Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics


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Under Joshua, the ‘minister’, or servant, of Moses, the people of Israel cross the Jordan (dividing its waters as they did the Red Sea when leaving Egypt) and begin their military conquest of the promised land (1–4). Before the invasion of Palestine Joshua's spies spy out the land. In a characteristic biblical story about transgressive women, the two spies lodge in a brothel in Jericho run by Rahab, a prostitute. They swear that in exchange for Rahab's protection she and her extended family will be protected after the conquest of the land (2: 12–14). The mechanism used for saving Rahab and her family is a ‘scarlet thread’ placed in the window of the brothel (2: 15–21), echoing both the traditional mark of election (cf. Gen. 39) and the beginning of the exodus story, where the people were protected by splashing blood on the lintel and doorposts of their houses (Exod. 12: 7, 23).25 6The fall of the walls of Jericho is one of the most famous stories in the Bible. Note its ritualistic nature: the walls were destroyed by a cultic procession consisting of the sacred ark, trumpeting priests, and a military parade processing around the city for seven days, culminating in a great final day of seven circuits of the city.26 At the end of the thirteenth circuit of the city the trumpets were blown, the people shouted and the city wall fell down. This ‘religious’ warfare is characteristic of biblical narrative (e.g. see 2 Kgs. 3: 2 and Chr. 20); they begin with ritual sacrifice, and, unlike ordinary wars fought for booty, the spoils are treated as belonging to YHWH and are therefore totally destroyed.

Chapter.  619 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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