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The ancient town of Jericho was destroyed and rebuilt many times, though sometimes the rebuilt town was beside, rather than on top of, the ruins of the former town. The present town of Jericho, the Old Testament town destroyed by Joshua, and the New Testament town visited by Jesus all occupied different sites, though these sites are within a kilometre or so of each other.

One reason for this constant settlement of Jericho was the presence there of a good spring of water. This ensured a constant supply of fresh water and made the place such an oasis that people called Jericho the city of palm trees (Deuteronomy 34:3). The town was located in a flat area of the Jordan Valley. To the east a small plain dropped away into the Jordan River, and to the west barren hills rose up to the central highlands.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Jericho was in existence in 8000 BC. Its first mention in the Bible concerns events about 1240 BC, when the Israelites under Joshua approached Canaan from the plains of Moab, crossed the Jordan River and conquered Jericho in their first battle in Canaan (Numbers 22:1; Joshua 2; Joshua 3; Joshua 4; Joshua 5; Joshua 6).

Joshua announced a curse over Jericho, and for the next few hundred years no one dared rebuild the town properly, though some sort of settlement still existed there (Joshua 6:26; Judges 3:13; 2 Samuel 10:5). When a man named Hiel later rebuilt the city, he suffered the punishment announced by Joshua (1 Kings 16:34; cf. Joshua 6:26). A school for young prophets was located at Jericho in the time of Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:4-5; 2 Kings 2:15-22).

There were further destructions and rebuildings of Jericho over the following centuries. The town was still in existence in New Testament times, having been rebuilt by Herod the Great. The narrow road that descended from Jerusalem through wild and rocky country to Jericho was dangerous because of bandits (Luke 10:30).

Jesus visited Jericho on his final journey to Jerusalem, and may have passed through the town on other occasions. Among those who benefited from Jesus’ visit were some blind beggars and a well known tax collector (Matthew 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43; Luke 19:1-11).

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Jericho'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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