Joshua 6:2-4, 12-20a
The city of Jericho, built thousands of years before Joshua was born, was one of the oldest cities in the world. In some places it had fortified walls up to 25 feet high and 20 feet thick. Soldiers standing guard on top of the walls could be seen for miles. Jericho was a symbol of military power and strength. The Canaanites saw Israel’s God as a nature god because he parted the Jordan and as a war god because he defeated Sihon and Og. But the Canaanites did not consider him a fortress god—one who could prevail against a walled city. The defeat of Jericho showed not only that Israel’s God was superior to the Canaanite gods but also that he was invincible.
(Life Application Study Bible). God told Joshua that Jericho was already delivered into his hands and the enemy was already defeated! What confidence Joshua must have had as he went into battle! Christians also fight against a defeated enemy. Our enemy, Satan, has been defeated by Christ (see Romans 8:37-39, Hebrews 2:14 and 1 John 3:8). Although we still fight battles every day and sin runs rampant in the world, we have the assurance that the war has already been won. We do not have to be paralyzed by the power of a defeated enemy; we can overcome him through Christ’s power. Why did God give Joshua all these complicated instructions for the battle? Several answers are possible: (1) God was making it undeniably clear that the battle would depend upon him, and not upon Israel’s weapons and expertise. This is why priests carrying the Ark, not soldiers, led the Israelites into battle. (2) God’s method of taking the city accentuated the terror already felt in Jericho. (3) This strange military maneuver was a test of the Israelites’ faith and their willingness to follow God completely. The blowing of the horns had a special significance. They had been instructed to blow the same horns used in the religious festivals in their battles to remind them that their victory would come from the Lord, not their own military might (read Numbers 10:9).
(Life Application Study Bible).
The same procedure was followed for six days. No fortress had ever been conquered in this manner. This strange strategy was probably given to test the faith of Joshua. He did not question; he trusted and obeyed. This procedure was also designed to test Israel’s obedience to God’s will. And that was not easy in this case. Every day they were exposing themselves to ridicule and danger. A Jericho soldier may have looked down from the wall on the army of Israel and asked, “Do they think they can frighten us into surrender by the sound of their rams’ horns?” And the rest may have joined in a loud chorus of raucous laughter. Probably the Israelites received their orders on a daily basis so that their obedience was not a once-for-all matter but a new challenge every morning. That is the way God often deals with His children. They are required to do their “daily march” with little or no knowledge of tomorrow (read Proverbs 27:1, James 4:14 and also see Matthew 6:34). Now the faith of the Israelites triumphed over their fear that the enemy would attack. They also triumphed over any expectation of ridicule and scorn. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty). (Joshua 6:12-14).
On that fateful seventh day the procession made the circular line encompassing the walls seven times. This parade—consisting of the armed guard, the seven trumpet-blowing priests, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, and the rear guard—may have taken about three hours. At the end of the seventh circuit the clear voice of Joshua rang out, Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! Also, he told them to spare Rahab and her family (see Joshua 2:8-13). So, when the priests blasted on the trumpets… the people gave a loud shout. That shout reverberated through the hills around, startling wild animals and terrorizing the dwellers of Jericho in their homes. At that moment the wall of Jericho, obeying the summons of God, collapsed (lit., “fell in its place”). (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty). (Joshua 6:15-20a). The men of Israel climbed and move over the debris. Finding the inhabitants paralyzed with terror and unable to resist, the soldiers utterly destroyed all human and animal life in Jericho, except for Rahab and her household. Though critics have charged that this destruction is a blemish on the Old Testament, it is clear that Israel was acting on divine command. The responsibility for this destruction rests therefore with God and not the Israelites.
The city of Jericho and everything in it was “to be devoted to the Lord”. The idea is that the city’s contents were to be given over to the Lord by totally destroying them. To convey this, the NIV adds and is destroyed. (“totally destroyed.” The contents of Jericho were to be given “to the Lord” as the firstfruits of the land. Just as the firstfruits of a crop, given to the Lord, pointed to more crops to come, so the conquest of Jericho signified that Israel would receive all of Canaan from Him. No loot from Jericho was to be taken by the people. In carrying this out, the people and animals were to be killed (read Joshua 6:17, 21), and other things were either to be destroyed or set apart, as in this case, for the purposes of the sanctuary. These items included “silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron”. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty). (Joshua 6:20b-21). As the story of this great Old Testament event moves quickly to its end, two matters are briefly mentioned: the rescue of Rahab and the burning, sacking, and curse on the city. Before the city was burned (v. 24), Rahab was spared. Joshua kept the promise made to Rahab by the two spies and sent those same young men to the house where the scarlet cord hung from the window. She and her entire family followed them without hesitation to the appointed place outside the doomed city. Rahab and her family, being Gentiles, had to be ceremonially cleansed; the men were no doubt circumcised before they could be identified with the people of Israel. Rahab’s history is an example of the grace of God operating in the lives of an individual and her family. Regardless of her past life she was saved by faith in the living God and even became a part of the messianic line (please read Matthew 1:5). In keeping with the biblical pattern, Rahab and her family were spared from divine judgment (read Genesis 7:1 and also 1 Thessalonians 5:9) because of their faith. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty). (Joshua 6:22-25).