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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Joshua 6

Verses 20-21

DISCOURSE: 248
THE TAKING OF JERICHO

Joshua 6:20-21. So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pats, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

THE promises of God, though often delayed beyond the time that our impatient spirits would fix for their accomplishment, are always fulfilled in their season. The period at which God promised to Abraham that he would bring forth his posterity out of Egypt, was at the end of four hundred and thirty years. During the latter part of that time the afflictions of the people increased beyond measure; yet was their deliverance neither accelerated nor delayed: but at the precise period that God had fixed in his eternal counsels, and had revealed to Abraham, even on “the self-same day,” they were brought forth from their bondage [Note: Exodus 12:51.]. They would doubtless have been brought also into the full possession of the promised land if they had not provoked God to transfer to their children the mercies which they had treated with contempt. The space of forty years was allotted for that generation to wander, and to die, in the wilderness. During that time a new generation arose; and to them God fulfilled his word: he led them in a miraculous manner into Canaan, as we have seen: and now began to subdue their enemies before them. The first place which they were to conquer, was Jericho, a city of great strength; the taking of which is the subject for our present consideration.

We shall notice three things;

I.

The preparations for the siege—

One would naturally suppose that they would instantly avail themselves of the terror which their miraculous passage through Jordan had inspired; and that, after fortifying their own camp, they would proceed to construct works for the capture of the city. But behold! instead of engaging in any such labours, they address themselves to works of a very different nature, suited only to a season of profound peace.

1.

They renew the ordinance of circumcision—

[This ordinance had been entirely neglected in the wilderness; so that, with the exception of those who had not attained the age of twenty at their departure from Egypt, all were uncircumcised. Their first object therefore, after entering into the promised land, was, to renew their covenant with God by circumcision [Note: Joshua 5:2-9.]. But was this a time for such an ordinance, when they would thereby disable themselves for war, or even for repelling an assault in case their enemies should attack them? Was it wise, or was it right, to act thus at so critical a juncture? Was it not a tempting of God, rather than a service that could be pleasing in his sight? No: it was commanded by Jehovah himself; and was therefore commanded, because God would make them to know that HE was their defence; and, that to mortify sin and surrender up themselves to him, was the surest road to victory. It was not by human policy or strength that they were to prevail, but by his care and his power: and whatever was most suited to obtain his favour, was most calculated to ensure success.]

2.

They keep the feast of passover [Note: Joshua 5:10.]—

[This ordinance also had been neglected in the wilderness: and, in renewing it, they brought to their remembrance God’s gracious interpositions for them at their departure from Egypt, and expressed their conviction, that their whole security depended on the blood of that great Sacrifice which should in due time be offered. How strange does such an occupation appear, when the delay occasioned by it might give time for the arrival of succours to the besieged city! But, to those who know what interest God takes in the welfare of his people, this time would appear to be spent to the greatest possible advantage. And, though we, who are not to expect miraculous interpositions, should not be justified in following literally the example of Israel on this occasion, yet would it be well if we were more conformed to it in spirit: for assuredly, whatever difficulties or dangers we are in, it is our wisdom first to betake ourselves unto prayer, and, by renewed exercises of faith on the Lord Jesus, to secure the favour and protection of our God.]

The wisdom of the preparations appears, in that they secured,

II.

The fall of the city—

The manner in which it was taken was indeed surprising—
[The armed men were appointed to go round the city in perfect silence [Note: ver. 10.], once every day for six successive days; and, on the seventh day, they were to compass it seven times. In the midst of this procession the ark was to be carried by the priests, and to be preceded by seven priests with “trumpets of rams’ horns,” (or rather with the trumpets of jubilee [Note: Rams’ horns being solid, would be unfit for the purpose. The other seems the preferable translation. See Numbers 10:1-10.],) which they were to sound during the whole procession. On the seventh day, at the seventh time of compassing the city, the army, on a signal given, were to shout: and behold, no sooner did they shout, than the walls on every side fell down flat, opening a ready way of access for the hosts of Israel, and causing the disconcerted men of Jericho to fall an easy prey to their invaders.]

It is also replete with instruction—
[We are not warranted perhaps to speak of this event as typical: nevertheless it was doubtless intended to convey most important instruction to all succeeding ages; and to shew to them, how easily God can make a way for the accomplishment of his own purposes, and for the salvation of his own people. If it did not typify, it certainly well illustrates, the victories which the Gospel was to obtain over all the principalities and powers of earth and hell. No human force was used: nothing but the sound of the gospel trumpet prevailed for the subversion of Satan’s kingdom. Though preached by men of no education, it proved effectual for the destruction of idolatry, and the establishment of the Redeemer’s power, throughout the earth. In like manner at this time it prevails over the lusts and prejudices of mankind: the publication of it is committed to weak and sinful men, who go forth in Jehovah’s name to subdue the world to the obedience of faith: and though “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,” nor such as appear likely to be wielded with success, yet are they “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong-holds,” and to the “bringing” of, not only the actions, but even “the thoughts, of men, into captivity to the obedience of Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.].” As for the weakness of the instruments, God has selected such on purpose, “that the excellency of the power may appear to be of him [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:7.].” His voice to us is the same in all his wonders both of providence and grace; “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts [Note: Zechariah 4:6.].”]

The next thing which calls for our attention is,

III.

The destruction of the inhabitants—

[With the exception of Rahab and her family, for whose preservation the word of the spies was pledged, every human being, old and young, male and female, was destroyed. Even the beasts also of every kind were destroyed, and the whole city was burnt with fire. Nothing was preserved but the silver and gold, and brass and iron, which were to be put into the treasury of the Lord for the use of his sanctuary.
Now in this indiscriminate slaughter we are apt to find occasion of offence, as though we thought ourselves more merciful than God. But were not these people the enemies of Jehovah? and had he not a right to cut them off in any way he pleased? If he had taken them away by an earthquake or a pestilence, or had cut them off, as he did the Egyptian first-born and the Assyrian army, by the hand of an angel, we should have bowed to his sovereignty, and confessed him just: but because he used his own people as the executioners of his vengeance, we are ready to accuse both them and him of inhumanity and injustice. But we are sure that the Judge of all the earth will do right; and that whatever is done by his command is right, whether we can discern the reasons of that command or not. With respect to this particular act, if there was severity in it towards them, there was goodness in it, yea great goodness, towards the world at large: for it has shewn the danger of unbelief and impenitence in such awful colours, that the proudest and most obdurate must tremble. The inhabitants at first were certainly filled with terror and dismay: but probably when they saw for six successive days nothing but an empty parade, they would begin to think themselves secure. At the appointed time however the judgment came; and that in a way that they did not at all expect. And thus will it be towards impenitent transgressors. They may imagine that the delay of God’s judgments warrants them to expect impunity in the ways of sin: but “when they are saying, Peace and safety, sudden destruction will come upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape.”]

From this part of divine history we may learn,
1.

The excellence of faith—

[What was the principle which enabled the Israelites to manifest such composure in the presence of their enemies, and to forbear the use of all common means either for the preservation of themselves or for the destruction of their enemies? It was faith. And so says an inspired writer; “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days [Note: Hebrews 11:30.].” This is the principle which will carry us through all difficulties, and enable us to triumph over all our adversaries. Under the influence of this, our first care in every situation will be to serve and honour God. In the path of duty, we shall feel no fear about our ultimate success. The means which God has appointed we shall use, and none other. If they appear wholly unsuited to the end, we shall not on that account despond; but shall expect his gracious interposition in his own time and way, assured that He will make the weakest and most contemptible of beings to confound the honourable, and to overcome the mighty [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:27-28.]. Let us then cultivate this principle, and go forth to our warfare “strong-in the Lord and in the power of his might.”]

2.

The benefit of enlisting under the banners of Christ—

[Christ revealed himself to Joshua under the appearance of a man, and professed himself “the Captain of the Lord’s host [Note: Joshua 5:13-15.].” It was he who directed Joshua how to conduct the siege, and “gave the city of Jericho into his hand [Note: ver. 2.].” And who but He is “the Captain of our salvation?” Who but He can guide us aright in our spiritual warfare, or give us success in it? Truly, if we be made “more than conquerors, it must be through Him that loved us [Note: Romans 8:37.],” and gave himself for us. To him will we direct you in every part of your warfare. Do nothing without first asking counsel of him; attempt nothing, but in his strength: and doubt not but that in all your conflicts you shall have reason to say, “Thanks be unto God who hath always caused us to triumph” hitherto, and will “give us everlasting victory through our Lord Jesus Christ [Note: 2Co 2:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:57.].”]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Joshua 6". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/joshua-6.html. 1832.