Joshua 6

1 Fear can elicit several responses. People may run away from the problem or stay. If they stay, they may either face the problem or attempt to hide. Here the people of Jericho attempted to "barricade the door." However, they were soon to find out that they could not hide from God, nor could they defeat His purpose.

Jericho was an important city. It had an abundant spring and the people could grow crops year round. It was an oasis in the desert with the nickname "City of Palms." It was near a ford in the Jordan River (passable except during the spring flooding), and was on the east-west trade route to Jerusalem. It was a strategic place both in military and political terms. The walls around Jericho are thought to have been about 45 feet high. The walls were thick and sloped to resist siege tactics such as ladders and battering rams.

2 In God's eyes, the victory was already won. It was just a matter of time until Joshua would live that victory. The enemy's fear was promised by God and was evidence that He would fulfil His promise to give the Israelites victory. This would be a big victory because Jericho was well fortified, had its own king, and had valiant warriors. The Israelites were not trained warriors, but God would be their warrior.
3 The next week would be a week of increasing dread for the people of Jericho. They would see this strange army march around their city each day in silence (except for the sounding of the trumpets). Some have suggested that this was God's final call for mercy. If the city (or individuals) had surrendered, God would have had mercy on them. This idea is compatible with God's character, but we will see that no one surrenders, keeping with God's assessment of their spiritual hopelessness. Rehab had already surrendered, so God and Israel would provide protection for her.
4 One might note that since marching occurred on seven consecutive days that at least one of these days was a Sabbath. This is one of several clues that indicates that the command against "work" on the Sabbath meant work for personal gain, not God's commanded work.
6 Again, the ark is the symbol of the presence of God. The priests were to announce the approach of God with the sounding of ram's horn trumpets (shophar). There are other places when God's presence is announced with the sounding of a trumpet (Exo 19:16, Rev 11:15). Trumpets were occasionally used as musical instruments, but were most commonly used as signaling instruments. Trumpets were also used in other places to aid in directing troops in battle, or to celebrate religious festivals.
7 This is very symbolic of the entire victory over Canaan. Men would see the Israelite warriors winning battles, but it was God who made them victorious. In the same way, we often "see" people with successful Bible studies, ministries, or churches, but it is God who gives people these successes.
9 Large armies have a rear guard to make sure that the army is not defeated by a surprise attack from behind. This does not diminish the significance pointed out in verse seven because there is another point of symbolism here: God is the center and the focal point of the army.
10 The army was absolutely silent. They were not to shout prematurely. They were not to give a war cry or even taunt the people inside the city. It was like a funeral procession for the city, announcing its impending destruction. This certainly unnerved the city people even more than they had been before.
14 The Bible does not tell us how long it took to circle the city. However, it is believed that the city covered ten acres, which might have taken half an hour to an hour to circumnavigate.
15 In order to accomplish everything that day, Israel had to rise early. Certainly, an army of about 530,000 men terrified the people (Num 1, Josh 4:12-13). The army of Israel may have stretched out long enough to surround the city as they marched. To have this massive army march around the city seven times would have magnified their anxiety.
17 The city had been marked for complete destruction. The unrepentant pagans of the city were to be executed according to God's judgement.
18 The Israelites were not to take any plunder from this battle. In future battles they would share in the spoils of battle, but for now, they were not. This is to emphasize that the battle was not won by men, but by God.
19 Every perishable thing (those that would not survive fire) were to be destroyed along with the city. Metals, however, could be purified by fire, and thus be dedicated to God.
20 Some have tried to dismiss this miracle by suggesting that the shouting and the trumpets started some kind of harmonic frequency in the walls that eventually "shook them apart." As with other miracles, however, these criteria were all met: the result was predicted, the timing was perfect, and the result glorified God. Whether God used harmonic frequencies or simply crushed the walls with His power, God caused the walls to fall. Regardless of the skeptics, I have seen upwards of a million people yelling at the same time, but have not seen any buildings fall down as a result. The evidence would certainly point to divine intervention at Jericho.
21 Every person was killed in accordance with God's judgement against them. Every animal was to be killed because either they were considered defiled, or they were dedicated to God to commemorate this first victory in the Promised Land.
22 Since the spies had made the promise, Joshua sends them to fulfill it. Rahab would recognize and trust them.
23 Rahab had crammed as many of her relatives into her house as she could. Rahab spread her faith to her family and they were saved through faithful obedience. Since her house was part of the wall (Josh 2:15), it appears that the entire city wall did not fall down. It is likely that Rahab's section was the only thing standing after the rest of the wall fell down.
24 Everything that was perishable was burned. Everything that could pass through the fire was set apart for God. God's treasury would serve to remind Israel of the great victories He gave them. It would also be a source of funding for the upkeep of the tabernacle (and later the temple) as well as the priests.
25 At first, Rahab and her family were placed outside the camp. Everything "unclean" was to be placed outside the camp. Indeed, fresh from their pagan surroundings, this family was considered unclean. Later, however, they became part of Israel. Rahab eventually married an Israelite named Salmon and their son Boaz was the great grandfather of King David (Mat 1:5-6).
26 God had marked Jericho for destruction. The city would be rebuilt, but the man who would be in charge of the reconstruction would be cursed for his arrogance. This prophesy is fulfilled in 1 Ki 16:34. Even so, Jericho is not beyond redemption. Jesus in His day would visit Jericho and find people of faith (Luke 18:35-19:10).
27 Joshua not only gained the respect of the Israelites, but of the surrounding nations as well. This miraculous victory would continue to destroy the moral of the armies of the land. They would sense that their doom was certain. Although many would fight against Israel, their feared destruction would happen.