Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.6. The Fall of Jericho
1. The divine instruction (Joshua 6:1-5)
2. The instructions followed (Joshua 6:6-19)
3. The fall of Jericho (Joshua 6:20-21)
4. Rahab remembered (Joshua 6:22-25)
5. The curse upon Jericho (Joshua 6:26-27)
We do not enlarge upon the history of the chapter, which needs no comment. The fall of Jericho by the power of God, as described in this chapter, has also been ridiculed by infidels. Others have tried to explain the occurrence in a natural way. It has been said that the marching Israelites, by tramping around the city for seven days, weakened the walls, and the trumpet blasts and shouting of the people brought about their collapse. How utterly ridiculous! But what are the typical and dispensational lessons of this interesting chapter?
Jericho is the type of the world, as already stated in the annotations of the second chapter. As Jericho falls and is laid in ruins as soon as Israel is in the land, so the world is laid in ruins for the believer who apprehends his position in Christ. Our faith is the victory which overcometh the world. It was faith which obtained the victory over Jericho. A faith which trusted in the Lord; a faith which acted in obedience to the divinely given instructions. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days” (Hebrews 11:30). And we must walk in faith and in the power of His Spirit, as crucified unto the world and the world crucified unto us. The world must remain in ruins for the believer who walks in the Spirit, as Jericho was not to be rebuilt.
It is a remarkable circumstance, in various aspects, that Jericho, the first and the strongest city of the land, is taken in this peculiar manner, without a single stroke of the sword. This result was intended, on the one hand, to furnish the faith of the Israelites with unquestionable evidence of the success of their future warlike movements, which now commenced, and, on the other hand, to secure them in advance, from a carnal reliance on their own strength, and from all vainglorious tendencies to ascribe their success to their own courage, their own intelligence, and their own power.
We must also think here of the walls, the hindrances, the obstacles in our lives as believers, as we pass through the world. The enemy often tries to terrify us by these, as he discouraged Israel at Kadesh by the walled cities. Alas! we often do what Joshua did not do before Jericho. We measure the walls, we study the difficulties, we are occupied with our perplexities and trials. We reckon with the walls, instead of reckoning with the Lord and His power. By faith walls still fall down.
Richer is the meaning of the fall of Jericho viewed in the light of prophecy. Jericho is the type of the world ripe for judgment. The high walls are types of the walls of unbelief, apostasy, wickedness and self-security. Seven days Israel had to march around the walls. Seven priests with seven trumpets were there. On the seventh day they had to march around seven times and blow the seven trumpets. Note the number “seven.” It stands for divine completion. How it all reminds us of the last book of the Bible with its seven seals, seven trumpets and seven vials. The trumpets, however, in Joshua are the trumpets of jubilee. The great jubilee, the time of blessing for this earth comes, when judgment is executed. As the walls of Jericho fell, so comes the day, when all the high and exalted things will be laid low (Isaiah 2:10-22) The stone will fall out of heaven (Christ in His second coming) smiting the image, representing the world-power. Complete ruins will be the result, never to be built again; but the smiting stone becomes a mountain, filling the earth. It is the prophetic picture of the coming kingdom.
“The details of the fall of Jericho seem not, however, to be facts of present experience, but prophetic of actual judgment when it comes; and this is quite as we might expect. We see by them, however, that the people of God have to maintain the testimony as to these things: compassing the city and blowing the trumpets until the city falls; although it be only in the meantime to awaken the scorn of the men of the world, as they hear the frequent alarm of that which seems never to come. But it comes, comes steadily nearer, is surely even now at the door, and how urgent should be our testimony, which, if of no effect upon the mass, yet helps to fill Rahab’s house, where the true scarlet-line, as despicable in men’s eyes as that of old, shields with the power of the Almighty the prisoners of hope” (F.W. Grant).
How blessedly the promise was kept to Rahab and her house! No doubt that scarlet line was the object of ridicule in Jericho. She alone and her house escaped the dreadful judgment. The entire walls fell; but one small portion was kept standing, the portion upon which her house stood.
Jericho was built three times and three times razed to the ground. It was first destroyed under Joshua. Then Hiel, the Beth-elite rebuilt it in Ahab’s reign (822-790). He experienced the curse of Joshua. Compare Joshua 6:26 with 1Kings 16:34. Hiel’s city was destroyed by the Herodians in 3 B.C. The next year Archelaus built Jericho again, the Jericho standing in the days of our Lord. This was destroyed by Vespassian 68 A.D.