AN EXPOSITION OF JOSHUA 6:1-27
1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
Historically, Jericho is one of the most ancient cities in the world. When the children of Israel first came across Jericho during their wilderness journeys, it was perhaps the most important city of the Jordan Valley (Num. 31:12; 34:15; 35:1).
Joshua, in charge of the Israelites after the death of Moses, planned to siege the city of Jericho as one city of many that would be conquered in the land of Canaan. Many years before God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob a piece of real estate stretching from “the river of Egypt” i.e. the Nile unto the Great River, the river Euphrates (Gen. 15:18).
Before Joshua died, that Divine promise would be fulfilled. This is taught in Joshua 21:43-45. Nehemiah 9:29 teaches the same thing. God keeps His Word. The covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was fulfilled, according to promise.
3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
Joshua was not told to create priests, or an Ark of the Covenant. He was told to use the spiritual power he had. That is true today. There is enough spiritual power in this church alone to win this community for Christ. The only question is, “Lord, when do we march?” “How do we accomplish what we know is your will?”
5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.
7 And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.
What is history to us was prophecy to Joshua. When Joshua stood with the children of Israel on the threshold of the land of Canaan, he was armed, not only with spears and weapons of warfare, but with a Divine promise. Joshua was also armed with divinely given field orders on how to maneuver in the hour of conflict. Never before in the course of military warfare had such a unique order been given.
First, the priests of Israel were to march with all the men of war once around the city walls for six consecutive days. Jericho covered only about 8.5 acres at this time, making it rather easy to obey this command. On the seventh day, the priests and the soldiers were to march around the city seven times, and then the priests were to blow the holy trumpets. At the blowing of the trumpets, the people of Israel were to shout, being assured that when they shouted the wall of the city would fall down flat.
8 And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
9 And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
There is a great spiritual lesson, and it involves silence. Silence is a potent weapon in the hands of God. The instruction of verse 10 is full of meaning.
In silence, the men of war were to march because in silence the men could meditate. Each tramping of the feet, every step taken, was an opportunity to realize what God was about to do. When soldiers talk, they often engage in idle chatter or unnecessary conversation.
During the siege of Jericho, a holy hush was imposed, so that personal fears were not verbalized. Any personal dissatisfaction with the way the military operation was going would not be heard. A holy hush needs to come upon God’s people again before we engage in any serious spiritual battle. Many people cannot hear the voice of God because they are too busy.
Some are too busy doing good tasks, but not the best tasks, much like Martha who was busy about the house while Mary was occupied with the person of Christ. Some are too busy being critical. “This is not right, and that is not right.” “This should have been done, and that should not have been done.” It is enough to make the angels weep. Others are too busy expressing their fears. There is fear of the future. There is fear of lack of finances. There is fear of fear, as if God were dead, and can no longer protect, or provide for His own.
A holy hush will stop all the wrong talk in order to build a measure of excitement as to what God will do. In the silence, God speaks. It is not easy to get a multitude of people to be silent, but history says it happened. Let the church then be silent with inappropriate comments about others.
11 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
Can you imagine what must have been the thoughts of the people in Jericho, when they saw the soldiers of Israel going around the city in circles, day after day? At first the citizens probably were a little disturbed, and perhaps amused. Never before had a siege been conducted like this. From the top of city walls the people of Jericho watched. They watched in curiosity as the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, symbolizing the presence of Jehovah.
The Ark was made of wood and gold, anticipating the Divine and human nature of God manifested in the flesh. The Ark of the Covenant had two angels on top of the lid. Their faces were covered in holy awe, and were turned downward, always beholding the mercy seat, where the blood of propitiation once a year was placed. Inside the Ark of the Covenant were sacred objects. There was Aaron’s rod that budded, reminding the Jews that God gives life to individuals, and to nations. There was the table of shewbread, reminding the Jews that God provides for His own. And there was also the second copy of the Ten Commandments, reminding the Jews that the broken law was still the Law of God, and should be obeyed.
The priests marched under divine orders with wonderful symbols of God’s covenant, and the warriors followed. Here then is the first lesson to learn. A nation is only as secure as the spiritual power of its people. Atomic and neutron bombs will not protect America. The Bible says that righteousness will exalt a nation. Let the moral and spiritual fiber of a nation be ripped apart, and the civilization will deteriorate. History is filled with examples of how great civilizations engaged in self-destructive behavior because their spiritual power was destroyed.
12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
14 And the second day compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.
20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
The great lesson of our passage is that the army of God has power. It has spiritual power, in spiritual people, who can hear the voice of the Lord, and obedient people, who will follow Divine directives. As we prepare our heart for spiritual battle with the world, and against the cultural rot, that is being imposed by acts of judicial legislation, let us prepare in the same manner as Israel of old. We want to be free from sin, personal sin, judicial sin, and legislative sin. And we want to see others free.
Sin has come to enslave souls, and to do much damage. Nevertheless if the Son makes us free, we shall be free indeed. We can be free, but there is a price to pay. Freedom is not free. Christ had to die on the Cross. And you and I must become good soldiers of the Cross. Let us lift then our voices by faith in a spiritual battle cry of freedom, and then go forth to oppose personal, legislative, and judicial enslavement to sin. Let us issue forth a battle cry of freedom from heaven from this generation that will shake and rattle the very gates of hell. God will do His part when we do ours, and we shall yet again have just judges on the bench, and men and women of Christian character, worthy individuals, to hold the highest offices in the land, with Biblical wisdom to guide the nation, and to protect religious freedom.
The Salvation of Rahab
22 But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
23 And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
The Curse on Jericho
26 And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
First Kings 16:34 reveals that Joshua’s curse did come true during the time of King Ahab: “Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, 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.”
“Several important details must be noted. First, Joshua did not promise Jericho would never be rebuilt. Instead, he said the person who rebuilt it would be judged by the loss of his firstborn son and youngest son.
Second, God confirmed His word through Joshua, taking the lives of Hiel’s sons Abiram and Segub. At the beginning of the work (the laying of the foundation), the first son died; at the end of the work (the hanging of the gates), the youngest son died. This proved God’s faithfulness and revealed the consequences of sin that often affect one’s family members. Though the sin was Hiel’s, the consequence included the deaths of two sons.
Third, Hiel’s rebuilding of Jericho is included as part of a longer passage describing the evil that took place during King Ahab’s reign in Israel. Ahab took a pagan, non-Jewish wife named Jezebel and even worshiped her god, Baal. Further, Ahab had a temple of Baal built in the capital city of Samaria and erected an Asherah pole. The conclusion of this account is that “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). During this wicked time, Hiel disregarded Joshua’s curse and rebuilt Jericho.
This moral low point in Israel’s history was also the point at which God raised up the prophet Elijah to fight against Baal, revive the hearts of the Israelites, and turn many people back to the Lord. After a three-year drought during Ahab’s reign, Elijah defeated the priests of Baal and helped begin a spiritual revival among the Israelites.” (Got Questions Ministries)
27 So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised through- out all the country.