Taking Down the Walls of Jericho (Joshua 5–6)
What had just happened at the Jordan River crossing wasn';t good news for a lot of the kings west of the river and in Canaan. In fact, it was such bad news, that many of them were paralyzed with fear (Joshua 5:1).
But God was about to do even greater things among the people of Israel. After taking the time to re-establish among the people some of the covenant ceremonies, God made the final preparations in the hearts of the people for them to take the land — starting with the city of Jericho.
The people who lived in the walled city of Jericho were terrified of the people of Israel, and all the gates of the city were tightly shut with no one allowed to come in or go out (Joshua 6:1). But walls and gates meant nothing, because God had told Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors” (Joshua 6:2). In this passage of Scripture, it';s not the fact that God continued to remind Joshua of His previous promises but the way He kept the promise about the fall of Jericho that grabs the reader';s attention.
God didn';t tell Joshua and his fighting men to just go in and clean up, but instead instructed them to march around Jericho once a day for six days. Seven priests, each carrying with him a ram';s horn, were to walk ahead of the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day they were to march around the town seven times with the priests blowing the ram';s horns. When the priests gave out a long blast on their horns, all the people were to shout as loudly as they could and the walls of Jericho would collapse, allowing the Israelites to charge straight into town (Joshua 6:3–5).
The people of Israel were instructed specifically to not take anything from the city of Jericho except for the silver, gold, bronze, and iron — all of which were sacred to God and to be brought into the treasury (Joshua 6:18–19). The consequences of doing otherwise would bring trouble on the camp of Israel.
Again, Joshua didn';t question God or try to provide what he thought of as a better plan. Instead, he did exactly as he was told and instructed the people precisely what God had told them to do. On the seventh day, the people of Israel got up at dawn and marched around the city as they had been doing all that week — except this time they went around it seven times. On that seventh lap, the priests sounded a long blast on their horns, the people gave out a shout, and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Every living thing in the city — human and nonhuman alike — was destroyed. Only Rahab the prostitute and her family were spared, as Joshua told them to go to her house and bring her out so that she and her loved ones would live. From then on, she lived with the Israelites (Joshua 6:22–25).
With the destruction of Jericho complete, Joshua invoked a curse on anyone who tried to rebuild the city (Joshua 6:26). God was with Joshua, and his reputation grew in the area.
Why do you believe God had the people of Israel defeat Jericho in such an unorthodox way?
Why do you think Joshua didn';t question God when he was given the instructions for the defeat of the city of Jericho?