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Joshua and Israel having been fully prepared by God, their conquest of Canaan begins. Jericho, with its thick walls, was securely shut up (v.1), prepared for a long siege; but certainly not prepared for what happened! Joshua did not depend on his military wisdom, but received orders from God, who tells him He has given Jericho and its king and mighty men into Joshua's hand (v.2).
He is given what appears to be strange instructions, that Israel's army should march around the city once every day for six days, with seven priests sounding rams' horns before the ark (vs.3-4). On the seventh day, however, they were told to march around the city seven times, followed by a long blast with the ram's horn and a trumpet blast. Then all the people who had been quiet before, were to shout loudly. God would cause the wall of the city to fall down flat, so that the men of Israel could go straight before them into the city (v.5).
Joshua followed these instructions precisely, as verses 6-16 show. There were armed men before the priests and the ark, and a rear guard followed the ark. The sight of this must have been astonishing to the people of Jericho who would be watching from the walls. The quiet, orderly marching, with only the rams' horns sounding is a picture of the proper testimony of believers today before a world that is destined for judgment. The orderly walk of believers with Christ (the ark) as their Center is a witness of moral character before the world, while the blowing of the rams' horns is the announced witness, that is, the proclaiming of the gospel of the grace of God.
Each day for six days this continued (v.14), but on the seventh day they arose early and marched around the city seven times (v.15). Does this not indicate that as judgment nears the testimony of God is intensified, as indeed in our day the gospel is being declared more urgently than ever before, while the world continues in a state of rebellion and refusal of the message of grace.
On the seventh day, at the end of the seventh time around the city, the priests blew with the trumpets and Joshua told the people to shout, since the Lord had given them the city. But he said more. The city must be destroyed, but Rahab the harlot and all who were in her house would be spared (v.17). Also, the people were warned not to take anything from Jericho, for the city and everything in it was under the curse of God. Yet all the silver and gold, vessels of bronze and iron were to be consecrated to the Lord and brought into the treasury of the Lord (vs.18-19). These were things that could resist the fire of God's judgment, things that fire would only purify rather than destroy, and are all symbolical of spiritual things that, rightly used, may be of glory to God and blessing to the whole congregation. For instance, gold speaks of the glory of God, but in the hands of mere professors of religion, those who are deceived by the seductions of Satan, the glory of God is badly abused, as we see in Revelation 18:12 where the false church is spoken of as making merchandise of gold, or in other words, making merchandise of that which is only rightly used for God's glory. This is true of silver also, which speaks of redemption, but which men's religions misuse also, making the redemption that is in Christ Jesus only a teaching by which the church might make monetary gain. Bronze (or copper) is mentioned also in the same verse. Copper pictures the holiness of God, and people use the word even in giving titles to religious dignitaries, but again it becomes only merchandise in their profitable religion! How important to have these things rescued from unholy hands and given back to God!
When the people added their shout to the sounding of the trumpets, the wall of the city fell down flat. This evidently does not mean that the walls toppled over, for they were wide enough to contain homes, and the soldiers went in straight before them. However, recent reports of archaeological excavations reveal that the evidence is that the walls sank into the ground. This would account for the expression "fell down flat," and of course the Israelites would then be able to go straight before them into the city, with no having to circumvent rubble. How astounding a sight for Israel to witness! The one exception would be that area of the wall in which Rahab and her relatives were gathered.
Every living thing in the city was totally destroyed, men, women, children and animals, except for those people in Rahab's house (v.21). This may seem appalling to us today, but we must remember that the inhabitants of the land (including Jericho) had been completely given up to demon worship. At least the little children, who were not yet responsible for this wickedness, would be taken to heaven, which would be far better than remaining on earth to follow the ways of their parents.
At Joshua's instructions, the young men who had been spies went to Rahab's house and brought her out, together with her father, mother, brothers and all she bad, to the vicinity of the camp of Israel, though not into the camp (vs.22-23).
The city itself then was burned, though, as God had ordered, the silver and gold and vessels of bronze and iron were put into the treasury of the Lord (v.24).
It is noted in verse 26 that Rahab, her father's house and all her possessions were spared, and she dwelt in Israel still at the time this record was written. This exception, being mentioned a few times, is intended to impress us with the reality of the grace of God in His willingness to save souls, even though God had decreed the destruction of the city and the entire country. Just so, today God has decreed the judgment of the world (Acts 17:31), yet in grace He is saving souls out of the world when in faith they receive the Lord Jesus as Savior.
Jericho having been destroyed, Joshua pronounced a curse against the man who would rebuild the city. The curse involved the death of his firstborn at the time the foundation was laid and the death of his youngest when the gates of the city were set up (v.26). This was fulfilled in the days of Ahab, the most wicked of Israel's kings. Hiel, a man of Bethel, built Jericho again, and his oldest son Abiram died when the foundation was laid; then at the setting up of its gates his youngest son Segub died (1 Kings 16:33-34).
The Lord's conquest of Jericho by Joshua and Israel's armies resulted in Joshua's fame being spread throughout the country. Because Joshua had a character of faith and subjection to the word of God, he was a fit leader for Israel.
Jericho means "fragrant" and speaks of the character of the world in its condition of self satisfaction and natural attraction. It is the world in its fundamental principle of refusal of God's rights. For this reason it was devoted to complete destruction, with no right whatever to be revived again. The believer is to be once and for all settled in his purpose to "love not the world" and have no confidence in its attractions.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Joshua 6". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent