After crossing the Jordan River, the Israelites began to conquer the land of Canaan. Jericho was the first city that Israel attacked. The city of Jericho, built thousands of years before Joshua was born, was one of the oldest cities in the world. In some places it had fortified walls up to 25 feet high and 20 feet thick. Soldiers standing guard on top of the walls could see for miles. Jericho was a symbol of military power and strength â€" the Canaanites considered it invincible. Jericho was completely shut up and no one went out and no one entered.
The Lord told Joshua that Jericho had already been delivered to him and was already defeated. Joshua went into battle with confidence because the Lord had told him that he would win if he was obedient to the Lordâ€™s instructions. The Lordâ€™s instructions for Joshua were to â€œmarch around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of ramsâ€™ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in â€œ (Joshua 6:3-5). This strange military maneuver was a test of the Israelitesâ€™ faith and their willingness to follow God completely. The blowing o the trumpets had a special significance. They had been instructed to blow the same trumpets used in the religious festivals in their battles to remind them that their victory would come from the Lord, not their own military might. The battle line was led by the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant and not by soldiers as another symbol that the Lord was in charge of their battles and their maneuvers.
For six days the priests led the march with the Ark of the Covenant and carrying the seven trumpets. The trumpets sounded one long blast while the army marched around the city but the soldiers, priests and everyone else were completely quiet. They made no sound at all. They did not even speak. They marched around the city once and then returned to camp.
On the seventh day they got up at daybreak and marched around the city in the same manner. The difference on this day is that they marched around the city seven times. On the seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, â€œShout! For the Lord has given you the city!â€ (Joshua 6:16-17). When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.
Everyone in the city was killed except for the prostitute Rahab and all who were with her in her house. Rahab was spared because she hid the spies that Joshuaâ€™s army sent into Jericho a few days before the battle. After the wall fell, Joshua sent the two spies to Rahabâ€™s house to get her. They brought back Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They set up her entire family in a place outside the camp of Israel. Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles o bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lordâ€™s house.
God allowed Jericho and everyone in it to be destroyed as a judgment against the wickedness of the Canaanites. Because of their evil practices and intense idolatry, the Canaanites were a stronghold of rebellion against God. If this stronghold was not destroyed it could have destroyed Israel. Godâ€™s purpose in all of this was to keep the peopleâ€™s faith and region uncontaminated.
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