Joshua 6: The Battle of Jericho
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Joshua 6: The Battle of Jericho

Original Publication Date
July 12, 2016
Updated
May 20, 2023 2:52 PM
Tags
JoshuaChapter StudyJerichoEgyptRahabNimrod
Bible References
Joshua 6
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Done
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This page is under construction
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on June 12, 2016 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

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.

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—the most powerful nation at the time—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.

Instructions

The Israelites were supposed to march around the city for six days; once per day. On the seventh day, they were to go around the city seven times; this time when the trumpets blew, the people were to shout and this would cause the wall to fall. During each march around the city, seven priest carrying ram's horn trumpets were to go before the ark. Today these horns are called a shofar.[2]

Within these instruction is a repeat of the symbolic nature of the number seven: seven priests, seven horns, seven days, seven times. 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]

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.

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Also, imagine beginning inside the city and seeing a group of people silently encircle your city. It seems more intimidating than people laughing, chatting, or otherwise engaged in conversation.

Each day, the Israelites circled the city once, but on the seventh day, they circled the city seven times. Thus, in total, the Israelites marched around the city thirteen times. On the seventh day, during the seventh march, the priests blew the trumpets for the people to shout as instructed. 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.

Plundering

Joshua describes an "accursed" thing that the people are not to touch, though 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.

The Wall Falls

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" that is 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 displeased 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.

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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 it

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.

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.

It was during his time that Hi’el of Beit-El rebuilt Yericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of his firstborn son Aviram and erected its gates at the cost of his youngest son S’guv. This was in keeping with the word of Adonai spoken through Y’hoshua the son of Nun. 📚1 Kings 16:34 CJB

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.

References and Footnotes

  1. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 370-372. 2014
  2. “Shofar”. Encyclopedia Britannica. July 30, 2020; visited May 2023

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