The Fall Of Jericho
“Now Jericho was shut up from within and from without because of the people of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And The Lord [see Rock Of Ages] said to Joshua, “See, I have given into your hand Jericho, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. And seven priests [see Levites] shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns [see The Shofar] before The Ark; and on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up every man straight before him.” (Joshua 6:1-5 RSV)
The original Jericho was located about 5 miles / 8 kilometers west of The Jordan River, and 7 miles / 11 kilometers north of The Dead Sea. At approximately 800 feet / 240 meters below sea level, it has a tropical climate with intense heat in the summer. It had many date-palm trees, which contributed to its also being known as the City of Palms (Deuteronomy 34:3).
It was located about 1 mile / 1½ kilometers northwest of the modern-day city of Jericho. In its day, Jericho was the most important Canaanite fortress city in the Jordan valley. It was a stronghold that found itself directly in the path of the advancing Israelites, who had just crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 3:1-17).
Modern archaeology has verified every word of The Bible account, right from the fallen walls, to the ashes of stored grain – everything was destroyed and burned, except for the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron that were permitted to be put into the treasury. (Joshua 6:24) Jericho was destroyed primarily because, while under Canaanite occupation, it would have (as it does again today) hindered their control of all of the Promised Land that God had deeded to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob long before – Dan to Beersheba, the Jordan to the Mediterranean, every last square inch.
The manner of its destruction, immediately after crossing the Jordan, and with total annihilation, may have been a psychological tactic aimed at the very formidable Canaanite forces that remained throughout the land. Seeing a high-ranking leader go down is very devastating to morale, and Jericho was most definitely a leader that went down very hard. It certainly worked on the minds of the Gibeonites, who soon thereafter surrendered without a fight (Joshua 9:3, 21).
After its destruction, Jericho was put under a curse by Joshua: “Cursed before The Lord be the man that rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. At the cost of his first-born shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.” (Joshua 6:26 RSV).
The city remained a ruin for over 400 years, before being rebuilt by Hiel of Bethel in the time of King Ahab. But, guess what? “In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of The Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.” (1 Kings 16:34 RSV)
Fact Finder: Did Moses get to see across the Jordan River, to Jericho and far beyond into the Promised Land, just before he died?