Joshua 6! Another one of those über-famous stories that also happens to be über-weird and über-interesting.
I just figured out how to put an umlaut on my “u,” so I plan on üsing it liberally.
I’d like to start talking about this battle by acknowledging the difficulty of reading about the slaughter of an entire city. There is no way to read about Israel, our heroes, putting the sword to every man, woman, child, and animal in Jericho, and not feel disturbed by it.
But as I was discussing the story with one of my students, we realized something important. The actual battle is the least important part in the whole story.
It gets a grand total of two and a half verses. Less than a tenth of the chapter chronicles the battle itself.
The rest of the narrative is concerned with the battle preparations and Rahab’s rescue.
So what does this teach us?
I’m not a military man, but this plan seems crazy to me.
Walk around the city in silence once a day for six days. On the seventh, walk seven times, wait for the trumpets, shout your lung out, and watch those walls crumble.
How does that make any sense at all? How would you ever come up with this plan?
But Israel follows. God gives the commands to Joshua, he relays them to the army, and the enact them without question.
The author of Joshua wants us to be absolutely clear that at this point, Israel was acting in obedience. They were following the leader, who was following the Leader. And this has been their primary posture for the last 6 chapters.
More important than the actual battle was the fact that Israel was being obedient to God. That was the source of their victory.
In all the drama of the falling walls and the slaughter of the citizens of Jericho, Rahab, the prostitute who sheltered the spies, is not forgotten.
Joshua makes sure the whole army knows that her house and the people hiding there are not to be touched. The orders are followed and Rahab’s family is “brought out” of the city. Her family is still alive and well at the time of the writing.
That sounds awfully familiar.
Disaster is about to hit a city. A small group of people hide in a house with a red cord hanging from the window. They are delivered and now live with God’s people.
Isn’t that awesome?!
Rahab’s family experiences their own personal passover. And this time, Israel plays the role of God (both in the rescuer and destroyer roles). Two things about this:
- The Battle of Jericho displayed Israel acting in the “image of God.” They played the part perfectly.
- Do all people who want to join Israel need to experience their own version of the passover?
What do you think? What new things did you learn about the “Battle” of Jericho?