Joshua 5-7
(Battle of Jericho)
March 5th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

When all the kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted, and there was no longer any spirit in them, because of the Israelites.

- Joshua 5:1 (NRSV)

Summary of Chapters

This trio of chapters describes the well-known battle of Jericho and also includes an account of the events leading up to and following the battle. The last step before preparing for battle was to have the new generation circumcised, as described in chapter 5. This was a symbolic ceremony that dated back to Abraham. The ceremony tied them to God and the operation represented the shedding of their old lives.

Chapter 5 also describes the end of the provision of the daily manna, because from that day onwards, the Israel people would find food in the land of milk and honey that they were meant to possess. The LORD had provided the manna for the duration of the exile in the desert, which concluded with the annual Passover celebration, forty years after the first one:

    While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month.

    On the day after the Passover they ate of the produce of the land in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain. On that same day after they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

    - Joshua 5:10-12 (NAB)

Chapter 6 describes God’s strategy and the execution of it for the takeover of Jericho. To an ordinary and faithless man, it would have seemed like a silly exercise, but at this point Joshua and the Israelites put their full trust in God.

    God spoke to Joshua, "Look sharp now. I've already given Jericho to you, along with its king and its crack troops. Here's what you are to do: March around the city, all your soldiers. Circle the city once. Repeat this for six days. Have seven priests carry seven ram's horn trumpets in front of the Chest. On the seventh day march around the city seven times, the priests blowing away on the trumpets. And then, a long blast on the ram's horn—when you hear that, all the people are to shout at the top of their lungs. The city wall will collapse at once. All the people are to enter, every man straight on in." So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and told them, "Take up the Chest of the Covenant. Seven priests are to carry seven ram's horn trumpets leading God's Chest."

    - Joshua 6:2-6 (MSG)

On the seventh day of marching around the city, the Israelites circled the city seven times, as instructed, then blew the trumpets and shouted as the walls came tumbling down.

After that battle it seemed that the Israelites were invincible, so they only sent a few thousand men to conquer Ai. Their failure at Ai demonstrated that victory did not come from their own strength, but from the LORD, who was no longer helping them. The reason was because a soldier named Achan had disobeyed God by keeping plunder from Jericho. His deception was uncovered, he was stoned to death, and his family was stoned to remove the sin from the nation of people.

Reflection and Application

Jericho was an ancient and heavily fortified city. Archeologists have determined that its outer walls were at least 20 feet high and 20 feet thick. It was virtually impregnable against the limited weapons of people of that era. However, Israel had the army of the LORD on their side. The LORD created the world and he can tear apart anything in it, at any time, according to his will. Therefore, when God gives us instructions, we will succeed when we follow them exactly, according to his will, as the Israelites did with the routine of marching and trumpet blowing.

Given the power demonstrated by God, one would think that all of the Israelites would be in fear of him and not dare to attempt to sneak something past him. However, we are imperfect and it didn’t take long for one of us to give into his or her temptations. For Achan, his weakness was a desire to accumulate possessions – he would fit right into our society:

    "When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

    - Joshua 7:20-21 (NIV)

Does this sound familiar? He saw one item, and it was so beautiful that he had to have it. The robe literally possessed him, causing him to forget his allegiance to God and to forget the omniscient power of God who surely observed the theft before it even happened. Once he took the first item, he slithered down that slippery slope, snatching a few pounds of silver and some gold. The act of hiding these items indicates that Achan knew it was wrong and somehow hoped to get away with it. He figured this small acquisition would not hurt anyone. But he was wrong. Thirty-six of his brothers died at Ai because of his sin, he then lost his own life and his family was punished with him.

Sin begins with one small step. But no sins are so small that God can’t see it. There is a price to pay for every sin and sometimes innocent people end up sharing the burden. Worshipping other gods is the greatest sin and can affect the whole nation. Coveting other people’s objects is a closely related sin because it means we desire and worship the object more than we worship God. He wants us to eliminate these objects from our lives and focus on him. Our best defense is to resist that first step, but if we failed then we ought to seek forgiveness and redemption as soon as possible before the sin fully latches onto us and before the suffering spreads too far.

Note the use of the number seven in the instructions. The army marched around Jericho for seven days and then marched seven times on the seventh day. Seven is an important number of completeness that we first observed in the beginning of Genesis. It is also an important number for cleansing. We will see this number repeatedly referenced in the Bible.

There is a traditional Gospel song that celebrates the battle of Jericho. Elvis Presley was one of the musicians who recorded this song. Elvis, who was a big fan of Gospel Music, used to keep his band up late at night singing Gospel songs after concert performances.

Moses Hogan (March 13, 1957 - February 11, 2003) put together an alternative arrangement of the song, pitting the male voices against the female voices in a musical battle. In his lifetime, Moses Hogan had created and published numerous choral and piano arrangements of African-American spirituals. You can hear his explanation of his version of "The Battle of Jericho" and watch a performance by clicking the YouTube object below:

"The Battle of Jericho," by Moses Hogan

You can read more about Moses Hogan at his website: Moses George Hogan.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Have you ever stolen anything? If so, what was it, and what happened?
    2. Are there any possessions that are you trying to hide from God?
    3. What is the most miraculous event that you have witnessed or heard about in your lifetime?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, please help us to stop trying to hide things from you, but instead bring our coveted items before you in confession.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People involved in Prison Ministry

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Joshua 8-10 (The LORD is Victorious)

    Comments and Questions
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