Tag Archives: Jericho

Joshua 7-12:

Israel under the Ban and Conquering Ai:
Israel is immediately placed under “the Ban” (or “herem”) for destruction because Achan from their camp had violated the Lord’s commands by taking goods from Jericho that were under the ban.  The Israelites are subsequently defeated by the Amorites at Ai.  Joshua then inquires who disobeyed the Lord’s commands and took goods under the ban from Jericho.  Achan confesses to having taken the goods in his greed.  Achan is then taken outside the camp and stoned to death, then “..the anger of the Lord relented.”  (Josh. 7:26)  Once Achan is removed then Israel is able to conquer Ai with the Lord’s blessing. “Stretch out the javelin in your hand toward Ai, for I will deliver it into your power.”  (Josh. 8:18)  Israel then ambushed Ai, captured it and burnt it to the ground, destroying the entire population of the city.

Renewal of the Covenant at Mount Gerezim and Mount Ebal:
Once Jericho and Ai are conquered, Joshua and the Israelites head north to Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerezim, the locations where Moses had directed them to do the Covenant-Renewal ceremony once they were in the Promised Land (Deut. 27:1-26).  They are to erect twelve stones with a copy of the Law that Moses has given them.  Half shall stand on Mt. Gerezim to bless the people and the other half shall stand on Mt. Ebal for the curse.  There the Israelites “read aloud all the words of the Las, the blessings and the curses..” (Josh. 8:34)

The Gibeonites Spared:
A people called the Gibeonites, apparently part of the Hivites community, came to Joshua and offered to be their slaves if they would only not kill them, like they did Jericho and Ai.  Joshua and the Israelites’ fame had spread all across the land and the Canaanites were in fear of God and the Israelites’ attacking them.  Joshua decides to enter into an oath with them to spare them but they are made to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water” for the Israelites. (Josh. 9:27)  Just like Rahab, they are a pagan people who were shown mercy because they feared God and entered into covenant with his people.

Joshua’s Miraculous Victory over Gibeon:
From their base-camp at Gilgal, Joshua and the Israelites attacked the city of Gibeon, as five Amorite kings (of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon) united against Israel.  Yet, the Lord delivered them into Israel’s hands, and inflicted “a great slaughter on them at Gibeon..”  (Josh. 10:10) As the Amorites fled, Joshua and his troops pursued them.  At this point a miraculous divine intervention of hailstones are rained down of the Amorites killing many of them.  “..the Lord hurled great stones from the sky above them all the way to Azekah, killing many.  More died from these hailstones than the Israelites slew with the sword.” (Josh. 10:11)  Joshua then prayed to God that the day last longer, the sun and moon would miraculously not move, so he could pursue his total victory.  “The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course.” (Josh. 10:13) The miraculous halting of the sun in the sky let daylight persist indefinitely while the Israelites pursued and destroyed the Amorites and Gibeonites.  Joshua eventually finds in a cave, and kills the five Amorite kings as well.  Thus, the miraculous hailstorm and halting of the sun helped Joshua and the Israelites to victory.

Joshua Conquers the Entire Countryside:
“So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.” (Josh. 10:40)  From there, all the lands and kings of Canaan were captured by Joshua in a single campaign, as “the God of Israel, fought for Israel.” (Josh. 10:42)  The Israelites then return to Gilgal, which remains their basecamp of operations for all their military campaigns in the Promised Land.

Conquering the Northern Confederacy:
After hearing of the Israelites’ victories, the northern Canaanite peoples formed a confederacy and attempted to attack Joshua and the Israelites. “And they came out, with all their troops, a great host, in number like the sand that is upon the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. And all these kings joined their forces, and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel.” (Josh. 11:4-5)  Yet, in another surprise attack, Joshua and the Israelites “struck them all down, leaving no survivors.” (Josh. 11:8)

Ongoing Conquest of Canaan:
“So Joshua took all that land, the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland  from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. And he took all their kings, and smote them, and put them to death. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; they took all in battle. For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be utterly destroyed, and should receive no mercy but be exterminated, as the Lord commanded Moses.” (Josh. 11:16-20)  The Lord had placed all of the Canaanites under the ban (“herem”) for total destruction.  The reasons for this are multifaceted.  One of the reasons was that they were pagan idolaters who offered human and child sacrifice to demon-gods.

Destruction of the Anakim:
Another reason for the herem, total-destruction of the Canaanites was the presence of the giant Anakim and Rephaim, who were tall people opposed to the will of God.  Who they were is not exactly known, but may be by-products of the fallen angels (Gen. 6:1-4).  “And Joshua came at that time, and wiped out the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, did some remain.” (Josh. 11:21-22)  Joshua and the Israelites completely wiped-out the Anakim, as the Lord had commanded them.  Yet, only a few are left in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod.  Gath is where David in the future will end up fighting the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17:4), perhaps one of these Anakim remnants that Joshua failed to kill.

Joshua Conquers All of Canaan, and there is Peace in the Land:
“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.” (Josh. 11:23) When sin (allegorically symbolized by the Canaanites and Anakim) is conquered, then you will have peace.

Joshua 1-6:

Joshua leads the Israelites over the Jordan River:
If Deuteronomy was Moses’ summary of the Law, then Joshua is the epilogue to Moses’ Pentateuch (the five Books of Moses). Joshua takes over from Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.  Joshua is one of seven figures in the Bible who has their names changed to correspond with their specific role in salvation history.  (Others, for example, are Abraham, Sarah, and Peter). Joshua’s original name was “Hosea” (meaning “salvation”; see Num. 13:8) but Moses changed it to “Joshua” (meaning “the Lord saves.”)  Joshua is a type of Jesus.  Interestingly, Joshua and Jesus are the same names in Hebrew, ישוע (“Yeshua”).  Joshua bears the name of the Messiah, Yeshua, or in English, Jesus.  In effect, “Jesus” is leading the chosen people of God into the “Promised Land.”  In the New Testament, Jesus does, in fact, lead Christians into the promised land of Heaven.  As Joshua prepares Israel to cross over into the Promised Land, they first prepare their provisions “for three days.”

Joshua Sends Spies to Jericho, and They Meet Rahab:
Joshua’s first conquest in the Promised Land will be Jericho, so he sends two spies to the city to reconnaissance it.  They end up going “into the house of a harlot named Rahab, where they lodged.” (Josh. 2:1)  Rahab conveys to them that tales of the Israelites and the Red Sea drying up have reached them, and the city of Jericho is terrified to fight the Israelites. So, Rahab tries to help them, and save her family’s lives.  She says, “Now then, swear to me by the Lord that as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign, and save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” (Josh. 2:12-13) The two spies answer her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.” (Josh. 2:13)  Rahab is a sinner (prostitute) and a Gentile (non-Jew).  Yet, the Israelites agree to save her if she helps them.  Rahab is saved by making a covenant with the people of God.  Rahab has been defined by the Church Fathers as a type for the Church and Christians. She is a sinner, a Gentile, non-Jew, yet she is saved.  Rahab also conspicuously shows up in the genealogy of Jesus (Mt. 1:5).  Jesus’ lineage is not just to save the Jews.  He has come with a universal mission to save all people.  Rahab reflects this part of his ancestry.  She is a symbol and a type of Church that will be saved by Jesus Christ. In this instance, she will be saved from the destruction wrought by Joshua on the city of Jericho.

Rahab’s Scarlet Cord:
Rahab then let the two Israelite spies down with a rope over the city wall.  She tells them to go up into the hill country and “hide there for three days, until they return.” (Josh. 2:16)  Again, as so many other times in the Old Testament, we see this motif of “three days.”  This has Christological significance as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ three days in the tomb and death, where He was hidden. The spies tell her to: “Behold, when we come into the land, you shall bind this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down; and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household.” (Josh. 2:18) By the scarlet cord, the Israelites will know not to attack her house, so as to save Rahab and her whole family. Similarly, by the scarlet blood of Jesus are we (as spiritual descendants of Rahab) spared from death and destruction.  By the “scarlet cord” of Jesus’ blood, much like the blood of the Passover Lamb on the Israelites’ doors, are we saved.  The blood of the Passover lamb on the door equates to the scarlet cord on Rahab’s window equates to the blood of Christ on the Cross applied to our souls. Then, the spies departed into the hills where they stayed for “three days.”

Preparations to Cross the River Jordan:
Joshua moves the Israelites to Shittim before crossing over the Jordan River.  There they waited for “three days,” and Joshua tells them to: “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will perform wonders among you.” (Josh. 3:5)

The Miraculous Crossing of the Jordan River:
Now, just as Moses had led the Israelites miraculously through the Red Sea as on dry land, so now too, Joshua, the new Moses, was going to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River as if on dry land. Just as the Israelites’ were “baptized” through the Red Sea, now too, they will pass-over the veil into the Promised Land.  The Baptism of water leads to the entering the Promised Land.  The priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant went into the Jordan River first and the waters miraculously dried up:

“priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap far off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho. And while all Israel were passing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.” (Josh. 3:14-17)

The whole nation of Israel crossed over the Jordan River while the waters had stopped flowing while the priests holding the Ark of the Covenant stood in the midst of the riverbed.  Once they were all across, Joshua told them to set up twelve stones there as a “perpetual memorial to the Israelites.”  (Josh. 4:7)  This miraculous event exalted Joshua in the eyes of all the Israelites, to “know there is a living God in your midst.” (Josh. 3:10)  And, when the priests carrying the Ark left the riverbed, as “the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.” (Josh. 4:18)

The Hill of Foreskins:
At this point, we learn that the second wilderness generation under the leadership of Moses had never been circumcised.  So, the Lord tells Joshua: “Make flint knives and circumcise the people of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the people of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. (“Hill of Foreskins”)  And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people that were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised.” (Josh. 5:2-5) Moses had neglected his spiritual duty as part of the Covenant, perhaps this was another reason why God was angry with him and did not let him into the Promised Land.

They Celebrate the Passover:
Just as the crossing of the Red Sea is recapitulated by Joshua, so too now, they recapitulate the Passover celebration. The Passover is eaten before Israel embarks on their next miraculous stage, just as it was originally eaten on the night of Passover in Egypt, and again on Mt. Sinai after with the Covenant. The striking parallels continue between Joshua, the second wilderness generation, with Moses, and the first Exodus generation.  The Passover is the feast par excellence.  It is the ultimate Jewish feast that precedes the miraculous and the saving.  It is the Passover that foreshadowed Jesus’ death on the Cross.  This is what Passover predicted in word and action, and where it drew its ultimate symbology and power.  The Passover Lamb of Christ, through His sacrifice of Body and Blood, that we are miraculously saved.

The End of the Manna:
As soon as the Israelites passed over into the Promised Land the miraculous manna ceased.  The Israelites had lived off of and eaten the miraculous manna in the wilderness for forty years.  But now, as soon as they step into the Promised Land, the manna stops.  “And on the morrow after the passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.  And the manna ceased on the morrow, when they ate of the produce of the land; and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” (Josh. 5:11-12)  The manna is our Holy Eucharist.  It is our food for the journey in this life.  As soon as we cross over into the Promised Land of Heaven, we no longer have or need the Eucharist to sustain us.  The Eucharist is the bread from Heaven that feeds us on our wilderness journey on the earth.  Now, the Israelites no longer need the manna, as they will live off the fruit of the land of Canaan.

Joshua’s Vision Before Jericho:
“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood before him with his drawn sword in his hand; and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”  And he said, “No; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and said to him, “What does my lord bid his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Put off your shoes from your feet; for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.” (Josh. 5:13-15)  Here too, just like the Angel of Death before the Passover in Egypt, the Angel of the Lord’s army stands ready to slay the pagans at Jericho.  So often, it seems, we are predisposed to believe in Jesus and God as a milquetoast figure, but clearly the Lord in the Exodus years is a warrior God of fierce strength and justice.

The Conquest of Jericho:
The Lord tells Joshua that He has delivered Jericho into his hands.  He instructs them to encircle the city and walk six times around it, with the priests and the Ark of the Covenant and ram’s horns.  “On the seventh day march around the city seven times, and have the priests blow the horns.  When they give a long blast on the ram’s horns and you hear the signal, all the people shall shout aloud.  The wall of the city will collapse, and they will be able to make a frontal attack.” (Josh. 6:4-5)  Then, Joshua commanded the people to follow the Lord’s instructions.  Troops marched in front of the Ark.  Then, the seven Levite priests carried the Ark with the ram’s horns.  And behind the Ark marched picked troops.  “The blowing of horns was kept up continually as they marched.” (Josh. 6:9)  The people were to remain silent until Joshua gave the signal.  They did this for six days.

The Seven Day Siege of Jericho:
Seven is the sacred number of the Covenant, and it is the day of the Sabbath, when Israel shall rest. The whole Exodus is geared towards “rest” and worship of God in the Temple in the Promised Land. The whole Exodus from the beginning is oriented towards worship. (Ex. 4:23; 5:3) The siege of Jericho is presented as an offering dedicated to God as part of a liturgical ceremony. “On the seventh day they rose early at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times: it was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout; for the Lord has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers that we sent. . . . So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. Then they utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and asses, with the edge of the sword.” (Josh. 6:15-21)  As they marched around the city 7 times on the 7th day, the priests blew their trumpets, and the people shouted.  When they had done all of that, the walls of the city collapsed, and the Israelites conquered Jericho.  Joshua was faithful to his promise though and commanded Rahab and her family to be saved.  It is through Rahab’s line that the Messiah would later come to be born.

The Liturgical Conquest of Jericho:
The conquest of Jericho is more liturgical in nature than strategic and military.  The Israelites are led by the Levite priests in processions around the city.  They do this procession each day for six days. Then, they do the liturgical procession seven times on the seventh day.  The priests are in the procession carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest object in the Old Testament.  The priests are also carrying the ram’s horns, sacred objects, which herald the destruction of the pagan town of Jericho.  If the Israelites’ celebrated Passover before the siege of Jericho, then they seven days of circumambulation around the city of Jericho coincided with the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The siege of Jericho began with the ritual Feast of the Passover, and continued with the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  On the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the walls of Jericho come collapsing down.  The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are prefigurements to Jesus’ death and Crucifixion, and to the Holy Mass and Eucharist respectively.  By way of typology then, by Jesus’ Body and Blood through His death, and the Holy Eucharist of the Mass, we will conquer sin and evil in the world.  The Israelites show us physically how we are to conquer spiritually through religious ritual and liturgical worship.

The Fall of Jericho, Trumpet Blasts, and the End of the World:
The fall of Jericho has long been understood by the Fathers of the Church as a prefigurement of the end of the world.  Just as the world will be full of evil-doers under the control of the Antichrist, so too, was Jericho under the control of pagan idolatry.  Only the harlot Rahab and her family renounced Jericho and pledged allegiance to the Israelites.  In the end of the world, only a remnant of the people, the Church, will renounce the Antichrist and pagan idolatry, and cling to the faith (ie, Christianity).  But, it is through their faith, and the blood of Christ (ie, the scarlet cord) that they will be saved.  Just as Rahab was saved from Jericho, so too, will the Christian remnant gain salvation from the Antichrist, the world, and death.  Salvation will come liturgically through the foreshadowed feasts of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (ie, through Jesus’ Cross and holy sacrifice of the Mass in the Eucharist).  The Levite priests are blowing the trumpets throughout the procession. The trumpet (“shofar”) is associated with the Feast of Trumpets (or “Yom Teruah” the Feast of Blowing ‘Trumpets’).  This is to symbolize the end of the world.  The ram’s horn (the “shofar”) is a reminder of the ram that Abraham sacrificed in place of Isaac.  The ram was the substitute sacrifice for Isaac, just as Christ, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed in our place, as our substitute.  Trumpets signaled Yahweh’s descent upon Mt. Sinai to the camp of Israel, amidst fire and darkness, thunder and lightning, and trumpet blasts, a foreshadowing of God’s return at the Second Coming of Christ.  The Book of Revelation reveals the end of the world and Jesus’ Second Coming all amidst trumpet blasts.  At the final trumpet blast, the walls of the Antichrist will come crashing down, and the New Joshua, Jesus, will return to destroy the evildoers (Jericho), and save the Christian remnant (Rahab).