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priests blew the trumpets, and Joshua said to the people, "Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city." a And it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, and they went up into the city. The inhabitants were slain, and their houses burned.
And so God continued to help Joshua, until he nad overcome and had slain thirty-one small kings, who reigned in Canaan. During the slaughter in the valley of Ajalon, the sun and the moon stood still at Joshua's word, and God slew the Amorites with hailstones.
After a few years, the conquest was so far completed, that Joshua could proceed to divide the land among the twelve tribes. The tribes of Reuben
a Joshua vi. 1–16.
and of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, settled on the other side of Jordan, and the other nine tribes and a half between Jordan and the sea. The tribe of Levi received no distinct inheritance, but they had cities given to them in the midst of the other tribes. The sanctuary and tabernacle, together with the ark of the covenant, were placed in Shiloh.
When Joshua was an hundred and ten years old, and had finished all these things, he gathered all Israel together to Shechem, that he might take his leave of them. He reminded them of all God's mercies to them, and exhorted them to be faithful and obedient. "Fear the Lord," he said, "and serve him in sincerity and in truth. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Then answered all the people, "God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods." b
32. THE JUDGES.
AFTER Joshua's death, the Israelites did not adhere to what they had promised. They often went after other gods. Then the Lord gave them into the hands of their enemies; and when they repented of their sins, the Lord delivered them by Captains and by Judges whom he raised up for them. These reigned over one or several of the tribes; but there was no unity among them, and they wished to have a king in Israel.
b Joshua xxiv. 14-16.
At one time, the Midianites came with their cattle and with their tents from the wilderness into the land of Canaan, and destroyed all that was in the fields, and drove away all their cattle. For seven years successively they continued to make these attacks, and there was none to resist them. Then God raised up a young man of the tribe of Manasseh. The angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of?" And the Lord looked upon him, and said, "Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?" Gideon replied, "Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." And the Lord said unto him, "Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one
Gideon's first act was to cut down his father's idolatrous grove, in which Baal was worshipped. That was a bold act; for all who worshipped the idols would of course seek to kill him. But Gideon's father said, "Will ye plead for Baal? If he be a god, let him plead for himself."
Yet Gideon asked for a sign from God, that he might be well assured that the vision by which he had been called was really from God. He said, "Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand." And when he
rose up early in the morning, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. Then Gideon ventured to ask God a second time, "Let me prove,
I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew." And God did so that night for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
Then Gideon arose and collected an army of thirty-two thousand men out of the tribes of the upper country. And at the command of God he made a proclamation: "Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return, lest he should make the
hearts of the rest faint;" see Deut. xx. 8. Upon which, twenty-two thousand left him. And the Lord said unto Gideon, "The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there." So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, "Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.' And the number of them that lapped, putting their hands to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand." So Gideon had to send them all away except three hundred men, lest Israel should vaunt themselves, and say, Mine own hand hath saved
Gideon divided his three hundred men into three companies, and gave to every man a burning torch carried in an earthen pitcher, and a trumpet in his hand; and, thus prepared, they stole unobserved into the camp of the Midianites from three sides; and, as their war cry, shouted, "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon." With their torches blazing in the air, and the sound of the trumpets, and the strange clatter of the breaking of the pitchers, they so terrified their enemies on awaking out of their sleep, that in their confusion they take their own comrades for enemies, and every man's sword is against his fellow. A general flight ensues. All the male population in Mount Gilead come to pursue after the enemy, and great