Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
Jos 6:1-7. Jericho Shut Up.
1. Now Jericho was straitly shut up—This verse is a parenthesis introduced to prepare the way for the directions given by the Captain of the Lord's host.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
2. See, I have given into thine hand Jericho—The language intimates that a purpose already formed was about to be carried into immediate execution; and that, although the king and inhabitants of Jericho were fierce and experienced warriors, who would make a stout and determined resistance, the Lord promised a certain and easy victory over them.
And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
3-5. ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war. … Thus shalt thou do six days, &c.—Directions are here given as to the mode of procedure. Hebrew, "horns of jubilee"; that is, the bent or crooked trumpets with which the jubilee was proclaimed. It is probable that the horns of this animal were used at first; and that afterwards, when metallic trumpets were introduced, the primitive name, as well as form of them, was traditionally continued. The design of this whole proceeding was obviously to impress the Canaanites with a sense of the divine omnipotence, to teach the Israelites a memorable lesson of faith and confidence in God's promises, and to inspire sentiments of respect and reverence for the ark as the symbol of His presence. The length of time during which those circuits were made tended the more intensely to arrest the attention, and to deepen the impressions, both of the Israelites and the enemy. The number seven was among the Israelites the symbolic seal of the covenant between God and their nation [Keil, Hengstenberg].
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.
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD.
6, 7. Joshua … called the priests—The pious leader, whatever military preparations he had made, surrendered all his own views, at once and unreservedly, to the declared will of God.
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.
And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
Jos 6:8-19. The City Compassed Six Days.
8-11. the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets … passed on before the Lord—before the ark, called "the ark of the covenant," for it contained the tables on which the covenant was inscribed. The procession was made in deep and solemn silence, conforming to the instructions given to the people by their leader at the outset, that they were to refrain from all acclamation and noise of any kind until he should give them a signal. It must have been a strange sight; no mound was raised, no sword drawn, no engine planted, no pioneers undermining—here were armed men, but no stroke given; they must walk and not fight. Doubtless the people of Jericho made themselves merry with the spectacle [Bishop Hall].
And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
12-14. Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord—The second day's procession seems to have taken place in the morning. In all other respects, down even to the smallest details, the arrangements of the first day continued to be the rule followed on the other six.
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.
And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
15. on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city … seven times—on account of the seven circuits they had to make that day. It is evident, however, that the militia only of the Israelites had been called to the march—for it is inconceivable that two millions of people could have gone so frequently round the city in a day.
And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
16. it came to pass at the seventh time, … Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city—This delay brought out their faith and obedience in so remarkable a manner, that it is celebrated by the apostle (Heb 11:30).
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.
17-19. And the city shall be accursed—(See on Le 27:28). The cherem, or "anathema," was a devotion to utter destruction (De 7:2; 20:17; 1Sa 15:3). When such a ban was pronounced against a hostile city, the men and animals were killed—no booty was allowed to be taken. The idols and all the precious ornaments on them were to be burned (De 7:25; compare 1Ch 14:12). Everything was either to be destroyed or consecrated to the sanctuary. Joshua pronounced this ban on Jericho, a great and wealthy city, evidently by divine direction. The severity of the doom, accordant with the requirements of a law which was holy, just, and good, was justified, not only by the fact of its inhabitants being part of a race who had filled up their iniquities, but by their resisting the light of the recent astonishing miracle at the Jordan. Besides, as Jericho seems to have been defended by reinforcements from all the country (Jos 24:11), its destruction would paralyze all the rest of the devoted people, and thus tend to facilitate the conquest of the land; showing, as so astounding a military miracle did, that it was done, not by man, but by the power and through the anger, of God.
And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
18. and ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing—Generally they were at liberty to take the spoil of other cities that were captured (De 2:35; 3:7; Jos 8:27). But this, as the first fruits of Canaan, was made an exception; nothing was to be spared but Rahab and those in her house [Jos 6:17]. A violation of these stringent orders would not only render the guilty persons obnoxious to the curse, but entail distress and adversity upon all Israel, by provoking the divine displeasure. These were the instructions given, or repeated (De 13:17; 7:26), previous to the last act of the siege.
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.
So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
Jos 6:20, 21. The Walls Fall Down.
20, 21. So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets—Towards the close of the seventh circuit, the signal was given by Joshua, and on the Israelites' raising their loud war cry, the walls fell down, doubtless burying multitudes of the inhabitants in the ruins, while the besiegers, rushing in, consigned everything animate and inanimate to indiscriminate destruction (De 20:16, 17). Jewish writers mention it as an immemorial tradition that the city fell on the Sabbath. It should be remembered that the Canaanites were incorrigible idolaters, addicted to the most horrible vices, and that the righteous judgment of God might sweep them away by the sword, as well as by famine or pestilence. There was mercy mingled with judgment in employing the sword as the instrument of punishing the guilty Canaanites, for while it was directed against one place, time was afforded for others to repent.
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.
But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
Jos 6:22-25. Rahab Is Saved.
22, 23. Joshua had said … Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath—It is evident that the town walls were not demolished universally, at least all at once, for Rahab's house was allowed to stand until her relatives were rescued according to promise.
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. they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel—a temporary exclusion, in order that they might be cleansed from the defilement of their native idolatries and gradually trained for admission into the society of God's people.
And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
24. burned the city … and all … therein—except the silver, gold, and other metals, which, as they would not burn, were added to the treasury of the sanctuary.
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.
dwelleth in Israel unto this day—a proof that this book was written not long after the events related.
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.
Jos 6:26, 27. The Rebuilder of Jericho Cursed.
26. Joshua adjured them at that time—that is, imposed upon his countrymen a solemn oath, binding on themselves as well as their posterity, that they would never rebuild that city. Its destruction was designed by God to be a permanent memorial of His abhorrence of idolatry and its attendant vices.
Cursed be the man … that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho—that is, makes the daring attempt to build.
he shall lay the foundation thereof in his first-born, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it—shall become childless—the first beginning being marked by the death of his oldest son, and his only surviving child dying at the time of its completion. This curse was accomplished five hundred fifty years after its denunciation (see on 1Ki 16:34).
So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.