The Destruction of Jericho
From Joshua 6:1–21 (NLT):
1 Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. 2 But the LORD said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. 3 You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. 4 Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. 5 When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” …
15 On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. 16 The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the town! 17 Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.
18 “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. 19 Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the LORD and must be brought into his treasury.”
20 When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. 21 They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys.
Four hundred years before these events, God had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham. But he didn’t give it to them right away. He waited for the iniquities of the Canaanites to be complete. The fertility cults of the peoples of Canaan were the most depraved in the Mideast. They engaged in cult prostitution, idol worship, and the sacrifice of children by fire. God detested these practices. Since God sits outside of time—remember, he created time—he can see the future before it happens. So he waited and made the Israelites wait, giving the Canaanites every chance to reform, until the evil that was in their hearts reached a peak.
Then God sent the Israelites to the land under the leadership of Joshua. Yes, Joshua killed the Canaanite men, women, and children. But whenever Joshua offered them a way out, they refused to take it. These were not innocent people. They practiced the worst kind of depravity. And God had promised the land of Palestine to the Israelites. God’s goal was that through the Israelites, all the people of the world would be saved (Gen. 12:1-3).
It’s easy for us to sit back and judge. But who are we to judge the actions of a perfectly good, perfectly holy God? We cannot see the whole picture from beginning to end. Or the final result. In any event, the destruction of Jericho was a miracle. And archaeological evidence at the Jericho site points to its destruction as a fact. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it.
Next time we’ll look at a miracle of Jesus.