Day 115 | Joshua burns the city of Ai | A trap is set by his enemies | Jesus is punished by Pilate, the Roman Prefect of Judea
Day 115 of the Holy Bible One Year Challenge. Joshua burns the city of Ai. A trap is set by his enemies. Jesus is punished by Pilate, the Roman Prefect of Judea.
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Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Don’t be afraid; don’t give up. Lead all your fighting men to Ai.* I will help you defeat the king of Ai. I am giving you his people, his city and his land. 2 You will do to Ai and its king the same thing you did to Jericho and its king. Only this time you can take all the wealth and ani- mals and keep it for yourselves. You will share the wealth with your people. Now, tell some of your soldiers to hide behind the city.” 3 So Joshua led his whole army to- wards Ai.
Then Joshua chose 30,000 of his best fighting men and sent them out at night. 4 Joshua gave them this command: “Listen carefully to what I tell you. You must hide in the area behind the city. Wait for the time to attack. Don’t go far from the city. Continue to watch and be ready. 5 I will lead the men with me; we will march towards the city. The men in the city will come out to fight against us. We will turn and run away from them as we did before. 6 These men will chase us away from the city, so we will run away. They will think that we are running away from them as we did before. 7 Then you should come out of your hiding place and take control of the city. The LORD your God will give you the power to win.
8 “When you have taken control of the city, you must do what the LORD said. You must burn it. Now go! These are my orders.”
9 Then Joshua sent them to their hiding place to wait. They went to a place west of Ai, between Bethel and Ai. But Joshua stayed the night with his people. 10 Early the next morning Joshua gathered the men together. Then Joshua and the leaders of Israel led the men to Ai. 11 All the soldiers who were with Joshua marched to Ai. They stopped in front of the city. The army made its camp north of the city. There was a valley between the army and Ai. 12 Then Joshua chose about 5000 men. He sent them to hide in the area west of the city, between Bethel and Ai. 13 So Joshua had prepared his men for the fight. The main camp was north of the city. The other men were hiding to the west. That night Joshua went down into the valley. 14 Later, the king of Ai saw the army of Israel, so he and his people hurried out to fight the Israelites. He led them out the east side of the city towards the Jordan Valley, so he did not see the soldiers hiding behind the city. 15 Joshua and the Israelites let the army of Ai push them back, pretending to be defeated. Then they began running east towards the desert. 16 The people still in the city were called out to chase the Israelites. So they all left the city. 17 All the men of Ai and Bethel chased the army of Israel. The city was left open—no one stayed to protect the city. 18 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Hold your spear towards the city of Ai, because I will give you that city.”
So Joshua held his spear towards the city of Ai. 19 When the Israelites who were hiding saw this, they quickly came out from their hiding place and hurried towards the city. They entered the city, took control of it, and started fires to burn the city. 20 The men from Ai looked back and saw their city burning. When they saw the smoke rising into the sky, they lost their strength and courage. They stopped chasing the men of Israel. The Israelites stopped running away. They turned and went to fight the men from Ai. There was no safe place for the men from Ai to run to. 21 When Joshua and his men saw that his army had taken control of the city and that smoke was rising from it, they stopped running away and turned to fight the men of Ai.
22 Then the men who were hiding came out of the city to help with the fight. The army of Israel was on both sides of the men of Ai—the men of Ai were trapped. Israel defeated them. They fought until none of the men from Ai were left alive—none of the enemy escaped. 23 But the king of Ai was left alive. Joshua’s men brought him to Joshua. A Review of the Fighting 24 During the fighting, the army of Israel chased the men from Ai into the fields and into the desert, where they killed them all. Then the Israelites went back to Ai and killed all the people who were still alive in the city. 25 All the people of Ai died that day; there were 12,000 men and women. 26 Joshua had held his spear towards Ai as a sign to his people to destroy the city. And he did not stop until all the people of Ai were destroyed.
27 The Israelites kept the animals and goods from the city for themselves. This is what the LORD said they could do when he gave Joshua the commands. 28 Then Joshua burned the city of Ai. That city became an empty pile of rocks. It is still like that today. 29 Joshua hanged the king of Ai on a tree and left him hanging there until evening. At sunset, Joshua told his men to take the king’s body down from the tree. They threw his body down at the city gate. Then they covered the body with many rocks. That pile of rocks is still there today. Reading the Blessings and Curses 30 Then Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel on Mount Ebal.
31 The LORD’s servant Moses told the Israelites how to build altars. So Joshua built the altar the way it was explained in the Book of the Law* of Moses. The altar was made from stones that were not cut. No tool had ever been used on those stones. They offered burnt offerings to the LORD on that altar. They also gave fellowship offerings. 32 There Joshua copied onto the stones the law Moses had written down. This was for all the people of Israel to see. 33 The leaders, officials, judges, and all the Israelites were standing around the Box of the LORD’s Agreement. They were standing in front of the Levite priests, who carried the Holy Box. The Israelites and the other people with them were all standing there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Ebal and the other half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim. The LORD’s servant Moses had told the people to do this. He told them to do this to be blessed.
34 Then Joshua read all the words from the law. He read the blessings and the curses. He read everything the way it was written in the Book of the Law. 35 All the Israelites were gathered together there. All the women and children and all the immigrants who lived with the Israelites were there. And Joshua read every command that Moses had given.
The Gibeonites Trick Joshua
All the kings west of the Jordan River heard about these things. They were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. They lived in the hill country and in the plains. They also lived along the coast of the Great Sea as far as Lebanon. 2 All these kings came together and made plans to fight against Joshua and the Israelites. 3 The people from the city of Gibeon heard about the way Joshua had defeated Jericho and Ai. 4 So they decided to try to trick the Israelites. They gathered old wineskins that were cracked and broken. They put these old wineskins on the backs of their animals. They put old pieces of cloth on their animals to look as if they had traveled from far away. 5 The men put old sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. They found some old bread that was dry and mouldy.
6 Then they went to the camp of the Israelites. This camp was near Gilgal. The men went to Joshua and said to him, “We have traveled from a faraway country. We want to make a peace agreement with you.”
7 The men of Israel said to these Hivite men, “Maybe you are trying to trick us. Maybe you live near us. We cannot make a peace agreement with you until we know where you are from.”
8 The Hivite men said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” But Joshua asked, “Who are you? Where do you come from?” 9 The men answered, “We are your ser- vants. We have come from a faraway country. We came because we heard of the great power of the LORD your God. We heard about what he has done and about everything he did in Egypt. 10 And we heard that he defeated the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan River—King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan in the land of Ashtaroth. 11 So our leaders and our people said to us, ‘Take enough food for your jour- ney. Go and meet with the Israelites.’ Tell them, ‘We are your servants. Make a peace agreement with us.’
12 “Look at our bread. When we left home, it was warm and fresh. But now you can see that it is dry and old. 13 Look at our wineskins. When we left home, they were new and filled with wine. But now you can see that they are cracked and old. Look at our clothes and sandals. You can see that the long journey has almost destroyed the things we wear.”
14 The Israelites believed them and accepted some of their food to show their agreement—but they did not ask the LORD what they should do. 15 Joshua agreed to make peace with them. He agreed to let them live. The leaders of Israel agreed by making a promise with an oath.
The Guards Mistreat Jesus (Matt. 26:67-68; Mark 14:65)
63 The men guarding Jesus made fun of him and beat him. 64 They covered his eyes so that he could not see them. Then they hit him and said, “Be a prophet and tell us who hit you!” 65 And they shouted all kinds of insults at him.
Jesus Before the Religious Leaders (Matt. 26:59-66; Mark 14:55-64; John 18:19-24)
66 At daybreak, the older leaders of the people, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law came together. They led Jesus away to their high council.
67 They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.”
Jesus said to them, “If I tell you who I am, you will not believe me. 68 And if I ask you, you will not answer. 69 But beginning now, the Son of Man will sit at the right side of God All-Powerful.”
70 They all said, “Then are you the Son of God?” Jesus said to them, “You are right in saying that I am.”
71 They said, “Why do we need witnesses now? We all heard what he said!”
Governor Pilate Questions Jesus (Matt. 27:1-2,11-14; Mark 15:1-5; John 18:28-38)
Then the whole group stood up and led Jesus away to Pilate. 2 They began to accuse Jesus and said to Pilate, “We caught this man trying to change the thinking of our people. He says we should not pay taxes to Caesar. He calls himself the Messiah, a king.”
3 Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “You could say that.”
4 Pilate said to the leading priests and the people, “I find nothing wrong with this man.” 5 But they kept on saying, “His teach- ing is causing trouble all over Judea. He began in Galilee, and now he is here!”
Pilate Sends Jesus to Herod
6 Pilate heard this and asked if Jesus was from Galilee. 7 He learned that Jesus was under Herod’s authority. Herod was in Jerusalem at that time, so Pilate sent Jesus to him. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very happy. He had heard all about him and had wanted to meet him for a long time. Herod wanted to see a miracle, so he was hoping that Jesus would do one. 9 He asked him many questions, but Jesus said nothing. 10 The leading priests and teachers of the law were standing there shouting things against Jesus. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers laughed at him. They made fun of him by dressing him in clothes like kings wear. Then Herod sent him back to Pilate. 12 In the past Pilate and Herod had always been enemies. But on that day they became friends.
Pilate Tries to Free Jesus (Matt. 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; John 18:39 – 19:16)
13 Pilate called all the people together with the leading priests and the other leaders. 14 He said to them, “You brought this man to me. You said he was trying to change the people. But I judged him before you all and have not found him guilty of the things you say he has done. 15 Herod didn’t find him guilty either. He sent him back to us. Look, he has done nothing bad enough for the death penalty. 16 So, after I punish him a little, I will let him go free.” 17
18 But they all shouted, “Kill him! Let Barabbas go free!”
19 (Barabbas was a man who was in jail for starting a riot in the city and for murder.) 20 Pilate wanted to let Jesus go free. So again Pilate told them that he would let him go. 21 But they shouted again, “Kill him! Kill him on a cross!” 22 A third time Pilate said to the people, “Why? What wrong has he done? He is not guilty. I can find no reason to kill him. So I will let him go free after I punish him a little.”
23 But the people continued to shout. They demanded that Jesus be killed on a cross. Their shouting got so loud that 24 Pilate decided to give them what they wanted. 25 They wanted Barabbas to go free—the one who was in jail for starting a riot and for murder. Pilate let Barabbas go free. And he handed Jesus over to be killed. This is what the people wanted.
For the music director: a psalm of David written when Nathan the prophet came to him after David’s sin with Bathsheba.
God, be merciful to me because of your faithful love. Because of your great compassion, erase all the wrongs I have done.
2 Scrub away my guilt. Wash me clean from my sin.
3 I know I have done wrong. I remember my sin all the time.
4 I did what you say is evil. You are the one I have sinned against. I say this so that people will know that I am wrong and you are right. What you decided is fair.
5 I was born to do wrong, a sinner before I left my mother’s womb.
6 You want me to be completely loyal, so put true wisdom deep inside me.
7 Remove my sin and make me pure. Wash me until I am whiter than snow!
8 Let me hear sounds of joy and happiness again. Let the bones you crushed be happy again.
9 Don’t look at my sins. Erase them all.
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