27 Apr. Joshua 6:1-27

27 Apr. The Israelites capture and destroy Jericho

“The people of Jericho were afraid because the Israelites were near. They closed the city gates and guarded them. No one went into the city, and no one came out.”

“Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Look, I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its fighting men. March around the city with your army once a day for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets made from horns of rams and have them march in front of the Ark.’”

“'On the seventh day march around the city seven times and have the priests blow the trumpets as they march. They will make one long blast on the trumpets. When you hear that sound, have all the people give a loud shout. Then the walls of the city will fall so the people [the Israelite soldiers] can go straight into the city…’”

“When Joshua finished speaking to the people, the seven priests began marching before the LORD. They carried the seven trumpets and blew them as they marched. The priests carrying the Ark of the [Covenant] Agreement followed them. Soldiers with weapons marched in front of the priests, and armed men walked behind the Ark.”

“The priests were blowing their trumpets. But Joshua had told the people not to give a war cry… Early the next morning Joshua got up, and the priests carried the Ark of the LORD again… So on the second day they marched around the city once and then went back to camp. They did this every day for six days.”

“On the seventh day they got up at dawn and marched around the city, just as they had on the days before. But on that day they marched around the city seven times. The seventh time around the priests blew their trumpets. Then Joshua gave the command: ‘Now, shout! The LORD has given you this city! The city and everything in it are to be destroyed as an offering to the LORD.’”

“'Only Rahab the prostitute and everyone in her house should remain alive, because Rahab hid the two spies we sent out. Don’t take any of the things that are to be destroyed as an offering to the LORD. If you take them and bring them into our camp, you yourselves will be destroyed, and you will bring trouble to all of Israel. All the silver and gold and things made from bronze and iron belong to the LORD and must be saved for him.’”

“When the priests blew the trumpets, the people shouted. At the sound of the trumpets and the people’s shout, the walls fell, and everyone [who was armed] ran straight into the city. So the Israelites defeated that city. They completely destroyed with the sword every living thing in the city – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.”

“Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, ‘Go into the prostitute’s house… So the two men went into the house and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers and all those with her. They put all of her family in a safe place outside the camp of Israel.”

“Then Israel burned the whole city and everything in it, but they did not burn the things made from silver, gold, bronze and iron. These were saved for the LORD…”

“Then Joshua made this oath, ‘Anyone who tries to rebuild this city of Jericho will be cursed by the LORD. The one who lays the foundations of this city will lose his eldest son, and the one who sets up the gates will lose his youngest son.’ So the LORD was with Joshua, and Joshua became famous through all the land.”

          (Joshua 6:1-27)

 


 

Shortly after crossing the River Jordan in April c.1406 BC, the Israelites launched their attack on the Canaanite city of Jericho (see 2 on the map on 23 April).

The Israelites employed a good deal of psychological warfare over six days to frighten the inhabitants, but also to lull them into a false sense of security. All this time, Israeli sappers were probably digging tunnels to undermine the city walls, their actions concealed by the noise of the soldiers marching round the city - together with the Levites carrying the Ark of the Covenant and the priests blowing their trumpets (see Numbers 10:1-10).

On the seventh day (‘seven’ denoted ‘perfection’ or ‘perfect timing' to the Israelites), the Ark was carried round the city seven times while the priests blew their trumpets (and the sappers set fire to the wooden props holding up the roofs of the tunnels they’d dug under the city walls). In the resulting pandemonium, the walls fell down, Israelite soldiers rushed through the gaps into the city killing everyone they met, and Jericho was burnt to the ground.

Jericho (the ‘city of palm trees’) was already one of the oldest cities in the world. Remains of the earliest settlement at the base of the ancient ‘tell’ outside the modern city have been dated to around 8000BC. The city had been fought over many times, and a long-repeated pattern of conquest, abandonment and re-building has led to numerous settlements of different ages buried one under another on the mound that can be visited today (see the photo).

Jericho is situated on the floor of the Jordan Valley, some 880 feet / 270 metres below sea level. It has lush vegetation in an otherwise dry and arid area. It’s an oasis surrounded by desert, watered by a spring – the Ein es Sultan – that never runs dry.

Visitors can still see the remains of the ancient city of Jericho at Tel es-Sultan, the settlement mound just outside the modern city. This mound – which was excavated by Kathleen Kenyon in 1952 - is made up of the remains of many layers of civilisation resulting from the repeated destruction and re-settlement of the city over many centuries.

Kenyon found remains of a glacis (a slippery, sloping mound built at the foot of a city wall) and remains of the fallen city wall in the ditch at the foot of this glacis. These remains, and up to a metre of ash and debris, dating from the Late Bronze Age (around 1400BC) are now believed to have resulted from the razing of the city following the capture by the Israelites under Joshua.

The archaeology shows that the city was then abandoned for several centuries. The Bible agrees that Jericho was abandoned after its destruction by Joshua in c.1406BC, and later records that the city was rebuilt by Hiel of Bethel in c.850BC during the reign of King Ahab of Israel (see 1 Kings 16:34).

The photo (by Fullo88) shows the site of Ancient Jericho at Tell es-Sultan.

You can read more about the conquest of Jericho @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/27-the-israelites-move-into-canaan/the-israelites-conquer-southern-canaan/


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