Acting on instructions from the Lord, the Israelites march around Jericho for seven days and conquer the city when its walls miraculously fall down. Israel destroys the city and everything in it, except for Rahab and her family.

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The taking of Jericho resembles a liturgical celebration as much as a military engagement. God tells Joshua, "See, I have handed Jericho over to you" (verse 2), and gives him specific instructions on how the city is to be conquered. Rather than trying to lay siege, or somehow penetrate the walls of the city, the Israelites are to march around it in procession for seven days. The ark of the covenant is carried in the procession, and the priests blow rams" horns (shofars), used both in battle (Job 39:25) and in liturgical celebrations (2 Samuel 6:15; Psalm 81:3). On the seventh day, the walls fall down, and the Israelites "devote" the city to destruction; that is, they destroy everyone and everything in it, according to God"s commands. The only exceptions to the total destruction of property are things of gold, silver, bronze, and iron, which are taken for God"s treasury.

The Israelites spare Rahab and her family, in fulfillment of the vow the spies made to her, and it is noted that her family "ever since" continued to live in Israel"s midst (6:25). Rahab and the Gibeonites (in Joshua 9) are the only explicit exceptions to the command that the inhabitants of Canaan are to be destroyed. It is worth noting, however, that in fact a significant number of Canaanites seem to survive the Israelite conquest and continue to live among the Israelite tribes (see 13:1-6; 15:63; 16:10; 17:12-13).

The conquering of Jericho is just the first of many instances in Joshua where the victory is won because of the Lord"s doing, not because of any action on the part of the Israelites. The victory at Jericho stands in contrast to the defeat at Ai (in the next chapter), in which God does not fight for Israel.

Joshua 6

Jericho Taken and Destroyed

6Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in.2The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers.3You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days,4with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets.5When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.’6So Joshua son of Nun summoned the priests and said to them, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant, and have seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark of the Lord.’7To the people he said, ‘Go forward and march around the city; have the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.’

8As Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them.9And the armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets; the rearguard came after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually.10To the people Joshua gave this command: ‘You shall not shout or let your voice be heard, nor shall you utter a word, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.’11So the ark of the Lord went around the city, circling it once; and they came into the camp, and spent the night in the camp.

12Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord.13The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord passed on, blowing the trumpets continually. The armed men went before them, and the rearguard came after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually.14On the second day they marched around the city once and then returned to the camp. They did this for six days.

15On the seventh day they rose early, at dawn, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times.16And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, ‘Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.17The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers we sent.18As for you, keep away from the things devoted to destruction, so as not to covet Heb devote to destruction Compare 7.21");" onmouseout="return nd();">* and take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel an object for destruction, bringing trouble upon it.19But all silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.’20So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it.21Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys.

22Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, ‘Go into the prostitute’s house, and bring the woman out of it and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.’23So the young men who had been spies went in and brought Rahab out, along with her father, her mother, her brothers, and all who belonged to her—they brought all her kindred out—and set them outside the camp of Israel.24They burned down the city, and everything in it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord.25But Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, Joshua spared. Her family She");" onmouseout="return nd();">* has lived in Israel ever since. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

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26Joshua then pronounced this oath, saying,‘Cursed before the Lord be anyone who triesto build this city—this Jericho!At the cost of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation,and at the cost of his youngest he shall set up its gates!’

27So the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was in all the land.