Thursday, January 24, 2008

Joshua 5:13–6:27

Joshua 5:13–6:27: The Fall of Jericho

Synopsis

In this passage, the nation of Israel has their first victory in the Promised Land, when they take over the city of Jericho.

But before they get there, Joshua runs into a man with a drawn sword. Joshua asks the man, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (verse 5:13). But the man—who is really an angel, so that’s what I’ll call him from now on—tells Joshua that he’s not for the Israelites or their enemies; he’s for the LORD. When Joshua hears this, he realizes who and what the man is, so he falls facedown, and asks him what message he has for Joshua. But all the angel tells Joshua is to take his sandals off, because he’s standing on holy ground.

The LORD tells Joshua—possibly through the angel?—that He is delivering Jericho into Joshua’s hands. So this is what Joshua is to do:
  • Once a day, for six days, the Israelite army is to march around the city. The priests are to go with them, bringing the Ark, and blowing trumpets.
  • On the seventh day, they are to do the same thing, but they are to march around the city seven times, instead of once. After they’ve marched around the city seven times, the priests are to give a long blast on the trumpets, and the people are to give a loud shout; at that point, the wall of the city will collapse, and the Israelite army is to go in and take the city over.
So Joshua follows the LORD’s commands. He has the army march around the city, along with the priests, who are carrying the Ark and blowing their trumpets. But Joshua tells the people: “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!” (verse 6:10). Every day, for six days, the Israelites do this, and then return to their camp.

On the seventh day, they do the same thing, except that they march around the city seven times, instead of once. And then the priests blow on their trumpets, and Joshua gives the command for the people to shout. They are to go in and destroy the city, except for Rahab and her family. The people are also to be careful not to be tempted by the spoils of war:

“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.” (verses 6:18–19)

Then everything happens just as the LORD promised: When the people give their shout, the wall of the city falls, and the people go in and destroy it, as they were told. Joshua sends the spies into the city to bring out Rahab and her family, and they put them in a safe place (outside the camp of Israel).

After this, Joshua pronounces a curse on the former site of the city of Jericho:

At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:

  “At the cost of his firstborn son
  will he lay its foundations;
  at the cost of his youngest
  will he set up its gates.”

(verse 6:26)

Thoughts

The Bible never specifically calls the “man” that Joshua meets an “angel,” but that’s what I’m calling him. And he doesn’t seem to have much of a role; he just tells Joshua that he’s on holy ground, and that’s it. I assume the point is to remind us that it wasn’t the Israelites who took the city of Jericho, it was God. Meaning, I guess, that God’s angels were fighting on behalf of Him, as were the Israelites. Or maybe that’s trying to be too detailed, about something that the Bible doesn’t give details about…
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