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33 And The Walls of Jericho Fell Down

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

In this episode we look at a story that can be understood very differently when you look at it through the lens that Jesus gives us about God. In the future we will look at a few other situations in the Old Testament - we would like your input as to which of the following (or others that you may have) that you would like us to discuss. Send us an email and let us know. or

33 And the Walls of Jericho Fell Down
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God and infertility Genesis 16:2  The LORD has kept me from having children  Gen 20:18

God tempted people to do evil Genesis 22:1; 2 Samuel 24:1

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart Exodus 4:21; 10:1; Josh 11:20; Isa 6:10; Rom 9:18

God commanded stoning and burning as punishment Exodus 19:13; Lev 20:2,27; 24:14,16,23; Num 15:36; Dt 29:23; Joshua 7:25

God sent snakes to bite His rebellious people Numbers 21:6

God sent evil spirits to torment people Judges 9:23; 1Samuel 16:14-16, 23; 18:10; 19:9

God prevented women from having children Gen 16:2; 20:18; 29:31;1 Samuel 1:5,6

God creates good and bad 1Samuel 2:6,7; Job 1:21; 2:10; Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6

God sent lying spirits out who speak evil 1Kings 22:22,23;  2Chronicles 18:21

God sends a strong delusion 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

God killed people who disobeyed Him  1Chronicles 10:14; Judges 4:1

God destroyed a friend with fire at the instigation of Satan Job 1:16

God killed Ruth’s family members Ruth 1:11,20,21

God killed the young and the weak  Ezekiel 9:5,6

God commanded idolatry Ezekiel 20:39

God destroyed and burned the cities of His enemies Matthew 22:7

God is guilty of genocide Num 31:7; Deut. 7:1,2; 20:17; 25:19; 1Sam 15:2-3

God punishes those who reject Him Revelation 20:15

God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah  Genesis 19:24-26

God drowned men, women and children in the flood  Genesis 6:5-7

God executed 185,000 Assyrians in one night 2Kings 19:35

Jesus rescues us from the coming Wrath  1 Thessalonians 1:10

Jericho’s Walls

This story in the Bible apparently makes a water-tight case for God killing His enemies. War or the force of violence is regarded as the ultimate solution on this planet. There are not many Christians who believe in alternatives when faced with serious threat. Pacifism has never been popular even among religious people, in fact, many of the wars on our planet have been over religious differences. Some would argue that religious differences have been the cause of most wars. The concept of a Holy or Just War is often justified from the Old Testament account of the wars that Israel, God's chosen people, fought during their existence as a nation, prior to the Babylonian captivity. It is thus helpful to look at the background of these wars and the intent God had for His people. Moses attempted to initiate the deliverance of Israel by killing the Egyptian who was abusing one of his brothers (Exodus 2:11-12). While this might be considered an-ill-advised, rash response by Moses, it suggests that Moses, trained in the art of war, believed that deliverance would have to be a military one. The Egyptian army was the most powerful military force in the world at the time of the Exodus. That God could accomplish the deliverance of the Israelites from the world power of the time is more than powerful evidence; it is proof that God meant to care for the delivered nation, and that He was well able to do so. The Israelite contribution during the Exodus was to stand and watch the Lord work. There is compelling Scriptural evidence that God promised to continue to protect the Israelite nation during their travels and after they had occupied the Promised Land. There are however some interesting twists to the story that invite us to read it again. Some of these are: What was God’s war plan for the Israelites in the journey to and the occupation of Canaan? Who is the mysterious, impartial commander in Joshua chapter five? Why did the Israelites not use the marching method against other cities they needed to conquer since it was so successful? Was Achan the only one who kept some of the loot? Was the destruction of Achan’s family and animals culturally motivated or God inspired? What part did scapegoating play in this incident?

Here is the story.

Joshua 5:13-6:27 (Message Bible) 13 And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, AWhose side are you onCours or our enemies?” 14 He said, “Neither. I’m commander of GOD’s army. I’ve just arrived.” Joshua fell, face to the ground, and worshiped. He asked, “What orders does my Master have for his servant?” 15 GOD’s army commander ordered Joshua, “Take your sandals off your feet. The place you are standing is holy.” Joshua did it. 6:1 Jericho was shut up tight as a drum because of the People of Israel: no one going in, no one coming out. 2B5 GOD spoke to Joshua, “Look sharp now. I’ve already given Jericho to you, along with its king and its crack troops. Here’s what you are to do: March around the city, all your soldiers. Circle the city once. Repeat this for six days. Have seven priests carry seven ram’s horn trumpets in front of the Chest. On the seventh day march around the city seven times, the priests blowing away on the trumpets. And then, a long blast on the ram’s hornCwhen you hear that, all the people are to shout at the top of their lungs. The city wall will collapse at once. All the people are to enter, every man straight on in.” 6 So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and told them, “Take up the Chest of the Covenant. Seven priests are to carry seven ram’s horn trumpets leading GOD’s Chest.” 7 Then he told the people, “Set out! March around the city. Have the armed guard march before the Chest of GOD.” 8B9 And it happened. Joshua spoke, the people moved: Seven priests with their seven ram’s horn trumpets set out before GOD. They blew the trumpets, leading GOD’s Chest of the Covenant. The armed guard marched ahead of the trumpet-blowing priests; the rear guard was marching after the Chest, marching and blowing their trumpets. 10 Joshua had given orders to the people, “Don’t shout. In fact, don’t even speak not so much as a whisper until you hear me say, Shout! then shout away! (Cp 1Thess 4:16 trumpets, shout)

11B13 He sent the Chest of GOD on its way around the city. It circled once, came back to camp, and stayed for the night. Joshua was up early the next morning and the priests took up the Chest of GOD. The seven priests carrying the seven ram’s horn trumpets marched before the Chest of GOD, marching and blowing the trumpets, with the armed guard marching before and the rear guard marching after. Marching and blowing of trumpets! 14 On the second day they again circled the city once and returned to camp. They did this for six days. 15B17 When the seventh day came, they got up early and marched around the city this same way but seven times yes, this day they circled the city seven times. On the seventh time around the priests blew the trumpets and Joshua signalled the people, “Shout!” GOD has given you the city! The city and everything in it is under a holy curse and offered up to GOD. “Except for Rahab the harlot she is to live, she and everyone in her house with her, because she hid the agents we sent. 18B19 “As for you, watch yourselves in the city under holy curse. Be careful that you don’t covet anything in it and take something that’s cursed, endangering the camp of Israel with the curse and making trouble for everyone. All silver and gold, all vessels of bronze and iron are holy to GOD. Put them in GOD’s treasury.” 20 The priests blew the trumpets. When the people heard the blast of the trumpets, they gave a thunderclap shout. The wall fell at once. The people rushed straight into the city and took it. 21 They put everything in the city under the holy curse, killing man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey. 22B24 Joshua ordered the two men who had spied out the land, “Enter the house of the harlot and rescue the woman and everyone connected with her, just as you promised her.@ So the young spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, and brothers everyone connected with her. They got the whole family out and gave them a place outside the camp of Israel. But they burned down the city and everything in it, except for the gold and silver and the bronze and iron vessels all that they put in the treasury of GOD’s house. 25 But Joshua let Rahab the harlot live Rahab and her father’s household and everyone connected to her. She is still alive and well in Israel because she hid the agents whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. 26 Joshua swore a solemn oath at that time: Cursed before GOD is the man who sets out to rebuild this city Jericho. He’ll pay for the foundation with his firstborn son, He’ll pay for the gates with his youngest son. 27 GOD was with Joshua. He became famous all over the land. 1. Here is GOD’s war plan or strategy for the Israelites. Exodus 14:13,14 Stand firm and see the deliverance that the Lord will bring you this day; for as sure as you see the Egyptians now, you will never see them again. The Lord will fight for you; so hold your peace. Exodus 23:27 I will send my terror before you and throw into confusion all the peoples whom you find in your path. Exodus 33:2 I will send an angel ahead of you, and will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. Exodus 34:10,11 The Lord said, “Here and now I make a covenant. In full view of all the people I will do such miracles as have never been performed in all the world or in any nation. All the surrounding peoples shall see the work of the Lord, for fearful is that which I shall do for you. Observe all I command you this day; and I for my part will drive out before you the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.” Deuteronomy 1:29-33 Then I said to you, “You must not dread them nor be afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes at your head will fight for you and He will do again what you saw Him do for you in Egypt and in the wilderness. You saw there how the Lord your God carried you all the way to this place, as a father carries his son. In spite of this you did not trust the Lord your God,

who went ahead on the journey to find a place for your camp.” Deuteronomy 7:17-19 You may say to yourselves, “These nations outnumber us, how can we drive them out?” But you need have no fear of them; only remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and the whole of Egypt, the great challenge which you yourselves witnessed, the signs and portents, the strong hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. He will deal thus with all the nations of whom you are afraid. There are many examples of God making good His promises of protection to the Israelites. The Biblical record demonstrates that when the people trusted in God's protection by living in obedience to His commands, they were protected from all their enemies in a most remarkable way. Here is some of the evidence.

Evidence of God’s Protection against other Nations

Genesis 35:4,5 So they handed over to Jacob all the foreign gods in their possession and the rings from their ears, and he buried them under the terebinth-tree near Shechem. Then they set out, and the cities round about were panic-stricken, and the inhabitants dared not pursue the sons of Jacob. Joshua 6:20 So they blew the trumpets, and when the army heard the trumpet sound, they raised a great shout, and down fell the walls (of Jericho). Judges 7:20,21 The three companies all blew their trumpets and smashed their jars, then grasped the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right, and shouted, 'A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!' Every man stood where he was, all around the camp, and the whole camp leapt up in panic and fled. Joshua 8:34 Then Joshua recited the whole of the blessing and cursing word by word, as they are written in the book of the law. This was at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim which were in hostile, unconquered territory. Joshua 10:11 As they (the attackers of the Gibeonites) were fleeing from Israel down the pass, the Lord hurled great hailstones at them out of the sky all the way to Azekah: More died from the hailstones than the Israelites slew by the sword. Joshua 24:12 I spread panic before you, and it was this, not your sword or your bow, that drove out the two kings of the Amorites (in Transjordan). 1 Samuel 7:10 As Samuel was offering the sacrifice and the Philistines were advancing to battle with the Israelites, the Lord thundered loud and long over the Philistines and threw them into confusion. They fled in panic before the Israelites . . . 2 Chronicles 20:20-23,29 So they rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and, as they were starting, Jehoshaphat took his stand and said “Hear me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: hold firmly to your faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have

faith in His prophets and you will prosper.” After consulting with the people, he appointed men to sing to the Lord and praise the splendour of His holiness as they went before the armed troops and they sang: Give thanks to the Lord For His love endures for ever. As soon as their loud shouts of praise were heard, the Lord deluded the Ammonites and Moabites and the men of the hill country of Seir, who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. It turned out that the Ammonites and Moabites had taken up a position against the men of the hill- country of Seir, and set themselves to annihilate and destroy them; and when they had ex- terminated the men of Seir, they savagely attacked one another. . . . So the dread of God fell upon the rulers of every country, when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel; and the realm of Jehoshaphat was at peace, God giving him security on all sides. Three times every year all the Israelite men would go up to the feasts in Jerusalem. During this time the Lord protected their houses and lands from hostile surrounding enemies. God is clearly recognized in Psalm 44:3. It was not our fathers' words (that) won them the land, nor their arm that gave them the victory, but Thy right hand and Thy arm and the light of Thy presence; such was Thy favour to them. This protection and leading of 1 Chronicles 28:3 indicates that

King David was not permitted to build the temple because he had been a man of blood.

If it was God's will or design for David to be involved in so much death and destruction, starting with the way he responded to Goliath, then it is hardly fair for God to later reject David’s desire to build the temple because he was a man of blood. It is rather that God's temple, His dwelling, can never in any way be associated with force since the government of God is based on free choice and love. Compelling force is not part of His rule. God risked the disappointment of one of His dearest friends to make this point.

2. GOD’s commander, who appears to Joshua (5:14), does not take sides.

This must be Jesus Christ himself since when Joshua worships him he does not correct him but accepts worship with the admonition to Joshua to remove his shoes. What shall we make of this? We must conclude the LORD loves both the Israelites and the people of Jericho. We may also conclude this angelic commander was not going to destroy the people of Jericho. He had purer motives and a nobler missions than getting involved with a war between the Israelites and the inhabitants of Jericho.

3. The Israelites did not believe the marching around the city destroyed it.

They never used this strategy again even when they were faced with defeat by a smaller town such as Ai. If they believed marching gave them the victory they would have always done so when they were fighting against a city after this. The week of waiting from the first day they marched to the last day was a time for repentance for the people of Jericho. They had heard the stories of supernatural support for the Israelites. Rahab could have witnessed to the inhabitants of Jericho. She had the information and so must have other people in Jericho (Joshua 2:8-11). We do not know if she ever did witness to the people of Jericho.

The people were not to participate in the destruction of the walls since this was to be done supernaturally. The fall of the city was not to be to their credit and they were not to benefit from its fall. The valuables from the city were to go to the sanctuary for the LORD. There is a parallel in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem=s walls and the burning of the temple in this way: Matthew 22:1-7 1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 AThe kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4 AThen he sent some more servants and said, >Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.= 5 ABut they paid no attention and went offCone to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Reading this parable one could conclude that the king (the LORD) was going to destroy Jerusalem but it was the armies of Rome that broke down the city walls and burned the temple. Furthermore, God did not raise up the Romans and inspire them to destroy Jerusalem. Once again God blamed, as is done in Hebrew culture, for the evil instigated by the devil. Why didn’t Jesus correct their theology in this parable? Because he was making another cogent point. He did correct their theology in Matthew 5 and in many other teachings and parables. The following chapter from Chronicles is remarkable in illustrating the consequences of unfaithfulness to the LORD. It is clear from this story that sin exposes us to violent evil and this is often stated to be the LORD’s doing. 2 Chronicles 28 (Message Bible) Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He didn’t live right in the eyes of GOD; he wasn’t at all like his ancestor David. Instead he followed in the track of Israel in the north, even casting metal figurines for worshiping the pagan Baal gods. He participated in the outlawed burning of incense in the Valley of Ben Hinnom andCincredibly!Cindulged in the outrageous practice of Apassing his sons through the fire,@ a truly abominable thing he picked up from the pagans GOD had earlier thrown out of the country. He also joined in the activities of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines that flourished all over the place. 5B8 GOD, fed up, handed him over to the king of Aram, who beat him badly and took many prisoners to Damascus. God also let the king of Israel loose on him and that resulted in a terrible slaughter: Pekah son of Remaliah killed 120,000 in one day, all of them first-class soldiers, and all because they had deserted GOD, the God of their ancestors. Furthermore, Zicri, an Ephraimite hero, killed the king’s son Maaseiah, Azrikam the palace steward, and Elkanah, second in command to the king. And that wasn’t the end of itCthe Israelites captured 200,000 men, women, and children, besides huge cartloads of plunder that they took to Samaria. 9B11 GOD’s prophet Oded was in the neighborhood. He met the army when it entered Samaria and said, “Stop right where you are and listen! GOD, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah and used you to punish them; but you took things into your own hands and used your anger, uncalled for and irrational, to turn your brothers and sisters from Judah and Jerusalem into slaves. Don’t you see that this is a terrible sin against your GOD? Careful now; do exactly what I sayCreturn these captives, every last one of them. If you don’t, you’ll find out how real anger, GOD’s anger, works.” 12B13 Some of their Ephraimite leaders, Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai, stood up against the returning army and said, “Don’t bring the captives here! We’ve already sinned against GOD; and now you are about to compound our sin and guilt. We’re guilty enough as it is, enough to set off an explosion of divine anger.” 14B15 So the soldiers turned over both the captives and the plunder to the leaders and the people. Personally designated men gathered the captives together, dressed the ones who were naked using clothing from the stores of plunder, put shoes on their feet, gave them all a square meal, provided first aid to the injured, put the weak ones on donkeys, and then escorted them to Jericho, the City of Palms, restoring them to their families. Then they went back to Samaria. 16B21 At about that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria asking for personal help. The Edomites had come back and given 1B4

Judah a bad beating, taking off a bunch of captives. Adding insult to injury the Philistines raided the cities in the foothills to the west and the southern desert and captured Beth Shemesh, Aijalon, and Gederoth, along with Soco, Timnah, and Gimzo, with their surrounding villages, and moved in, making themselves at home. Arrogant King Ahaz, acting as if he could do without God’s help, had unleashed an epidemic of depravity. Judah, brought to its knees by GOD, was now reduced to begging for a handout. But the king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser, wouldn’t help, he came instead and humiliated Ahaz even more by attacking and bullying him. Desperate, Ahaz ransacked The Temple of GOD, the royal palace, and every other place he could think of, scraping together everything he could, and gave it to the king of Assyria, and got nothing in return, not a bit of help. 22B25 But King Ahaz didn’t learn his lesson, at the very time that everyone was turning against him, he continued to be against GOD! He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus. He had just been defeated by Damascus; he thought, “If I worship the gods who helped Damascus, those gods just might help me, too.” But things only went from bad to worse: first Ahaz in ruins and then the country. He cleaned out The Temple of God of everything useful and valuable, boarded up the doors of The Temple, and then went out and set up pagan shrines for his own use all over Jerusalem. And not only in Jerusalem, but all over Judah, neighbourhood shrines for worshiping any and every god on sale. And was GOD ever angry! 26B27 The rest of Ahaz’s infamous life, all that he did from start to finish, is written in the Royal Annals of the Kings of Judah and Israel. When Ahaz died, they buried him in Jerusalem, but he was not honored with a burial in the cemetery of the kings. His son Hezekiah was the next king. The tragedies that came upon Judah, according to this account, came from GOD. But God did not raise up Aram, Assyria, Israel, Edom and Philistia to raid Judah, kill them and make slaves of them. These are the consequences of wickedness and greed. GOD was forced away by Ahaz’s rebellion and disobedience and who was left to protect Judah? Ahaz knew he had forfeited GOD’s protection and turned to the gods of Damascus. The devil had a field day even though the writer attributed these calamities to GOD.

So, who supernaturally pushed the walls of Jericho over?

Clearly from the above, it was not the LORD but the devil and his angels as part of their machinations to destroy God’s people in Jericho. But why would the devil help Joshua destroy the city in the way the LORD had predicted? For at least the following reasons:

  1. The people of Jericho were the LORD’s creation and their destruction brought pain to the LORD’s heart.

  2. The devil made sure that the LORD was blamed for the destruction and so his propaganda against the LORD being a compassionate being was advanced. He is the father and master of misinformation and we need not be surprised at this destruction that he brought about (Jn 8:44).

  3. By their wickedness the people of Jericho had forced away the LORD’s protection and the devil was delighted to step in and destroy them.

  4. This does not mean that God and the devil are in cahoots. The area around the Dead Sea, which is part of the Rift Valley which stretches from Lake Galilee to Lake Malawi, has experienced volcanic activity and the warm, chemical laden springs which feed the Dead Sea and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah confirm this claim. Jericho’s destruction was imminent from seismic activity and God had been protecting the walls from collapsing. Israel came to bring them deliverance or salvation from this calamity. For seven days they were invited to repent and turn to God their protector. They refused and God’s prediction came true.

  5. Achan was not the only one who took some of the loot. The Israelites were a rebellious, disobedient group of people as their history demonstrates. To think that only Achan was guilty is to stretch the imagination beyond realism. Joshua 7:10-12 is written in the plural. There were many who watched with relief after Achan was selected as the guilty one. Loot policy also changed when Ai was captured (Joshua 8:2) and the conquerors were allowed to keep the plunder. This was probably to accommodate the reality of the situation.

  6. Achan’s whole family including animals were destroyed because it was the culture of the time. When Daniel was delivered from the Lion’s Den his accusers and their families were thrown to the lions. In Ezekiel 18 it is clear that children are not to be punished for the parent’s sins.

6. in the understanding of the Israelites a scapegoat was necessary for them to be reconciled to GOD and Achan was the goat (Joshua 7:26). The other guilty parties would have been happy to have the matter settled before they were investigated.


We remind ourselves in closing of the following: Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?” Ian Hartley, August 2020

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