The battles of Jericho and Ai; Aachan’s sin; the covenant renewed: Joshua 6–8; 1 Chronicles 2:7
God had given Jericho, its king and all its strong warriors to the Israelites. This was Jericho, with its impenetrable high walls.
It was a strategic and well-built military fortress. On top of that, it had an army of strong warriors defending it, and it was ready for a long siege. The walls were high, the gates were shut tight, and there’s no doubt the king would have had as much of the harvest brought in as possible. Perhaps like the Trojans, the Jericho-ans thought their fortress was impenetrable, barring miracles like seas and rivers parting to let people through.
What happened next would have had to have been astounding.
There was no direct attack.
Joshua 6:8-9 After Joshua spoke to the people, the seven priests with the rams’ horns started marching in the presence of the Lord, blowing the horns as they marched. And the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant followed behind them. Some of the armed men marched in front of the priests with the horns and some behind the Ark, with the priests continually blowing the horns.
This strange, silent formation (the Israelites didn’t say a word) circled Jericho once, then went back to the camp. They did this for six days straight, with the army of Jericho watching and waiting for something to happen. Maybe they were hoping nothing would happen and this increasingly ridiculous army would just go away.
Then one more day, the seventh. Was it a Sabbath? The Jericho-ans wouldn’t have known or cared, but the Israelites would have. One of those seven days was a Sabbath, but the Israelites marched (silently) around Jericho anyway, out of obedience to God.
On the seventh day, the Israelite priests and armed men circled Jericho seven times. On the seventh time, the priests sounded the rams horns and the people:
Joshua 7:20 shouted as loudly as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.
This whole affair took great faith, as Paul told the Hebrews centuries later:
Hebrews 11:30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.