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
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 when Israel 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 enter Jericho.
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
Elijah was taken to up to heaven near
Jericho (2 Kgs 2:4-18).
It served as a kind of headquarters for
Elisha and apparently was where the “company of the prophets” lived (2
During the time of Ahaz a return of
prisoners took place there (2 Chr 28:15).
When Jerusalem 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 Wadi Qilt.
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
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!"
stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.33 "Lord,"
they answered, "we want our sight."
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
he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.
told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
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!"
stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near,
Jesus asked him,
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."
he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the
people saw it, they also praised God.
Jericho also 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 Jerichos now.
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 in Jericho 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’.