In this chapter we see the hallmarks of a miracle – the prophecy, and the precise enactment in the stated time and manner. Not all things we think are wondrous are miracles; all true miracles follow the biblical pattern (as described in my book showing why the plagues on Egypt were true miracles). I urge readers to look at this event in real time, for it is a real event. Read it as a mere story and the sense of it will elude you.
Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
From the time the Israelites entered Canaan east of Jordan, the rest of Canaan was terrified, and rightly so, for they saw God at work. Thus, Jericho, a great territorial prize, was “straitly shut up”. Though the verb cagar means that Jericho had bolted its gates and the people hid behind the formidable walls, it also means to surrender. When a city locks itself up in this way it shows an inner spirit of surrender, a people waiting to be beaten; they were already defeated in their minds and hearts.
So, for a few weeks no-one entered the city, nor did any leave it, for fear of being killed. This was possible because the city had its own water source, a spring on its east side. Archaeological evidence seems to suggest the spring also ran under the walls to the exterior, so the spring that watered Jericho also helped to water the massive camp of Israel.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
God spoke to Joshua, advising him that Jericho would fall easily, along with its king and finest soldiers. Then came even more interesting instructions... and why should Joshua doubt them, when God had already proved Himself several times since the people entered Canaan?
It is of interest that we, as believers, have very short memories! We see or hear a miraculous dealing from God and yet, not long afterwards, we forget and continue to shrink back from enemies and situations as if God did not intervene. This has happened to me, too.
The defeat of Jericho was not in the hands of Joshua or Israel, though they were used by God to bring it about in the later stages. Each day for six days, Joshua would lead the Israelite soldiers (“men of war”), by walking them around the city once. They were to do this in silence. As a psychiatric nurse involved in many violent episodes caused by patients, I often thought the best tactic was to respond in total silence, this being more menacingly effective than shouting or any other kind of noise. (Yes, menacing... much needed against violent people).
It is not clear if the ark and priests accompanied the soldiers in this six-day activity; perhaps they did. But, on the seventh day seven priests with a ram’s horn (also called a trumpet; yowbel or shophar; these are currently coming back into use amongst modern Jewish priests) each, would proceed before the Ark. They would walk around the city seven times that day; though tiring, it was easily attainable.
When the priests had encompassed the city seven times they would stand still and one long blast was to be made on the showphar. At the same time all the people (who surrounded the city) would give a mighty shout. Have you ever heard the united shout of a crowd of several thousand? Imagine the sound of perhaps a million or more Israelites, plus the sound of showphar! It surely melted the hearts of the people within the city walls.
God told Joshua all this beforehand. He also said that when the people thus shouted, the wall (meaning the whole wall) would “fall down flat”. This is what archaeology has discovered... the inner wall fell down, slid downwards, and knocked into the lower outer wall, making a ramp, thus enabling the soldiers to climb up and over the defenses easily (“the people shall ascend up every man straight before him”).
The tribes were massed all around Jericho, so they were instructed to move upwards where they stood. In this way the defenders of the city were to see masses of people, led by soldiers, swarming over the walls and into every part of the city. This was a very short affair, as the city was not that large.
Note that all this was prophesied, so that when the actual event occurred, it could be termed a miracle.
And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD.
And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.
And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
Joshua complied with God’s command and called the priests carrying the ark and those with seven horns, giving them precise instructions. It seems the soldiers conducted the six day walks. Now, the entire people were to take part. This is the same for us today – to bring God’s wishes into effect He requires that the whole Church takes part, not just some. Because so few do so, we see very little of God’s actions, and even when we do, we misconstrue what they are!
First went the soldiers, all 40,000 of them; then the seven priests blowing the seven showphar (for all seven walks around the city on the seventh day), then came the priests carrying the ark, with a rear-guard, followed by the tribes. (The guards on the walls must have been terrified by the numbers and the sound). Note: there is a time and place for armed force, indicating a time of resistance to evil men. All of the above was yet to happen.
And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
The people walked in silence on the order of Joshua, only the showphar made a noise, blasting their way all around the city. The people were not even to talk to each other. But, when Joshua gave the command, they were all to shout loudly. This would clearly show the people that the eventual outcome was of God, not of themselves.
The marks of a miracle are very evident. In my own life I have evidenced a number of miraculous events, and each was proved by both the marks and the outcome. A true miracle does not just arise spontaneously – it is always preceded by the marks, which are in place to prove something is of God.
The first day, then, the priests carrying the ark, and the priests blowing the showphar, walked once around the city and returned to camp.
And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
Next morning Joshua got up early, as did the ark-carrying priests, no doubt with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Again, the seven priests with showphar walked in front of the ark blowing their instruments continually, led by the 40,000 soldiers. A rear-guard followed the ark. This group walked once around the city, again returning to camp, with only the seven showphar making any noise. This was repeated each day for six days, with the men walking once around the city.
Then came the final seventh day. (One of those days must have been the seventh day sabbath). Everyone arose at dawn, and the people walked around the city seven times that day, in silence. Only the showphar sounded. The great miracle was literally moments away...
And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.
When the seventh circuit was completed the people stood still, completely surrounding the city, and Joshua ordered them to shout loudly “For the Lord hath given you the city”. He added that from that time the city and its inhabitants would be cursed, except for Rahab and all who were found in her house.
The people and soldiers were warned not to be affected by those inside the walls, because otherwise they, too, would be cursed. The “accursed thing” was likely to be pagan idols, goods and cattle. If anything of that kind was taken, the entire nation would be cursed by God. In the same way God warns us that the nation that allows a murderer to live will be cursed... as we see today. Not only are pagan Islamic murderers allowed to live, but so is their pagan religion – we are truly cursed by this refusal to act against them.
Any booty, such as gold, silver, brass and iron, were to be collected and handed over to the priestly Levites, who would consecrate them to God, and place them into the treasury of the Tabernacle.
So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
And so it was – when the showphar were blown, all the people shouted. I live several miles from our city stadium, but when there is an home goal, we can hear the united shout from our home! I cannot even imagine what the sound would be like if a million or maybe more people shouted at the same time! Immediately the walls fell down and everyone surged forward to take the city; the falling walls killed thousands even before the people stormed over the rubble. When we obey God, and follow His commands precisely, He will do a work that is above all natural possibilities.
The victory was completed very quickly, as the people climbed over the rubble and destroyed everything, all the people from young to old, and the animals. Nothing was allowed to live, for the whole place was a city of pagan evil. What does this tell us about allowing Islam into the West? And other paganisms, including Catholicism?
The two men who were saved by Rahab were ordered to enter her house (which must have survived the falling of the walls for this purpose) to bring her and her family out safely, as carnage took place all around. The family was protected and taken to stay just outside the camp. (Because though promised their lives they were not God’s chosen people).
And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.
When the destruction of lives was finished the city was set on fire (confirmed by archaeology) so everything was burned to ashes. When God condemns, He does so perfectly and fully, and when He saves His people He does so fully and with power. Only the items for the treasury were saved. Rahab and her family were later honoured and allowed to live amongst the Israelites. Did she become a believer in the God of Israel? Probably. But, she was initially kept outside the camp to reflect on her position and wrong beliefs. Thus, she was a gentile given refuge by God.
Joshua later warned every Israelite throughout the whole Middle East, not to rebuild Jericho – they would be just as cursed as the city, which was testimony to the wickedness of disobeying the Lord. Note that God has no compassion on the wicked, or those who utter prayers to pagan false gods! Neither should we have compassion, but must demand their subjection to the Lord.
If anyone was to rebuild Jericho, his first son would die. And if he continued to rebuild, his youngest son would die. And so Joshua established his authority as leader, and proclaimed the power and purposes of Almighty God. This sent great fear throughout the land, and even the wicked revered Joshua.
We must ask ourselves – do we show God in our lives? Many claim it, but where is the proof? Those preachers and pastors so loved by their people – are they REALLY of God? If so, where are the proofs?
© July 2017