The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 45: The Fall of Jericho
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The Hebrews had entered Canaan, but they had not subdued
it; and to human appearance the struggle to gain possession
of the land must be long and difficult. It was inhabited by a
powerful race, who stood ready to oppose the invasion of their
territory. The various tribes were bound together by the fear of a
common danger. Their horses and iron battle chariots, their
knowledge of the country, and their training in war, would give
them great advantage. Furthermore, the country was guarded
by fortresses—"cities great and fenced up to heaven." Deuteronomy
9:1. Only in the assurance of a strength not their own could
the Israelites hope for success in the impending conflict.
One of the strongest fortresses in the land—the large and
wealthy city of Jericho—lay just before them, but a little distance
from their camp at Gilgal. On the border of a fertile plain
abounding with the rich and varied productions of the tropics,
its palaces and temples the abode of luxury and vice, this proud
city, behind its massive battlements, offered defiance to the God
of Israel. Jericho was one of the principal seats of idol worship,
being especially devoted to Ashtaroth, the goddess of the moon.
Here centered all that was vilest and most degrading in the
religion of the Canaanites. The people of Israel, in whose minds
were fresh the fearful results of their sin at Beth-peor, could look
upon this heathen city only with disgust and horror.
To reduce Jericho was seen by Joshua to be the first step in
the conquest of Canaan. But first of all he sought an assurance
of divine guidance, and it was granted him. Withdrawing from
the encampment to meditate and to pray that the God of Israel
would go before His people, he beheld an armed warrior, of
lofty stature and commanding presence, "with his sword drawn
in his hand." To Joshua's challenge, "Art thou for us, or for [p. 488] our adversaries?" the answer was given, "As Captain of the host
of the Lord am I now come." The same command given to
Moses in Horeb, "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the
place whereon thou standest is holy," revealed the true character
of the mysterious stranger. It was Christ, the Exalted One, who
stood before the leader of Israel. Awe-stricken, Joshua fell upon
his face and worshiped, and heard the assurance, "I have given
into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty
men of valor," and he received instruction for the capture of
In obedience to the divine command Joshua marshaled the
armies of Israel. No assault was to be made. They were simply
to make the circuit of the city, bearing the ark of God and blowing
upon trumpets. First came the warriors, a body of chosen
men, not now to conquer by their own skill and prowess, but by
obedience to the directions given them from God. Seven priests
with trumpets followed. Then the ark of God, surrounded by a
halo of divine glory, was borne by priests clad in the dress denoting
their sacred office. The army of Israel followed, each tribe
under its standard. Such was the procession that compassed the
doomed city. No sound was heard but the tread of that mighty
host and the solemn peal of the trumpets, echoing among the
hills and resounding through the streets of Jericho. The circuit
completed, the army returned in silence to their tents, and the
ark was restored to its place in the tabernacle.
With wonder and alarm the watchmen of the city marked
every move, and reported to those in authority. They knew not
the meaning of all this display; but when they beheld that mighty
host marching around their city once each day, with the sacred
ark and the attendant priests, the mystery of the scene struck
terror to the hearts of priest and people. Again they would
inspect their strong defenses, feeling certain they could successfully
resist the most powerful attack. Many ridiculed the thought that
any harm could come to them through these singular demonstrations.
Others were awed as they beheld the procession that each
day wound about the city. They remembered that the Red Sea
had once parted before this people, and that a passage had just
been opened for them through the river Jordan. They knew not
what further wonders God might work for them.
For six days the host of Israel made the circuit of the city.
The seventh day came, and with the first dawn of light, Joshua
marshaled the armies of the Lord. Now they were directed to [p. 491] march seven times around Jericho, and at a mighty peal from
the trumpets to shout with a loud voice, for God had given
them the city.
The vast army marched solemnly around the devoted walls.
All was silent, save the measured tread of many feet, and the
occasional sound of the trumpet, breaking the stillness of the early
morning. The massive walls of solid stone seemed to defy the
siege of men. The watchers on the walls looked on with rising
fear, as, the first circuit ended, there followed a second, then a
third, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth. What could be the object of these
mysterious movements? What mighty event was impending?
They had not long to wait. As the seventh circuit was completed,
the long procession paused, The trumpets, which for an interval
had been silent, now broke forth in a blast that shook the very
earth. The walls of solid stone, with their massive towers and
battlements, tottered and heaved from their foundations, and
with a crash fell in ruin to the earth. The inhabitants of Jericho
were paralyzed with terror, and the hosts of Israel marched in
and took possession of the city.
The Israelites had not gained the victory by their own power;
the conquest had been wholly the Lord's; and as the first fruits
of the land, the city, with all that it contained, was to be
devoted as a sacrifice to God. It was to be impressed upon Israel
that in the conquest of Canaan they were not to fight for themselves,
but simply as instruments to execute the will of God; not
to seek for riches or self-exaltation, but the glory of Jehovah
their King. Before the capture the command had been given,
"The city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein."
"Keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves
accursed . . . and make the camp of Israel a curse, and
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