6 Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. 2 And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.
Verses 1-2: The Israelites appear near Jericho and suddenly the bustling city becomes stagnant. Their gates are closed and the men, women, and children all remain secure inside the walls. No one comes or goes while the Israelites are present, not even to try and offer terms and negotiate a truce. Back in Chapter 2, Rahab had informed the Israelite spies that the whole city feared their God because of the great things that they have heard. Their hearts had melted and all form of resistance was gone. And God points to this as a sign that he has already delivered the victory to Joshua. The mighty city of Jericho is too afraid to even come out and speak to them or to let one of them inside the walls to negotiate.
3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4 Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”
Verses 3-5: Even though God has delivered Jericho into Joshua’s hands, there is still an act of obedience required and expected in order to see the promise fulfilled. And God’s command is unorthodox for military strategy. What would have happened here had Joshua chosen to take matters in his own hand and command an attack on Jericho? While it is pure conjecture, it is likely that God’s promise would have still been fulfilled: the Israelites would have captured Jericho. But it would have come at a cost, either losing battle after battle until Joshua finally did it God’s way, or else a successful military conquest but at great cost to the Israelites. God’s promises come true. Abram and Sarai tried to take matters in their own hands when God promised Abram many children. Sarai was barren, so Abram slept with Hagar, Sarai’s servant, and she bore him children (See Genesis 16). Yet God’s plan had been to bestow those children the Sarai all along, and the results were years of animosity for Sarai that led to Hagar and Ishmael being sent away. Had they just remained patient and trusting of God’s promise, perhaps that child would have come for them even sooner.
So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” 7 And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”
8 And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. 9 The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.
12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days.
Verses 6-14: The importance of the number here deserves notice. In the first 16 verses of the sixth chapter of Joshua, the number 7 appears a total of 13 times. That repetition places an emphasis on the importance of such a number. Back during the creation story (See Genesis 1), God rested on the seventh day. This day is set apart, the day of the Sabbath for the Israelites. It is inferred that the number seven is God’s number, and is a number that is repeated frequently throughout the Bible in a variety of occasions. In this case, there is a repetition of the seven for the number of days to circle Jericho, the number of times to circle on the seventh day, the number of priests and the number of trumpets to be used. This use of the number seven could be interpreted as the fulfillment of a divine mandate. And, in fact, we do not have to look back very far to see the mandate of God that Jericho has been given to the Israelites.