• Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 1.3: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Victory, first fruits, judgement, and salvation –  The occupation of Jericho



    Part 1.3: Understanding God’s Word – Bible commentary on Joshua 6

    Bible passages being discussed: (Joshua 6:21-27)

    In our previous instalment of our Bible study on Joshua 6, we learned that the Israelites were preparing to launch at attack on the fortified city of Jericho in Canaan. God had assured them victory at this first point of their three-part military plan to conquer the land (Joshua 6:2), whose occupation God had promised to them as their inheritance (Genesis 5:18-21).

     And yet to the human eye, the odds were severely stacked against the Israelite’s favor. Not only was Jericho considered impregnable, but the Canaanites were experienced warriors with an expanse of military resources at their disposal. The Israelites were former slaves, with no military experience, who had been wandering the desert for 40 years.

    However, God makes a way, where there is no way. He had a plan to thwart the military expertise and reinforcements of the Canaanites. However, in order to realize this plan, the Israelites were to obey God, trust Him, have faith, and praise Him with a great shout at the imposing walls of Jericho, before their victory was even realized.

    All this they did and as God promised, the walls of Jericho fell, and they were able to charge into the city and capture it (Joshua 6:5).

    “By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.”

    Hebrews 11.30 (NRSV)

    However, although victorious, the Israelites still had work to do in Jericho, if they were to maintain their strategic advantage and take the land God had promised them from the hands of their enemies.

    God exacts His judgement on Jericho

    What the Israelites did after taking over Jericho was in accordance to the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 13:12-18:

    „If you hear it said about one of the towns that the Lord your God is giving you to live in,  that scoundrels from among you have gone out and led the inhabitants of the town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods,” whom you have not known,  then you shall inquire and make a thorough investigation. If the charge is established that such an abhorrent thing has been done among you, you shall put the inhabitants of that town to the sword, utterly destroying it and everything in it—even putting its livestock to the sword.  All of its spoil you shall gather into its public square; then burn the town and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It shall remain a perpetual ruin, never to be rebuilt.  Do not let anything devoted to destruction stick to your hand, so that the Lord may turn from his fierce anger and show you compassion, and in his compassion multiply you, as he swore to your ancestors,  if you obey the voice of the Lord your God by keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.

    The Mosaic Law had been provided to the Israelites by God to give them revelation of who He was, how to worship and honor Him, and live in a manner that was pleasing to Him. However, it had also been written to protect them and set them apart from other nations.

    God wanted the law to teach His people and others that He was mighty, holy, and to be feared. For that reason, there were ironclad decrees in place for anyone or anything that violated the holiness of God and the sanctity of His ways.

    This was especially the case for anyone or anything that had been set aside as being “devoted”. Devoted has two meanings: The ancient Hebrew noun cherem translates devoted as a “devoted thing” – a pleasing offering to God. The verb charam on the other hand, means “devoted to destruction”, God’s judgement.

    Because the Canaanites had indulged in wicked practices and had refused to devote (cherem) themselves to God, He declared them to be devoted (charam) to divine judgement. Canaan was God’s property to do with according to His will. God had made His decision and Jericho, with its inhabitants, buildings, and resources was doomed for destruction.

    Let’s us look at the ways that God instructed the Israelites to carry out his divine judgement on the Canaanites – the devoted.

    God commanded the Israelites to destroy every living creature in Jericho

    Prior to causing the walls of Jericho to fall down, God specifically instructed the Israelites to destroy every living thing that lived within the refuge of the fortress city walls in His name.

    “The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.”

    Joshua 6:17 

    Why would a God, who is supposed to be merciful, demand that the Israelites execute His death sentence on the people of Canaan?

    If you notice in the above verse, the word “devoted” is expressed. God had a reason for hardening His heart towards the welfare of the Canaanites.

    God punished the Canaanites for their spiritual disobedience

    The slaughtering of the inhabitants of Jericho admittedly raises some challenging issues for Christians and non-Christians alike.

    The fact is, God cannot be in the presence of sinners. And the Canaanites were sinners, who kept idols and followed practices such as child sacrifices and sacred prostitution that were an abomination to God. Hence, God exacted a punishment for their spiritual disobedience. And this meant death.

    As we mentioned earlier, the Mosaic Law had specific instructions for any violation of the Holiness of God. Observe the following decrees:

    “No human beings who have been devoted to destruction can be ransomed; they shall be put to death.”

    Leviticus 27:29

    Exodus 22:20 provides further confirmation of this:

    “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.”

    The presence of the Canaanites also posed to spiritually sully the Israelite’s faith. The Israelite’s were God’s chosen people – His children. Thus, in order to sanctify them and maintain their spiritual virtue, God needed to eradicate the Canaanite threat. Hence, he made them devoted (charam).

    Burn the city and curse it

    God demanded that the Israelites burn the city. This was to not only ascertain the complete destruction of the city, but to also offer a burnt sacrifice (charam) to God.

    “All of its spoil you shall gather into its public square; then burn the town and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It shall remain a perpetual ruin, never to be rebuilt.”

    Deuteronomy 13:16

    Furthermore, Jericho wasn’t supposed to re-built (Joshua 6:26): On God’s instructions, Joshua laid a curse on any man who tried to re-build the city.  Hence, a spiritual cleansing was necessary to prevent revenants from returning and resurrecting the city – which actually  happened when Hiel the Bethelite attempted to resurrect Jericho, most likely under the patronage of King Ahab (1 Kings 16:34).

    The Israelites were to stay away from the property of the Canaanites

    God specifically instructed the Israelites to keep their hands off any idols or any other objects that God had declared as accursed (Joshua 6:18). They were devoted artefacts and were meant to be destroyed. God knew that having such objects in their possession would taint the purity of the Israelites.

    Additionally, according to the Law, God would turn His anger upon anyone who violated this specific request: They in turn would be devoted.

    This is exactly what happened.

    Following the victory at Jericho, 3000 Israelites were sent to attack the city of Ai. However, they were forced to retreat by the inferior numbers of the men of Ai, who slaughtered 36 Israelites in the process (Joshua 1:5).

    It was an unnecessary loss, but one that occurred because one of the Israelites Achan had stolen a devoted object during the destruction of Jericho. By this act, he had caused God to remove His compassion and instead, incur His judgement (Joshua 7:11-13).

    Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

    Was it necessary for God to incur such merciless wrath on Jericho?

    It is true that the fate of the Canaanites at Jericho was harsh, but there were unique times in the Bible when God did this, for example with He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:23-25).

    Moreover, the Canaanites were not only shut-in physically behind the city walls, their hearts were closed to God. Not at any point did the Canaanites consider surrendering to the Israelites, nor did they sound a parley. There weren’t even any deserters.

    In fact, the Canaanites were well prepared for a siege. The attack on the city took place around harvest time (Joshua 3:15) and within the walls was a spring to provide water for the inhabitants. There was no way that they were going to budge.

    If the Canaanites had repented, there may have been a chance that God could have spared their lives. After all, He spared those of Rahab and her family (Joshua 6:23). God always offers each of us a chance to enter into a relationship with Him – but it is up to us to take it.

    God didn’t want the Canaanites to become a future threat to the Israelites

    Whereas we have a limited perspective of our lives, God’s perspective supersedes ours. And He knew that if the Israelites didn’t clean up the city of Jericho when they claimed it, then the threat was real that any Canaanites could return to challenge their conquest of Canaan. This actually happened, as the Israelites spared the lives of a minority of the Canaanites, thinking that they might prove useful as servants.

    Instead of focusing on the wrath of God in this situation, it is important to remember that God is indeed good. Remember that He sacrificed His one and only son, in order that we may know Salvation and enjoy a loving relationship with God for all eternity. The biblical accounts that declare His love, mercy, and grace far outnumber God’s acts of judgement.

    Additionally, God offers to save anyone who comes to Him and repent (Romans 10:13). Only one person in the entire city of Jericho was prepared to open her heart for God – the prostitute Rahab.

    Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

    Rahab’s salvation paves the way for our own redemption

    Just as God commanded that the Israelites destroy Jericho in its entirety, so He also reminded them to honor their promise to Rahab and spare her life and the lives of her family (Joshua 6:17).

    Rahab had faithfully followed the instructions of the two Israelites by binding a scarlet cord to the window of her house. When the Israelites entered the city to kill the inhabitants, the cord at the window was a sign for them to spare the inhabitants of the people who were inside.

    Rahab’s house was built against the north side of the city wall, so there is postulation as to whether that part of the wall remained intact or if the wall somehow fell outwards.  Scientists claim that the entire wall construction consisted of an inner and an outer stone retaining wall, with Rahab’s house being part of a mud wall that had been constructed on top of the outer wall.

    Whatever the case may be, Rahab and her family survived the fall of the wall and the Israelites brought them out of the city and set them outside their camp. They were saved not only by Rahab’s kindness, but by her faith.

    “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.”

    Hebrews 11:31

    Rahab’s salvation and ultimate survival had a more consequential effect on the Israeli nation than anyone at the time could ever have imagined. Rahab secured the line of David when she married Salmon and had a son Boaz, who was David’s grandfather. Jesus was born out of David’s genealogy, which is why He is sometimes referred to as “the son of David”. 

    Therefore, Rahab’s salvation made it possible for us to know redemption from our sins through Jesus.

    The importance of giving God your first fruits

    Earlier in this Bible study, we discussed the difference between cherem and charam – the devoted things.

    Whereas the Canaanites had been set aside as charam – to be destroyed – God required that the treasures of Jericho be devoted to him as cherem – a pleasing offering. This offering was called the first fruits. Hence, the Israelites had to set aside all the gold, silver, and iron and bronze vessels and dedicate them to God’s treasury.

    “But all silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”

    Joshua 6:19

    This decree of offering first fruits is established again in the Book of Leviticus:

    Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.”

    Leviticus 23:10

    So, where does the term “first fruits” actually come from?

    It derives from providing God with the choicest agricultural produce that your harvest brought in. It was about giving God the first and best of your blessings, as everything was created by Him and belongs to Him.

    “The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.”

    Exodus 34:26

    Many of us know this as tithing, which we are encouraged to do in the New Testament, for example in Matthew 5:17-20 and 2 Corinthians 9:7.

    Although the city of Jericho had been given into the Israelite’s hands, it was not theirs to benefit from the riches of the spoils of war. God did not want them to use what belonged to Him to further themselves. God had enabled their victory and all the honor and glory belonged to Him.

    By giving the first fruits of Jericho to God, the Israelites would remember that it was not by their might nor power that Jericho had fallen into their hands, but by God’s spirit.

    “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

    Zechariah 4:6

    Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

    This concludes the final part of our Bible commentary on Joshua 6. We hope you enjoyed reading our extended 3-part analysis of this fascinating Bible chapter.

    Next week, we will be moving on to Part Two – “Living God’s Word” of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6.

    If you would like to know how you can apply the lessons of Joshua 6 to your everyday life, then feel free to join us for our next instalment, which is coming soon.

    Until then, stay be blessed my friends.

    Sources:

    bibleorg.com, “5. Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)” 

    enduring word.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho” 

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?” 

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”  

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan” 

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?” 

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?” 

    ligonier.org, „Why Did God Command the Children of Israel to Kill Every Man, Woman, and Child in the Promised Land?”

    biblehub.com, „1 Kings 16:34“

    churchofjesuschrist.org, „Joshua 1-24”

    answersingenesis.org, “The Walls of Jericho”

    focusmagazine.org, „Devoted Things”

    compellingtruth.org, „Why did God give the Mosaic Law? What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law?“

    rccg.org, „First fruit offering“

    biblestudytools.com, „First fruits“

    openbible.info, „Tithe In The New Testament”

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 1.2: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Faith, obedience, endurance, and praise – the secret behind God’s military plan 

    Part 1.2: Understanding God’s Word – Bible Commentary on Joshua 6

    Bible passages being discussed: (Joshua 6:3-20)

    In the first instalment of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6, we started this month’s study by reading about the pivotal events and preparation that led to the Israelite’s victory at the city of Jericho, where God caused the walls of this fortress city to fall down and the Israelites to establish themselves as the new rulers of the land of Canaan – the Promised Land. 

    We started our Bible commentary with Israelite’s successful crossing into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. Though Canaan truly is the land of milk and honey, as God promised them, it is also occupied by their enemies, the Canaanites.  

    As part of their 3-part military strategy to possess the land of Canaan, the Israelites are about to embark on what no one has done before – they are planning on conquering the impregnable military fortress city of Jericho, which had been strategically built to defend the access point to the central mountain ranges that divide the land from east to west.  

    However, the Israelites are not going against the seasoned warrior Canaanites alone – God has been preparing His people for victory by re-instigating His covenant with them and insisting on traditions and customs being observed that had been discarded in the wilderness. In addition, God has planted a weakness behind the enemy lines in the form of Rahab, a prostitute. Moreover, the Israelites believe in God’s promise to deliver Jericho into their hands (Joshua 6:2). If God says it’s a done deal, then it’s a done deal! 

    Now that their preparation is complete, the next thing that the Israelites need to do is carry out God’s plan to overcome Jericho – a plan that tests the boundaries of human logic and military expertise, because it simply does not make sense to us. And yet it worked!  

    Would you like to know what this plan was and why it led the Israelites to the capture of Jericho? Then keep on reading! 

    However, before we begin, let us take a quick look at why God chose Jericho, a city whose defenses were considered impenetrable, as a first point of victory for the Israelites in their military campaign on the Promised Land of Canaan. 

    Photo credit:  Adam Zvanovec on Unsplash

    The victory at Jericho was designed to give God glory and establish His might

    The victory of Jericho was going to be monumental, not only for the Israelites to drive a wedge into Canaan and set up a new ruling dynasty in the land, but for God to show His people, the Canaanites, and the surrounding nations how mighty He was.  

    This was God’s battle, and He was going to choose a divinely superior method of deliverance that would display His power and establish for the Israelites and the surrounding nations that He was the source of the Israelite’s victory – not man’s carnal intelligence or expertise at wielding weaponry. 

    So why did God seek out Jericho specifically? 

    Although it is true that the city of Jericho posed as a major obstacle for the Israelites in their pursuit of claiming the land God promised them, what really offended God were that the city’s inhabitants were worshipping pagan idols and holding occult practices that were offensive to Him (Joshua 6:18). This spiritual disobedience was an abomination to God and needed to be stopped and the Canaanites made an example of.  

    For that reason, God chose to pitch His people, who were inexperienced in warfare and ill-equipped for battle, against the Canaanites, who were superior to them in military experience and resources, in order that all would recognizable that the Israelite victory could only come through God’s might and power and not through human strategizing.  

    Additionally, this plan was unique in that it had never been implemented before, nor would it ever be used again to conquer a city. 

    Now, let’s find out what God’s military strategy for defeating the Canaanites at Jericho was. 

    Photo credit:  Juan Jose on Unsplash

    The art of war – minus the weapons and the fighting

    The Art of War” is one of the most renowned military treatises ever written. It is attributed to the ancient Chinese general and military strategist Sun Tzu. 

    When it came to ancient warfare, Sun Tzu and his contemporaries used their experience on the battlefield to form innovative and crippling strategies to gain victory over their opponents. These strategies were documented, resulting in the famous publication we know today. 

    Sun Tzu’s treatise includes tactical advice in conquering a besieged city, however the people of Ancient Palestine were also seasoned in this type of warfare. 

    The strategy behind invading a besieged city such as Jericho would have covered a timespan of weeks, if not months. There were various options that an attacking army could implement to force their enemy to surrender: 

    • They could starve the city inhabitants into surrendering 
    • They could assault the city with battering rams, moving towers or catapults 
    • The integrity of the fortress walls could be compromised by tunneling or using fire 
    • A dirt ramp could be constructed by heaping earth until it reached the most accessible point in the parapets 

    God’s military plan for the overthrow of Jericho

    However, God does not strategize as man does. First of all, His military plan was designed to achieve a victory in 7 days – an impossible timeline in ancient warfare. God reveals further details of His strategy to Joshua: 

    ‘”You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.” 

    Joshua 6:3-5 (NRSV) 

    Let’s break down God’s plan: 

    • The Israelites needed to march around the walls of Jericho once each day, for 6 days 
    • At the front of the cavalcade would be 7 priests bearing 7 trumpets made out of ram’s horns 
    • The priests were to walk ahead of the ark 
    • On the 7th day, the Israelites were to walk 7 times around the city walls 
    • At the sound of the priests blowing the trumpets, all of the Israelites were to give an almighty shout  
    • The walls of Jericho fall down 

    God’s presence is a formidable weapon

    God’s plan did not involve weaponry or a convoluted military strategy. It didn’t even require the Israelites to build trenches or erect battering rams. God’s plan comprised of a very simple strategy that entailed two key symbols of God’s presence: 

    The ark 

    The ark was to play a prominent role in the victory of Jericho.  God was showing His people that He was with them, leading them to victory. Seeing the ark before them would also have reassured the Israelites, reminding them of how they crossed the Jordan (Joshua 3:2-43:8-14). God also wanted the ark in front of them to keep the Israelite’s hearts and minds on Him, and not on their upcoming battle. 

    The trumpets

    The trumpets that the priests used were not the silver instruments traditionally used in ceremonies. These trumpets were designed to be used in battle. They were made out of ram’s horns and only ranged a few notes, which evoked spiritual overtones. When blown into, they emitted a dull, penetrating sound, which was designed to make the Israelites associate it with God’s voice.  

    Can you imagine how these trumpets sounded and the effect it had on the Israelites? And what about the Canaanites? The sombre resonance being emitted from the ram’s horns would have intimidated the Canaanites watching from the walls above them, making them think that the time of their doom was nigh. Talk about an added bonus!  

    What is also so unusual about this plan is that every Israelite was involved – not only the non-soldiers such as women and children, but also the priests, who traditionally were excused from warfare. God wanted a group effort for a group victory. 

    I wonder what Sun Tzu would have thought about this plan? 

    One thing is for certain: Though this strategy challenges our logic (and even our survival instincts), it is evident that God factored in details in His plan that we as humans may otherwise not have considered. Let’s find out what they were. 

    Photo credit:  Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

    Don’t fight the enemy his way – fight your way

    The Israelites could not engage in direct warfare, as they were ex-slaves and nomads, who had wandered the desert for 40 years. They were not warriors like the Canaanites, and they certainly did not possess battering rams, catapults and such to even launch such an assault. Their few swords and slings (though these were very effective – remember David versus Goliath [1 Samuel 17]?) would be of little use against the fortified walls of Jericho. And God knew that.  

    Therefore, God wanted the Israelites to fight with what they had. Let’s see what the Israelites had in their strategic assemblage.  

    Photo credit:  Michael Uebler on Unsplash

    The weapons of our warfare are spiritual, not carnal

    Based on what we’ve just read, this was always going to be a spiritual battle, not a physical one. Hence, instead of using the meagre supply of weapons in their arsenal, the Israelites were going to fight with far greater weapons – their faith, obedience, courage, and endurance.  

    Faith

    The Israelite’s declaration of faith in God’s assurance of victory starts with Joshua. He not only listened to what God told him about the imminent fall of Jericho, he believed that God would deliver the city into the Israelite’s hands (Joshua 6:2). 

    Then, with continued faith, Joshua told the plan to the Israelites, who in turn, accepted this untried and illogically-sounding strategy with their own faith. This was highly commendable on their part, considering that Joshua intentionally only told them God’s plan in increments. Joshua wanted the Israelites to focus on God and be dependent on Him throughout every part of the process to achieving victory and the prize of capturing the city.  

    Thus, the Israelites marched around their enemy’s camp trusting God’s promise, which only Joshua had heard directly. They believed in the battle plan. 

    This was a tremendous leap of faith for the Israelites, for they didn’t have the reassurance of a tried and tested strategy to gauge their odds, nor could they rely on their limited experience in warfare. They had to put their trust and reliance in God.  

    Courage

    Despite the battle plan being fraught with danger – walking around a highly defended city being observed by battle-hardened giants for 7 days – the Israelites gathered their courage and walked.  

    Going around and around the city walls, the Israelites would have been able to see clearly what they were up against – giants armed to the teeth in weaponry, impenetrable walls with ramparts wide enough for chariots to ride across, and a looming stone tower that rose 28 ft above them.  They also would have made themselves vulnerable to attack from the Canaanites. And yet, the Israelites refused to let themselves be intimidated. They walked in courage, knowing that God was Jehovah Nissi – their battle standard. 

    Obedience

    Joshua and the Israelites followed God’s strategy down to the last detail. For 6 days, every man, woman and child walked in absolute silence around the walls of Jericho in the cavalcade that God had decreed – even when they saw nothing happening.  

    It was only on the 7th day, that the Israelites shouted once – again in obedience to God at Joshua’s command. 

    The Israelites demonstrated their obedience by fulfilling Joshua’s instructions as he issued them, without having an overview of God’s strategy.  

    Additionally, the Israelites most likely would have marched on the Sabbath. However, they chose to obey a God, who didn’t allow Himself to be restricted by His own laws, as opposed to strictly following a religious practice. We see this repeated in Mark 2:23-28, when Jesus countered the Pharisee’s accusation that His disciples plucked at heads of grain to still their hunger on the Sabbath.  

    Instead of relying on their own human logic and carnal strategizing, the Israelites chose to completely obey God, without questioning His plans, nor His timing. 

    Endurance

    The Israelites exhibited tremendous endurance by persisting in following a plan day by day that didn’t make sense to them. This was remarkable, especially when you consider that walking around the walls of Jericho only exposed the Israelite’s apparently futile situation to the Children of God, which could only have attempted to whittle away at their insistence in obeying God. 

    These elements, together with the presence of a mighty and powerful God, made up the winning military strategy required to make the walls of Jericho fall down. 

    Photo credit:  Joshua Earle on Unsplash

    The sound of silence

    Have you ever heard of the phrase “Speech is silver, but silence is golden?” Well in the Israelite’s case, silence played a key role in their victory. 

    Although it doesn’t specifically state in the Bible why God wanted the Israelites to march in silence – He could have equally required of them to sing and dance in worship, or march around praying loudly – the Israelite’s observation of silence demonstrates an important precedence for us all to come to God in silence. Instead of running around trying to solve our problems with our own strength, we need to come to rest and be still in God’s presence and draw on His strength.  

    “Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” 

    Zechariah 2:13 

    In addition, by being silent, while at the same time not exactly being told why, was a further act of obedience from the Children of God. 

    Finally, through the silence, the Israelite’s could better hear the trumpet fanfare that represented the voice of God, which helped them focus on God’s promise of victory for them. 

    Photo credit:  Kristina Flour on Unsplash

    On six and seven* – the significance of the numbers 6 and 7 in the Bible

    When you read about God’s strategy for the Israelites to conquer Jericho, did the number 7 keeping popping out at you?  

    • 7 days 
    • 7 trips around the city walls 
    • 7 priests 
    • 7 horns 
    • The Israelites shout on the 7th day 

    Well, that is not a coincidence on God’s part. Numbers play a significant role in the Bible.  

    The number 7 is found 735 times in scripture. It represents completeness, perfection and the foundation of God. 

    When you think about what you already know about the number 7 from Sunday school or your own study of the Bible, the significance of this numeral makes sense: God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th – the Sabbath. Passover is celebrated in Israel, according to biblical tradition, for 7 days.  

    The number 7 is also represented in other ways in the Bible: 

    • According to the Hebrew calendar, God created Adam in the 7th month 
    • The bible is divided into 7 divisions:  

    1) the law 

    2) the prophets 

    3) the Psalms 

    4) Gospels and Acts 

    5) the (general) epistles 

    6) Paul’s epistles 

    7) The Book of Revelations 

    In comparison, the number 6 symbolizes man and his weakness: 

    • God created man on the 6th day 
    • In ancient times, Hebrew slaves were to serve 6 years and be released in the 7th year 
    • 6 (x3) is associated with Satan 

    For 6 days, the Israelites walked around the walls of Jericho and nothing happened. It was only when God intervened on the 7th day, did the walls fall down, thus completing the Israelite’s victory. 

    God has given the Israelites a purpose in Canaan, as well as a plan by which they can claim the land of milk and honey for their own. The Israelites know that they have to accept God’s plan with faith and carry it through with obedience, if they have any chance of conquering Jericho. However, there is one final thing they need to do, before they see the walls of the city fall down. 

    They needed to give an almighty shout of praise to their God! 

    *(From Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde) 

    Photo credit:  Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

    Praise God before the breakthrough

    Every Israelite – from the 7 Levite priests before the ark to the smallest child – obeyed God and walked in absolute silence around the walls of the fortified city of Jericho for 6 days. 

    The city encompassed an area of about 6.5 acres, so it didn’t take the Israelites long to march around the perimeter. However, it did give them ample opportunity to do a thorough reconnaissance of their enemy’s layout.  

    Being so close to Jericho’s infamous impregnable walls, the Israelites were confronted with just how colossal the task ahead of them was. Their proximity to the walls would have most likely put them in danger from an airborne attack of spears, slings or arrows from the Canaanites manning the parapets. At the least, the Israelites probably had to endure ridicule and jeering from the Canaanites, with the intention of intimidating them. Yet through all of this, they did not break their silence. 

    Until the 7th day.

    On this day, God wanted the Israelites to shout – just once – before He made the walls fall down. And the shout was to be a response to the sound of the ram’s horn, which was supposed to be akin to His voice.

    Why did God ask His people to that?

    We established earlier that this was a spiritual battle and that God wanted to use the victory of Jericho to set a precedent for the surrounding nations.

    God didn’t need the Israelite’s help – but He did want their partnership, which required them to show Him a visible sign of their faith. And what better way to show God your faith than by praising Him before you see a breakthrough?  

    This is what the Israelite’s one and only shout symbolized – that they believed God would keep His promise of victory, before they saw one stone from the wall of Jericho being dislodged and that He was their Lord, who would never fail them, nor forsake them. 

    Praising God before a breakthrough is also demonstrated in other biblical accounts: King Jehoshaphat sent men to sing and praise God before his battle against the combined armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (2 Chronicles 20:20-22). In Acts 16:25-32, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God in prison. In response, God brought about an earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison, released captives from their chains, and brought a Phillipian jailor to Christ. 

    And so, the Israelite’s raised their voices on Joshua’s command and shouted their praise to the Lord in faith: 

    So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it.” 

    Joshua 6:20 

    And in response, God caused the walls of Jericho – the infamously impregnable walls of Jericho – to fall down.  

    Photo credit:  Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

    However, the lesson of God’s promise doesn’t end here. The Israelite’s still need to fulfil God’s final commands in the captured city of Jericho, before they can claim their inheritance as the new leaders of the land of Canaan.  

    If you would like to learn more about what the Israelite’s get up to in their first days as the victors of Jericho, then feel free to join us in our next and final instalment of Part One of our Bible Study on Joshua 6, which we will publish soon.  

    In the weeks to come, we will be publishing the remaining parts of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6: In Part Two – Living God’s Word, we will share with you how you can implement the lessons learned in Joshua 6 in your own life. In Part Three – Studying God’s Word, we will be offering study and discussion questions, reading material, and a prayer that you can use in your own small group or adapt to your own private study of Joshua 6. 

    Until then, stay blessed my friends! 

    Sources:

    bibleorg.com, “5. Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)” 

    enduring word.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho” 

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?” 

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”  

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan” 

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?” 

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?”