Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.VI.
(1) Now Jericho . . .—This verse should be read parenthetically, and Joshua 6:2-5 should be taken as the orders given to Joshua by the captain of the Lord’s host.
And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.(4) Seven trumpets of rams’ horns.—Literally, trumpets of jubilee—i.e., of loud or joyful sound.
And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.(7) Pass on, and compass the city.—The meaning of this proceeding becomes clearer when we remember that the centre of the procession is the written law of God. The ark is the vessel that contains it. The armed men that precede it are its executioners. The priests who blow the trumpets are its heralds. It was this law that had brought Israel over Jordan; this law that was henceforth to be established in Canaan; this law that was about to take vengeance on the transgressors. The whole law of Moses is but the expansion of the Decalogue; and the Pentateuch contains an ample statement of the transgressions which had brought the inhabitants of Canaan under the ban of the Divine law. The seven days’ march round Jericho, in absolute silence, was well calculated to impress on the inhabitants the lesson of “the forbearance of God.” “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence.” For several generations the long-suffering of God had waited, while “the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full.” In the first year of the Exodus He had threatened them, bringing the sword of Israel to their borders; and then He had drawn back His hand from them, and given them forty years’ respite more. But now the long-suffering of God had waited long enough. The shout that burst from the lips of Israel was a signal that He would wait no longer.
Looked at thus, the shout of Israel at the sound of the trumpet on the seventh day becomes no inapt figure of that which is connected with it by the language of Holy Scripture—“the shout,” accompanied by “the voice of the archangel and the trump of God,” which shall notify to the world our Lord’s second coming. “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence” any more (Ps. 1. 3 and 21; 1Thessalonians 4:16).
And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.(13) The priests going on.—Literally, with a going, and a blowing with the trumpets.” The priests” is inserted by the Targum.
And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.(17) The city shall be accursed.—Heb., shall be chêrem, “a devoted or accursed thing”; and so Joshua 6:18, “from the accursed thing.” (See Note on Deuteronomy 7:26.) The combination of the two ideas of devotion to God and utter destruction may be seen in the sin offering (Leviticus 6:25), which is called “holy of holies,” or most holy, and yet, when offered for the priest or congregation, must be utterly consumed.
But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.(19) The silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron . . . into the treasury of the Lord.—See Numbers 31:22-23; Numbers 31:54, where something similar was done with the spoil of the Midianites.
And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.(21) And ox, and sheep, and ass.—Even the animals must be destroyed, that Israel might not seem to be slaughtering the Canaanites for the sake of plunder. Everything was ordered in such a way as to mark the vengeance of God.
And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.(23) And left them.—Literally, caused them to rest.
And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.(25) And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive.—“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not” (Hebrews 11:31). And so Jesus said to her who had ministered to Him in the house of Simon the Pharisee, “Thy sins are forgiven;” and again, “Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace” Luke 7:48; Luke 7:50). “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works?” (James 2:25).
And she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day.—“Salmon begat Booz of Rachab” seems certainly to refer to her (Matthew 1:5), though why she is called Rachab in that place is not obvious. Rachab is not the usual form of the word, either in the LXX. or in the other passages of the Greek text where she is named. It is not simply a variation in the English spelling, but a difference in the original Greek.
And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.(26) Cursed be the man . . . that . . . buildeth this city Jericho.—As the marginal reference indicates, the curse of Joshua was not incurred until Hiel the Bethelite built the city, in the reign of Ahab. But the “city of palm-trees” is (somewhat doubtfully) identified with Jericho, and this was occupied by the Moabites under Eglon, not very long after the time of Joshua (Judges 3:13, &c.), and seems to have been Eglon’s residence, where he was slain by Ehud.
The curse, fulfilled upon Hiel and his family, appears to have been finally removed by the intercession of Elisha (2Kings 2:18-22), at the request of the inhabitants.