OT History Part 1 – Joshua 5-6

Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.
At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.
Now this is why he did so: All those who came out of Egypt—all the men of military age—died in the wilderness on the way after leaving Egypt. All the people that came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness during the journey from Egypt had not. The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died, since they had not obeyed the Lord. For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land he had solemnly promised their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So he raised up their sons in their place, and these were the ones Joshua circumcised. They were still uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way. And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.
On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

  • Joshua 5:1-15

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.”
When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there.
Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”
When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.
Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.
Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:
“At the cost of his firstborn son
    he will lay its foundations;
at the cost of his youngest
    he will set up its gates.”
So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.

  • Joshua 6:1-27

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Joshua 5:1 ‘the word spread rapidly’: “The great sign has an expected result: the kings of Canaan are thrown into fear and demoralization (5:1). On the other hand, the full impact of God’s great deeds also should have included leading some to faith. ‘Amorite’ is a general term for the dwellers in the hill country and ‘Canaanite’ for the inhabitants of the coast—and presumably of the valleys as well.
“Several features mark the new status of the Israelites after entering the covenant land: circumcision, a Passover celebration, eating the produce of the land, and another manifestation of God’s presence.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Joshua 5:1 ‘heard’: “Reports of God’s supernaturally opening a crossing struck fear into the Canaanites. The miracle was all the more incredible and shocking since God performed it when the Jordan River was swollen to flood height (3:15). To the people in the land, this miracle was a powerful demonstration proving that God is mighty (4:24). This came on top of reports about the Red Sea miracle (2:10).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Joshua 5:2 ‘circumcise’: “God commanded Joshua to see that this was done to all males under forty. These were sons of the generation who died in the wilderness, survivors (cf. vv. 6, 7) from the new generation God spared in Numbers 13 and 14. This surgical sign of a faith commitment to the Abrahamic covenant (see Gen. 17:9—14) had been ignored during the wilderness trek. Now God wanted it reinstated, so the Israelites would start out right in the land they were possessing.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Joshua 5:2-7 ‘To restore their covenant relationship’: “Israel is a covenant nation, a privilege God has given to no other nation on earth (Rom. 9:4-5). God gave His covenant to Abraham when He called him out of Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 12:1-5), and He sealed that covenant with a sacrifice (Gen. 15). God gave circumcision as the sign of the covenant to Abraham and his descendants (17:9-14, 23-27; note especially v. 11). Other nations in that day practiced circumcision, but the ritual didn’t carry with it the spiritual meaning that it did for the Jews.
“Through this ritual the Jews became a ‘marked people’ because they belonged to the true and living God. This meant that they were under obligation to obey Him. The mark of the covenant reminded them that their bodies belonged to the Lord and were not to be used for sinful purposes. Israel was surrounded by nations that worshipped idols and included in their worship rituals that were sensual and degrading. The mark of the covenant reminded the Jews that they were a special people, a separated people, a holy nation (Ex. 19:5-6), and that they were to maintain purity in their marriages, their society, and their worship of God.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 5:8 ‘To test their faith’: “Israel was camped in enemy territory, just a few miles from Jericho. Now they were going to temporarily disable every male in the nation, including every soldier in the army! What a golden opportunity for the enemy to attack and wipe them out. (See Gen. 34.) It took faith for Joshua and the people to obey the Lord, but their obedience to the law was the secret of their success (Josh. 1:7-8). In their weakness they were made strong, and through faith and patience they inherited the promises (Heb. 6:12).
“Shortly after Israel departed from Egypt, God tested them at Meribah, and they failed the test (Ex. 17:1-7; Ps. 81:7). Shortly after Israel entered the Promised Land, God tested them by commanding the men to be circumcised, and they passed the test. The people had faith to obey God, and this act gave evidence that they would obey His orders as they marched through the land.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 5:9 ‘To remove their reproach’: “The word Gilgal is similar to the Hebrew Word galal which means ‘to roll.’ But what was ‘the reproach of Egypt’? Some suggest that this means their reproach for being slaves in Egypt, but it wasn’t Israel’s fault that the new pharaoh turned against them (Ex. 1:8ff.). The Jews were in Egypt because God had sent them there (Gen. 46:1-4), not because they were disobedient.
“It’s also been suggested that ‘the reproach of Egypt’ refers to the nation’s shame because they had worshipped idols in Egypt (Ezek. 20:7-8; 23:3) and even during their wilderness wanderings (Amos 5:25-26; Acts 7:42-43). But that older generation was now dead, and the younger Israelites certainly shouldn’t be blamed for the sins of their fathers. Furthermore, it’s difficult for me to see the relationship between crossing the river, circumcision, and the Jews’ idolatry in Egypt.
“I think that ‘the reproach of Egypt’ refers to the ridicule of the enemy when Israel failed to trust God at Kadesh Barnea and enter the Promised Land. When Aaron made the golden calf at Mount Sinai and the people broke God’s law, God threatened to destroy them and make a new nation from Moses. But Moses argued that God would lose glory if He did that, because the Egyptians would only say that God delivered them in order to kill them (Ex. 32:1-12). At Kadesh Barnea Moses used the same appeal when God said He would destroy Israel (Num. 14:11—14). Moses didn’t want the Egyptians to spread the word that the God of Israel couldn’t finish what He had started.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 5:10-12 ‘Remembering the Lord’s Goodness’: “’Forgetting those things which are behind’ (Phil. 3:15) is wise counsel for most areas of life, but there are some things we must never forget. In his farewell address to the nation, Moses repeatedly commanded the Jews to remember that they were once slaves in Egypt and that the Lord had delivered them and made them His own people (Deut. 6:15; 15:15; 16:12; 24:18, 22). This great truth was embodied in their annual Passover Feast. They were never to forget that they were a redeemed people, set free by the blood of the lamb.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 5:13-15 ‘Commander’: “The Lord Jesus Christ (6:2; cf. 5:15 with EX. 3:2, 5) in a preincarnate appearance (Christophany). He came as the Angel (Messenger) of the Lord, as if He were a man (cf. the one of three ‘angels,’ Gen. 18). Joshua fittingly was reverent in worship. The commander, sword drawn, showed a posture indicating He was set to give Israel victory over the Canaanites (6:2; cf. 1:3).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Joshua 5:14 ‘Patience’: “After the instructions had been carried out, we might expect that at once the trumpet sounded for an assault, and the valiant men of Israel, with their scaling ladders and battering rams, gathered around the devoted city to attack and carry it by storm. Patience! Patience! We are always in a hurry, but God is not. Joshua himself is in some haste, and he goes out at night to meditate and patrol. As he wonders where would be the best point of attack, he is astonished by the appearance of a stately figure wielding a sword. Brave Joshua advances at once to the apparent intruder and demands of him, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’ Then a majestic voice answered, ‘Neither.’ This was actually Joshua’s superior commander. Discerning the deity of the celestial Warrior, Joshua bowed and worshiped and humbly inquired what he should do. After he had been instructed, he carried out the Lord’s directions.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Joshua 5:14 ‘Illustration’: “The children of Israel may be compared to a gallant vessel, prepared for a long voyage. All the cargo is on board, and everyone is in his place. But why does she linger? If we ask the one at the helm, he will tell us: ‘We are waiting for the captain.’ This is precisely the condition of the church. Having made preparations to act, we need the divine presence, and we must pause for a while and seek it, prayerfully, that in his matchless power we may go forward successfully.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Joshua 5:15 ‘Holy ground’: “Do you quietly bow your head in reverence when you step into the average gospel church?
“I am not surprised if your answer is no.
“There is grief in my spirit when I go into the average church, for we have become a generation rapidly losing all sense of divine sacredness in our worship. Many whom we have raised in our churches no longer think in terms of reverence—which seems to indicate they doubt that God’s Presence is there.
“In too many of our churches, you can detect the attitude that anything goes. It is my assessment that losing the awareness of God in our midst is a loss too terrible ever to be appraised.”

  • A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?

Joshua 6:1 ‘The fear of the Lord’: “The land of Canaan was divided up among a number of city-states, each ruled by a king (see 12:9-34). These cities were not large; Ai, which was smaller than Jericho (7:2-5), had about twelve thousand people (8:25). Excavations at Jericho indicate that the city covered perhaps eight acres and was protected by two high parallel walls, which stood about fifteen feet apart and surrounded the city. It was the sight of cities like Jericho that convinced ten of the Jewish spies that Israel could never conquer the land (Num. 13:28).
“But the news of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their recent victories east of the Jordan had already spread to Canaan and put the people in panic (Josh. 2:9-11; see Deut. 2:25; 7:25; 11:25; 32:50). ‘I will send My fear before you,’ God had promised; ‘I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you’ (Ex. 23:27 NKJV).”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 6:1, 3-21 ‘Jericho’: “The city was fortified by a double ring of walls, the outer six feet thick and the inner twelve feet thick; timbers were laid across these, supporting houses on the walls. Since Jericho was built on a hill, it could be taken only by mounting a steep incline, which put the Israelites at a great disadvantage. Attackers of such a fortress often used a siege of several months to force surrender through starvation.
“The bizarre military strategy of marching around Jericho gave occasion for the Israelites to take God at His promise (v. 2). They would also heighten the defenders’ uneasiness. Seven is sometimes a number used to signify completeness (cf. 2 Kin. 5:10, 14).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Joshua 6:1-5 ‘Promised Conquest of Jericho’: “The first great Canaanite city on Joshua’s itinerary of conquest was Jericho, an oasis in the midst of a difficult, dry, and rugged region. Control of Jericho’s water sources would prove crucial to a successful start of Israel’s military campaign. In accord with the divine promise of 1:1-9, the Lord assured Joshua that Jericho would fall to Israel in a very anomalous, unorthodox, and site-specific fashion. The use of the perfect tense (that is, the ‘prophetic perfect’) for the Hebrew nethan, ‘I have given,’ indicates that while the action of giving Jericho into Joshua’s hand is still future, it is nonetheless divinely viewed as completely certain and assured. Israel followed this directive, and indeed, at the appropriate juncture, the imposing walls of Jericho collapsed, in sensational fashion, precisely as was divinely promised.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Joshua 6:2 ‘a done deal’: “We preach the doctrines of grace, and the doctrines of grace are always the best soil in which to grow good works. We daily insist that works do not make a person live, but we equally insist that spiritual life continually manifests itself by holy deeds. After the soldiers of God’s army had crossed the Jordan, they were not to lie in luxurious ease till Jericho’s walls should crumble down by slow degrees. Though God determined to send Jericho to sudden destruction, they were to labor, and Jericho would fall as the result of their toil. Their work is to consist of a daily procession. They are to go in cavalcade around the wall; the priests are to exercise their functions. The ark must be carried on men’s shoulders; the men of war are to be there to defend the ark, to clear the way, and to follow also in the rear, to guard against any sudden attack or any eruption from the city. They are to march this way for six days—not one day without its parade, not one day without obedience to the great Captain of the host. So must it be with us. We are to win the world for Christ; this is our high ambition, and it will be in Christ’s name our grand achievement. But it must be by work, by testimony bearing, by the preaching of the gospel, by continual prayer, by encompassing the city, perpetually serving God, and walking in the path of obedience.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Joshua 6:15-16 ‘An Appointed Way’: “The laws of success operate also in the higher field of the soul-spiritual greatness has its price. Eminence in the things of the Spirit demands a devotion to these things more complete than most of us are willing to give. But the law cannot be escaped. If we would be holy we know the way; the law of holy living is before us. The prophets of the Old Testament, the apostles of the New and, more than all, the sublime teachings of Christ are there to tell us how to succeed. …
“The amount of loafing practiced by the average Christian in spiritual things would ruin a concert pianist if he allowed himself to do the same thing in the field of music. The idle puttering around that we see in church circles would end the career of a big league pitcher in one week. No scientist could solve his exacting problem if he took as little interest in it as the rank and file of Christians take in the art of being holy. The nation whose soldiers were as soft and undisciplined as the soldiers of the churches would be conquered by the first enemy that attacked it. Triumphs are not won by men in easy chairs. Success is costly.”

  •  A. W. Tozer, We Travel an Appointed Way

Joshua 6:6-16,20 ‘overcome your enemies by faith’: “’By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days’ (Heb. 11:30). ‘And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith; (1 John 5:4 NKJV).
“Faith is not believing in spite of evidence, for the people of Israel had been given one demonstration after another proving that God’s Word and God’s power can be trusted. The Lord had opened the Red Sea, destroyed the Egyptian army, cared for His people in the wilderness, defeated great kings, given Israel their land, opened the Jordan River, and brought His people safely into the Promised Land. How could they do anything other than believe Him?
“Joshua first shared the Lord’s plan with the priests. It was important that the ark of the Lord be in its proper place, for it represented the presence of the Lord with His people. When Israel crossed the river, the account mentions the ark sixteen times (Josh. 3-4), and here in 6:6-15, the ark is mentioned eight times. Israel could march and the priests blow trumpets until all of them dropped from weariness, but if the Lord wasn’t with them, there would be no victory. When we accept God’s plan, we invite God ’s presence, and that guarantees victory. (See Ex. 53:12-17.)
“Then Joshua instructed the soldiers. He probably didn’t enlist the entire army for this important event, for that would have involved far too many people. According to the military census of Numbers 26, there were over six hundred thousand men able to bear arms. Think of how long it would take that many men to march around the city walls! And when the walls fell down, Joshua certainly didn’t need hundreds of thousands of soldiers to rush in and overcome the people. The men would have been falling over one another!”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 6:17-19 ‘Devote the entire city to God’: “This meant that everything was dedicated to the Lord—the people, the houses, the animals, and all the spoils of war—and He could do with it whatever He pleased. In this first victory in Canaan, Jericho was presented to God as ‘the first fruits’ of the victories to come. Ordinarily the soldiers shared the spoils of war (Deut. 20:14), but not at Jericho; for everything there belonged to the Lord and was put into His treasury (Deut. 13:16; 1 Kings 7:51). It was this command that Achan disobeyed, and his disobedience later brought Israel defeat and disgrace and brought Achan and his family death.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 6:22-25 ‘protection of Rahab’: “Joshua honored the promise of safety to the household of Rahab. The part of the wall securing this house must not have fallen, and all possessions in the dwelling were safe.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Joshua 6:26 ‘Curse of the Rebuilding of Jericho’: “Following Jericho’s successful conquest, Joshua pronounced a solemn curse upon any members of future generations who undertake the rebuilding of Jericho’s fortifications: ‘Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, ‘Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest he shall set up its gates,’ (6:26).
“Woudstra (
The Book of Joshua, p. 116) offers the following insight: ‘This curse is not meant for those who … used the site of Jericho for habitation. Only he who will use Jericho as a city with a ‘foundation’ and ‘gates’ will be affected by the curse.’ This prophecy was literally fulfilled roughly six centuries later when, during the reign of King Ahab, Hiel of Bethel lost two sons after rebuilding Jericho’s fortifications: ‘In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; He laid its foundation with the loss of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun’ (1 Kings 16:34).”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

My Thoughts

I must start with a song, The Battle of Jericho, written by Moses Hogan and sung by Women of the World.  And if you are wondering, or the credits move by too fast, the ladies are from Italy, USA (Haitian descent), India, and Japan.

Joshua and General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. had different approaches to warfare.  Then again, Gen. Schwarzkopf followed normal military tactics and gave the Iraqi army a “Left Hook” and they kept attacking, keeping the pressure on until the enemy was in full retreat.

Joshua was following orders from a higher Commander, God Himself.  God wanted Jericho to know that these people could probably defeat Jericho simply by their numbers, but God’s primary purpose for the method of the attack was to tell all Canaan that God was doing this.

Before we leave the first Gulf War, I have two interesting tidbits to mention, interesting to me anyway.  When the Marines made their amphibious landing and entered Kuwait, one of the unit commanders, a reservist, was the first to raise the Kuwait flag above their government buildings.  When he wasn’t serving the Marines, he was the security director at the NASA project where I was working in Mississippi.  And the other tidbit is when you see the news footage in any of the documentaries, you will see the countless tanks pouring through a break in the Iraqi tank defenses, a giant berm of earth to slow down or stop any attack from the ground.  The documentaries never mention how the break in the berm was created or the minefield was cleared, but the camera shows a small sign that says something along the lines of “the road to Iraq opened courtesy of the 249th Engineer Battalion, Combat Heavy.”  There is a Belgian Lion on the sign (really an old Peugeot car emblem).  That was the battalion where I served my three years in Germany during the Cold War, and I think my platoon was the first to use the Peugeot emblem since it looked just like the lion on the battalion crest.  They had used an artist to copy it before then.  The point of bringing this up is that everyone thinks the first Americans went into Iraq when Gen Schwarzkopf started his attack, but the Corps of Engineers had already been there.  I am sure they were driving their bulldozers and earthmovers with their weapon close at hand.  And some wonder why the Engineers are considered a combat branch.

Joshua 5 starts with all Canaan quaking in their boots over this large group of people who have a God that can work miracles.  As I mentioned about Gen. Schwarzkopf, he would strike while the iron was hot.  His nickname was “Stormin’ Norman.”  But no, Joshua puts his army out of commission for a few days.  Genesis 34, mentioned by Rev. Wiersbe, is the story of Dinah being raped by Shechem, son of Hamor, the ruling Hivites in the area of Shechem.  Simeon and Levi instructed the men of Shechem to become circumcised and while everyone was in pain, unable to lift their swords, Simeon and Levi killed them in revenge for the defilement of their sister.

So knowing that this would weaken every soldier, Joshua did as God instructed.  He had faith that God was with them – as long as he did as he was told by God.

Note that the manna stopped when they entered the Promised Land.  The roughly two million people had to forage for food until they conquered their enemies and grew their own crops.  And just about their first meal was for a Passover celebration.  As Rev. Wiersbe describes, the circumcision was to restore the covenant and to test their faith.  And the Passover celebration was to remove the reproach.  This time in entering the Promised Land, God was with them and the symbol of that, the Ark, was visible among the people, a constant reminder for them to follow the rules, which will soon be shown to be lacking.

Then, Joshua goes for a walk and meets Jesus, a Christophany, according to Rev. MacArthur.  Some may argue that the text says “angel”, but a key factor is this.  When Joshua bowed down to worship, an angel would protest and identify himself as simply a messenger.  But this person accepts the worship and tells Joshua to take off his shoes for he is on hallowed ground.  That indicates the presence of God, and thus with the messenger in the form of a human being, it must be a Christophany.

Now we get to Joshua’s instructions.  He is to walk the army around the city on six straight days and the priests must blow trumpets.  Then on the seventh day, they walk around seven times.  Then after the trumpet blasts, the army is to shout loudly.  When the army shouts, the walls of Jericho will come down – according to the instructions.

Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, USA where the Kansas City Chiefs play American football is the loudest outdoor sports arena with the recorded noise level of 142.2 decibels.  If you are within 25 meters of a jet aircraft taking off, the noise level will be 150 decibels and your eardrums will rupture (not inside the aircraft where the sound is muffled).  I played golf on a golf course built along the side of runway for a Canadian Air Force fighter squadron, about 25-30 meters away.  When they hit the afterburner, it hurt your ears and they were more than 25 meters away by that point.  The golf club membership cards said, “Loudest golf course in the world.”  You checked the runway before taking a golf shot, especially when putting.  For comparison, a normal conversation is about 60 decibels and a library is about 50 decibels, mostly background noise.  And Arrowhead stadium is much than three times louder than a library.  The scale is a logarithmic scale, many, many times louder.

But none of those noises could knock down walls that were six or twelve feet thick (Rev. MacArthur – describing the double-walled city of Jericho).  And to knock down both walls?  Only God could do that – and thus the point of this weeklong hike around the city.

But the shout had more than one effect.  They made a documentary of the first reenactment of Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  In the documentary, they interviewed some of the participants, former soldiers who had fought in that war.  My great-grandfather was among those who charged across the field because there were few people left who had originally made the charge.  But one of the interviewed union soldiers, that pretended to defend against the attack, said that he knew that this was all in remembrance of the lives lost that day.  No one had a weapon more deadly than a walking cane or an umbrella, but when the Rebels shouted their Rebel Yell, his blood turned cold.

So, the shout, possibly at ear drum splitting noise level, would disorient the enemy within Jericho, giving them dizziness and a bad headache.  The people of Jericho would become frightened while Joshua’s army would get their adrenaline flowing, pumping up their bravery.  And the shout was the signal for God to tear down the walls.

The work was not totally done by God.  Joshua’s army was to go in and destroy everything, but save Rahab and all those in her house.  While in other battles, they could collect the spoils of war and the book of Joshua gives limitations throughout, but at Jericho, it all belonged to God.  The army was to take nothing for themselves.

As far as how many people were in Joshua’s army, Rev. Wiersbe questions whether it was everyone eligible for duty.  Joshua 6 talks of a forward guard and a rear guard to protect the Ark, but then he only mentions the army.  I think Rev. Wiersbe’s concern was that of logistics.  To walk around a city wall that encompasses a city of several acres with possibly a million men in full battle gear, it might take all day or more than a day.  They might not all make it around the city.  So, from a logistics point of view, Joshua could easily have left some of his army in reserve, to attack after the walls came down, but rather than get lost in logistics, let us marvel in God’s great miracle and the mind games being played.

I have experienced mind games during a war game scenario, as part of the control headquarters.  If you knew what buttons to push, you could get people to abandon their posts.  The psych warriors would play a variety of recordings to get people to lose their resolve.  I have seen it work, but God taught that lesson at Jericho millennia ago.

Before they ever showed up, all Canaan was afraid after the knowledge reached them of the river crossing.  Then the army walks around the city, quite some time after they crossed the river.  Just the waiting for the attack was unnerving the soldiers inside the city.  Why did they not attack?  Not doing what most would consider the right move to make increased the fear level.  Then another five days more of the same thing for a total of six days?!  There may have been some of the Jericho residents who were having problems with their hearts or their breathing, just due to the fear factor.  The fear increased exponentially on the seventh day.  They did not stop after the first hike around the city and go back to Gilgal.  Then they hiked around again and again.  See how the mind games that God was playing on this evil city resulted in a token of resistance once the walls came down.

The song above says “Joshua ‘fit’ the battle of Jericho,” but by the time Joshua or his men drew their swords, there was little fight left in the men of the city.

Rahab and her family were saved.  Everything else went into God’s treasury or it was destroyed in the fire.

Then Joshua utters a curse on the city.  Other than the reference in 1 Kings 16, all other references to Jericho do not talk of the curse.  As many of the scholars agree, the curse meant the construction of the walls, gates, and battlements on their foundations.  Jericho is mentioned in all three synoptic Gospels, with an additional reference in Luke with the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus walked from Jericho to Jerusalem on that last trip to Jerusalem.  But in these cases, Jericho was an important crossroads, a town without walls for protection.

And after the mind games played on Jericho and the utter destruction of the city, Joshua’s fame spread.  But that is the way Joshua 6 ends.  Maybe it was Joshua’s God whose fame was spreading.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. How has disobeying God’s law kept you from enjoying the bounty of his promises?
“2. God rolled away the reproach of Israel’s skeptical neighbors with a ‘seeing-is-believing’ miracle. How has God dealt with your own skepticism, or that of others watching you?
“3. How has God ‘stopped the manna’ in your life? What has he substituted for it? How has that weaning process helped you be more responsible?
“1. When did you discover what it meant to be on God’s side and take direction from him, rather than having him serve you on your side?
“2. What crazy battle plan is the Lord calling you to carry out? How will you persevere in that? Who else is on the Lord’s side with you in this?
“3. What walled-in area of your life are you still protecting or hiding behind? How secure do you feel behind that wall? How could God give you victory over those walls if you would follow his ways?
“4. How has your life been spared, even redeemed, thanks in part to someone else’s faithful response to you and their Lord?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There are one set of questions for each chapter.

In the second question 1, there should have been a follow-up question.  Have you ever been in God’s side rather than enlist God to be on your side?  Notice how it seems 9 out of ever 10 Christians claim their confidence is that God is on their side.  Is this wrongful thinking?  Are these people not saved, thinking they have God doing their bidding?  Or is it a simple case of poor grammar skills?

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group.

The second set of questions are soul searching.  Look for what God did rather than personal accomplishments.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

4 Comments

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  1. Answering your question on my blog about the Marine enlisted NCO sword: I heard it was the same one as the Army officers sword. Marine officers have another kind of sword, the Malumuke. I might have misspelled it. I think it is rather awkward for ceremonies while I never did the sword details for weddings I did do it for a Marine ball. I’m probably not the best guy with swords details since I’m actually everywhere in the Marines the shortest guy in my platoon lol

    Liked by 1 person

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