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Jericho was a Canaanite city-state and a major city of Israel. Notably it was located directly across the Jordan River from Mount Nebo and Moab. It was famous for its palm trees. Jericho is most famous for it being the first city to be conquered by the Israelites in their conquest of Canaan. Under the leadership of Joshua with divine assistance from God, Israel captured and destroyed the city fortress after a seven day march.

Jericho was reconstructed during the reign of King Ahab,as foretold through a prophecy

During the days of Jesus, the ancient site of Jericho was largely abandoned and there was a newer settlement to the south, which had been built by King Herod. Jesus performed miracles here, including the healing of a blind man named Bartimaeus.

History

Early History

Jericho was probably established by a descendant of Canaan, sometime before the Exodus[1]. It was constructed in very close proximity to the Jordan River, across from Moabite territory and several mountains[2]; such as Mount Nebo. Jericho may have been constructed as a defensive fortress for other Canaanite cities to protect against foreign adversaries. Jericho was a typical Canaanite city, because it became a city-state with its own king and had many residents living inside the walls[3]. Jericho was built amongst many palm trees and eventually gained the reputation as "the city of palm trees"[4]. Jericho's position along the Jordan River was so well known that Moses frequently used Jericho as a geographic reference point in the Book of Numbers[2]. Jericho's prominence as a Canaanite city earned a specific promise from God that Israel would give Jericho's land as part of the promised land.

Battle with Israel

Jericho Fears

Sometime before Israel destroyed Jericho, the people heard of parting of the Red Sea, the exodus from Egypt and the defeat of the Amorites under Sihon and Og This caused the city's inhabitants to be so fearful, that Rahab described the city's people as having "melted".[5]

Jericho was probably very fearful when the Israelites had camped in the land across from the Jordan. When two Israelites spies went to Jericho, the King of Jericho received a report that they were staying with one of the city's prostitutes, Rahab. Jericho's King sent a message to Rahab asking her to turn in the Israelite spies. Rahab hid them on her roof and told her King that they had escaped the city, before the gate was closed for the night. The King ordered the militia to track down the Israelites and the gate was closed behind them as soon as they left.[6]

The spies escaped while Jericho's army searched for them. Rather than re-opening the gate for public entry during the day, Jericho was put on high alert. The gate was kept closed all day and night and no one was permitted to enter or leave the city.[7]

The City Destroyed

By the LORD's command the Israelite army marched around the city for six days. Israel marched around the city one time for six days, but on the seventh day they marched around Jericho seven times. On the seventh day horns were blown and the Israelites shouted loudly. The walls of the city of Jericho collapsed and caved in, leaving the defenses of the city down. Israel's army marched into the city and killed every living creature in the city[8], including its King[9]. Only Rahab and her family were spared. All of the remnants of the city's wall were burned, excluding the city's riches, which were to be dedicated to the Tabernacle treasury[10].

Jericho is Cursed

After the fortress was dismantled, God spoke through Joshua to curse the city of Jericho. If anyone ever restored the original glory of Jericho's fortress, they would lose their firstborn upon laying the foundations and they would lose their youngest son if they rebuilt the gates.[11]

Since the plunder was dedicated to the Tabernacle, misuse of the plunder would curse Israel. This was found to be evident when a Judahite named Achan stole money from the plunder and cursed all of Israel.

City of Benjamin

During Joshua's lifetime the land he helped conquered was allocated to the different tribes of Israel. The city of Jericho, a shadow of its former glory was allocated at the very north of the Tribe of Benjamin on the border of the Tribe of Judah[12].

Judges and Kings

Kenite Occupation

Due to Jericho's location on the border of Benjamin and Judah, Judahites often frequented Jericho. Apparently, Kenite descendants of Jethro lived in Jericho for some time alongside some Judahites. At one point the group of Kenites left the city of Jericho and settled in Judah.[13]

Moab's City

Some time after the death of the Judge Othniel Israel returned to disobeying God as they had done before. In order to punish Israel's disobedience, God lead Moab under the leadership of Eglon to attack Israel. Moab combined their forces with Ammon and Amalek and overtook Israel, taking over Jericho; probably as the Moabite capital.[14]

Jericho Rebuilt

During the reign of King Ahab Jericho was rebuilt. A man from Bethel named Hiel (of Bethel) decided to rebuild the city, but he lost his firstborn and youngest son when he erected the foundations and gate respectively; just as Joshua's curse pronounced[11]. He may have rebuilt Jericho by order of Ahab along with many other men.

Verses

  1. Josh 2:10 (Link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Num 22:1, 26:3, 26:63, 31:12, 33:48, 34:15, 35:1, 36:13; Deut 32:49, 34:1, 34:3
  3. Josh 2:15 (Link)
  4. Deut 34:3, 2 Chr 28:15 (Link)
  5. Josh 2:9-11 (Link)
  6. Josh 2:3-7 (Link)
  7. Josh 6:1 (Link)
  8. Josh 6:13-21 (Link)
  9. Josh 10:1, Josh 10:28-30, Josh 12:9 (Link)
  10. Josh 6:24 (Link)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Josh 6:26, 1 Kings 16:34
  12. Josh 18:12, 21 (Link)
  13. Judg 1:16 (Link)
  14. Judg 3:12-13 (Link)

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