surely felt it an impossible task to fill his great rebbi’s shoes and needed Hashem to boost his confidence and encourage him. He knew all too well that the job was not an easy one and he remembered all too clearly the many rebellions and difficulties his rebbi Moshe had gone through during the past forty years. The job was certainly not one he looked forward to. There were times that his own rebbi Moshe felt that it was far too difficult and wanted to give it up but Hashem would not allow it.
Hashem encouraged him and told him that he would be with him just as He had been with his rebbi Moshe. He must strengthen himself and would soon see great miracles as he had seen in bygone times. However, Hashem warned him not to veer even one iota from the mitzvos Moshe had taught him. Only if you are constantly immersed in Torah study will I be at your constant side.
During the thirty days the Jews mourned for the loss of their dear rebbi, 3,000 laws that Moshe had taught them were already forgotten. Fortunately, they had amongst them the great scholar Osniel ben Knas who was able to retrieve them with his brilliant Torah scholarship.
They still had the River Yarden to cross, and then they would finally be in the Promised Land. The journey had taken much longer than originally intended. Because of their sins, the short journey that could have taken only a few days or at most a few months had stretched out to an incredible forty years and nearly all those who had left Mitzrayim had died in the Midbor. It was a new generation that had been born in the Midbor and had not personally witnessed all the great miracles that took place inMitzrayim that was now finally about to enter the Promised Land. Some of them must have looked at their newly appointed leader with great skepticism wondering if he was capable of fulfilling the great task Moshe had delegated to him.
It was on the 7th day of the month of Nissan that Yehoshuah gathered together all the Jewish officers and told them to go around the camp and tell everyone to begin preparing for their journey. In three days they would be crossing the Yarden into the Promised Land. They still had mon left over, which miraculously didn’t spoil as it usually did.
Yehoshuah also reminded the tribes of Reuvain, Gad, and half of Menashe who had already received part of their territory on the side of the Yarden where they now camped, of their obligation to join the rest of the tribes in their war against the Canaanite kings who awaited them after crossing into their land. They were to leave their wives, children, and cattle behind and cross the Yarden along with everyone else.
The tribes responded that they didn’t need any reminder and would obey Yehoshuah just as they did Moshe their rebbe. “Anyone who dares to ignore you will be punished by death,” they told him.
During the thirty days of mourning, Yehoshuah had sent two spies into Eretz Canaan in order to obtain an accurate description of what was happening so that he could plan accordingly. He choose Kalaiv who was already quite familiar with the land and also the great tzadik Pinchas, Aaron’s grandson who had received fame for having killed Zimmri and had been responsible for stopping the terrible death plague that had been spreading around the camp. He knew that these two great tzadikim could be fully trusted and that Hashem would stand at their side.
Their mission was not to find out what kind of land it was, since they already had a full report from the previous spies who had entered it nearly forty years ago. Their mission was one of intelligence gathering and nothing more. Yehoshua told them to disguise themselves as ordinary peddlers selling pots and pans and to pretend they were deaf so that people will not be careful to talk in front of them and also in order to prevent them from getting into a conversation with others. The less they talk the better. “Also make sure to check out the city of Yericho since this is the first city we will come to after we cross the Yarden and it’s probably there that all the kings have set up their armies from preventing us to enter,” Yehoshua told them.
Kalev and Pinchas set out on their dangerous mission with full confidence and trust in Hashem. They decided that the best place to pick up the local gossip was at the fancy inn of a very special smart, intelligent, and beautiful woman named Rochav. Many distinguished people and government officials would frequent her inn and that was certainly the best place to hear the latest news and gossip and learn more about what the people were planning to do about the imminent invasion of the Jews.
Rochav obviously knew her customers quite well and despite their clever disguise, she immediately recognized these two foreigners sitting in her inn for what they were. She treated them very nicely and with great respect and assigned them a nice and comfortable room in which to spend the night.
It seems, however, that there were others whose suspicions they must have aroused and soon the local police came looking for them at Rochov’s inn. They politely informed Rochov that the two strangers who were staying in her inn were in all probability spies and asked her if she knew where they were. Rochov, who seemed to have a woman’s intuition already had suspected that they were Jewish spies by the holy way they had acted, and decided that she would try to save them.
“Just wait here as I check and see where they are,” she told the officers.
She quickly entered Kalev and Pinchas‘s room and told them that the police were waiting downstairs to arrest them and therefore they must quickly hide. She took them to the roof and hid them under the piles of flax which lay there to be dried.
She then went downstairs and told the police officers that she had indeed seen the two men they were looking for but it seems that they had already checked out and left. “They can’t be too far away and I’m sure if you give quick chase you may still be able to catch them,” she said apologetically.
Later that night when the coast was clear, she went up to speak to them. “Listen to me my friends,” she said. “You have nothing to hide from me and I’m here to save you. I’m fully aware of all the miracles you’re G-d has done for your people. I am also certain that your G-d will give you this land. All the government people of this land stay at my hotel and I’m fully aware of how much they fear the impending disaster. I know that there is no power on earth that can oppose your great G-d. In fact, I, too, desire to become a member of your great nation. I wish to ask you for just one favor in return for having saved your lives. Please, I beg of you, to spare the lives of my parents, brothers and sisters. I plead with you to just grant me this one request. After all, I’m risking my life on your behalf.”
“Your request will be granted,” was their immediate reply. “However, you must do exactly as we tell you or we cannot guarantee your safety. You must tie a red thread on the outside of your window and make sure your family stays inside the room. If you reveal this secret to anyone else, then we will renege on our promise to save you.”
Fortunately, her inn was built on top of the city wall, and therefore, she gave them a heavy rope which they could use to climb down the wall to safety. She advised them to hide out in the forest for the next three days before returning. This way they would avoid the ongoing intensive search for them.
Pinchos and Kolev followed her clever advice and soon returned back to camp safely. They told Yehoshuah of their miraculous escape and how frightened the people were of the their imminent arrival. This report must have been very encouraging and gave Yehoshuah added strength and courage for what lay ahead.
On the 9th day of Nissan, only one day before the Bnei Yisroel would cross the Yarden River, everyone got up bright and early in order to go from their encampment atShittim to the shores of the Yarden.
Early on the 10th day of Nissan, Yehoshuah once again instructed the officers to spread the following message. “As long as Moshe was alive, the clouds of glory led the way. Now, however, the holy Aron shall lead the way. We must follow the Aron but keep a respectful safe distance from it. We must still remain no further than 2000amos from it. Upon reaching the Yarden, the four Leviyim who are carrying the Aron should give it to the Kohanim who will carry it across the Yarden.”
The Aaron of Hashem now led the way and was followed with the coffin that held Yosef’s bones that they had been carrying through the desert for the past forty years as well as the coffin of Yehuda. It would be in the great merit of Yosef’s coffin that the Yarden would now split.
As the Bnei Yisroel reached the banks of the Yarden River, the waters were full and it flooded over upon its banks. However, the Kohanim who now carried tha Arondidn’t stop for a moment and continued marching right on. The moment their feet touched the water an unbelievable miracle took place. Instead of continuing its flow downstream, the waters suddenly split end kept flowing straight upward into the air forming a giant wall to their side. There was now a wide dry path in front of them, allowing them to cross to the other side. The wall grew taller and taller until it was visible for many miles. Not only did the Bnei Yisroel witness this great miracle but so did all the many Canaani people who stood on the other side.
The Kohanim remained standing at their point of entry waiting for everyone to cross over to the other side.
Hashem now commanded Yehoshuah to have twelve men lift one giant stone each from the river-bed and carry it with him to the place they were going to be staying. There they were to set them up as a monument so that later generations would remember the great miracle that happened on this great day. Yehoshuah was also commanded to set up another twelve stones on the very place where this great miracle had occurred.
When all was done, the Kohanim stepped back and the waters of the Yarden came crashing down with enormous force. Suddenly the Aaron went soaring into the air carrying the Kohanim along with it to the other side. The Bnei Yisroel stood aghast at the great miracle that they had just witnessed. Yehoshuah’s prestige suddenly went soaring.
Instead of stopping to rest, the Bnei Yisroel continued their journey for a distance of 60 mil until they reached the two mountains named Har Gerizim and Har Evol. There, Yehoshua built a Mizbeach and offered sacrifices of thanks to Hashem for all the miracles they had just witnessed.
They also put down the twelve stones they had taken out of the Yarden and began chiseling out the words of the Torah on them. They also translated the entire Torah into all seventy languages which they also chiseled out on these stones. They covered them with lime so that they would last for many years.
The Shevotim were now divided into two groups. Some stood on the mountain of Avol, while the others stood on the opposing mountain of Grizim. The Kohanim and theLeviyim stood in the middle. Yehosua turned to those who stood on the Mount Grizim and repeated the blessings that Moshe had said they would be rewarded with if they fulfilled the Torah and they all answered Amen. He now turned to those who stood on Mount Gerizim and repeated the curses that would chas v’shalom come upon them if they failed to keep the Torah’s commandments. They all answered Amen.
After this, the Bnei Yisroel dismantled the mizbeach and carried it along with the twelve large stones to Gilgal where they set up camp.
Yehoshuah now commanded all those who were not properly g’maled to make a bris mila. Except for Shevet Levi who were mal themselves even in the Midbor, the others were now mal themselves properly. They named the place Gilgol which means that they had now removed their shame from themselves by making a proper bris.
Here in Gilgal, they set up the Mishkon and made the second Korban Pesach since they had left Mitzrayim. They had only done it once before as they were traveling in the desert.
On the second day of Pesach, the 16th of Nissan, they cut some fresh barley they saw growing in the nearby fields and brought it for a Korban Omer. This now permitted them to eat from the new wheat that had grown during the winter season. Fortunately, the mon had lasted them until this day.
Preparing for war
The first city that the Bnei Yisroel would have to capture was the city of Yericho which also known as the City of Palms on account of the many tall and majestic palm trees that grew there. It as a very strong and fortified city surrounded by massive walls and was protected by the best and strongest armies the Canaani could put together. Its gates were securely bolted shut so that no one could leave or enter the city.
Hashem gave Yehoshuah specific instructions as to what he must do to capture it.
Yehoshua’s esteem had been greatly strengthened in the eyes of all the people who had witnessed the splitting of the Yarden and they all stood ready to follows everything he said.
“Everyone is to walk around the walls of Yericho every day. Seven Kohanim are to lead the march each one blowing the shofer. Following them should be the Aaron ofHashem. On the seventh day of Shabbos, everyone is to march around the city seven times. When the march is completed, the Kohanim are to blow one long tekia sound and all others who have a shofar should blow a teruah sound. At that point you will all witness another great miracle. The walls of the city will come tumbling down and the city will be ours without a single shot being fired.
The march around the city of Yericho began with the tribes of Reuvainm Gad and Menashe leading the way. They were followed by seven Kohanim blowing a shofar. Following them were the Kohanim carrying the Aron and then came the rest of the shevotim with shevet Don as always, going last.
Marching around the entire city of Yericho wasn’t an easy task. It was hot and exhausting. On top of the walls the Canaani soldiers stood and looked down to see what was happening. They probably thought that the Jews were trying to find an opening in the wall through which they could launch their attack. They probably stood there laughing at these unarmed people marching around their wall without any success. The next day they repeated the same thing once again.
That night, as Yehoshuah was walking around to check things out he was suddenly startled to see a giant of a man coming toward him with an outstretched sword ready to kill him. “Identify yourself,” he cried out. “Are you friend or foe?”
The mysterious stranger replied that he was the general of Hashem’s army- a heavenly angel that had been sent to kill him.
“What have I done wrong?” Yehoshuah asked in great shock knowing he had fulfilled Hashem’s word exactly.
“Yesterday you failed to bring the Korban Tomid and today you failed to set aside time for Torah study,” was the angel’s reply.
Yehoshuah could easily have given him the perfect excuse. They had a very difficult day marching around the city of Yericho and everyone was exhausted. But he knew better than that. Torah learning takes precedence over all else and there could be no good excuse to miss a day of Torah learning. Instead of replying, Yehoshuah immediately sat down and became learning Torah with the people despite their great exhaustion.
The angel put his sword back into its sheath and disappeared. Someone learning Torah is protected even from the angel of death. It had been a close call but Yehoshuah learned his lesson quickly. One could not enter the holy land without the Torah being at his constant side.
Finally the seventh day of Shabbos came and this day would be the most difficult march of all. Today they would have to march around the city a total of seven times in all. They wondered how they’d ever make it and what would happen after the seventh time. The Canaani soldiers standing guard on top of the wall were probably laughing their heads off as they peered down at them, watching them drag their tired bodies another foot. The whole thing seemed to be some strange ritual that would never get them anyplace. They stood there wondering what this was all about.
Then, suddenly, they heard the loud piercing sound of the shofar followed by a strange rumbling sound as the walls began to shake violently. If felt like an earthquake had given the mighty walls a strong powerful shake and the next thing they knew was the enemy army falling off the wall and being crushed under the enormous weight of the huge stones. There was screaming and shouting coming from everywhere. The Bnei Yisroel looked on in utter amazement as their enemies were being crushed to death without them lifting a finger.
Yehoshuah now told the people that all the gold and silver as well as the rest of the bounty they would find is the property of hekdesh and no one can take anything for himself. It is exclusively dedicated for holy use. He also told them that under no circumstances should the walls of this city ever be rebuilt. It must remain in ruins forever. He put a curse on anyone that will ever dare to rebuild them. “His oldest son will die when he puts up the foundation and his youngest son will die when he puts up its gates,” he warned them. Everyone visiting the city would see the giant boulders lying upon the ground and be reminded of the great miracle that once took place there.
Unfortunately, there was one person by the name of Ochon the son of Karmi from Shevet Shimon who let his Yetzer Horah get the best of him. He saw a beautiful garment which he just fell in love with and didn’t want to give up. “What’s the big deal if I take this for myself,” he must have thought to himself. Certainly hekdesh has plenty and wouldn’t miss this one coat he probably rationalized. He quickly took it and buried it in his tent. His family probably saw what he was doing but turned a blind eye. It’s none of our business, they probably said to themselves. I don’t have to squeal. Beside, it may even be loshon horah, so I’d better keep my mouth shut. Little did he realize that he had not only harmed himself but had put all of Klal Yisroel into jeopardy. Since the Yidden had crossed the Yarden they had become responsible for one another. This meant that anyone who saw someone committing a sin had to do his best to prevent him and couldn’t remain complacent and just shrug his shoulders and walk away. Kol Yisroel arevim zeh lozeh. We all are responsible for one another. We’re all in the very same boat. If someone makes a hole in the ship not only will he sink, but the entire boat is in danger of sinking. It’s not every man for himself anymore. It’s all for one and one for all. We’re all like limbs of the very same body. The punishment would be quick in coming.
The next city the Yidden had to capture was the city named “Ai.” It was a small city in comparison to Yericho which was the mightiest in the country and the Yidden were sure they could take it with little effort. Instead of sending the entire army, it was decided to send a small contingent of only three thousand soldiers. Even this was considered more than enough. However, they were in for a real shocker. The army stationed in Ai easily defeated the Jewish army killing 36 heads of Sanhedrin in the process. Others say that they killed Yair the son of Menashe who was one of the leading Torah sages of the time and a member of the Sanhedrin. Upon hearing the tragic news, the yidden were devastated. Yehoshua tore his clothes and fell upon the floor in front of the Aron in great shame. He simply couldn’t understand what had gone wrong. Why, after seeing so many great miracles, had Hashem suddenly abandoned them? He poured out his heart to Hashem hoping to receive a reply. The answer was quick in coming.
“Get off the floor and stop your prayers,” was Hashem’s reply. “Someone has transgressed the cherem and taken some of the bounty of the city for himself.”
Even the misbehavior of one Jew could be devastating. “Who was this mysterious someone?” he wondered to himself.
He looked at the names on the urim v’tumim and saw at once that the name Yehuda didn’t glow and shine as did the others and therefore suspected that the sinner was someone from that Shevet. He decided to proceed through the use of lots. This is the way the land had been divided among the tribes and is certainly to be taken as a sign from heaven and not just pot-luck as some people seem to think.
He now wrote the names of the heads of the family of Yehuda and cast a lot. The name Zerach was chosen. Next he wrote down the names of the family of Zerach and the name Zavdi was picked. He now wrote down the individual names of each of Zavdi’s children and sure enough the name Ochan appeared.
Ochon tried to deny his guilt and tried to attack the method used to indict him. Lot’s are meaningless, went his argument. They’re nothing put pot luck. He was so convincing that his tribe of Yehuda took his side and believed he was telling the truth. They stood at his side and were even ready to go to war to protect the good reputation of their Shevet. Yet, as he tried to move away from the Aron he felt that he couldn’t move.
My dear child said Yehoshuah to him. “Give honor to G-d and admit your guilt so that you only get your punishment in this world.” Yehoshua explained to him the great power of teshuva until finally Ochan broke down and began to cry. He didn’t want his sin to cause a civil war among the Yidden. He now spilled out everything. He even admitted to having stolen many times before during the days of Moshe. He admitted taking a beautiful royal robe along with 200 silver shekel and a bar of gold which he had found in the palace of one of the kings which he had looted.
“The temptation was far too great and I just wasn’t able to overcome the burning temptation,” he explained in bitter tears.
He admitted to having buried it all in his tent.
Yehoshuah immediately dispatched messengers to retrieve the booty which was found completely intact. He wanted to make sure that none of his friends from the tribe of Yehuda destroy the evidence.
As Ochon was being led to his death, Yehoshuah consoled him by telling him that while he had to suffer in this world for the terrible sin he had committed, he would at least have a share in the World-to-Come, since the gates of teshuva are never closed. Ochon was stoned to death and his family and all his animals and possessions were burned. He had violated the Shabbos and caused the death of thirty six people that fell in the battle for the city of Ai. A large heap of stones were put up on that spot as a reminder of how even the sins of one person can put all the yidden into jeopardy, and that we are not permitted to remain silent when we see others desecrate the Torah and are obligated to stop them.
Hashem now gave Yehoshuah explicit instruction on how he was to capture the city of Ai. This time he was to do to the king just as he had done to the King of Yericho but he must allow the people to take all the booty for themselves and not consecrate it. Hashem also told Yehoshuah how to lay ambush to the city and capture it.
Yehoshuah now instructed the yidden of the plan. 30,000 soldiers were to go ahead during the night and hide close to the city of Ai. I will now approach the city with the remaining army. As soon as they see us they will certainly go on the offense and try to attack us. We’ll pretend to be afraid and start running back. They will certainly give chase thinking that we are trying to flee. When you see me waving my spear, it’s a signal for you to enter and set the entire city on fire and kill its remaining inhabitants.
That night, Yehoshuah spent deeply engrossed in Torah study. He knew that without Torah the plan would not succeed.
The next morning, Yehoshuah sent another five thousand soldiers to set up an ambush toward the other side of the city. When the king of Ai saw the Jewish army approach, he immediately ordered his army to give chase. The Jews made a quick about face and began running away giving the impression that they were afraid to fight. The army of Ai chased after them with great speed believing that they could easily defeat them. Little did they realize that this was all a trap.
Hashem now commanded Yehoshuah to raise his spear into the air as a sign that Hashem will lead them to victory and as a signal to those who had been in hiding to begin their attack. Those waiting in ambush immediately rushed into the city and set the entire city ablaze while at the same time also plundering all its valuables. They met absolutely no resistance since everyone was busy chasing the Jewish army who were seemingly fleeing for their lives. Suddenly they all stopped in their tracks as they saw giant flames licking the sky and large pillows of smoke coming from their city whose gates they had left open. They now realized that something was amiss. Yehoshuah and his army made a quick about face as the enemy now ran for their lives. But it was too late. They were now being attacked from both sides and there was no escape. The Jews now wiped them out killing ever last man, woman, and child. They also succeeded in capturing their king alive and brought him to Yehoshuah who had kept his spear in the air until the very end of the battle. They had killed a total of 12,000 people on that day without suffering a single loss. They hung the King of Iy on a very tall tree for all to see, but took down his body toward evening as the Torah commands. They threw his remains down at the gate of the city and piled upon it a large heap of stones.
It was then that Yehoshuah built a Mizbeach on top of Mount Aival, a mizbech that has now been discovered in some archeological digs that have been done at that sight.
The Bnei Yisroel are Deceived
The people of Givon knew what happened to the people and city of Ai and realized they would suffer the same fate unless they could someway make a peace treaty with them. They knew all to well that to try to defeat the Jews would be impossible and thought of a clever plan. They sent a delegation of people who were dressed up in old torn and tattered clothes, along with wine flasks that were cracked and broken. Their shoes were all rubbed out and their bread all moldy.
They made their way to Yehoshuah who was now camped in Gilgol and fabricated a story that they came from a far away land and wished to make a peace treaty with them. When Yehoshuah questioned them, he found their story very convincing.
“We’re from a far away land and we’ve heard all about your great G-d and the great miracles He has preformed, they claimed. We want to be your servants and live at peace with you. Our elders have sent us to you so that we can live in peace with one another. Just take a look at us. This is the bread that we have taken along with us. It was fresh when we left but now it is all dried out and moldy. Have a look at these once new flasks of wine that are now all cracked and look at our tattered clothing and worn out shoes from our long journey. Do we need more proof that we speak only the full and honest truth?”
Their act was so convincing and they were such smooth talkers that Yehoshuah didn’t even bother checking it out with Hashem. He was sure they were speaking the truth. The elders therefore decided to go ahead and make a peace treaty with them. The heads of the people swore that they would not kill them and live in peace and harmony with them.
It was only three days later when the Jews arrived to the city of Givon that they realized that they had been taken for a ride and been totally deceived. But a shevuahremained a shvuah and they didn’t want to retract it even if obtained through deception. They felt that some may perceive it as a chilul Hashem. They were now in a terrible bind. They had made a fatal error by being too sure of themselves and not asking Hashem what to do. Even the greatest of the great cannot always rely on his own wisdom. A good scam artist can pull a fast one on just about anyone. The elders decided that they would put them to work and give them the difficult job of chopping their wood and carrying the water. These two tasks were the most difficult ones and therefore they would now be required to provide this service for them.
The Canaani Nations Prepare a Joint Attack
When Adoni Tzedek the King of Yerushalayim heard that the city of Ai had been captured and totally destroyed and what had happened to the city of Yericho as well as to its king and that the inhabitants of Givon had signed a peace treaty with the Jews he was beside himself and a great sense of fear overtook him. He knew that Givon was a large city and its people were mighty warriors. He therefore immediately messengers to Hoham the king of Chevron, and to Piram the king of Yarmus, and to Yafia the king of Lakish and to Devir the king of Eglon asking them to join him in battle against the Givonim for daring to make a peace treaty with the Jews. They wanted all to know that under no circumstances was anyone to make a peace treaty with the Jews. The five kings assembled their armies and declared war against the Givonim. The Givonim realized that they were greatly outnumbered and would easily be defeated, and therefore sent a message to Yehoshuah to come to please help them.
Hashem told Yehoshuah that he had nothing to fear and that he would easily defeat them. That very same night, Yehoshuah when on the offensive, taking the armies of the five kings completely by surprise. The soldiers began to panic and run for their lives with the Jewish army cashing after them at full speed. As the enemy ran past a very narrow passageway known as Bais Choron, Hashem threw giant boulders at them from the heavens above killing far more of them then the Jewish army were able to kill on their own. It was Friday afternoon and the chase continued. Yehosuah didn’t want to give up the chase in order to kill every last man and so he turned to the sun and cried out “Sun stand still over Givon and moon over the valley of Ayolon. Suddenly in front of the very eyes of everyone the sun and the moon came to a complete stop just as it had happened in the times of Moshe his Rebbi in their war against Sichon the King of the Emori. Everyone looked up in the sky in utter amazement. This was truly a miracle of historic proportions. It was open proof that Hashem fought their battles.
As Yehoshuah was returning to Gilgol he was told that the five kings had escaped and were hiding in a cave in Makeida. Yehoshuah ordered his men to seal the entrance of the cave with a large boulder so that they couldn’t escape. In the meantime everyone is to continue chasing the enemy and not give them a chance to enter their fortified cities. The war ended with the enemy totally devastated and destroyed. This great victory put the fear of G-d into their enemy’s heart and even a dog dared not bark.
Yehoshuah now had his men open up the mouth of the cave and pulled out the five kings that had been hiding there and were unable to escape. Their faces showed terror and fear and they begged for mercy. Yehoshuah told his generals to press their foot down on their necks. So Hashem will do to all those that dare to lift a finger against them. They were killed and their bodies hung until evening. They continued their case and soon captured the King of Makeido and gave him the same treatment as the others. They were finally given a small taste of their own medicine and treated in the same way they had treated others. Only by showing them that they would be executed without any mercy would the message go out to their many other enemies to keep their distance and stay clear.
But the war was far from over. Without taking any time out to rest, they attacked the nearby kingdoms of Makaida and Livna and then went on to capture the city of Lakish. Next, they went on to capture Eglon, Chevron and Devir. They killed every last man, women, and child just as Hashem had commanded them. These people were so brutal and filled with hatred that even allowing one of them to remain alive would have drastic consequences in future years. A forest grows from just one seed. This is something that the great King Shaul did not fully understand. History has soon us the consequences of being merciful yet, for some strange reason some keep repeating this same mistake. These people also lived a perverted lifestyle and would easily spread their perversion to all those around them. All we have to do is look at what’s happening today and one can clearly see how easily we are influenced by what is happening in our midst.
Yehoshuah now went on to capture the southern part of the country unfortunately still leaving a small strip near the Mediterranean unconquered. The people who lived there, known as the Pelishtim, would be a cause of much trouble in later years.
Because of a peace treaty Avrohom had made many years earlier with one of the tribes that dwelled in part of Yerushalayim, Yehoshuah was unable to capture the entire city and therefore it was only partially taken. The capture of the entire city would have to wait to be taken by Dovid HaMelech many years later.
The Bnei Yisrael now returned to the city of Gilgal where they set up the Mishkon that had been with them while they were in the desert. This time it was slightly reconstructed and made into a more permanent structure.
Yehoshua perek 11
The Northern Kings Attack
When the kings living up north heard that all the powerful and mighty kingdoms that had tied to destroy the Jews were all defeated and destroyed, they stood in shock and awe and feared the worst. They knew all too well that they were next in line and decided to unite their combined forces before they, too, would suffer the same end.
Yovin the King of Chatzor organized the surrounding kings of the north to join him in battle. He made a pact with the surrounding kings which included Yovov the king of Modon, and the king of Shimron, the king of Achshof, including all the other kings who resided both in the north, in the plains, in the south, and in the west. This included the Emori, Chiti, Prusi, and Yevusi who all dwelled in the mountains. Also the Chti who dwelled at the foot of the Chermon mountain from where one has a beautiful view of the entire surroundings. Their army was now more numerous than the grains of sand at the seashore and their weapons included iron chariots as well as many mighty warriors on horseback. They all gathered together at the waters of Mayrom to do battle against the Jewish invaders.
“Do not fear them,” Hashem reassured Yehoshuah. “Tomorrow they will all be dead. However, when you capture their horses you must cripple them by cutting off the bottom part of their feet so they will never be able to be used in war again. You must also burn their chariots,” Hashem commanded him. Hashem wanted the Yidden to know that they would have absolutely no need for all these weapons and that He would be doing the fighting for them. In no way were they to ever put their faith and trust in the power of horses or chariots as unfortunately we often do.
Yehoshuah and his army came upon their enemy in a surprise attack as they were banked around the waters of Mayrom. Despite the unbelievable odds, Hashemdelivered their enemies into their hands. They decimated their mighty warriors and gave chase to those who tried to flee, following them all the way Tzido Rabba, Misrefos Mayim, and Bikas Mitzpeh toward the east. They smote them down to the very last man, women, and child, leaving no living soul.
Yehoshuah now did as Hashem has commanded him, crippling their horses and burning their chariots. He then went back to capture their capital city of Chatzor as well as killing its king Kavin. He killed all its inhabitance and set the city afire burning it down to the ground.
Yehoshuah then went on to capture the other cities as well as their kings, completely decimating them as he had been commanded by Moshe the servant of Hashem. However, the only city which he burned was the capital city of Chatzor which had been the one who had organized the attack against the Jews. The Jews now plundered all the cities, taking all the gold and silver as well as the other treasures that they found there for themselves.
One by one, Yehosuah continued to do battle with the rest of the country’s many inhabitance. None of the tribes made any peace pact with the Jews except for the Givonim. That’s because Hashem strengthened their heart to fight the Jews so that they all ultimately be destroyed.
Yehoshua went on to destroy the giants who lived in the mountains as well as those living in Chevron, Devir, Anov, and in the mountains of Yehuda and the other surrounding mountains. There were no giants left except for those living in Azo, Gas, and Ashdot which lie next to the shores of the Mediterranean sea.
This perek gives us a summary of all the territory that the yidden captured both during the days of Moshe as well as in the days of Yehoshuah. This included…..
Yehoshuah had now reached a ripe old age, yet, there were still many parts of the country that had not been captured. This included much of the land down south and the land of the five Pelishti tribes. These were the Azosi, Ashdodi, Giti, Ekroni and the Avim.
The many wars went on for a period of seven years until Yehoshuah was commanded to start dividing the land among the Shevotim. This process took seven more years. The tribes of Reuven , Gad and part of Shevet Menashe had already received their territory on the other side of the Yarden. The former territory of Sichon which is on the Golan Heights was divided up between Reuven and Gad. Half of Shevet Menashe received the land of Og the King of Bashan who Moshe had killed some years earlier. This area is one of the most beautiful and scenic parts of the entire country and was recaptured by Israel toward the end of the Six-Day-War in June of 1967.
The Kohanim and leviyim received 48 cities which were scattered throughout the country. These cities were special cities known as the orei miklat – cities of haven for those who killed someone accidentally. Anyone who had accidentally killed someone could seek haven there from the blood-relatives who may have tried to avenge the murder. As long as one was in one of these cities, no person was permitted to kill him.
The division of the land was done by drawing lots in conjunction with the use of the Urim v’Tumim whose letters would light up. When they saw that the lots and theUrim V’tumim results matched, it was convincing evidence that this wasn’t just pot chance or luck but rather a heavenly message and therefore there could be no complaints and arguments.
Kalaiv reminded Yehoshuah of Moshe’s promise to him for not being influenced by the ten spies. He had been promised to recieve the city of Chevron containing theMeoras HaMachpela the holy buriel place of our Avos and Imous While the city itself was an ir miklat, – a city of refuge, – the surrounding fields and mountains were given to Kalaiv who was the prince of Shevet Yehuda. The rest of the territory was given to Shevet Yehuda, who also received land down south as well as the city of Yerushalayim which they still were not able to capture at that time because of Avrhom’s promise to the Yevusi many centuries before.
Even though Kolev was now eighty five years old, he still had his youthful strength and was able to drive out the mighty giants who lived there. More about this later on.
The Shevet of Efrayim received the city of Shilo where the Mishkan would be set up and remain standing for 369 years. This city was destroyed in the time of EliHaKohen. Today it has been rebuilt and is a beautiful place to visit. They even point out the place which they believe was where the Mishkan once stood. Their beautiful shul is built very similar to the way the Mishkan once looked and they have a beautiful large model of the Mishkan so that one can learn all about it.