Jericho walls collapse
Lockdown1Jericho city was in lockdown because of the Israelite threat. No one could go in or out.
Jericho walk2The LORD told Joshua, “I’m giving you Jericho, with her king and all her warriors. 3Order your fighting men to walk around the city. Do it once a day for six days. 4Put seven priests at the front of the line, walking in front of the Box of the Law and blowing ram’s horns. On the seventh day, order these priests and warriors to walk around Jericho seven times, while the priests blow their horns. 5When they’ve done that, order the priests to blow one long blast into the ram’s horns. That’s the cue for all the people to shout. When they do, the city walls will collapse. Then your warriors, who already have the city surrounded, will be able to charge in from all sides.” 6Joshua, Nun’s son, called for the priests. He said, “Get the Box of the Law ready to go. We’ll have seven priests walk in front of it. They’ll each be blowing a ram’s horn.”
Go Time7Joshua told the army, “It’s Go Time. March all the way around the city. Put a guard detail on priests carrying the Box of the Law.” 8After Joshua gave those orders, the people did what he said. Seven priests led the way. They each carried a ram’s horn, which they blew as they walked. Other priests followed them, carrying the Box of the Law. 9A guard detail of front-line fighters marched in front of the priests. The rest of the army followed behind the Box of the Law and the priests who blew their horns throughout the march. 10Joshua ordered everyone to keep quiet. “While you’re walking, don’t shout, don’t say a word, don’t make a sound. Wait until I say, ‘Shout!’ Then shout.”
Day One of seven11Priests carried the Box of the Law all the way around Jericho, accompanied by Israel’s army. Then they walked back to the camp. 12Joshua woke early the next morning. Israel’s priests picked up the LORD’s Box of the Law and headed to Jericho. 13Front-line troops walked in front, followed by seven priests blowing ram’s horns. Walking behind them, other priests carried the Box. Most of Israel’s army followed behind. 14They walked around the city once and went back to camp. That was Day Two. They did this for six days in a row.
15On Day Seven, they woke at dawn and walked around the city seven times. That’s the only day they walked around Jericho more than once. 16Priests blew their trumpets and Joshua gave the order. “Shout because the LORD has already given you the city. 17It’s the LORD’s city. So, we’re giving him everything in it. We’re dedicating it all to him. So, destroy everything except the prostitute Rahab and the people in her house. She hid our spies. 18Don’t take anything in the city. Everything in there is dedicated to the LORD. If you take something you’re supposed to destroy, you’ll end up dead yourself. And you’ll put the entire camp at risk, too. 19All the silver and gold in the city belongs to the LORD. So does anything of bronze and iron. Bring it to the LORD’s treasury.”
Israel shouts down the walls20Priests blew the ram’s horns. When the people heard that signal, they shouted a massive roar. The walls fell flat. Israel’s army went inside and took the city. 21They annihilated it. They slaughtered everything that drew a breath: men and women, children and elderly, along with livestock—cattle, sheep, and donkeys. 22Joshua called for the two spies he had sent into Canaan. He told them, “Do what you promised the prostitute. Go to her house. Bring her safely out of there, along with everyone who’s with her.”
Spies save Rahab the prostitute23So, the two young men went to Rahab’s house. They brought her out, along with all her relatives. That included her mom and dad and her brothers. The spies took them to safety but kept them outside Israel’s camp. 24Israel torched the city of Jericho and everything inside it. All that survived was the silver, gold, bronze, and iron. Those became the property of the LORD’s treasury, kept in the tent worship center.
25Joshua let Rahab and her family keep what belonged to them, because she hid Israel’s spies in her house. They lived among the Israelites, and still do today. 26Joshua put a curse on the city, jinxing anyone who dared to rebuild it. “May any man who rebuilds this city of Jericho doom his own children. May his oldest son die when the foundation is built. And may his youngest die by the time they hang the city gates.” 27The LORD made it clear he was with Joshua. Joshua’s fame spread throughout the territory.
There was no Jericho when Joshua lived, most archaeologists say—with a few exceptions. Jericho was a 150-year-old ghost town when Israelites reportedly arrived. Nomads attracted to the many springs in this oasis town, settled there around 10,000 BC. Most archaeologists seem to agree that the city walls fell in about 1550 BC, a century or more before Joshua is thought to have arrived. Most archaeologists say the city wasn’t rebuilt until the time of Israel’s kings, several centuries later. Ruins of the walls suggest they fell outward. That would have provided ramps into the city, which attackers could use like a bumpy sidewalk. Dissenting scholars say other scholars are misdating some of the artifacts among the ruins. These minority scholars date some of the pottery to the 1400s BC, when Israelites reportedly invaded the region. Regardless of the debate about timing, the walls crumbled, the city had been torched, and springtime grain was found untouched. Most invaders would not have left food like that. But the Israelites had to leave it because everything in the city belonged to God. They gave it to him in the way they gave any other offering. They killed the offering and burned it. The smoke rose to God as a pleasing scent of devotion (Exodus 29:18). Today, all that remains of Old Testament Jericho is a speed bump on the Jericho plains. It’s a dirt-covered mound called Tell es-Sultan, Arabic for “Hill of the Sultan.” The mound is over three football fields long and one and a half wide: about 350 by 150 yards or 320 by 137 meters. Archaeologists have shoveled through enough layers to designate Jericho the world’s oldest known city.
Also known as the Ark of the Covenant, a gold-plated box that held the Ten Commandments. It represented the presence of God among the Israelites, traveling with them and, in this case, ahead of them, in a line of marching warriors preparing to take down the city of Jericho.
Some wonder if there’s a natural explanation for the Jericho’s walls falling. One theory is that aftershocks from the possible quake that temporarily dammed the Jordan River several weeks earlier (see notes for 3:13) eventually finished the job of dropping Jericho’s walls. So, if it had been a miracle, it was a miracle of timing. But some say a theory like this diminishes the work of God. Others say if God created the world, he could use the laws of nature to accomplish his goals. He doesn’t have to sidestep nature to prove it’s him. Ruins of Jericho reveal that the city had double walls. The city sat on a mound of dirt built up from previous cities constructed and then destroyed by invaders. A retaining wall held the mound of dirt in place. The city’s outside wall rested on top of that retaining wall. An interior wall doubled the protection, unless it was the inside wall that fell outward, taking the outside wall with it.
The law of Moses demanded Israelites to kill them all. “When the LORD your God gives them to you, you’ll need to finish them off. After you defeat them in battle, wipe them out by killing them all. Don’t make any peace treaty with them. Don’t show them mercy” (Deuteronomy 7:2). Also: “They promised the LORD, ‘If you will let us defeat those people, we will annihilate all Canaanites and decimate their cities” (Numbers 21:2). The Hebrew word for “annihilate” is herem. Scholars describe it as a “curse of war” or a “ban.” The “ban” means that when soldiers conquer a city, for example, they are banned from keeping anything for themselves—everything in the city is under the curse of war and must die. Joshua fought by those rules. Many Christians today struggle with this order, which they say sounds like genocide. Others say if God ordered the people killed, it’s not our place to question it. Yet many seem to doubt that God did. They say an order like this in no way resembles the God we see in Jesus of the New Testament.
More literally, the LORD’s house, a sacred tent sometimes known as the Tabernacle. Only Moses and priests were allowed inside.
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