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.
Reflection by Darlene Wagner
For those of us embracing the peace-loving faith found in the non-worldly Christ, the sacking of Jericho appears brutal. The Hebrews war on the native peoples of Canaan hardly seems an appropriate time for setting aside “devoted things” to their God. This is another case in which the ancient Jewish people were struggling to find themselves in the moral sense; they were developing their guiding virtues: generosity, non-attachment, and giving back. The Hebrews were ordered to abandon to their God these “devoted things”, or plundered treasures. On many other occasions, the Hebrews were commanded to leave a portion of any hard-earned goods for less-fortunate people or for the natural world. To the Hebrews and other ancient peoples, setting aside part of a harvest, of wages, or of winnings was a form of worship and prayer. My prayer that follows shows how food, incense, or other good things can be offered as part of a prayer for the modern believer:
I raise my voice in praise to you Lord Christ;
To mark your birth, your deeds, your words, I offer bread.
Remembering your hardships, wounds, and pain, I pour this wine.
To celebrate your resurrection and your coming reign, I light this incense.
All praise and thanks to you, Priest-Prophet-King, O tireless Right Hand