Notes on Joshua 6

by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)

Jos 6:1, KJV 1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.


This may be one reason why the Israelites were able to eat some of the harvest freely (Joshua 5:11-12). At least one other example exists in Scripture where a resident would leave the city for work and then return after his work was done (Judges 19:16ff).

2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, (and) the mighty men of valour.

Another promise from the Lord that He would assist (“See, I have given . . .”) the Israelites in the battle to come (. . . into thine hand). Remember that God always promises to do His part, but also expects each person to do his or her own part as well.

3 And ye shall compass the city, all (ye) men of war, (and) go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.

Strange strategy from a human perspective: the men of war, only (apparently), were simply to walk around the walls of Jericho one time only on each of six days.

4a And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns:

In Numbers 31:6, Phinehas the priest went with the Israelite army in the battle against Midian. Phinehas apparently was the only priest but there were also “holy instruments” and “trumpets to blow in his hand.” The same God Who gave victory over Midian would give victory over Jericho! Note the similarities, and the differences, as God led the Israelites on to possession of the Promised Land.

4b and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

A different strategy here, namely, to march around the city seven times instead of only once. The only noise to be heard, during this time, was the blowing of the trumpets.

5 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.

These were the signals: the trumpets’ long blasts, and the sounds of the trumpets (perhaps these were one and the same); then, the people were to “shout with a great shout”. Then, the walls would fall down flat and the people could attack the city.

6 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.

This was another encounter for the priests to bear the Ark. Note that seven priests were asked, if not commanded, to stand before the Ark and to blow the trumpets as God required.

7 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.

Here we see that the Ark was behind some of the soldiers. Compare this with the crossing of the Jordan: there, the priests led the way, carrying the Ark and waiting in the river bed until all the people passed over; here, the Ark and the priests were the last in line as they began the battle of Jericho.

8 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. 9 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.

The word “rereward” is apparently an obsolete English word. Here it seems to mean those who followed after the Ark as the men of war marched around Jericho.

10 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.

Absolute silence was the order for the soldiers and priests, except the blowing of the trumpets as specified in verses 8-9.

11 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about (it) once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.

The people of Jericho probably wondered what was going on—the only noise of battle was the blowing of trumpets and perhaps the sound of marching feet.

12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 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.14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.

This is a repetition of the previous verses, giving a more detailed account.

15 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.

Following the commands of the Lord for the seventh day. They marched around the city seven times but this was the only time they did so.

16 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. 17 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.

Fulfilling the promises the spies had made to Rahab and her family—and anyone else in her house who believed the message.
Several reasons have been given, by as many commentators, as to why Jericho was “accursed”. The important thing to remember is that this was the first of what eventually became many victories, all of which depended on the Israelites following God’s commands. If God says something is accursed and don’t take anything for yourselves, He has the right to make such commands. He is God, after all!

18 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.

A solemn warning to the Israelites. God is here saying that taking any of the accursed things would not only be a curse to whoever took it, but eventually be also a curse to the whole nation of Israel.

19 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.

This had happened at least twice before: in Exodus, when the people gave various articles for the construction of the Tabernacle, and also when the army came back from defeating the Midianites (Numbers 31:48-54). The senior officers made sure to give the various items to the Lord. This may have been the first time that God commanded this spoil or treasure be donated to the treasury of the Lord.

20 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. 21 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.

No need to elaborate on the details. The walls fell and the city was taken. This happened exactly as the Lord had promised. Many years later, the writer of the Book of Hebrews mentioned the walls of Jericho falling down as an example of faith (Hebrews 11:30).

22 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.

Rahab and her family were still in the house, The spies would know Rahab’s house by the scarlet cord or thread hanging from her window, just as they had arranged (see chapter 2).

23 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.

It isn’t clear why Rahab and her family were placed outside the camp of Israel. Rahab herself would soon be admitted to the congregation, however.

24 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.

They placed most of the brass, gold, etc., but one of the Israelites took some of the accursed things (Achan, see chapter 7).

25 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.

Rahab’s faith saved herself and many of her family. She did dwell in Israel and later had at least one son who did some great things (Boaz, see the Book of Ruth)! One of her descendants (great-great-grandson) was King David and later on, Jesus Himself! Matthew 1 and Luke 3 give the genealogies.

26 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.

This curse remained in place for many years until Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho (see 1 Kings 16:34). Interestingly, Jericho remained as a dwelling place until at least the time of Jesus Christ.

27 So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was (noised) throughout all the country.

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