Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
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.
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.
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].
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.
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
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.
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.
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
17-19. And the city shall be
The cherem, or "anathema," was a devotion to utter destruction
(De 7:2; 20:17;
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
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
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.
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;
But this, as the first fruits of Canaan, was made an exception; nothing
was to be spared but Rahab and those in her house
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.
Jos 6:20, 21.
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.
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.
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.
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.
dwelleth in Israel unto this day--a proof that this book was written
not long after the events related.
Jos 6:26, 27.
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