believe God's word, when through Joshua he announced a bloodless victory here at the beginning of their conquest. Without a blow struck Jericho fell, and all its inhabitants were "devoted," at Jehovah's strict command. Even their wealth was to be "devoted," that is, the cattle slain and the goods added to the treasury of the sanctuary. Only Rahab, who had saved the spies, and her family were excepted. One man, Achan, disobeyed the ban on private spoils. His covetousness and deception, revealed by Israel's defeat in the expedition against Ai which followed the fall of Jericho, and detected by the use of the sacred lot, was punished by the execution of all who were privy to the crime.
Better success attended the second attempt to take Ai. With these two cities reduced, Jericho at the bottom and Ai at the top of the valley leading up from the Jordan floor to the central highland, Joshua was in a position to attack anywhere without fear of being outflanked. Middle, south, and north was the order commended by military considerations. Accordingly those cities which, because in the middle of the land, felt themselves the most immediately threatened, took the first steps to avert the menace. A group of five towns lying just north of Jerusalem, with Gibeon at their head, succeeded by a ruse in getting a treaty of peace from Joshua. The Gibeonites deceived Joshua by representing themselves as having come from a great distance to seek an alliance. Joshua's pride was flattered and he fell a victim to the trick. The consequences were serious, for these Canaanites, though reduced to vassalage, remained as aliens in the heart of the land, and cut off the southern from the northern tribes of Israel.
A confederacy of the chief cities in the region south of Gibeon, headed by the king of Jerusalem, determined to strike the first blow. But their campaign against the Gibeonites, now the allies of Israel, ended in a quick advance by Joshua and his complete subjugation of all these cities, the humiliation and death of their kings, and the "devotion" of the inhabitants who fell into his hands.
A similar campaign followed in the north, with the city of Hazor at the head of the Canaanite forces. At the "waters of Merom," a small lake a few miles north of the Sea of Galilee, a surprise attack by Joshua deprived his enemies of their advantage in horsemen and chariots on the level ground they had selected for battle, and resulted in the utter rout of the Canaanites and the general slaughter of every soul that did not escape by flight from the "devoted" towns.