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JOSHUA CHAPTER 1 ~ 7

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JOSHUA CHAPTER 1 ~ 7

Post  Jude on Sun 05 May 2013, 14:13

THE BOOK OF JOSHUA


The book of Joshua is traditionally thought to have been written by Joshua, the successor of Moses to leadership of Israel, except for a few explanatory passages added by Phinehas the priest. It deals with the entrance of Israel into Canaan and the conquest of that land.

The book continues the basic subject of the book of Numbers, the description of divinely appointed leadership. As revelation makes more and more detailed portraits of divinely appointed leaders, more and more typical characteristics of divine proof appear. The figure of Joshua presents a continuation of what is found in the Pentateuch: proof of divine oneness, practical application of divine law, and miraculous acts to save the faithful from danger or oppression.

The central question of the book is that of warfare. Joshua engages in warfare and even genocide during the conquest of the land. Warfare obviously conflicts with the Decalogue prohibition of killing. The linguistic distinction between murder and killing, made by so many commentators, assumes a society with the authority to define the ten commandments, something entirely lacking in the surrounding texts. The establishment of a state that may define some killing as murder and some killing as legitimate (such as war and capital punishment) assumes an authority beyond the Decalogue description, and implies that any state that has the power to establish itself also has the power to diminish the force of any commandment, not just the prohibition of killing. This is a fact of reality, no matter what the connotations of the specific word used. The problem is therefore acute and not to be shunted aside by merely saying the words refer to murder and not killing.

The characteristic of divinely appointed leadership is specifically the application of divine law in situations that are difficult to interpret. The divinely guided leader will make verdicts on the basis of the law that must seem to some observers to break the commandment. If that were not so, there would be no need of divinely appointed leadership. Everyone would see the correct import of the commandment immediately in every situation. But that simply is not the case. In real life the choice is more often between a greater and lesser evil than between an evil and a good. In the issue of killing, there will arise situations in which killing is the only way of preserving the commandment. The divine guide is considered to know through divine intervention which of two evils in a particular situation is for the greater good. The divine guide may not, as it might appear to some, change divine law. But he may be led under certain conditions in a certain situation to act in disregard of one commandment in order to preserve all. Warfare and other instances of divinely approved killing are thus reported under the direction of a divinely appointed leader. Where such a divine guide is not visibly present, such actions are not permissible, and it is necessary to fall back on the general law. Without the intervention of divine guidance, no intention to kill is valid.

The book of Joshua has great spiritual significance. It expresses the spiritual development of the individual under the direction of the divine guide, represented by a figure whose name means “YHWH saves.” This name is the Hebrew cognate of the name of Jesus. Every human being must engage in the conquest of paradise through the subjection of those powers of the self that oppose such victory. Every story in the book of Joshua reflects an aspect of dealing with the nafs, the nephesh, the lower self. This is placed directly in the context of submission to God through the figure of the divine guide.

WEEK 36 JOSHUA 1


1 After the death of Moses who
Was the faithful servant of YHWH,
It happened that YHWH spoke to one
Joshua who was son of Nun,
Moses’ servant, saying 2 “Moses
My servant’s dead. Now therefore this
Is what you’ll do, get up, go over
This Jordan, you and all this rover
People, to the land I shall give
To Israel’s folk for place to live.

If Moses with all his experience
Was not up to leading over the fence
Of Jordan to the Promised land, then how
Could Joshua meet challenges to cow?
His first act is to do the mission thought
Impossible even by people taught.
Beloved, You do not know, I trow, the deep
Courage it takes to be a man and sleep
Through glories parted, blinded by the veil
Of splendour under which You always sail.
You ask the man to do the thing that he
Who was the greatest could conceivably
Fail to accomplish. That is just Your style.
You ask a man like naught to crawl a mile.

3 “Every place that your sole of foot
Will tread upon to you I’ve put
It for possession as I said
To Moses who was without dread.
4 “From the desert and Lebanon
As far as the great river, on
To the River Euphrates, all
The land of the Hittites to call,
And to the Great Sea toward the way
The sun goes down at end of day,
Shall be your territory’s sway.
5 “No man shall be able to stand
Before you all your days’ command,
As I was with Moses, so I
Will be with you too by and by.
I will not leave you nor forsake.
6 “Be strong therefore, good courage take,
For to this people you’ll divide
As an inheritance the wide
Land which I swore to give to their
Fathers. 7 “Only be strong and fair,
Very courageous, that you may
Observe to do in every way
By the law which Moses My slave
Commanded you, so now be grave
Not to turn from it to the right
Hand or to the left, that you might
Prosper wherever you go. 8 “This
Book of the Law be not remiss
From your mouth, but you’ll meditate
In it day and night, that your state
May be to observe all therein
To do as written without sin.
For then you will make your way good
Prospered, and good success as should.
9 “Do I not command you? Be strong
And of good courage, do not long
Be fearful, nor dismayed, for YHWH
Your God where you go is with you.”

Command me, too, Beloved, for courage and
For strength! Although I do not fear the hand
That steers the State, yet I too know dismay.
I flee to Your breath and Your word this day.
I contemplate Your law in dark and light
Through busy day and also quiet night.
If You command, You also give what’s needed
That Your commands ring true and unimpeded.
Let not Your word depart out of my tongue
But let it sound through life from rung to rung
That I may do all that is written there,
All good and precious things, all that is fair.
I need no other heritage it seems
Beyond this food and drink above my dreams.

10 Then Joshua commanded all
The people’s officers by call,
Saying 11 “Pass through the camp and tell
The people, ‘Prepare yourselves well,
For within three days you will cross
Over this Jordan, with no loss
To go in to possess the land
Which YHWH your God gives in your hand.’”

Like Joshua I meditate the gate
Of crossing over to divine estate.
Give me three days to prepare for the time
When I shall stand upon the golden rime
Of Jordan to pass over to the land
Promised with bright eternity to stand.
The turning point of sorrow in the week
On the fourth day arises as those seek
Their haven by the guiding star who know
The cycles of the winds and dews and snow.
Beloved, I stand upon the bovine feast
Of meadows on the Jordan tracking east
And turn my face toward the western sea
Anticipating Your eternity.

12 And to the Reubenites, and to
The Gadites, and also those who
Of the tribe of Manasseh staying
Then Joshua spoke to them, saying
13 “Remember the word which Moses
YHWH’s servant told to you like this,
‘YHWH your Ælohim gives you rest
And is giving to you this land.’
14 “Your wives, your little ones in band,
Livestock remaining in the land
Which Moses gave you on this side
Of Jordan. But you’ll not abide
But pass before your brothers armed,
All your brave mighty men unharmed,
And help them, 15 “until YHWH has given
Your brothers rest, after they’ve striven,
As He did you, and they also
Have taken the land where they go
Possession which YHWH your God gives,
Then you shall return and there live
To the land of your heritage
And enjoy it, from age to age,
Which Moses YHWH’s servant gave you
On the east side of Jordan’s dew.”

What would I do, Beloved, if someone came
Convincing me I had just three days claim
Before I should stand by the judgement throne
And see Your face invisible full grown
Before my human eye, and plunge into
The ecstasy or fire that is my due?
Would I be thrilled or paralyzed with fear
To know that Your presence has come so near
As three days from my camp, eternal home
For forty years hoped for to err and roam
The desert floor, speckled with tripping stone?
Only three days, Belovèd, to prepare
To meet the reckoned lot and pleasant share,
What would I do, what do I now You’re there?

16 So they answered Joshua, saying
“What you command us we’re relaying,
And where you send us we will go.
17 “Just as we heeded Moses in
All things, so we’ll heed you begin.
Only YHWH your Ælohim be
With you, as with Moses was He.

Your divine guides are heeded always for
The fact that You are with them at the door.
It’s not the charismatic fever that
Brings people to the houses where they sat.
It’s not their beauty, wisdom, poetry,
It’s not their success in the sophistry
Of justice, rather it is just because
You are with them to show them of Your laws.
Beloved, as You were with Moses when he
Led the folk up from the Egyptian spree,
So You were with the holy one who came
After Moses, though without Moses’ fame.
The prophecies of Joshua are known
But argued for Christ and Muhammad’s throne.

18 “Whoever rebels against your
Command not heeding your words’ core,
In all that you command him for,
Shall be put to death. Only be
Strong and of good courage and free.”

Though I remain upon the further shore
In house and kind, potato, kale and store,
My spirit and my mind climb Carmel’s peaks
And Zion’s fortresses where my soul seeks
The blessings of the oneness of the Lord,
Who gives to one the ploughshare, one the sword.
Now as I take my stake in peaceful wood
Let me not be viewed as a rebel should.
I lend my hand and foot to valour’s game
And rush to arms when I have heard my name.
I take possession of the holy land
To give it to another, since my hand
Is full to overflowing with abundance,
Since oneness, my Beloved, is not redundance.

JOSHUA 2


1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent
Out two men from Acacia Grove
To spy in secret where they went,
Saying “Go, view the land and cove,
Especially in Jericho.”
So they went, and came on the go
To the house of an inn-keeper
Named Rahab, and lodged there with her.

The dirty minds of past translators show
That every inn-keeper’s a place to know
A prostitute, and yet it is a fact
That all we know of Rahab by her act
Is that she was both brave and ready to
Risk all to give You praise and honour You.
The older usage of the word does not
Imply the inn-keeper was facile shot,
But still the rumours rise to run the slot
As rumours always do, though Truth is got
In secret, silent ways, and not made known
To minds of water and to hearts of stone.

2 And it was told in Jericho
To the king, saying “Behold, men
Have come here tonight with a yen
To search out the country before
The children of Israel’s gore.”
3 The king of Jericho sent to
Rahab, saying “Bring out, please do,
The men who have come in to you,
Who have entered your house, for they
Have come to search out all the way
Of the country.” 4 The woman took
The two men and hid them from look.
So she said “Yes, the men came to
Me, but I did not know their cue
Where they were from. 5 “It happened that
As the gate was being shut, when
It was dark, they left where they sat
And the men went their way again.
Where the men went I do not know,
Pursue them quickly, don’t be slow,
For you may overtake the men.”

The woman Rahab told the king a lie.
Your law requires that every honest guy
Say of another truth and truth alone.
Yet Rahab lied to one sitting on throne.
Perhaps the sitting on the throne was meant
To be exception when the law was sent,
Since ten commandments do not mention king
Or president or any else such thing.
Perhaps what one speaks to usurper beast
Has nothing of truth in it, not the least,
Since force of arms is in itself a straw
Rebellious against Your eternal law.
Beloved, I’d rather not be brought before
Such judges, but at least I know the score.

6 But she had brought them to the roof
And hidden them against all proof
With stalks of flax, which she had laid
In order on the roof arrayed.
7 The men pursued them by the road
To the Jordan, to the fords strode.
And as soon as those who pursued
Them went out, they shut the gate cued.

My heart of Rahab hides within the men
Sent on Your errand, my Beloved, and then
Refuses to give in to king and state.
Such lawlessness will not likely abate.
My loyalty is to my Self and life
Who stands aside from bickering and strife
For such mere overrated, trifling things
As gold and fashion, useful things for kings,
But not so useful metal as is copper,
While woollens are preferred to silk by shopper
Who has a mind for hard reality.
I lie to the king’s messengers freely
And send them chasing shadows on the hill.
The flax stalks on my roof move and are still.

8 Now before they lay down, she came
Up to them on the roof, 9 by name
Said to the men, “I know that YHWH
Has given and the land to you,
Your terror has fallen on us,
And all the dwellers numerous
In the land are fainthearted here
Because of you. 10 “For we did hear
How YHWH dried up the Red Sea flood
For you when you walked on the mud
Out of Egypt, and what you did
To the two kings of the torpid
Amorites on the other side
Of the Jordan, who could not hide,
Sihon and Og, whom utterly
You have destroyed. 11 “As soon as we
Heard, our hearts melted, neither did
There remain more courage or quid
In anyone because of you,
For YHWH your Ælohim is true,
He is God in heaven above
And on the earth beneath thereof.

I know enough of fear, Beloved, to know
That fear is not enough to make the show
Of faith that You are one and God alone.
Though fear may strike to marrow of the bone,
It ends in curses like as not but never
In faith. It’s more intelligent than clever.
The inn-keeper’s a lady who has seen
All types of men arriving on the green,
And with her keenness, I know that her right
Does not reach up to know You in Your light.
If she confesses You are one, she does
Despite experience’s knowledge flaws.
I praise You, my Beloved, that such a one
Can penetrate the veils as soon as done.

12 “Now therefore, I beg you, swear to
Me by YHWH, since I have shown you
Kindness, that you also will show
Kindness to my father’s house so,
And give me a true token, 13 “and
Spare my father, my mother’s hand,
My brothers, my sisters, and all
That they have here within the wall,
And deliver our lives from death.”
14 So the men answered in one breath,
“Our lives for yours, if none of you
Tell this business of what we do.
And it shall be, when YHWH has given
To us the land for which we’ve striven,
That we will deal kindly and truly
With you.” 15 Then she let them down duly
By a rope through the window, for
Her house was on the city wall,
She lived upon the wall, what’s more.
16 And she said to them, “Get you all
To the mountain, lest the pursuers
Meet you and put you on the skewers.
Hide there three days, until pursuers
Have returned, then go on your way.”
17 So the men said to her that day,
“We will be blameless of this oath
Of yours which you have made us both
Swear, 18 “unless, when we come into
The land, you bind this line that you
Let us down by, this scarlet cord
In the window, and for the horde
You bring your father, mother, and
Your brothers, and all in the land
Of your father’s household to your
Own home. 19 “So it shall be therefore
Whoever goes outside the door
Of your house and into the street,
His blood shall be at his own feet,
On his own head, and we’ll be guiltless.
And whoever is with you stiltless
In the house, his blood shall be on
Our head if a hand’s laid upon
Him. 20 “And if you tell this business
Of ours, then we’ll freely confess
Our freedom from your oath which you
Made us swear.” 21 Then she said “Then do
According to your words.” And she
Sent them away, and they left free.
She tied the red string up to see.

O my Beloved, I bind a scarlet cord
In sight because I fear Your flaming sword.
I look down from the wall and see it twist
Upon the air. May it protect from fist
And brawn. My window faces toward the dawn
From whence I fear Your battle coming on.
I lay me open by the scarlet token
And gather up my promises unbroken
And wait with mute appeal. Your divine heel
May trample in my vineyard, crush the vine,
And bruise the lily at the door, the sign
Remains to mind You of the hope and real.
Belovèd, find me waiting on the wall,
Now broken by Your coming and Your call.

22 They left, went to the hills, and stayed
There three days till pursuers made
Their way home. The pursuers sought
Them all along the way, for naught.
23 So the two men returned, descended
From the mountain, crossed over, wended
Their way to Joshua son of Nun,
And told him all that they had done.

I flee into the hills, Beloved, to find
Three days in hiding from the deaf and blind
Who seek my life despite my innocence.
Such seekers are all around city tents.
I flee into the hills not least to know
The peaceful stir of wind in leaves to show
The heart the path toward Your come and go
Until those men return within their fence.
Beloved, You and Your guides appointed stand
Upon the crest beneath the wooded land
And look out on the wicked plain to see
The roving bands of rangers running free,
And turn again into the darkened glade
And rest as one beneath the lowered shade.

24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly
YHWH has delivered the country
Into our hands, for indeed all
The inhabitants in its wall
Faintheartedly before us fall.”

The story that I bring back to the man
That You have chosen as the artisan
Of safety and of hope on the earth now,
Invisibly guiding the human prow,
Is one of courage before the raised horn
Of the establishment I hold in scorn.
I’ve seen the sturdy walls, I’ve heard the plot
Of royal defences and I have got
A sight of weaponry beyond the speed
Of sound to protect all their grasping greed.
And having seen and heard, I come to him
And meet Your divine guide beneath the dim
Light of prayer in prostration and I tell
Him that the way I found is travelled well.

JOSHUA 3


1 Then Joshua rose early at morn,
And they set out from in the bourn
Of Acacia Grove and came to
The Jordan, he and all the crew
Of Israel, and lodged there before
Their crossing to the other shore.
2 So it was, after three days, that
The officers aristocrat
Went through the camp, 3 and they commanded
The people, saying “When you’ve landed
And see the ark of testimony
Of YHWH your God, and not a phony,
The priests, the Levites, bearing it,
Then you shall set out from your fit
Place and go walking after it.
4 “Yet there shall be a space between
You and it, where the ark is seen,
About two thousand cubits measured.
Do not come near it, the ark treasured,
That you may know the way by which
You must go, not fall in the ditch,
For you’ve not passed this way before.”
5 And Joshua said to the folk more,
“Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow
YHWH’ll do you wonders without sorrow.”
6 Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying
“Take up the ark, and not delaying,
Of testimony and cross over
Before the people and the rover.”
So they took up the ark in hand
Of testimony, went in band
Before the people to the land.

They seek their guidance from the east and west,
And search the world for what they think is best,
And comfort every heart that every guide
And every road leads to the heavenly side.
But guidance, my Belovèd, seems to be
To keep one’s eyes fixed on eternally
The ark of covenant wherein there lies
The tables of commandments for all eyes.
They led the people through the Jordan’s deep
Dry shod and took them in the land to keep
Your law forevermore. Here as I stand
On Jordan’s edge and on its shining sand
I too look to the ark and to its law
And wait on You, Beloved, in hope and awe.

7 And YHWH said to Joshua, “This day
I’ll begin to exalt your way
In the sight of all Israel, that
They may know that, just as I sat
With Moses, so I’ll be with you.
8 “You’ll give command to the priests who
Bear the ark of the covenant,
Saying ‘When you have come well spent
To the edge of the water of
The Jordan, you shall stand above
In the Jordan.’” 9 So Joshua said
To the children of Israel bred,
“Come here, and hear the words of YHWH
Your Ælohim.” 10 Joshua said true,
“By this you shall know Ælohim
The Living’s among your esteem,
And that He’ll certainly drive out
From before you (and with a shout)
The Canaanites and the Hittites
And the Hivites and Perizzites
And Girgashites and Amorites
And Jebusites, 11 “See, the ark of
The covenant of the Lord of
All the earth is crossing before
You over into the Jordan.
12 “Now therefore, take yourselves a span
Of twelve men being from each tribe
Of Israel, one man from each tribe.
13 “And it shall come to pass, as soon
As soles of the priests’ feet festoon
The waters of the Jordan, priests
Who bear the ark of YHWH not beasts,
The Lord’s of all the earth, that shall
The waters of Jordan’s canal
Be cut off, the waters that come
Down from upstream stand in heap dumb.”

Your presence is known by the working of
A miracle of Your abounding love.
The priest’s feet touch the water as they step
In faith into the river’s vim and pep.
At that moment and not before Your right
Sets up the waters as a wall in sight
Of Israel and even Canaanite.
The miracles You work to show to me
That You are by my side eternally
Are greater still, though not so suddenly.
The rising of the sun in rubied cloud,
The posture of new snow as I out loud
Puff through my cold ablutions of the day
Show that You are, though with no word to say.

14 So it was, when the people set
Out from their camp to cross the wet
Jordan, with the priests bearing ark
Of covenant before the stark
Folk, 15 and as those who bore the ark
Came to the Jordan, and the feet
Of the priests who carried the treat
Of ark dipped in the water’s edge
For Jordan overflows its sedge
On all its banks during the whole
Time of the harvest till its goal,
16 That the waters which came down from
Upstream stood still, and rose in sum
To make a heap as far away
As at Adam, the city’s way
That is beside Zaretan, so
The waters that went down in show
To the Sea of the Arabah,
The Salt Sea, failed, and were in awe
Cut off, and the people crossed over
Across from Jericho and clover.
17 Then the priests who carried the ark
Of the covenant of YHWH’s park
Stood firm on dry ground in the stream
Bed of the Jordan, it may seem
All Israel crossed over on dry
Ground, until all the people by
Had fully crossed the Jordan’s stream.

What was it like to stand there as the slow
Traffic of child and women on the go
With all their sheep and cattle through the flow
And watch the water higher, higher grow
And not to stamp impatiently and look
Back to see how many more at the brook
Are waiting to embark? Courage it took
To stand with sun and ark on aching arm
Until the folk had all passed beyond harm.
Beloved, lift not Your hand from off the rod
That raises walls today above the sod.
We who stand here at Your command well know
That safety is alone beneath Your show,
While sun beats on the curled and ripened pod.

JOSHUA 4


1 It came to pass, when all the folk
Had finished crossing Jordan’s soak,
That YHWH spoke to Joshua, saying
2 “Take for yourselves twelve men from staying
Among the people, one man from
Every tribe, 3 “and command them come,
Saying ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones
From here, out of the Jordan’s bones,
From the place where the priests’ feet stood.
You shall carry them for your good
Over with you and leave them in
The lodging place where you begin
To lodge tonight.’” 4 Then Joshua
Called the twelve men whom he by law
Had appointed from Israel’s sons,
One man from every tribe that runs,
5 And Joshua said to them “Cross
Over before the ark of Boss
YHWH your God in the Jordan cross,
And each one of you take a stone
On his shoulder, according grown
To the number of Israel’s tribes
6 “That this may be against your bribes
A sign among you when your sons
Ask in the future by their tonnes
Questions, saying ‘What are these stones
For you?’ 7 “Then you’ll answer in tones
That the Jordan waters in loans
Were cut off before the ark of
The covenant of YHWH in love,
When it crossed over Jordan’s shove,
The waters of the Jordan were
Cut off, and these stones shall infer
Recall to Israel’s sons ever.”
8 So the children of Israel did,
As Joshua commanded in bid,
And took up twelve stones from the base
Of the Jordan, as YHWH in case
Had spoken to Joshua well,
By number of the tribes that spell
Of the children of Israel,
And carried them over with them
To the place where they lodged in stem,
And laid them down there, grunts and groans.
9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones
In the midst of the Jordan bed,
In the place where the feet had led
Of the priests who carried the ark
Of the covenant stopped to park,
And they’re there to this day outspread.

The twelve stones rose to be remembrance of
The tribes of Israel, those whom You love,
And while they gathered them the ark that waited
Beneath the piling up of unabated
Flood waters, there contained the divine law
The people had heard uttered loud in awe
On Sinai forty years before. Your speech
Began and ended there, and since then each
Has heard the glowing silence of Your will
On one hand and the busy sounds and shrill
Of priest and prophet vying for the power
To lead the people here and there an hour.
The record of man’s speeches has no end,
While You remain in few words only Friend.

10 So the priests who carried the ark
Stood in the midst of Jordan’s park
Until everything was done that
YHWH had commanded where he sat
Joshua to speak to the folk, by
All that Moses had ordered high
To Joshua, and the folk hasted
And crossed over with no time wasted.
11 It came to pass, when all the folk
Had finished crossing Jordan’s soak,
That the ark of YHWH and the priests
Crossed in the sight of folk and beasts
12 And the men of Reuben and Gad,
And half Manasseh’s tribe well-clad
Crossed over armed before the folk
Of Israel, as Moses spoke
To them. 13 About forty thousand
Prepared for war crossed over and
Before YHWH for battle upon
The plains of Jericho at dawn.

The priests stand in the muddy river flat
Getting their feet wet perhaps where they’re at
To prove that it was safe for all to go
On land where river waters used to flow.
The priests stood there in quiet and in calm
Until the excitement moved under palm
From the deserted floor of river lake.
Beloved, I too stand quiet for Your sake.
My place is priestly, though I am passed by
Those who rush to gain promised land and pie,
And am the last to get thanks and reward
That I stood in the river without sword.
I bear in silence in my temple heart
The ten words that You spoke and sent like dart.

14 On that day YHWH exalted then
Joshua in the sight of men
Of all Israel, and they feared him,
As they had feared Moses, and grim
All the days of his life. 15 Then YHWH
Spoke to Joshua, saying true,
16 “Command the priests who bear the ark
Of the testimony in park
To come up from the Jordan’s stream.”
17 Joshua therefore it would seem
Commanded the priests, saying “Come
Up from the Jordan.” 18 And in sum,
When the priests carrying the ark
Of the covenant of YHWH stark
Had come out of the middle of
The Jordan River, and the soles
Of the priests’ feet touched dry above,
That the waters of Jordan’s shoals
Returned to their place overflowing
All its banks as it had been going.

Passed by unnoticed by the faithful crowd,
I stand here with my burning heart and proud,
Waiting for Your command that I’m allowed
To walk out of the river with a shout
And take my recompense without a doubt.
I wait and know that, though my passing here
Is quietly encased in joy and tear,
A day will come that when my feet pass on
From riverbed to banquet in the dawn,
My passing will release the holden flood
That crashes down upon the jewelled mud.
Then it will matter not that I have been
The stolid brute and motionless to sin,
Now lifted to a seat above the spheres.

19 Now the folk came up from the stream
Of Jordan on the tenth day’s gleam
Of the first month, and they encamped
At Gilgal on the east line stamped
Of Jericho as if in dream.

The Passover is just next week and here
The people stand upon the river pier
And take a longing look into the place
That You have promised to give as a grace.
Like everyone before and after them
They do not realize that Your free gem
Is taken after years of march and battle
And not acquired before the last death rattle.
All things of value come from You, indeed,
Without price and without honey or seed,
And yet we pay the cost with every breath
Returned to You until the verge of death.
What cost? There’s nothing that returns to You
But is Your own, down to the naked pew.

20 And those twelve stones which they took out
Of Jordan, Joshua set about
In Gilgal. 21 Then he spoke there to
The children of Israel and crew,
Saying “When your children ask their
Fathers in time to come as fair,
Saying ‘What are these stones from where?’
22 “Then you shall let your children know,
Saying ‘Israel crossed on the go
Over this Jordan on dry land’,
23 “For YHWH your God dried up like sand
The waters of the Jordan flood
Before you until on the mud
You had crossed over, as YHWH your
God did to the Red Sea before,
Which He dried up before us till
We had crossed over, stock and bill,
24 “That all the peoples of the earth
May know the hand of YHWH is worth,
That it is mighty, that you may
Fear YHWH your God forever’s way.”

The high priest wears twelve stones upon his heart
As I do also for my humble part
In taking on my breast twelve pointed disc
Of alabaster that I wear with risk
Of offending the mob who plies the waves
Of spirituality among the graves.
The lovely names of the divine guides grace
The stones set up in Gilgal and to face
The generations in posterity
Who find the twelve-tiered monument in spe
To mind them of the desert wandering days
That were in some sense greater for their praise.
Beloved, I bear the diamond and the blue
Sapphire upon my heart and come to You.

WEEK 37 JOSHUA 5


1 It happened when all of the kings
Of the Amorites in their rings
On the west side of the Jordan,
And all the Canaanite kings’ clan
Who were by the sea, heard that YHWH
Had dried up the waters on cue
Of the Jordan River before
The children of Israel in store
Until we’d crossed over, that their
Heart melted, and there was no air
In them longer for Israel’s folk,
And for the fear of Israel’s yoke.
2 At that time YHWH said to Joshua,
“Make flint knives for yourself by law,
And circumcise all Israel’s sons
Again the second time by guns.”

Just wait to hear the justice of this crime
Against unholy flesh at such a time.
They will not take the steel and sharpen it
To finely ragged edges and unfit,
But rather take the flint, whose edge goes down
To very line of molecules in town.
The stone age is the pinnacle of all
Technology in the whole human stall,
From which the human tale degenerates
Into the primitive atomic states.
Beloved, I flee to that high race of men
Who recognize the power and beauty’s glen
In flint for cutting and for mending when
One rises up to enter the last den.

3 So Joshua made himself flint knives,
And circumcised Israel’s sons’ lives
At the hill of the foreskins. 4 And
This is the reason why at hand
Joshua circumcised them: All
The folk come out of Egypt’s thrall
Who were males, all the men of war,
Had died on the wilderness’ floor
On the way, after they’d come out
Of Egypt. 5 For all the folk stout
Who came out had been circumcised,
But all the people realized,
Born in the desert, on the trip
Out of Egypt, without a slip,
Had not been circumcised for fears.
6 For Israel’s folk walked forty years
In the desert, till all the folk,
The men of war, who came on stroke
Out of Egypt, were consumed then,
Because they did not obey when
YHWH spoke, and to whom YHWH had sworn
That He would not show them forlorn
The land which YHWH had sworn to their
Fathers that He would give us fair,
“A land flowing with milk and honey.”
7 Then Joshua, and not for money,
Circumcised their sons whom He raised
Up in their place, for they ungrazed
Were uncircumcised, because they
Were not circumcised on the way.
8 So it happened when they had finished
The folk’s circumcising diminished,
That they stayed in their places in
The camp till they were healed in bin.
9 Then YHWH said to Joshua, “This
Day I have rolled away abyss
Of reproach of Egypt from you.”
Therefore the place’s name is called
Gilgal to this day as forestalled.

Since Abraham the cutting and the bleeding
Go on without a break, never receding.
This is the blessing, so it seems, You promise.
Forgive, Beloved, the ranting, doubting Thomas.
It is worse thing than cutting that some stop
The practice without word of grace or crop,
Admitting that You once commanded it
But giving Paul the greater load of wit
Than You Yourself. Yet even Paul did not
Say one word on the matter of what’s taught
For children’s sake, but only stopped the knife
From touching grown men’s tender flesh and life.
Yet these were grown and cut. The argument
Is writ on stones of flint not heaven sent.

10 Now the children of Israel camped
In Gilgal, and kept there revamped
The Passover the fourteenth day
Of the month at twilight to stay
Upon the plains of Jericho.
11 And they ate of the haricot
Of the land on the day after
The Passover, unleavened stir
Bread and parched grain, that very day.
12 Then the manna ceased on the day
After they had eaten produce
Of the land, then without excuse
For manna longer, Israel’s folk
Ate Canaan’s land’s food that year’s yoke.

Who look to Canaan’s land, the land of promise,
For future joys not to be doubting Thomas,
See not that in that lovely place and fair
There is no treat and sweetened manna there.
Who would eat manna, blessèd manna from
Your hand directly, and without the strum
Of go-betweens and veils and shortened lights,
Must turn out in the desert and its nights.
There is no manna without desert dark,
And without setting out of sight of park.
There is no manna without homelessness,
And without tired wandering and distress.
There is no manna without serpents’ fire
Upon the stony pathway of desire.

13 It happened when Joshua was by
Jericho, that he lifted eye
And looked, and see, a man stood near
Opposite him with His sword sheer
Drawn in His hand. And Joshua
Went to him and spoke in his awe,
“Are You for us or for our foes?”
14 So He said “No, but as He chose
Chief of YHWH’s army now I’ve come.”
And Joshua fell on his bum
With face to earth prostrating there,
And said to him, “What of the fair
Does my Lord say to His servant?”
15 Then the Chief of YHWH’s army lent
Voice to Joshua, “Take off from
Your foot your sandal where you’ve come,
For the place where you stand is holy.”
And Joshua then did so lowly.

All men who fight today receive the word
Assured in heart and hand that they’re inured
To bullet and to arrow since they’re stirred
By God alone, and by the moral ground
To slaughter innocents wherever found.
All men who fight know that You’re on their side
And You’re a God who has come to reside
In their temples and not one to abide
In camp of enemy, no, You are great
At supporting the right army and state.
All fools know that there are just two sides and
All are either for or against the hand,
So who is this who is neither for or
Against the people on the Jordan’s shore?

JOSHUA 6


1 Now Jericho was tight shut up
For fear of Israel’s folk to sup
And none went out, and none came in.
2 And YHWH said to Joshua’s grin,
“See! I have given Jericho
Into your hand, its king, and lo
The mighty men of valour. 3 “You
Shall march around the city, do,
All men of war, you’ll go around
The city once. This you’ll be bound
To do six days. 4 “And seven priests
Shall bear seven trumpets, artistes
With rams’ horns there before the ark.
But the seventh day you’ll not park
But march around the city more,
Seven times, and the priests in corps
Shall blow the trumpets on the shore.
5 “It shall happen, when they blow long
With the ram’s horn, when you hear strong
The sound of the trumpet, that all
The people shall shout with a call
Great and loud, then the city wall
Will fall down flat. And the folk shall
Go straight in every one for sal.”

One wonders where the power is to break
The walls of Jericho. But for Your sake
The man believed he heard the angel speak,
And so for that he did not turn out weak,
But sent the ark in which lay hidden there
In silence what You wrote with finger bare,
And sent the priests and sent the seven horns
And all the people round the city’s bourns.
Some walls fall at the sound of horn and bleat,
Some cities fall for thunder of the feet
Of priest and ruler striding down the street,
Some gates turn open at the shouts that greet
The coming of the week. Beloved, I fall
To hear the silence of Your law and call.

6 Then Joshua the son of Nun
Called the priests and told them in fun,
“Take up the ark of covenant,
And let seven priests adjutant
Bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns
Before the ark of YHWH as mourns.”
7 And he said to the people, “Go,
And march around the city row,
And let the one who’s armed advance
Before the ark of YHWH in dance.”
8 So it was, when Joshua had
Spoken to the folk, lass and lad,
That the seven priests bearing those
Seven trumpets of rams’ horns’ woes
Before YHWH advanced and blew on
The trumpets, and the ark undrawn
Of the covenant of YHWH came
After them. 9 The armed men of fame
Went before the priests who blew on
The trumpets, and the rear guard came
After the ark, while the priests still
Blew on the trumpets a sound shrill.
10 Joshua gave the folk command
Saying “You shall not shout or stand
To make any noise with your voice,
Nor shall your mouth a word rejoice,
Until the day I say to you,
‘Shout!’ Then shout as best you can do.”

I too am silent as I make my way
In whirling on the land day after day
And night after night in the midnight task
Of working on the chambered heart You ask.
I too am silent for the six days that
I pass before Your throne, the place You sat,
Before You bend to blow down all the walls
That stop the human spirit from Your calls.
Beloved, I pass in silence six days rent
In whirling in reality and spent
In knowing of unknowing where the bent
Of sky looks on the shroud without a scent.
I only lift my voice when You appear
In seventh day with mercy or with spear.

11 And then he had the ark of YHWH
Circle the town, around it once.
Then they came back to camp like dunce
And in the camp they spent the night.
12 And Joshua rose at morning light,
And the priests lifted ark of YHWH.
13 Then seven priests bearing with them
Seven rams’ horns trumpets in hem
Before the ark of YHWH went on
Blowing the trumpets in the dawn.
And the armed men went before them.
And the rear guard came after ark
Of YHWH, while the priests to embark
Kept blowing with the trumpets’ sound.
14 And the second day they marched round
The city once, then left the ground
And came to camp. And so they did
For six days. 15 But it hit the lid
On the seventh day that they rose
Early, about the dawning rose,
And circled the town seven times
As done before. On that day only
They circled the town seven times lonely.
16 And the seventh time it took place,
When the priests blew the trumpets’ grace,
That Joshua told the people, “Shout,
For YHWH gives you the city rout!

I daily look upon the city walls
And see the markets and the many stalls
Where vain philosophies are trumpeted
And sold at bargain prices to be rid
Of the remembrance of Your name. I turn
Each day the circuit of the city, learn
Its hopes and spurn its fears to whirl with You.
The pavement turns, no matter what I do.
The only sound’s the tread of praying feet
As at the dawn I go out where we meet.
At week’s end I shall not return to rest
From patient whirling, from my sins confessed,
But walk on constant till I turn about
And raise a trumpet and the victory shout.

17 “And then the city shall be doomed
By YHWH to destruction presumed,
It and all who are in it, but
Only Rahab, innkeeper shut,
Shall live, she and all who are there
With her in the house, her you’ll spare,
Because she hid the messengers
That we sent before the soldiers.
18 “And you, by all means shall abstain
From the accursed things, lest in vain
You become cursed when you acquire
Of the accursed things meant for fire,
And make of Israel’s camp a curse,
And trouble it and for what’s worse.
19 “But all the silver and the gold,
And vessels of bronze, iron untold,
Are consecrated to YHWH, they
Shall come into the treasure’s way
Of YHWH.” 20 So the people began
To shout when the priests blew the fan.
And it happened when the folk heard
The sound of trumpet undeterred,
And the folk shouted with a great
Shout, that the wall fell down flat rate.
Then the folk went up in the town,
Every man straight before his crown,
And they took all the city down.

Since the creation of the world I see
Humankind building cities for the free,
And You turning from the six days in spree
To find destruction’s hour in every place
Where towers of brick and tar seek to erase
The difference in time perhaps and space
Between created and Creator’s face.
Beloved, the future holds destruction’s hour
For greater volumes of creative power.
The roles reverse as men seek to create
And find that what they make is insensate.
The tandem dance You make with skeleton
Goes on beneath the cycles of the sun
To stop only perhaps when You are One.

21 They utterly destroyed all that
Was in the city, both the fat
And lean of man and woman too,
Young and old, ox and sheep in view
And donkey, with the mouth of sword.
22 But Joshua said to the two men
Who’d spied out the land dell and glen,
“Go into the innkeeper’s house,
And from there bring out the good spouse
And all she has, as you have sworn.”
23 And the young men who had once worn
The coat of spies went in and brought
Out Rahab, her father as sought,
Her mother, her brothers, and all
That she had in house, bin and stall.
And they brought out her kith and kin
And left them outside the camp where
Israel had come to spend its share.
24 And they burned the city with fire
And all that was in its conspire.
Only the silver and the gold,
And pots of bronze and iron told,
They put into the treasury
Of the house of YHWH faithfully.

I take a lesson from absurdity.
They saved the gold and silver deity
And took the bronze and iron to make its house
As safe as strong against both man and mouse.
It is no flight from fair idolatry
To take one god alone among the three
As long as god’s blood and his body are
Of gold eternal, silver, and the bar
Of ruling iron. But just wait what comes
Of clothing the divine in sumptuous sums.
I burn the precious metals in the fire
And cling to You, Beloved, with all desire.

25 Joshua spared Rahab who was
The innkeeper, her father’s straws,
And all that she had in her paws.
She dwells in Israel to this day,
Since she hid messengers away
Whom Joshua sent to spy out
Jericho to be without doubt.
26 Joshua adjured them that time,
Saying “Cursed be the man of crime
Before YHWH rising up to build
This city Jericho we’ve tilled,
He’ll lay its foundation with his
Firstborn, and with his youngest whiz
He shall set up its gates.” 27 So YHWH
Was with Joshua for his due,
And his fame spread throughout the land
For fear and woe on every hand.

Who sets up human sacrifice is he
Who shall inherit every curse you see
Upon the wall of Jericho. Its gate,
Like every pagan gate of soon and late,
Is set upon foundations bathed in blood
Of some firstborn as testified by flood
Of children’s bones. The Church of Christ is set
Upon the curse of human sacrifice
And so prevails to meet the curse once met
In Jericho, in Babylon, and twice
Or more in every sacred grove. I weep
That human souls go on and on to keep
The pagan faith in death and resurrection,
The pagan faith in natural selection.

JOSHUA 7


1 But the children of Israel did
A trespass in the accursed bid,
For Achan the son of Carmi,
The son of Zabdi, who we see
To be the son of Zerah, of
The tribe of Judah, he took of
The cursed things, so the anger of
YHWH burned hot against Israel’s folk,
Against woman and child and bloke.

Aye, truly gold and silver are called cursed!
But idols are an empty thing from first
To last. As vessels gold and silver fail
To bear the fire where clay pots still prevail,
Though bronze and iron for spear and plough are good
And lasting things in place of hardened wood.
While gold conducts well electricity,
It’s only little better than the plea
Of copper. Gold is truly called accursed,
But only so because values reversed.
The human mind creates the god of gold
From senseless matter, glittering and cold.
Let me, Beloved, see no god anywhere
But in You who hold both the earth and air.

2 And Joshua sent men out from
Jericho to Ai in sum,
Which is beside Beth Aven, on
The east side of Bethel at dawn,
And spoke to them, saying “Go up
And spy out the country to sup.”
So the men went and saw Ai.
3 And they went back to Joshua
And said to him, “Do not let all
The people go up, but let fall
About two or three thousand men
On Ai. Do not weary all
The people there, for few in pen.”
4 So about three thousand men went
Up there from the folk, but they lent
Flight before the men of Ai.
5 And the men of Ai foreby
Struck down about thirty-six men,
For they chased them before the gate
As far as Shebarim, and late
Struck them as they were going down,
Therefore the people’s hearts and crown
Melted like water from renown.

The men of Ai struck the innocent
And slaughtered all of them who rose and went
Against the city in Your holy name.
Secret idolatry was first to blame.
So three times twelve rose up to bear Your word,
And innocently, bravely all concurred
From sons of Ishmael, Jacob, judges, kings,
Disciples of Messiah, all met stings
And failed to teach the people righteousness.
They were too busy living to confess,
And worshipping to stop and listen to
The words of any saying what to do.
The fourth twelve and the last were also struck.
The ones You send, Beloved, have got bad luck.

6 And Joshua tore his clothes, and
Fell to the earth on face and hand
Before the ark of YHWH until
Evening, he and the elders in
Israel, and put dust to their fill
On their heads confessing their sin.
7 And Joshua said “Alas, Lord
YHWH, why have You brought to the sword
This people over Jordan here,
To deliver us to the fear
Of the Amorites, to be scored?
Oh, that we’d been content to live
The other side of Jordan’s sieve!
8 “O Lord, what shall I say to know
Israel turns its back to its foe?
9 “For Canaanites and all the dwellers
In the land will hear of the fellows,
And surround us, and cut off our
Name from the earth, and turn it sour.
Then what will You do for Your name
That is both great and filled with fame?”

When I do something wrong, I do not cry
To You for fear Your reputation by
The world and the community will suffer.
Oh no, I am not such a cunning duffer.
I sigh and cry because it is my doom
To be seen for the fool I am in room
Of brother human creatures who are ready
To pounce as soon as they find one unsteady.
Beloved, I flee to You in all my greed
For taking from Jericho’s wall the seed
Of wealth by which I hope to turn the mile
Against competing humans at the stile.
Beloved, I flee to You and find my need
Is met in You alone who hold no guile.

10 So YHWH said to Joshua then,
“Get up! Why do you lie again
On your face like this? 11 “Israel
Has sinned, and they have for a spell
Also transgressed My covenant
Which I commanded them extant.
For they have even taken some
Of the accursed things, and when done
Have both stolen and deceived, and
They’ve also put it in their hand.
12 “Therefore the children of Israel
Could not stand before foes so well,
But turned their backs before their foes,
Because they’re doomed to meet their throes.
Neither will I be with you now,
Unless you destroy accursed row
From among you. 13 “Get up, make holy
The people, and say to them lowly,
‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow,
Because thus says YHWH to your sorrow
The God of Israel, “An accursed
Thing’s among you to bear the worst,
O Israel, you cannot stand
Before your enemies in band
Until you take away the thing
Accursed, stolen from under wing.”
14 ‘In the morning therefore you shall
Be brought according to tribes’ sal.
And it shall be that the tribe which
YHWH takes shall come without a hitch
According to families, and
The family which YHWH has planned
Shall come up by its households, and
The household which YHWH takes shall come
Man by man. 15 ‘Then it shall be rum
That he who’s taken with the cursed
Thing shall be burned with fire at worst,
He and all that he has, because
He has transgressed the pact and laws
Of YHWH, and because he has done
A disgrace in Israel for fun.’”

Though every man is on his face in prayer,
The words evaporate into the air
If sinful hearts and acts are hidden there.
It was no use for Joshua that day
To put his forehead on the ground to pray
While lust for gold and silver held their sway.
Too many men in many mosques rely
On empty words and hearts to get them by
Or worse yet on a sinful tear and sigh.
Beloved, may I pluck out the golden beam
That blinds my eye and makes my token seem
The truth when I am wandering in dream.
May I find in the stony temple where
I bow within my chamber, You are there.

16 So Joshua rose early on
The morning and brought before dawn
Israel by their tribes, and the tribe
Of Judah was taken in scribe.
17 He brought the clan of Judah, and
He took the family in hand
Of the Zarhites, and then he brought
The Zarhite family by man,
And Zabdi was taken. 18 Then he
Brought his household each man singly,
And Achan the son of Carmi,
Son of Zabdi, son of Zerah,
Was taken of tribe of Judah.
19 Now Joshua said to Achan,
“My son, I beg you, give like man
The glory to YHWH Israel’s God,
And make confession at His prod,
And tell me now what you have done,
Do not hide it from me for fun.”

Whether I take or not forbidden fruit
From Jericho or Eden, I get boot
From civil servant in the office where
They are not always civil for their share.
Who has not taken from this world’s fields bare
A daimen ikker in a thrave with care
To feed his body and his soul without
Giving the whole to general with clout?
I nibble at the gold and silver coin,
I rend the unpatched cloak that covers loin
And hide the whole somewhere beneath my tent.
And pretend all is well with those who lent.
Beloved, I meet the judgement in the night
When six days have passed silently from sight.

20 And Achan answered Joshua
And said “Indeed I’ve sinned at draw
Against YHWH God of Israel,
And this is what I’ve done, I tell:
21 “When I saw there among the spoils
A beautiful garment in coils
Of Babylon, two hundred shekels
Of silver, and a wedge in speckles
Of gold fifty shekels in weight,
I coveted them and for fate
Took them. And there they are, hidden
In the earth in the middle den
Of my tent, with the silver too.”
22 So Joshua sent out a crew,
And they ran to the tent, and there
It was, hidden in his tentware,
With the silver under it there.
23 And they took them out of the tent,
Brought them to Joshua as sent
And all the folk of Israel,
And laid them out to look a spell
Before YHWH. 24 Then Joshua, and
All Israel with him, by command
Took Achan the son of Zerah,
The silver, the garment, the draw
Of golden wedge, his sons, his daughters,
His oxen, his donkeys to slaughters,
His sheep, his tent, and all he had,
They brought them to the valley sad
Of Achor. 25 And Joshua said
“Why have you troubled us for dread?
May YHWH trouble you too this day.”
So all Israel stoned him that way
With stones, and they burned them with fire
After they’d stoned with stones in ire.
26 Then they raised over him a great
Heap of stones, to this day in state.
So YHWH turned from the fierceness of
His wrath. And therefore the name of
That place has been called Valley of
Achor to this day for above.

Idolatry is bad enough, but this
Witch-hunt by lottery can hardly miss
The superstitious excesses that told
Both fear and grief in times both new and old.
Two questions I have here, the first one, how
Can one be sure the lotteries endow
The judge with rightful knowledge of the one
Whose guilt and idol worship cloud the sun?
The second is by what propriety
The people have the right to act so free
As killing others when commandment said
That none may kill a soul? Have I misread?
Applying divine law in land and time
Appears to me, Beloved, very like crime.

This story of the human sacrifice
Just shows how Canaanite the Israel vice
Was in its views and doings in a trice.
As soon as failure of the project rose,
The leader cast lots to reveal and chose
A victim to assure success to come.
How that differs from first-born in the rum
Offered to Baal and buried under gate
Of the new town to assure the town’s fate,
I fail to answer. So does everyone.
Outside the Decalogue, the story’s done,
Whether in Hebrew or in Grecian spun,
To save the day by slaughtering someone,
Either on cross or with stones on the run.


AUTHOR: THOMAS G. MCELWAIN

Copyright © 2007 Adams & McElwain Publishers and Thomas McElwain First Published in two volumes, The Beloved and I 2005, and Led of the Beloved, 2006. Second Edition, 2010 Third and revised edition, 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this verse commentary on the sacred Scriptures may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from publisher.

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