WHEN Joshua in the days of old
Stood forth upon old Jordan’s bank,
And past the flood that backward rolled
His host came dryshod, rank on rank;
The warrior angel of the Lord,
A glorious shining creature, bared
Before him there a flaming sword,
And thus the mind of God declared—
“Lo, I am with you! Here shall dwell
My chosen people; here I plant thee, Israel!”
The walls of Jericho are strong,
And ribbed throughout with many a tower,
And yet her monarch’s armed throng
Stand trembling round his throne of power;
For circling still those walls about,
Behold the Ark of God is borne!
Blow, trumphets, blow! Shout, Israel, shout!
’Tis done, and from the earth uptorn
At once they scatter and disform
Like the grey, cloud-built bastions of a bursting storm.
Five kings at Gibeon are met,
Five mighty kings of ancient name,
And they are boasting they will set
A blood-red bound to Joshua’s fame.
But the sun stands fast on Gibeon’s hill,
And the moon is fixed o’er Ajalon,
That Israel’s host in vengeance still
Floodlike may spread God’s victory on!
And where are now those kings? Yon cave
Hides them in vain, or hides them only as their grave.
Thus Israel, in the days of old
Led by that prophet of the Lord,
Like a devouring tempest rolled
Destructive o’er each race abhorred;
And all their war, how little worth
To work ’gainst that prevailing sword
In Israel’s front far flaming forth,
For what are numbers to the Lord?
That multitudinous array
Broke, melting as it rolled like morning mist away.