Napsal(a) New Christian Bible Study Staff and Rev. Julian Duckworth
Joshua 6: The Fall of Jericho
Here, the first conflict for Israel in Canaan presents itself: the taking of the city of Jericho, which stands directly and obstinately in the path of the Israelites, preventing them from moving forward. This conflict embodies the whole essence and scope of all the rest of the conquests in the Joshua story, which in the inner meaning is to overcome and rule the things in our lives which oppose what God wants for us.
Jericho is to be taken with a siege, and God gives Joshua a procedure to follow: You shall march round the city once a day for six days in absolute silence. Seven priests shall carry seven rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march round the city seven times, and then the priests shall blow their trumpets. All the people are to shout with a huge shout, and then the walls of the city will fall down flat. And all the people are to go up and take the city.
This is quite unlike any other siege, where walls have to be scaled and fire catapulted in to burn things, but... this is a spiritual siege. The siege of Jericho represents how we are to lay siege to, or deal effectively with, our own evils and tendencies. It is the description blueprint for the battle between good and evil, which is our battle too. (See Doctrine of Faith 50).
In the Bible, Jericho is sometimes called the ‘city of palm trees’, giving a lovely idea of it. Its name means “a place of fragrance”, or, “his (the Lord’s) sweet breath”. It sounds perfect, but this has been usurped by invaders and takers who are now in complete possession of this sweet city and who will hold on for all they're worth (Apocalypse Explained 502). This is really an account of the influence of hell in human life, and especially our unregenerate lives, when we are open to whatever feels self-gratifying.
Jericho, we hear, is shut up tight. It is not going to be an easy matter – because the work of regeneration never is – but this also describes hell’s fear; it is shut up tight because of the Israelites (Heaven and Hell 543). In us, when we become aware of a better way to live and we want to follow the Lord - whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light - hell will soon hit back in some devious imperceptible way to hold on to what it has got. It is scared of losing us.
This takes us to the siege and its tactics. The march once a day around the city for six days, carrying the ark, is to see every part of our situation from every angle, and it is also to parade our worship and adoration of the Lord (by parading the ark). The time period, six days, is always to do with the work involved in our regeneration as we see evil and shun it, pray to God, stand back and determine. (Arcana Caelestia 10373)
The seventh day involves seven marches round the city, then the trumpets and the shouts. This is the culmination, the Sabbath. For us, it is the avowal that we know the Lord is now ruling our will and our life and there will be no turning back or weakness of giving in. Jericho is now taken! The command is that every living thing in the city is to be completely destroyed because we must be unrelenting against all the things in our lives that go against God.
The gold, the silver, and the vessels of brass and iron, were put into the treasury of the house of Jehovah. The "gold and silver" represent the knowledges of spiritual truth and good, and "the vessels of brass and iron" represent knowledges of natural truth and good. In the profane hands of the idolaters of Jericho, those knowledges could be tools to serve dire falsities and evils. In the house of Jehovah, they could be serviceable knowledges, applied to good ends - hence their being salvaged. (See Heaven and Hell 487)
The prostitute Rahab (who had hidden Israel’s spies and confessed the Lord’s power) and all her family are brought out and given safekeeping. For us, this is the acknowledgement of the truth that we are sinful (as she was) and that if it were not for the Lord we would plunge into who knows what. But now we know and confess the power and truth of God. And then, the Israelites burn the city with fire and Joshua pronounces a curse on anyone who ever rebuilds this city. We are to abhor evil for what it is and be faithful to the Lord our God.
The story of the destruction of Jericho is then the pattern for all our resistance and resolve in seeing and overcoming evil, while confessing, as we do this, that the battle is the Lord’s. (Charity 166)