Joshua’s Jericho

Chapter 4 - The Conquest of Jericho (Joshua 6)

We saw how the archaeology of Jericho perfectly confirms the Bible’s description of Joshua’s Jericho as a strongly fortified city.

Jericho was the key enemy stronghold guarding the entrance to the Land. Israel had to conquer this stronghold, if they were to possess the land. Its impressive defensive fortifications, as revealed by the archaeology would have made it seem impossible to overcome. 

We have seen that there were two Walls surrounding the City. 
One was at the base of the hill and one at the top of the hill. 
In between was a steep 35 degree slope:

*The Walls of Jericho

At the bottom, overlooking a trench, there was an outer Revetment Wall made of field stones, some of which still survives today:

*The Stone Revetment Wall (at the base of the hill)

On top of this Revetement Wall there would have been a redbrick wall, with houses like Rahab’s house, built against it.

Leading up to the main Wall at the top was a plastered rampart called a Glacis, that was slippery and steep, making it hard for attackers to approach (see photo below). Anyone trying to climb up the Glacis would be sitting ducks for the archers on the wall above. 

*The Sloping Glacis

At the top of the hill would have stood a high Mudbrick Wall, that, of course, is no longer there, because it fell down in Joshua’s time.

Joshua 6:1: “Now Jericho was SECURELY shut up, because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.”
The fortified city seemed an impregnable barrier to their entry into the Promised Land, but it was God’s Land and He was giving it all to Israel starting with Jericho:


Joshua 6:2: “And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king and the mighty men of valour.”
As far as God was concerned, it was already accomplished. It was not a hard thing for Him. His people just had to trust and obey.
God has also given us a Promised Land, but we also have Jericho strongholds of unbelief in our mind that stand in our way, stopping us from entering in, telling us that the Promise is not for us, that we can never possess it, that we are not worthy or able. We must face these strongholds, pull them down and destroy them, using God’s mighty weapons, as 2Corinthians 10:4,5 says: 
“the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.”

In Joshua 6:3,4, Joshua told Israel what would happen: “You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the City once. This you shall do for 6 days. And 7 Priests shall bear 7 Trumpets of rams’ horns before the Ark. But the 7th day you shall march around the City 7 times, and the Priests shall blow the Trumpets (while they walk round it).

These Trumpets were Jubilee Trumpets used to declare the Grace and Presence of God. These were the weapons God used to destroy the stronghold of Jericho. Likewise our weapons that are mighty through God to pull down strongholds are the Words of God. As we proclaim God’s Promises against that stronghold of unbelief, just as the Priests blew their Jubilee Trumpets for 7 days, the power of God is released against the stronghold, making its fall certain.

Joshua 6:5: “It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the Trumpet, that all the People shall shout with a great shout; 
then the Wall of the City will fall down flat (‘collapse in its place’).
 And the People shall go UP every man straight before him.”

At the end of 7 days, after marching around the stronghold and declaring God’s Presence, Power and Greatness through the Trumpets, announcing the imminent fall of the City, all the People were to release their faith in one great shout of praise and victory. God promised that at that very moment, the Wall would collapse in its place, so that the armies of Israel, which surrounded the City, could all climb over the rubble and go straight up into the City from every direction. Notice they had to go UP the hill as the archaeology confirms, but it would be straightforward once the fortification system was destroyed by the power of God.

In Joshua 6:6,7, Joshua gave them their marching orders: 
“Then Joshua the son of Nun called the Priests and said to them, “Take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let 7 Priests bear 7 Trumpets of rams’ horns before the Ark of the Lord.” And he said to the People, “Proceed, and march around the City, and let him who is armed advance before the Ark of the Lord.” 

In Joshua 6:8,9, they started their march towards the City: 
“So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the 7 Priests bearing the 7 Trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord advanced and blew the Trumpets, and the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord followed them. The armed men went before the Priests who blew the Trumpets, and the rear guard came after the Ark, while the Priests continued blowing the Trumpets.”

Then Joshua 6:10,11 describes their March around the City: 
“Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.” So he had the Ark of the Lord circle the city, going around it once. Then they came into the Camp and lodged in the Camp.” 

For these 7 days, they were to say nothing! They would have just talked themselves into despair and defeat, discussing how impossible it would be to take Jericho and so become discouraged. If in doubt say nowt! It’s better to say nothing than speak the negative. So instead they had to listen to and focus on the continual blowing of God's Jubilee Trumpets announcing that God's Kingdom was at hand, declaring God's victory and His imminent judgement on Jericho, sounding the doom of Jericho. (This was also a final warning and opportunity to those inside to repent of their rejection of God and surrender). Also during this time, Israel’s eyes would have been on the Ark of the Covenant, reminding them of God's mighty Presence in their Midst, the same God that had rolled back the waters of the Jordan a few days before. As they heard the Trumpets proclaiming God’s Victory, FAITH would have been rising in their hearts, and the sense of excitement and anticipation of what God was going to do would have been growing stronger and stronger. Meanwhile the fear in the hearts of the inhabitants of Jericho would also have been steadily rising.

Joshua 6:12-14 says that they repeated this March of Faith on the 2nd day: “And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the Priests took up the Ark of the Lord. Then 7 Priests bearing 7 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 rear guard came after the Ark of the Lord, while the Priests continued blowing the Trumpets. And so the 2nd day they marched around the City once and returned to the Camp. So they did this 6 days.” 

For 6 days, as they marched around the City and made the Trumpet Proclamation, their faith and expectancy was steady growing.

Joshua 6:15,16: “But it came to pass on the 7th day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the City 7 times in the same manner. On that day only, they marched around the City 7 times. And the 7th time it happened when the Priests blew the Trumpets, that Joshua said to the People: “Shout (in faith), for the Lord has given you the City!” 

By now their faith in God and His power had risen so much, that they were all ready to release their faith in one great united shout of victorious praise, knowing that as they did, His Power would be released against the Stronghold and it would come tumbling down, just as God said it would! So when Joshua said: “Shout for the Lord has given you the city”, they released their faith together in a loud shout of praise and victory, and the Walls fell down flat. This was a shout of faith for they believed according to the promise, that when they shouted the walls would fall, and they did: and Hebrews 11:30 agrees: “By FAITH, the Walls of Jericho fell down, after they were encircled 7 days.”

Joshua 6:20: “So the people shouted when the Priests blew the Trumpets. And it happened when the People heard the sound of the Trumpet, and the people shouted with a great Shout, that the Wall fell down flat (‘in its place’). Then the People went UP into the City, every man straight before him, and they took the City.” Now God could have used a well-timed earthquake, but there is no mention of that. Moreover, the way the walls fell down, indicated that it was a supernatural event. First it happened at the exact moment when Israel made their shout of praise. Second, the whole wall fell down at once, except the portion that contained Rahab’s house (Joshua 6:17,22-23). We see the totality of the destruction of the walls, in that every man could go straight up into the City, when the walls fell down (for Israel had surrounded Jericho on every side). They did not have to go around looking for holes in the walls. An earthquake would most likely bring down certain sections of the walls but not all at once. Previously we saw how the archaeology confirmed that all the walls of Middle Bronze Jericho were destroyed, except for one section (where Rahab lived). 

The way that the walls fell was also interesting. The Bible says that rather than falling inwardly, God caused the walls to collapsed straight down ‘in their place’, so that the attackers could go straight up into the City. The archaeology illuminates what happened here, providing an amazing confirmation of the Bible. 

Because both the mud brick walls simply collapsed they would have then tumbled down the smooth Glacis and filled up the trench in front of the lower Stone (Revetment) Wall, enabling the attackers to just climb over the rubble and gain easy access to the city, to capture it quickly, just as the Bible describes! 

*A Reconstruction of the Walls as they begin to fall

So the Walls of Joshua’s Jericho did indeed come tumbling down, right down to the bottom of the Glacis slope! 

When Kathleen Kenyon cut a large archaeological trench through the West Side of the City defences, she drew this Section-Diagram (below) to show what she found. She not only found the Stone Wall (shown as black) at the base of the mound, but amazingly, a heap of fallen red bricks lay in the ditch outside the Revetement Wall, which were the remains of the mud brick walls that had fallen down the slope (marked in red in the Diagram). 

*Trench 1 Cross-Section

She interpreted this as the remains of the great Middle Bronze City Wall, which had collapsed outward and fallen down into the defensive ditch. No one disputes the correctness of this conclusion.

*The Bible confirmed by archaeology

These red bricks from the fallen mud-brick wall perfectly confirm the Bible's account. They came from the main City Wall on top of the Tel, as well as from the Mud-brick Parapet Wall on top of the Revetment Wall. This provided the Israelites at the base of the hill with a convenient walkway over the stone wall right into Jericho!

Below is a simplified diagram of what was discovered:

*Trench 1 (Simplified)

Notice that Joshua 6:20 says the Israelites: "went UP into the city, every man straight before him." The piles of crumbled bricks formed rough ramps, allowing them to go directly into the exposed city. So archaeology confirms that the walls "fell down flat" (Joshua 6:20). In Kenyon’s words: “There was a heavy fill of fallen red mudbricks piling nearly to the top of the revetment wall. These red bricks probably came from the wall on the summit of the bank.” 

The red mud-bricks came tumbling down, falling over the outer stone wall at the base of the tell. There they came to rest in a heap. This is impressive evidence that the walls of Jericho did indeed topple, as the Bible records. The amount of bricks was sufficient for an upper wall 6.5 feet wide and 12 feet high.

Remains of the final phase of this Middle Bronze Age (City IV) were also found on the south-east slope, just above the spring, by both Garstang and Kenyon (areas A and B in the diagram below).

*Map of Jericho

What they found here is most revealing. It showed that the City was massively destroyed in a violent fiery conflagration that left a layer of destruction debris a yard or more thick across the entire excavation area. The meter stick in the photo (below) shows the depth of this destruction layer. The destruction debris has been removed elsewhere to expose the remains of the destroyed city.

*Destruction Layer

Kenyon describe the calamity: “The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt, but the collapse of the walls of the eastern rooms seems to have taken place before they were affected by the fire." 

Kenyon concluded that: first the walls collapsed, then it was burnt by fire. Thus the FIRE came after the COLLAPSE, just as the Bible describes it! 

This perfectly agrees with the Biblical account. After the Israelites entered the City, Joshua 6:21 says: “they utterly destroyed ALL that was in the City.” Then Joshua 6:24 adds: “they BURNED the City and ALL that was in it with FIRE. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the Treasury of the House of the Lord.” In short, after the collapse of the walls the city was put to the torch. This is exactly what Kenyon said: first the walls collapsed, then the city was destroyed by fire. All the houses and civic buildings had been blackened by a severe fire. In some places the ash and debris was a metre in depth.


There was another amazing discovery at City IV (MB) Jericho. In the burnt debris, both Garstang and Kenyon found large quantities of grain stored in the ground-floor rooms of the houses. 

*Jericho Grain (1)

They found many large storage jars filled to the brim with carbonised (burnt) grain, indicating that when the city met its end there was an ample food supply. 

*Jericho Grain (2)

This was the most abundant item found in the destruction, apart from pottery. This is unique in Palestinian archaeology. Grain was a very valuable and essential commodity. The amount stored after a harvest provided food until the next harvest. Successful attackers always plundered valuable grain once they captured a city, leaving no grain behind. Alternatively, if it was a long siege the defenders would have eaten it all. This, of course, would be inconsistent with all the grain found here. 

*Jericho Grain (3)

The presence of large quantities of grain means: 
(1) Jericho must fallen at the time of the Spring Harvest, 
(2) Jericho must have fallen quickly, rather than after a long starvation siege, which is unusual for such a well-fortified City. 
(3) Moreover, for some reason, the attackers decided to burn the precious grain, rather than keep it for their own use. 

The presence of these grain stores in the destroyed City is entirely consistent with the Biblical account: 

(1). The Bible confirms Israel came to Jericho at Spring Harvest Time. When the Israelites attacked Jericho, Rahab was drying freshly harvested flax on the roof of her house: “Rahab had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof” (Joshua 2:6). Also the Israelites crossed the Jordan while it was in flood at harvest time according to Joshua 3:15: “for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of Harvest”; and they celebrated Passover and ate the produce of the land just before attacking the city:“Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the 14th day of the month at in the plains of Jericho” (Joshua 5:10). Since it was harvest time, Jericho had plenty of grain and was ready for a long siege.

(2). The Bible confirms Jericho was destroyed quickly 
- after just 7 days! (Joshua 6:15,20). 

(3). The Bible confirms that all the precious grain was burnt, and it also explains why! Why were large quantities of grain burnt? This unusual observation agrees perfectly with the Bible’s account. The Israelites were told in Joshua 6:17: "the City and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction", and they were commanded to: "Keep yourselves from taking the things devoted to destruction" (Joshua 6:18). So the Israelites were forbidden to take any plunder from Jericho. They had to burn it all, except for the silver and gold which was to go into the Lord’s Treasury. This explains why so much grain was left to burn when City IV met its end, in confirmation of Joshua 6:24: 
“they BURNED the City and all that was in it with FIRE. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the Treasury of the House of the Lord.”

The reason was that God was giving the whole Promised Land to Israel, and as the first piece of it, Israel was to offer to God Jericho as the Firstfruits of the Land. Therefore they must not touch any of it, but burn it all, and the precious metals were to be all put in the Lord’s Treasury. This is why no items of this kind were found in Jericho. The Firstfruits of a crop represented the whole, so that when it was given to God, it guaranteed the rest of the harvest. Likewise, the gift of Jericho (the Firstfruits of the Land) to God by Israel signified that she would receive the whole Land from Him. Jericho had to be offered entirely to God, as it was the FIRSTFRUITS of the Promised Land. 

The Correlation between the archaeological evidence and the Bible is substantial:
• The city was strongly fortified (Joshua 2:5,7,15, 6:5,20).
• The attack occurred just after harvest time in the Spring (Joshua 2:6, 3:15, 5:10).
• The inhabitants had no opportunity to flee with their foodstuffs (Joshua 6:1).
• The siege was short (Joshua 6:15).
• The walls were levelled (Joshua 6:20).
• The city was not plundered (Joshua 6:17-18).
• The city was burned (Joshua 6:20). 

Joshua put a curse on the rebuilding of Jericho, since it was now devoted to God. Joshua 6:26: “Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “CURSED be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this City Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.” 

Thus despite its strategic location with a spring, fear of this curse prevented anyone from rebuilding Jericho for hundreds of years. 

The next time it is mentioned as being rebuilt is in 1Kings 16:34 (about 900BC) when Hiel the Bethelite (in the days of King Ahab) rebuilt Jericho, and the curse came into action so that he lost his 2 sons, Abiram and Segub. 

1Kings 16:34: “In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the Lord, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.” 

The archaeology confirms the record of the Bible, that Jericho then lay and remained unoccupied for hundreds of years (throughout the Late Bronze Age), before a modest town was again built there. 



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