Joshua 6 Study Notes
6:1 As the gates of Jericho were shut in 2:7, so here the place is similarly described as strongly fortified, literally “very much shut.” This describes the physical defense, but it also represents a resistance to the plans of God.
6:2 The king, as the term is used in contemporary texts, was a military leader responsible to higher authorities such as the leaders of Bethel and Jerusalem. Jericho was situated at the entrance to the roads that ran westward to these towns. God spoke in the past tense as though the victory had already been decided.
|Hebrew pronunciation||[hey REE a]|
|Uses in Joshua||7|
|Uses in the OT||44|
|Focus passage||Joshua 6:5,10,16,20|
The verb does not occur in other Semitic languages, except perhaps in later Arabic. Heriya‘ means “shout,” with connotation depending on context. It suggests shout loudly (Zph 3:14) and raise a war/battle cry (2Ch 13:15; Jr 50:15). It implies insulting shouts (Jb 30:5) or fearful crying out (Jdg 7:21). It connotes shout triumphantly or in triumph (Ps 95:1-2; Zch 9:9). It conveys shout for joy or joyfully (Ps 66:1; Is 16:10). With reference to trumpets, heriya‘ means sound the alarm (Jl 2:1) or sound short blasts (Nm 10:7). Heriya‘ occurs (6x) with related teru‘ah (shout, blast) as give/raise a shout (Jos 6:5; 1Sm 4:5), or sound a charge (2Ch 13:12). Heriya‘ appears (7x) with nearly synonymous ranan (“shout, shout for joy”), but ranan does not signify giving war cries. Rea‘ (3x) indicates shouting (Ex 32:17) and thunder (Jb 36:33), appearing as loudly (Mc 4:9).
6:3-5 These instructions picture a unique ceremony. The ark symbolized the presence of God. The ram’s-horn trumpets were used for going to war and for the ark (2Sm 6:15; Jr 4:19). The mighty shout was used for victory in war and for announcing the ark’s journey (1Sm 4:5; 2Ch 13:15). The command to march around the city uses the same verb as appears in Ps 48:12 where a pilgrimage was made around Jerusalem to inspect its defenses. In 2Kg 6:14 the king of Aram surrounded Dothan to capture the prophet Elisha. Here at Jericho the march involved a ceremonial inspection of the fort’s defenses to note the obstinacy of Jericho and to provide an opportunity for those inside to surrender and open the gates.
The emphasis on seven times and seven days coincides with the Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrating God’s defeat of the enemies of his people. At the first Passover, Israel marched out of Egypt during this feast. In Nm 9-10 the nation marched away from Mount Sinai during this feast. Here they would march into the promised land, and then around and through Jericho, straight ahead.
6:6-14 The verbs and phrases correspond to those commanded by God in vv. 2-5. This suggests a perfect obedience by Joshua. The reference to crossing over (move forward) occurs three times, using the same verb as the key term for crossing the Jordan River (1:2).
6:15 The seventh day was the number of perfection, and it signaled the conclusion of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
6:17-25 This account of the destruction of Jericho is interwoven with that of the salvation of Rahab and her household (chap. 2). In this section there are eighty-six Hebrew words devoted to the salvation of Rahab and 102 words to describe Jericho’s destruction (Richard Hess, Joshua). Rahab’s salvation is as important as the account of Jericho’s fall.
6:17 Are set apart to the Lord for destruction is literally “is a devoted thing (cherem) to the Lord.” Anything thus “devoted” must be either destroyed or placed in God’s sanctuary. The reason given in Dt 20:16-18 was to prevent worship of other gods.
6:19 The precious metals were assigned to the Lord’s tabernacle treasury because these could not be destroyed by fire.
6:21 The list of people and animals here is not to provide an inventory of who was killed, but to emphasize the obedience of Joshua and the people. Verse 2 may suggest that, with the exception of Rahab and her family, the inhabitants of Jericho were military personnel.
6:25 The salvation of Rahab was defined as avoidance of death and as life among the people of God, Israel (Jdg 1:22-26). Rahab’s uncleanness and therefore her residence outside the camp (Jos 6:23) was probably only temporary.
6:26 The curse imposed by Joshua required that no construction take place on the mound of Jericho. It must remain in ruins as a witness to God’s judgment upon the site for its resistance to God. The references to foundation and gates, and the warning about the loss of the eldest (firstborn) and the youngest was fulfilled in 1Kg 16:34 when Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho in the ninth century BC. This is not a curse against those who would disturb burials, which was common in those days, but a consideration of Jericho’s symbolism for God’s judgment and power.
6:27 God’s presence with Joshua fulfilled the divine promises of 1:5-9. The fame of Joshua describes his renown at the victory over Jericho. Joshua’s success at Jericho, his first battle, demonstrated that he was a powerful figure to be reckoned with.