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Israel's determined obedience to God produced the successes that the previous generation forfeited because of disobedience. Some of the people experienced the full 40 years of punishment in the wilderness wandering. The evidence accumulated to show that the repeated disobediences and complaining by their ancestors was totally unacceptable behavior to God. The rebellious adults who left Egypt perished in the wilderness.
The farewell address of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy also had a strong effect. Moses' death took place a short time before the book of Joshua begins. In his speeches, Moses vividly contrasted the results for obedience and disobedience, not only for that generation, but also in the future (see Deuteronomy 27 and 28). Over 200 times Moses used the imperatives hear, do, obey, keep.
The second generation-that is, the one that followed Joshua's leadership-did well in listening and learning. Many good things happened as a result. The people pledged to obey Joshua. They accepted the news from the two spies sent to Jericho that the inhabitants of Canaan were terrified. The conquest of Jericho was completely successful. Simple obedience to God's unusual battle plans produced a stunning victory. This was the first of three cities in Canaan that the book of Joshua says were burned. The others were Ai (Joshua 8:18, 19) and Hazor (11:11).
From all outward appearances, the conquest of Canaan was going extremely well. But during the assault on Jericho, a deliberate, disobedient, defiant sin entered Israel. What would be the consequences for the nation of Israel, and what could be done about it to make things right again?