The walls of Jericho falling is something we learned at a young age. Most remember that the people of Jericho shut themselves within their walled city (Josh. 6:1). The Israelites recognized they would not be able to break through those walls by force and they faced a test of their faith in God. God provided the instructions to the people and the Israelites followed exactly what God told them to do (Josh. 6:2-20). Like Noah, the Israelites that destroyed Jericho teach the vital lesson of following God’s instructions fully (Gen. 6:22). As much as we need the basic lessons, we also need to challenge ourselves and study events deeper than just the surface. In this article we will examine some information I recently studied that caused me to appreciate the walls of Jericho even more.
Depending on the date one subscribes to when Joshua lived, I hold to somewhere around 1300 B.C. or thereabouts, what should amaze you is that walled cities were already being constructed this early in history. Maybe you had not noticed in your personal study of the Old Testament, but Jericho is the first mention of a city with walls. There is no mention of a wall in Egypt, not in the Sinai Peninsula, not anywhere before this account. It is strange that Jericho’s walls are mentioned and to the best of my knowledge, not another walled city is mentioned during the conquering of Canaan. Archaeologists and scientists were baffled at this for centuries. In their minds, nations were not being established at this age and groups of people most certainly would have still been hunter-gathers. When archaeologists found Jericho, this is what they discovered, “At Jericho… was an eight-acre town, housing 2000 or 3000 people, who made their living by cultivating the fertile zone of the surrounding oasis” (John Keegan, A History of Warfare, 124). Keegan continued to describe Jericho’s walls as, “surrounded by a continuous wall ten feet thick at the base, thirteen feet high and some 700 yards in circumference” (Keegan 124). The cities of Jericho and Catal Huyuk in Turkey are the oldest walled cities discovered to date. The difference between these two cities is that Catal Huyuk’s walls were made out of mud, while Jericho’s were built with stone. That being said, it is likely that the walls of Jericho that God brought down during the time of Joshua were the first walls made by man and they certainly were the strongest walls built during the time.
If you are imagining a border-crossing wall just thrown together in haste, think again. The walls of Jericho included a curtain wall, a keep, and a moat. This wall was not a deterrent built to scare bandits away; the walls of Jericho were a true fortified stronghold that would be able to stand against large armies (Keegan 124). We must remember, siege engines were not invented yet. The only physical way someone could conquer Jericho was by forcing them inside their city for months until resources were depleted. It is safe to say that Jericho was impenetrable in a physical sense.
The stronghold fortress that archeologists dated as being built as early as 7000 BC (Must be careful with dating, do not take this date literal. I provide this so you know it is the same wall the Israelites faced), was brought down by God and it fell flat (Josh. 6:20). The power of God is clearly seen in His bringing down these walls without the use of destructive force. God did not need to rain down fire and brimstone as He did against Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24). He is Lord over all things, man’s constructions are nothing in His sight. Just as God did at the tower of Babel, the Lord was able to thwart the walls of Jericho in a creative way (Gen. 11:1-9). These impenetrable walls simply fell over at the Lord’s command. The power of the Lord struck terror in Jericho and the land of Canaan (Josh. 2:9); that same power should also strike terror in those who do not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:5-10).