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Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 6

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Verse 1


The first city for Israel to conquer is Jericho. Before describing how the people should proceed, we read that God has already given them victory (Joshua 6:2). Then they have to march around the city one time for six days and seven times on the seventh day. By doing so they discover how superbly strong Jericho is and that they will never be able to conquer it in their own power.

But the ark – the well-known picture of the Lord Jesus – is in their midst. After they have been marching around Jericho for the seventh time on the seventh day, the trumpets were blown and the people shout. Then the walls of Jericho collapse. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down” (Hebrews 11:30). That also applies to us.

The Lord Jesus has overcome the world for us: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The world is far too strong for us. But through faith we overcome the world: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-Deuteronomy :).

Jericho Is Tightly Shut

Jericho is an impressive fortress, seemingly impregnable. The city is hermetically closed to the Israelites. Jericho is a picture of the world as the system used by Satan to prevent us from taking possession of the land with the result that we will go our way as earthly minded Christians. Jericho means ‘fragrant’. It is a city where it is pleasant to stay. She is attractive because of her palms. But Jericho is near the wilderness and the Dead Sea. The attractiveness is deceptive.

What is my Jericho? That could be my position, or my wife or husband, parents, career, hobby. It can be the human institutions that regulate the faith community in a human way. These may all be things that prevent us from taking possession of our heavenly blessings. This Jericho must be overcome.

Verse 2

The LORD Ensures the Victory

This verse stands in the so-called prophetic perfect tense. The promise is certain. God doesn’t say ‘I’ll do it’, but ‘I’ve done it, the city is all in your power, as sure as if it already is in your possession’. Rahab believed this (Joshua 2:8-1 Samuel :). God’s certain promises always form the starting point for an act of obedience. Promises are a great encouragement to go in confidence on Him the way He proposes us, no matter how foolish that way may be in the eyes of the world. On that road, the Lord’s presence will be proclaimed loudly, as it is represented by the trumpets.

The people only have to believe and obey. First obedience, then strength, that is the order of God.

Verses 3-5

God’s Strategy

The land of peace is first a land of struggle. The people are prepared for this struggle in the previous chapter. Now they have to fight, but in God’s way. No swords are drawn in this chapter. Here we learn: “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Before the battle begins, God first wants to teach His people clearly that fortresses like Jericho can only be brought down by His power. His people can do nothing to let the walls fall down. That does not mean, however, that the people should just stay at home. The fact that they marched around the wall by order of the LORD did not contribute to the fall either. They were impressed by the strength of the wall. Humanly speaking, that is to be discouraged by it.

Why do they have to march around the city for seven days? The goal is that the people will learn both their own inability and the power of God. They should not look at the wall, but at the ark. That is where the strength lies. We must learn to trust this power, that is to believe. The wall has fallen by the power of God and the power of faith, for “by faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days” (Hebrews 11:30).

The walls do not fall immediately after they have marched around them for the first time. Perseverance is needed. And this perseverance must have a perfect work (James 1:4; cf. 1 Kings 18:43-Acts :). This also applies to the problems in our lives that are insurmountable for us.

Then the people are told to shout before the walls have fallen down. This shows us that we will already thank you for the victory that is given, even before the victory has taken place. After they have shouted, the walls fall down.

The trumpets are “of rams’ horns”, i.e. trumpets of the horns of rams. The rams’ horn announces the year of jubilee. The year of jubilee is the fiftieth year in which slaves are released and territories regain their original ownership (Leviticus 25:8-1 Chronicles :). By using this horn in the conquest of Jericho we see that this conquest is not so much a military matter, but more a religious one. This is also evident from the priests who play a more important role here than soldiers.

We need soldiers, but first it comes down to priests. This is also evident in the silver trumpets: “The priestly sons of Aaron, moreover, shall blow the trumpets; and this shall be for you a perpetual statute throughout your generations. When you go to war in your land against the adversary who attacks you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the LORD your God, and be saved from your enemies” (Numbers 10:8-1 Samuel :; cf. 2 Chronicles 13:12). Priests are in the presence of God with their sacrifices. Coming from the presence of God, they represent a royal priesthood to the world around them. They give spiritual guidance to the people.

A clear sound must be given on the trumpet, otherwise the hearers will not know what to do. “For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8). Those who have a word for the church as prophets from God’s presence must be priests. They are able to lead the people of God in the struggle even in difficult circumstances. The Word of God makes clear what our ‘Jericho’ is and how we have to fight and what gives us faith and makes us shout when there is nothing to shout for unbelief.

Verses 6-7

Instructions of Joshua

Joshua – here he is a type of the power and insight of the Holy Spirit in the believer – is assured of success and therefore acts without hesitation. There is no human explanation for the fall of Jericho. It can only be attributed to the power of God who through faith works for His people.

Verses 8-11

The First Day Around Jericho

While going only the trumpets ‘speak’. This is the speaking of the priests to God and to the people. The people themselves may not say a word and must remain silent (cf. Exodus 14:14). There is no own contribution to this fight. Each own contribution is a proof of unbelief and a denial of the fact that God has given the only right strategy with the certain result of victory. That is also Peter’s fault if he rebukes the Lord Jesus after He has spoken of His suffering and rejection as the way of God (Matthew 16:21-Isaiah :).

All the actions of the first day are represented in this one word: “So he had the ark of the LORD taken around the city, circling [it] once” (Joshua 6:11). It is not about the people, but about the ark. All the strength of the people can only be found with the ark. Without the ark, as a picture of the Lord Jesus, the people are totally powerless and everything would end in a drama for the people.

The right base camp for the people is Gilgal, to which they return to spend the night. They return to that place every day. There the circumcision took place. Returning to that place every time means that after every time they set out, they must always become aware that the victory is not the result of any strength in themselves. It means in our life of faith that we always realize that in us, that is in our flesh, there is no power, but that all power comes only from the Lord Jesus.

Verses 12-14

The Second to the Sixth Day Around Jericho

God could have made the walls fall down after the first day. But a second day of marching around the city is emphasized. And as they did the first two days, they do until the sixth day. All this time, it seems that no progress has been made. Everything stays as it was. We can imagine that there must have been many consultations in the hearts of the people and inhabitants of Jericho.

Verses 15-25

The Fall of Jericho

When they have marched around the city seven times on the last day, Joshua first gives a number of orders with a view to the taking of Jericho. He does so in all peace. Maybe the inhabitants of Jericho can hear what he says. He speaks the language of faith, of the certainty of the coming victory, of faith in the action of God.

There are no negotiations with the city about surrender. The verdict is determined. The time to be saved is over. To be under the ban means for people death; for things it means separation for God. The metals silver, gold, bronze and iron are sanctified for the LORD. Thus we must learn that everything is for God, including everything we overcome in faith.

If God separates the things of the world for Himself, He can, if He wills, use them for Himself. But if man, the Christian, connects himself to this, the Lord must judge him. God does not want there to be any fellowship with something that forms the power of God’s enemy: the world and his power.

The silver and gold and bronze and iron objects are not destroyed. Gold remains gold and silver remains silver although they were found in Jericho. It is wrongly used in Jericho but it is not wrong in itself. The tabernacle was built with the gold and silver from Egypt. So is all that is in Jericho for the LORD (Joshua 6:19).

People can do a lot of good with electricity, but also a lot of what is evil. So it is with the thinking given to us by God. What do we think of? What does man devise? Is it with and for God or without Him? Our thinking must be subjected to God, and if the Spirit can use it, what results of it will be to God’s glory. The world always uses everything completely wrong, namely only for itself, without any thought of God.

The walls fall down flat when to the sound of the shout is heard. The invisible power of God becomes visible in the collapse of the wall. A number of physical explanations have been put forward that could have caused the fall of the wall. A naturalistic cause does not have to undo the miracle, because it remains a miracle that the part on which the house of Rahab stands, is spared. But it may also be possible that the “captain of the LORD’s hosts” (Joshua 5:14) has sent out His invisible angelic power to demolish the city wall in an instant. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). These are all mere suggestions, for no explanation is given to us in Scripture.

The part of the wall on which Rahab’s house stands is spared. Rahab does not perish with the unbelievers because she has believed (Hebrews 11:31). All people in Jericho are killed because they did not in faith join Rahab. Rahab’s house is the only safe place to escape judgment of the city (cf. Hebrews 11:7). Anyone who wanted to be saved had to believe the testimony of Rahab.

There is no injustice with God. Each of the people of Jericho, just like Rahab, had the opportunity to believe. God has had patience for four hundred years (Genesis 15:13). So He is not merciless when He brings judgment. He gives a sea of time and many opportunities to seize the salvation He offers.

After Rahab and her family are saved, they first come to a place outside the people. Cleansing must take place out first. Then they are accepted into the people. Rahab even gets a place of honor there because she is included in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 1:5). She is part of a people with whom she will now take the land. With joy she has taken her place among God’s people.

Verse 26

Joshua Curses Who Builds Jericho

It takes a lot of effort and faith to break down ‘our Jericho’. We are easily inclined to rebuild this Jericho. How easily are human institutions rebuilt. We are always in danger of rebuilding what we have broken down in youthful zeal. But the price is high. Joshua has predicted how high the price is. He speaks like a prophet. His words have been fulfilled (1 Kings 16:34).

Our return to, or the re-admission of, the things of the world can become a means for our children to die spiritually. From a spiritual point of view, we will lose our descendants when we start living for the world or also for the earth. It is of no benefit to God. On the contrary, there will be a great loss, both in terms of our own life and that of our descendants.

The Spirit speaks to our hearts through this. Do we remember what we broke down in our youth? Shall we give that another chance to come to life?

Verse 27

The LORD Is With Joshua

Joshua’s success does not lie in his brilliant military leadership, but because the LORD is with him. So it is also written of Joseph that the LORD is with him (Genesis 39:2; Genesis 39:21; Acts 7:10) and of the Lord Jesus that God is with Him (Acts 10:38). The LORD supports the whole performance of Joshua as long as he is in His way. Nothing can raise a person’s fame, or give him more real prestige, than the unmistakable proof that God is with him.

The next chapter shows what happens when you rely on your own strength. The good start is no guarantee for good progress. A victory over Jericho is no guarantee that we will not stumble at Ai.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Joshua 6". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/joshua-6.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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