Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It can go wrong in a hurry

In my last post, I talked about carrying baggage in war. If ya didn't read it, you should, but to sum up: it's a bad idea. 
Now, there IS a way to take loot that's not gonna slow the troops down, and that way requires that the troops trust the leaders. Instead of each individual trooper grabbing whatever was valuable, if everybody agrees that the really valuable items (in the case of Jericho, that would be gold and silver  and bronze and iron ) will all be collected for the common good, then nobody gets distracted when it's clobberin' time, and everybody knows that the good stuff is cared for until it's distribution time. And that's the arrangement we find at Jericho. All it requires is trust.
And it didn't work, because there was this one guy who didn't trust the leadership. His name was Achan, which translates as "I'm gonna really mess things up for my buddies because I'm selfish and don't trust Joshua to take care of me" (variant reading...). And Achan took some stuff, and  I'll talk about the significance of what he took later.
So: it's after Jericho. With God's help, the walls came a tumblin' down, and Joshua's army (between 20 and forty thousand fighters, depending on how many troops are in an eleph ) stomp Jericho and burn it.  And Joshua sends some troops to check out Ai, and they come back and say: It's too small to take everybody. Just send a few thousand to take it.
And here, it becomes speculation on my part, but it's speculation based on experience. 
What's going through the minds of those three thousand who went to Ai? Don't know; but I do know what would be going through the minds of any groups of people I've ever had contact with under similar circumstances" "Why do WE always get stuck with the dirty work? "
Maybe the three thousand picked to go to Ai were the three thousand who had distinguished themselves in some way in Jericho. In that case: "Oh, so this is our reward for doing well? We get picked to fight again? All those other guys, they didn't do squat in Jericho, we were the ones who stomped it flat, and so now instead of making THEM do the work, they get to sit back and eat pickled herring while we sweat and bleed. "
Maybe the three thousand were the malcontents. Maybe Joshua said to sub-commanders, hey, each one of you give me about a hundred men to go form a new unit to go do some fighting. And each one of the sub commanders told their sub-sub commanders, and so forth, until it got down to squad level, and then who is the squad leader gonna pick? His best fighter? Nope. He's gonna pick the odds and sods, guys who fall over their feet, guys he's happy to get rid of. In which case: "That crummy sergeant has it in for me. He's always picking on me, and now he's trying to get me killed. Well, somebody's gonna get killed, but it ain't gonna be ME!"
Okay, there's no way of KNOWING what was going through the minds of the three thousand, because the Bible is silent on the issue, but we DO know what happened to them. And from knowing what happened we can make a GUESS, just a GUESS (!) about their morale:
"There's nothing in it for me. Even if I bust my hump to whack this little town, there's nothing in it worth having, and what IS there is going into the common pot, so it doesn't make any difference what I do. And meanwhile, all those guys sitting back at the tents are eating pizza, and they are going to get the same cut as I am, so I'm gonna hang back, just a bit."
Look, it's just a guess, okay?
But whatever was going through their minds before the attack, it's pretty clear what went through their minds after the attack: RUN AWAY!!!!!
And this we know because the men of Ai killed 36 of them on the spot, and even though that was only a little more than one out of a hundred, the rest ran. And people who know a lot more about battles than I do say you always lose more troops in a rout than you do in an actual battle. Troops who have been routed throw down heavy things, like swords and spears and shields and helmets, and run. And they make easy targets for the pursuers, because they aren't even trying to defend themselves; they are just trying to get away. If you are running in panic, you don't look where you put your feet, so you trip on stuff, and fall down, and then get a spear in your guts. If you are running in panic, you don't look around to see what's happening back there because you are too terrified, so you don't zig-zag, so the spears and arrows and rocks hit you. If you are running in panic, and there is a cliff in front of you, you don't see it until you are doing the Wiley Coyote.
Okay, that's the history part, it's all in Joshua 7.
Now, am I supposed to tell you about the modernspiritual applications, or are you supposed to figure it out on your own?

Feasting on locusts and wild honey,


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