|Jericho - |
Numbers 22:1; Joshua 2:1-3; Joshua 2:5; Joshua 2:15; Joshua 3:16. From a root "fragrance," or "the moon" (yareach), being the seat of Canaanite moon worship, or "broad" from its being in a plain bounded by the Jordan. Jericho is to the W., opposite where Israel crossed the Jordan under Joshua, at six miles' distance. It had its king. Walls enclosed it, and its gate was regularly shut, according to eastern custom, when it was dark. Its spoil included silver, gold, vessels of iron and brass (Joshua 6:19), cast in the same plain of Jordan where Solomon had his foundry (1 Chronicles 4:17). The "Babylonian garment" (Joshua 7:21) betokens its commerce with the East. Joshua's two spies lodged in Rahab's house upon the wall; and she in reward for their safety received her own preservation, and that of all in her house, when Joshua burned the city with fire, and slew man and beast, as all had been put under the ban. The metals were taken to the treasury of the sanctuary (Joshua 6:17-19; Joshua 6:21-25).
Other towns had their inhabitants only slain, as under the divine ban (Deuteronomy 7:2; Deuteronomy 20:16-17; Deuteronomy 2:34-35), while the cattle and booty fell to the conquerors. Jericho's men, cattle, and booty were all put under the ban, as being the first town of Canaan which the Lord had given them. They were to offer it as the firstfruits, a sign that they received the whole land as a fief from His hand. The plain was famed for palms and balsams, whence Jericho is called "the city of palms" (Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 1:16; Judges 3:13; 2 Chronicles 28:15). The town stood, according to some, N. of the poor village Riha, by the wady Kelt. However, modern research places it a quarter of a mile from the mountain Quarantana (the traditional scene of Christ's temptation), at the fountain of Elisha. This accords with Joshua 16:1, "the water of Jericho," and Josephus mentions the fount and the mountain near (B. J., 4:8, section 2-3). Traces of buildings occur S. of the fountain. Its site was given to Benjamin (Joshua 18:21).
It is mentioned in David's time as a town (2 Samuel 10:5). Joshua's curse therefore was not aimed against rebuilding the town, which the Benjamites did, but against its miraculously overthrown walls being restored, against its being made again a fortress. See HIEL in Ahab's ungodly reign incurred the curse (1 Kings 16:34). Elisha "healed the waters" of the fountain, called also Ain es Sultan (2 Kings 2:18-22), half an hour N.W. of Riha, in the rainy season forming a brook, which flows through the wady Kelt into the Jordan. Here myrobalanum, acacias, figtrees, etc., stand where once grew Jericho's famous palms. In its plains Zedekiah was overtaken by the Chalaeans (2 Kings 25:5; Jeremiah 39:5). Robbers still infest the road from Jerusalem down (a steep descent) to Jericho, as when Jesus spoke the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30); Pompey undertook to destroy their strongholds not long before. Moreover, some of the courses of priests lived at Jericho, which harmonizes with the mention of the priest and Levite returning that way from Jerusalem.
From mount Pisgah, the peak near the town Nebo, on its western slope (Deuteronomy 34:1), Moses looked "over against Jericho." Jericho strategically was the key of the land, being situated at the entrance of two passes through the hills, one leading to Jerusalem the other to Ai and Bethel. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days" (whereas sieges often last for years) (Hebrews 11:30). Trumpets, though one were to sound for ten thousand years, cannot throw down walls; but faith can do all things (Chrysostom). Six successive days the armed host marched round the city, the priests bearing the ark, as symbol of His presence, in the middle between the armed men in front and the rereward or rearguard, and seven priests sounding seven ramshorn (rather Jubilee) trumpets, the sign of judgment by "the breath of His mouth"; compare the seven trumpets that usher in judgments in Revelation, especially Revelation 11:13; Revelation 11:15.
On the seventh day they compassed Jericho seven times, and at the seventh time the priests blew one long blast, the people shouted, and the wall fell flat. Even though volcanic agency, of which traces are visible in the Jordan valley, may have been employed, the fall was no less miraculous; it would prove that the God of revelation employs His own natural means in the spiritual world, by supernatural will ordering the exact time and direction of those natural agencies to subserve His purposes of grace to His people, and foreannouncing to them the fact, and connecting it with their obedience to His directions: so in the Egyptian plagues. The miracle wrought independently of all conflict on their part at the outset marked that the occupation of the whole Holy Land was to be by His gift, and that it was a, fief held under God at His pleasure. Under Elisha a school of prophets resided at Jericho.
(2 Kings 2:5; 2 Kings 4:1; 2 Kings 6:1-2; 2 Kings 5:24, for "tower" translated "the hill" before the city: Keil). Of "children of Jericho" 345 returned from Babylon (Ezra 2:34). They helped to rebuild the wall (Nehemiah 3:2; Nehemiah 7:36). Archelaus in our Lord's days had irrigated the plain and planted it with palms. Herod the Great had previously founded a new town (Phasaelis) higher up the plain. The distinction between the new and the old towns may solve the seeming discrepancy between Matthew (Matthew 20:30), who makes the miracle on the blind to be when Jesus was leaving Jericho, and Luke, who says it was when Jesus was come nigh unto Jericho (Luke 18:35).
The Lord Himself, in whose genealogy Rahab the harlot is found, here was guest of Zacchaeus the publican, a lucrative office in so rich a city as the Roman Jericho was. The tree that Zacchaeus climbed was the fig mulberry or tree fig. The Lord's visit to Bethany appropriately follows His parable of the good Samaritan who relieved the man robbed between Jerusalem and Jericho, for Jesus was then traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem, and Bethany was only a little way short of Jerusalem (Luke 10:25; Luke 10:38; John 11:1). James and John's proposal to call fire down upon the Samaritans who would not receive Him in an earlier stage of the journey suggested probably His choosing a Samaritan to represent the benefactor in the parable, a tacit rebuke to their un-Christlike spirit (Luke 9:51-56).