If this sounds harsh to you—and just so unlike the loving God you serve—remember that while the Hebrews might not have necessarily been violent by nature, they had been led by one baby boy who’d escaped the brutal killing of all Hebrew boys when their predecessors were slaves in Egypt. That one ... that one who got away … hidden in the reeds of the Nile by his sister and raised in the palace by Pharaoh’s daughter… returned forty years after his flight from Egypt, only to orchestrate the release of all his kin and then to lead a homeless people for the next four decades toward the promise of freedom and land.

He was only one but, with God, he was a powerful one.

Rahab was only one, too. Because of her actions, she saved the lives of her family and “all who belonged to her” (6:25). And, we know that she went on to marry a Hebrew man named Salmon, gave birth to a son named Boaz, who married a girl named Ruth, who had a son named Obed, who had a grandson named David, who became a great king and ancestor of the Great King, Jesus (ironically, named Yeshua, or Joshua).

You

Look again at the paragraph of verses in Joshua 6. After ordering that Rahab and her family be saved, Joshua states, “But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.” (6:18)

In the South, where I grew up, we have a way of speaking to “you.” If we say, “all y’all” we mean “every one of all of you who happen to be here or to whom we are speaking of.” If we say “y’all” we mean “just you.”

“Why don’t all y’all come over to my house for snacks?” means everyone within earshot and perhaps even a few people you might pick up along the way. (Southerners are known for their hospitality!)

“Why don’t y’all come over to my house for snacks?” means the person speaking is asking the person being spoken to, to come over for snacks.

Pretty easy to understand, no?

When Joshua was speaking to the Hebrew warriors—those fighting men—he was not speaking to the group as a whole, he was speaking to each man individually. Each man was to guard himself from the temptation of taking anything of value from the city.

These words aptly apply to us today. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says, "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." Ephesians 5:11 says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. And, 1 John 5:21 says, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”