So now, all the preliminary stuff is out of the way. It’s as if Joshua and his men all now turn their sights toward Jericho.
And what do they find? Chapter 6, verse 1.
[6:1 ¶ Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.]
You better believe it was shut. These people were afraid. But isn’t it incredible that no one besides Rahab had turned from their sin and asked for mercy from Israel’s God?… Not really, folks. A criminal can fear the appearance of the police and yet he’ll still flee to an old abandoned house and hold a days-long shoot out with the authorities before he’s subdued. It’s not unusual that hardened sinners fear — and yet at the same time vainly try to flee — God’s judgement.
So everyone in Jericho is frightened. What happens next? The Lord actually has a word for Joshua in verses 2 through 5.
2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4 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. 5 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.
So that’s the plan. The men of war were going to travel around the city one time for six days with 7 priests with rams’ horns leading the way before the Ark of the Covenant. The 7th day they would go around the city not once, but 7 times, blowing the trumpets. When the priests blew the horns with a long blast then the people would shout and the wall will fall down flat so that everyone can go straight up into the city.
Next, Joshua gives the command and the people begin their first day of circling around Jericho. Let’s read verses 6 through 11.
[6 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.
7 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.
8 ¶ 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. 9 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. 10 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. 11 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.]
Did Jericho have any watchmen on its walls? If so this is what they would have experienced. A number of men brandishing weapons to lead this group. Then priests in their special holy garments blowing trumpets – those eerie sounding shofars. [Show ram horn] Then some other priests in their garments carry what would have looked to the people of Jericho to be a golden box – perhaps with angels on top of it. Then there were the rest of the men of war following that group. And to both those who may have been on the wall and to those who were huddled inside the city terrified of what was to come – no one heard a sound from the individuals in this group – except of course the constant sound of the rams’ horns. The rest of Israel silently made their way around the city and back into the camp at Gilgal.
The sound of those trumpets would have fallen on the ears of the people of Jericho with two different reactions. To almost every inhabitant in that city the trumpets would have been the sound of impending doom. Except one family heard those trumpets a little differently. To Rahab and her family, those trumpets were the sound of deliverance.
So, that was the first day. Verses 12 through 14 tell us what happened the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th days.
[12 ¶ And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 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. 14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.]
And now the 7th day – let’s read verses 15 through 21.
[15 ¶ 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 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. 19 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.
20 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. 21 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.]
The people go around Jericho 7 times. On the 7th time the priests blow the trumpets. When the priests blow those trumpets, the people shout. And the captain of the Lord’s host knocks down that wall. Well, the text doesn’t say that. But really, 7 horns and the voices of even 500,000 men can’t knock down a wall. Believe me. NPR did a special on this. There was no human way this wall was going to come down. This book, by the way, is not a manual for military commanders. If any such a person tried this naturally, he would fail. This was a work of God. And whether the captain of the Lord’s host was behind it or whether God used others means, God was the one responsible for knocking down this wall.
Now, the wall – which must have been mighty thick – fell down flat. Did it fall inward? Outward? However it fell, it fell down flat in such a way that the people could go up straight into the city. I imagine that’s as opposed to the wall falling and forming a bunch of rubble so that the men had to gingerly maneuver through the fallen stones… And when they did go up they killed everyone. Women? Yes. The elderly? Yes. Children? Yes. Why!? Because God told them to. God was using Israel as a judgement on these wicked nations. These nations were so bad that these children that we’re so concerned about – a number of them would have been sacrificed to their demon idols. And those who lived would grow up to emulate their fathers. They would all worship idols. God didn’t want that. He gave them time to repent. He really did. As my family is reading through Genesis we just came across this statement from God to Abraham to the effect that Abraham’s descendants needed to stay out of the land for hundreds of years because God was giving the Amorites time to fill up their iniquity. God was being very patient with the Amorites – 1 of these 7 wicked nations. He wouldn’t destroy them for another 500 years or so from Abraham’s time! Some of us in this room wouldn’t countenance rebellion against us for 500 seconds! God took it for 500 years.
And don’t forget Rahab! Rahab believed God and hid the two spies when they came. And what was her reward from this faithful, patient God? Read verses 22 through 25.
[22 ¶ 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. 23 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. 24 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. 25 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.]
Wow. Imagine being Rahab and her family. The Israelites are destroying the only city you’ve ever known right before your eyes. They’re killing all the people you’ve grown-up with. And you alone and your family are being securely transported by these very same Israelites to a place of safety. They’re placed outside the camp. This was perhaps so that they could be purified. But eventually at least Rahab entered the camp and she was there until the time of the writing of this book. Why? Not because she was any less wicked than the rest of her peers. But because she received God’s messengers in peace.
How was it that Rahab was kept safe in her house? Wasn’t her house on the wall? Yes, it was. Perhaps the part of the wall on which her house existed didn’t collapse. Maybe only one side of the wall fell. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for Israel to destroy all the people – they were trapped with only one way in. Whatever the case, the Lord preserved Rahab’s physical house so that she could be retrieved from there in safety.
We’re near the end of the conquest of Jericho – notice I say conquest, not battle. I didn’t read about a battle here. Right? I didn’t notice the people of Jericho fighting at all. God did the heavy lifting, so to speak. But after this conquest, Joshua has some words. Let’s read verses 26 and 27.
[26 ¶ 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.
27 ¶ So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.]
Joshua issues a curse on the one who would rebuild Jericho. This curse actually comes to pass later in the history of Israel in the book of Kings. Maybe we’ll get to that some time.
And finally the story ends with the statement of something that is by now quite obvious. God was with Joshua. He parted the Jordan River before him. God caused the wall of Jericho to fall before him. Nothing could stand in his way.
And as long as Israel kept doing what they were supposed to do, this would keep happening. Unfortunately, we see that not everyone was on board with God’s plan through Joshua. The text here says that everything was destroyed and that certain things were put into the Lord’s treasury. Well, almost everything. Everything except for what Achan stole. And, as I say each week, we’ll hear about that… next time.