Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:13-15
Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.”
So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” Then he said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the Lord.” And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them. The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!” So he had the ark of the Lord taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.
Now Joshua rose early in the morning, …they did so for six days.
Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.” … 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. They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:1-21 NASB (Please read all vv. 1-21)
The city of Jericho was one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world fortified by a double ring of walls per numerous archaeological diggings. Since Jericho was built on a hill, attackers of such a ‘fortress” often used a siege lasting several months to starve residents into surrender. It was not uncommon to circle an ancient city to raise the fears of its defenders.
The inhabitants of Jericho were Canaanites who were polytheistic and practiced immoral, wicked religious prostitution. God’s plan was to use the Israelites as His holy agents to execute His judgment upon the inhabitants of Canaan to destroy and remove all false and wicked religious practices from the land. The battle for the city of Jericho was the first battle in God’s holy war for Canaan.
Prior to the battle we have a detailed description of Joshua near Jericho viewing the city, unexpectedly he sees a man facing him with asword in his hand. Joshua was bold enough to ask if he was “friend or foe” and abruptly found himself standing on holy ground in the divine presence of God, whom sword was drawn, an image of one willing and ready to carry out judgment. The man, captain of the Lord’s host, told Joshua he was standing on holy ground and to remove his sandals and Joshua did so.
In this holy encounter with the Lord, Joshua was given the promise: “See, I have given Jericho into your hand.” This was a guarantee. God had already given Jericho into the hands of the Israelites; however, they had to follow His instructions and prepare themselves for a bloody assault upon Jericho. It was a violent and blood-spattered battle in which the Israelites were called to slaughter everyone and everything with the edge of the sword. Utterly destroy, a bloody and brutal ending, except for Rahab and her family. God does not require us to understand His instructions, only to obey them.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. Hebrews 11:30-31 NASB
The victory was not due to Joshua’s military ability, it belonged to the Lord. God was the supreme Commander and He was going to bring down the walls. No matter how unorthodox and strange the method God uses, our only obligation is to be obedient and march by faith in step with Him to achieve His divine will and purpose upon the earth. The walls of doubt, fear and failure will fall before us, if we truly believe the battle is the Lord’s and rest in faith that He will triumph in all things. Victory can only succeed on the foundation of spiritual obedience.