Jericho called “fragrant place” is also known as the City of Palms (Deu. 34:3). It is
claimed to be the oldest city in the world, settled about 8000 BCE. Actually Babylon in Iraq
where the Tower
of Babel was built will
be the oldest (Gen. 11). Jericho, because of its strategic location, was destroyed and rebuilt 23 times! There are actually three Jerichos. The Jericho,
mentioned in the Old Testament is sited at Tel es-Sultan (a 400m long mound
arising 15m from the bedrock), the New Testament Jericho which was built by
Herod the Great as a winter palace about a mile south of the OT site. Modern Jericho, which we visited includes the other two Jericho and is presently
under Palestinian control.
The Old Testament Jericho was the first
city to be taken by the invading Israelites led by Joshua (Num. 22:1; 26:3, 63). Joshua sent spies to
reconnoiter the land and the city. Rehab the harlot took them in and later
engineered their escape. For her cooperation she and her family were spared
destroyed the city and put its inhabitants under the ban (Jos 2, 6). The fall of the city itself
occurred after the Israelites had marched around it in silence once a day for
six days and then seven times on the seventh day. Then when the priests blew
the trumpets and the people shouted, the walls collapsed. During my visit
there, the guide suggested that the walls are Jericho were made of two layers-one upon
another. The lower layer is of rocks and upper is of mud. Hence when the walls
collapsed, it was the mud wall which did and hence the Israelites ‘went up’ to
So the people shouted,
and priests blew the trumpets; and
when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great
shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city,
every man straight ahead, and they took the city. NASB
Other biblical facts about OT Jericho are:
Joshua laid a curse on anyone
who might rebuild Jericho
(6:26), which was fulfilled in 1
Kings 16:34 when Hiel rebuilt it at the cost of two of his sons
about 500 years later.
In 2 Samuel 10:5 (see also 1 Chr 19:5) David had his
humiliated soldiers wait there until their beards grew back.
Elijah was taken to up to heaven
near Jericho (2
It served as a kind of
headquarters for Elisha and apparently was where the “company of the prophets”
lived (2 Kgs 2:5).
During the time of Ahaz a
return of prisoners took place there (2 Chr 28:15).
fell in 586 b.c. the reigning
king, Zedekiah, fled to near Jericho but was
caught by the Babylonians, who later put out his eyes at Riblah in Syria
(2 Kgs 25:5; Jer 39:5; 52:8).
The last OT references to Jericho are in the census lists
of Ezra (2:34) and Nehemiah (7:36).
Men from Jericho
also helped rebuild the Jerusalem
wall (Neh 3:2).
New Testament Jericho was build by King Herod at the mouth of the
It is possible to sort out the
healing of the blind men episodes in the synoptic Gospels by understanding that
Jesus was passing from the site of ancient Jericho (Matt 20:29; Mark
10:46) and approaching Herodian Jericho (Luke 18:35).
MT 20:29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd
followed him. 30 Two
blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was
going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" :31 The crowd rebuked them and told
them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David,
have mercy on us!" 32 Jesus stopped and called them. "What do
you want me to do for you?" he asked.33 "Lord," they answered, "we want
our sight." 34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their
eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
LK 18:35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the
roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked
what was happening. 37 They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is
passing by." 38 He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have
mercy on me!" 39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him
to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on
me!" 40 Jesus
stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus
asked him, 41 "What do you want me to do for you?"
"Lord, I want to see," he replied.42 Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight;
your faith has healed you." 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed
Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
figures in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37).
Jesus passed through Jericho (Luke 19:1) and ate with
Zacchaeus, the tax collector.
Facing our Jerichos
Jericho must be a frightening sight to the
nomadic Israelites when they crossed the Jordan to conquer the Promised
Land. Its high walls and fortifications would make it seem impregnable. The
warriors led by Joshua would have been trained in desert warfare but capturing
fortified cities would be something new. Jericho
would seem like an impossible obstacle to overcome. All of us have our
Jerichos. It may be some obstacles in our past. Some of us may be meeting our
How do we respond to our
Jerichos? Do we set forth to stormed its fortified walls? Or do we stand before
its gates and tremble and worry? Do we withdraw, rationalising that wandering in
the desert is preferable to dying while trying to destroy our Jerichos. The OT narrative
of how the frightened Israelites captured and destroyed Jericho
(Jericho is one
of the three cities that God decreed should be destroyed by fire) is
interesting. There were
no calls to build siege machines and ladders to storm
the walls. It was just a call to obey the Lord and worship Him. And God will do
all the work and He did. The walls fell down!
There will be many Jerichos
in our lives that cannot be conquered by human might, influence, power, money
or technology. Jesus’ recorded healings
involved giving sight to the blind. Maybe we are also blind. If God should open
our eyes to His awesomeness, maybe then we will not be so fearful and bothered by
our Jerichos.If God wills that our Jerichos fall, they will fall. It requires
faith, worship and obedience. That and our willingness to ‘let God and let go’.
Labels: HolyLand, Old Testament