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Go to Bible: Joshua 6
|Jos 6:1||- (top)|
“Behold, I have given Jericho into your hand.” The fall of Jericho was a miracle of God. Attempts to make what happened to Jericho some kind of purely natural phenomenon have never rung true. Even if God caused the walls to fall by an earthquake, it was a strange earthquake indeed, both in its timing and in the very particular destruction it caused. For example, it was strong enough to knock down the strong mud-brick walls of Jericho but did not knock over a single marching Israelite. This was no “natural earthquake.” Jericho stands as an example to believers that God’s help is essential to success. Wise people obey God and follow God, and see good success in their lives, and a promise of everlasting life in the future.
Jericho was a key to the confidence that Israel had in God and in Joshua. God had said the Israelites were to conquer the Promised Land, but how would they know they could do it? Jericho was certainly one of the strongest, if not the strongest, fortified city in Israel. Yet that did not deter Yahweh in the least, and through the fall of Jericho, He showed that with His help the Israelites could take the Promised Land just as He had said. The fall of Jericho gave the Israelites great confidence in moving ahead with the conquest of Israel.
When Jericho was excavated by Garstang in the 1920s, he discovered that the physical remains at Jericho fit the biblical account in Joshua completely. Jericho was excavated again in the 1950s by Kathleen Kenyon, who stated that the walls of Jericho were destroyed before Joshua got there. Although she confirmed that everything that she found at Jericho fit the biblical account, she based her dating on what she did not find at Jericho, especially Cypriot-ware pottery. But Kenyon’s dating and logic are faulty, and the pottery that is found there could easily date from the time of Joshua. The only ancient record of the fall of Jericho is the Bible, there are no Egyptian records of it, or records from any other ancient civilization. Furthermore, the accuracy of the Bible when it comes to recording other historical accounts is a strong argument against the commonly accepted explanation for the biblical account of the fall of Jericho, which is that the Israelites made up the story to give themselves a glorious history. The godly men and women of Israel were believers who would not have had any more reason to invent a lie than the Apostles would have lied about seeing the resurrected Christ. The men and women who are truly God’s people have always valued truth. Also, there is no explanation of who could have destroyed Jericho if the Israelites did not, because not only did the walls fall down, but there was a very deep destruction layer, sometimes a few feet deep, on top of the fallen rubble. Furthermore, Jericho was in a very valuable location. Many cities that were destroyed in the various wars in Israel were rebuilt right where they were, for example, there are over 20 such layers at Megiddo. Why would Jericho have been destroyed but then abandoned for centuries? The logical explanation is that the Israelites controlled the area and the city was under a curse (Josh. 6:26).(top)
“you are to march.” The verb is plural. In the phrase, “Do this six days,” the verb is singular; God is addressing Joshua as the leader because he was the one to make sure everyone obeyed.(top)
“shofar.” The ram’s horn trumpet, not the metal trumpet.(top)
“shofar.” The ram’s horn trumpet, not the metal trumpet.
“the wall of the city will fall down underneath itself.” This is a very literal rendering of the Hebrew text and a very real picture of what happened at Jericho. The excavations of Jericho both by Garstang in the 1920s and Kenyon in the 1950s show that the walls of Jericho were stone walls with a strong mud-brick wall on top of the stone wall. What happened in the destruction of Jericho was that the mud-brick wall collapsed and fell mainly on the outside of the stone wall and to the foot of it (thus “beneath” it), spreading out and up the stone wall and actually forming a kind of ramp up the stone wall. Thus, the text of Joshua is very accurate when it says that the people “will go up” and straight into the city. The Israelite warriors had to run “up” the newly formed mud-brick ramp, over the stone wall, and into the city, which they then conquered and burned.
“every man straight before him.” This is not “straight and level” but “straight ahead,” up and over the collapsed wall.(top)
“So Joshua.” Here again we see the theme of God commanding something and Joshua obeying (see commentary on Josh. 4:16).(top)
“Go forward...go forward.” This is the same Hebrew word (used twice in Joshua 6:7) that is translated “cross over” in the phrase, “cross over the Jordan.” From God’s perspective, no territory in the Promised Land had been conquered yet, so the process of crossing over into the Promised Land was still going on. The army was to “cross over and march around” Jericho, and the front troops were to “cross over” ahead of the ark. The army was to “cross over” and begin the actual conquest of the land.
“the people.” In this context, the Hebrew text, “the people,” means the army that is marching around Jericho (cp. Josh. 6:3, 10).(top)
“just as Joshua had spoken.” The emphasis here is that the priests and people did “just as” Joshua had spoken (cp. ESV; RSV; NJB). A major theme in Joshua is Joshua obeying Yahweh, and then the people obeying Joshua (see commentary on Josh. 4:16).
“went forward.” Literally, “crossed over” (see commentary on Josh. 6:7).(top)
“and the priests continued to blow.” The emphasis in the text is the continual blowing of the shofars, not the priests who were blowing them. The victory belongs to Yahweh.(top)
|Jos 6:10||- (top)|
|Jos 6:11||- (top)|
|Jos 6:12||- (top)|
|Jos 6:13||- (top)|
|Jos 6:14||- (top)|
“in the same way.” Although “in this manner” is possible, the phrase could also be more literally, “according to this judgment (or decision),” that is, that the people were obeying God in the way in which He told them to conquer Jericho.(top)
|Jos 6:16||- (top)|
“Devoted.” The Hebrew word translated “devoted” is cherem (#02764 חֵרֶם or #02763 חֶרֶם ), and means a thing that is “devoted.” It can be “devoted” to Yahweh in the sense of being set apart to Him and therefore being His and holy (cp. Lev. 27:21, 28, 29; Num. 18:14), or it can be a thing “devoted” to Him in the sense that it is an abomination to Him and thus it will be destroyed; in that case, “devoted to destruction” is the meaning. Thus when something is “devoted” it can be “devoted to Yahweh” for sacred use, or “devoted to destruction,” and the context determines what “devoted” means in any given occurrence. However, even if a city, such as Jericho in this context, was “devoted” to destruction, the metal articles in it were to be brought into the Tabernacle treasury (Josh. 6:19). It is worth noting that the Arabic word “harem” comes from the root word for “devoted” and refers to a part of a palace or house that is “devoted” (set apart for special use) and used for the women.
The majority of the time that cherem is used in the Bible, it is used of the enemies of God and animals that are “devoted” to destruction and are killed (cp. Josh. 2:10; 6:20-21). If a person took something that was devoted, that person became devoted (Josh. 6:18) and would be put to death. That is why the Mosaic Law said that if a person becomes “devoted,” then they were to be put to death (Lev. 27:29). That is what happened to Achan and his family (Josh. 7).(top)
|Jos 6:18||- (top)|
“all the silver and gold and articles of bronze.” No doubt Israel obeyed this command, and it is significant that no objects of metal were found among the ruins at Jericho. Plenty of pottery, but no metal objects.(top)
“So the people shouted, and the priests blew the shofars.” This first sentence is a summary; then the verse continues with more particulars on the situation.
“the wall fell underneath itself so that the people went up into the city.” See commentary on Joshua 6:5.
“every man straight in front of him.” Every soldier climbed the collapsed wall ramp and ran straight into the city (see commentary on Josh. 6:5).(top)
“the mouth of the sword.” This is the first occurrence of the phrase “mouth of the sword” in Joshua. E. W. Bullinger lists “the mouth of the sword” under the figure of speech pleonasm (the use of more words than necessary), because the Bible could have just said, “the sword” instead of “the mouth of the sword,” but the amplification is not just decoration: it indicates that the sword “devoured” its victims. There is a sense in which the figure could also be the figure of speech personification, as if the sword was alive, human, and hungry and was eating up its victims. The phrase occurs a number of times in the Bible, and occurs when there is a great slaughter, and seems to be used more when, in an attack, only people are killed without the city they live in being destroyed, although there are exceptions to that, Jericho being one of them.(top)
|Jos 6:22||- (top)|
“the young men.” Perhaps specified as “young men” as representative of the new, young generation that obeyed God.
“Rahab and...and...and...and.” The text uses the figure of speech polysyndeton, “many ands” to emphasize that God honored everything that had been promised to Rahab. Her whole family was spared.
[See figure of speech “syndeton.”]
“all her relatives.” Rahab was obviously a very caring woman, and made sure that all her relatives were safe as well as her immediate family.(top)
“they burned the city with fire.” There is a huge burn layer at Jericho, sometimes up to a meter or so thick. Also, there is good evidence that some of the grain jars were burned with the grain in them, which would certainly not be a normal practice—the conquerers would eat the grain in the city. But in this case, God commanded that everything in the city was His, it would be devoted to destruction, and so even valuable grain would be burned. Joshua burned only three cities in the conquest of Canaan; Ai, Jericho, and Hazor (Josh. 6:24; 8:28; 11:11).
“the silver and the gold...and...and.” The figure polysyndeton, which places an “and” before every article, emphasizes the fact that God got all the spoils of war. This was the firstfruits of the Promised Land, and God got all the spoils of this war.
[See figure of speech “syndeton.”]
“the treasury.” The Bible is not clear where this “treasury” was: inside the Tabernacle (it does not seem there would have been enough room) or some kind of special tent in the courtyard.
“the house of Yahweh.” At this time in history, the “house” of Yahweh was the Tent of Meeting (the Tabernacle).(top)
“She has lived in the midst of Israel to this day.” Rahab eventually married Salmon and gave birth to Boaz, who fathered Obed, who fathered Jesse, who fathered David, who was the famous ancestor of Jesus Christ. Rahab is in the genealogy of the Christ (Matt. 1:5). The phrase “to this day,” indicates this text was written not long after the events took place.(top)
“Cursed before Yahweh.” That is, cursed in Yahweh’s presence. The NLT gets the sense of the verse: “May the curse of the LORD fall on anyone who tries to rebuild the town of Jericho.”
“rebuilds.” The Hebrew word for “rebuild” here can be “build” or “rebuild” depending on the context. Here it is more properly “rebuilds.”
“this city, Jericho.” The Hebrew text places an emphasis on both “this city” and “Jericho.”
“will he lay its foundation…will he set up its gates.” After a miraculous victory and destroying the city of Jericho, Joshua spoke a curse over the destroyed city: “Cursed is the man before Yahweh, who rises up and builds this city, Jericho. With his firstborn son will he lay its foundation, and with his youngest son will he set up its gates.” That curse, which was also a prophecy, was fulfilled over 500 years later when Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho and offered his oldest and youngest sons as foundation sacrifices.
[For more information, see commentary on 1 Kings 16:34.](top)
“And Yahweh was with Joshua.” This was literally true, but also supports the type-antitype in the Bible between Joshua and Jesus. Joshua 6:27 says Yahweh was with Joshua, and in Acts 10:38 God was with Jesus.
“fame.” The text reads “his name,” representative of his fame. Similarly, the fame of Jesus spread as well (cp. Matt. 4:24; Mark 1:28).(top)