Joshua 6: The Battle of Jericho

The famous battle of Jericho is discussed.

Introduction

Most people know about the battle of Jericho by heart, there's even a song about the great battle. Chapter 6 recaps this famous event.
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Atmosphere

Rahab had already informed the spies that the people of the city were fearful of the Israelites. The miracle God performed at the Jordan only added to that fear. The people of Jericho knew something big was coming, but instead of surrendering to God, they locked themselves inside their city. Just as Nimrod was overly confident in his tower, the people of Jericho were strangely confident in their walls. If they were only worried about the men in the army, it would make sense that they believed the wall would protect them. However, we have confirmation from Rahab that the men of Jericho knew that God was with Israel (or at least it was a rumor that sparked fear amongst them). This means even after hearing of God's miracles on behalf of Israel, they still doubted God would best them. Imagine the arrogance; Egypt fell to God's Will, so what made Jericho believe they would stand? This sounds a lot like people today, but we know that if you try to stand against God you will eventually fall.
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Instructions

The Israelites were supposed to march around the city for 6 day; once per day. Seven priest carrying ram's horn trumpets were to go before the ark. When the trumpets sounded, the people were to shout; this would cause the wall to fall.

Within these instruction is a repeat of the symbolic nature of the number 7: seven priests, seven horns, and seven days. We also have 3 items of deeper symbolism. The ark symbolized God's presence. The sounds of the horns trumpeting symbolized the call to war. Finally, the shout of the people symbolizes their victory.[1]
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Carrying Out Orders

When Joshua passes these orders on the Israelites, he also tells them they are not to speak before the loud shout. Perhaps this was to preserve their vocal cords in preparation for the loud shout. Nonetheless, silence for 6 days would definitely motivate a person to give the loudest shout he could! In addition to prepping them for this loud shout, they could not be distracted from the task at hand if they couldn't participate in idle conversations.

Each day, the Israelites circled the city once, but on the 7th day, they circled the city seven times. Thus, in total, the Israelites marched around the city 13 times. On the 7th day, during the 7th march, the priests blew the trumpets for the people to shout. Joshua reminds them that Rahab's family is to be spared for her kindness to the spies and proceeds with instructions on how to proceed after the siege begins.
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Plundering

Joshua describes an "accursed" thing that the people are not to touch. They were permitted to take metals such as silver, gold, iron, and brass to be added to the treasury of Lord. This was to caution away idolatry, by keeping such items in a holy space that was inaccessible. Accursed things may have described idols, but it may be a reference to items that spark covetousness (as we will see in Joshua 7). Items of wood could be burned, whereas items of metal could not. Thus the metal items were placed in the Lord's keeping to avoid the temptation of worship or greed that may have abounded from keeping such items in one's own home.
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The Wall Falls

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Niels Timmer
When the people raised their voices and let out the loud shout, the wall of Jericho fell flat! Each man could run straight before him to siege the city. Depending on the size of the city, the Israelites may have completely surrounded the city, giving them complete coverage and barring the people of Jericho from fleeing. This seems like it could be a likely reason why God ordered them to march around the city, at least from a strategic point of view.

When the Israelites rushed city they killed everyone and all the livestock. Sources infer from Joshua 6:2 that the people of Jericho were not simply civilians, but military personnel. The "king thereof" mentioned identifies general of sorts and the "mighty men of valour" likely identifies soldiers.[1] The women in the city were not soldiers, however, and we know there were women because Rahab was there. I think the explanation of military personnel is merely an attempt to justify in ones mind why the entire city was leveled and all the citizens killed. However, it is evident from God's instructions during the Books of Law that He was pleased with the nations of Canaan and wanted them destroyed. God tells us that they were idolatrous, but we are not privy to every detail like God is. From a human perspective it seems to be unjust, however, we must remember that God's judgment is based on all the facts.
Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find itEcclesiastes 8:17 KJV
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Rahab Spared

The 2 spies were sent to Rahab's home to bring her and her family out of the city. We are told that they saved Rahab, her father, mother, and brethren. She was given a place outside Israel's camp.
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Jericho Destroyed

The Israelites burn the city, as instructed, leaving only the metals (which couldn't be burned with fire) that were to go to the Lord's treasury. They also saved Rahab's possessions and Rahab was made a member of Israel. Joshua speaks a curse that anyone who rebuilt Jericho would lose their firstborn and youngest son. This curse is fulfilled in 1 Kings 16:34.
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Immortalized in Song

"Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" is a "Negro Spiritual" written by slaves and recapping the events of the battle. Though not the most popular song sung at my childhood church, I remember this song quite well. Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson's version of the song can be heard using the Spotify player and the lyrics can be found here.

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References

  1. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 370-372. 2014

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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