<< Joshua 6: The Taking of Jericho >>
THE children of Israel were still in the broad meadows of the Jordan, but they had crossed the river into the promised land and were camping at Gilgal. The first city of the land which they were to take was Jericho. Nowadays the name Jericho is given to a poor little village of huts out in the plain towards Gilgal. In the Gospel days Jericho was a city standing back in the edge of the plain just where the brook Kelt and the road from Jerusalem come out from the hills. But the old Jericho of the time of Joshua was a mile further north. The line spring called Elisha's fountain is still there, coming out. from the foot of a hill which is formed in part, by the ruins of the old city. From this hill of ruins you look out over the broad plain; and behind it is a stern weather beaten cliff with caves in which hermits live. The mountain is called Karantel (from the Latin quadraginta, forty) in memory of the Lord's forty- days in the wilderness.
The name Jericho means the "fragrant place." There were fine gardens and orchards there when the rich sunny plain was carefully watered and tended. It was called "the city of palm trees.'' The city had a wall about it and strong gates, as was usual in the old time. Many Eastern cities still have such walls, and gates that are shut at night. The gates of Jericho were now kept shut for fear of the Israelites.
The story tells us how Jericho was taken. It was not the people's own power that threw down the walls, but the power of the Lord in the commandments and the ark, the same power which had divided the Jordan for the people to pass over.
We shall read that the children of Israel destroyed the people and even the cattle and sheep of Jericho and of some other towns which they took. It shows the evil state of the children of Israel, that they were allowed to do such things, and that they could not in any gentler way be kept from falling into the wicked ways of the people of the land. You see another reason for the commands to destroy, and to save nothing from a conquered city, when you know that these enemies picture the wrong things in ourselves, which with the Lord's help we ought to overcome not partly but entirely.
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. 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. 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. 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.
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 reward 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. 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. 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.---Joshua V. 13-15; VI. 1-21.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904